Sunday, 9 August 2009

Doctor Who: The Invisible Enemy

Part One

“Contact has been made.”

We start the story in deep space, for the first time in ages. Unfortunately we then get a crap spaceship set which sets the tone for the rest of the story- I’ve always been annoyed by bland, featureless corridor sets being used to represent the future in space opera type stories and The Invisible Enemy is one of the worst offenders. Every set and every costume is bland and featureless, which casts a kind of dullness over what should be a fun and silly story. Only three stories after The Robots of Death showed us how it should be done, this shows us how it shouldn’t.

At least the TARDIS looks good. It’s a shame to lose the wooden control room, but at least the redesigned traditional control room looks good, even if the Doctor does dismiss it as though he was talking about any one of the other sets in the story! We’re in 5000 AD or thereabouts, the time of Magnus Greel and Time Agents, and also apparently the time of the “Great Break Out”. Presumably this refers to much more widespread colonisation than happened during the Earth Empire days two thousand years earlier. And as this is still said to be Leela’s past, perhaps her ancestors were involved.

It’s good to see Michael Sheard again, even if his horribly designed office oozes an awful lot of the unacceptable side of 70s-ness in spite of it being 5000 AD. And the virus is an interesting threat, giving us a good cliffhanger with the infected doctor about to kill Leela…

Part Two

“Blithering idiots, the pair of you.”

Cra;p though the design is, I like the attempt to suggest spelling has changed, with such uses as “isolayshun ward”.

The Doctor’s out of action for a bit, which means we have Leela flying the TARDIS (!) to some hospital asteroid, where the Bristol Boys get a chance to reuse their line from The Hand of Fear about Gallifrey being somewhere in Ireland. We’re also introduced to the very silly yet somehow fab Professor Marius, with his silly accent and his robot dog, K9. Yay! “That tin thing is my best friend and constant companion”, he informs us.

The Prof has to operate on the doctor whilst being assailed from all sides by the ranks of the infected. At the Doctor’s suggestion he, er, clones the Doctor and Leela, shrinks them, and injects them into the Doctor’s body. This is simultaneously awful and brilliant. Oh, an apparently cloning started in 3922. not in, say, 1997, with Dolly the Sheep or anything.

Oh, and why can’t they just cure the Doctor by transmat, as Harry did with Sarah during Revenge of the Cybermen?

Part Three

“I don’t know what to think. I’ve never been in anybody’s head before.”

This episode marks a turning point in the marathon for me personally- halfway through I finally finish my first notebook!

This entire episode is unintentionally hilarious, and the sets of the inside of the Doctor’s brain are much more fun than the sets we’ve seen elsewhere. I love the way the Clone Doctor keeps pointing bits out to Clone Leela. Apparently the Doctor was once able, Matrix-like, to tune himself into the “Time Lord intelligentsia”, but lost this ability when he was “kicked out”. I like the Doctor’s line about the mind and the brain being analogous to the land and the sea, utter rubbish though it may be.

Plenty of hilariousness abounds, from the Doctor’s beach ball-like antibodies to the ridiculous Slowness of Marius’s countdown. But pretty soon both K9(!) and the Professor are infected…

The Nucleus actually gives a pretty good justification of its actions to the Doctor- like any creature it has every right to survive. But of course, that goes both ways. In another context, this could have been a fairly serious discussion.

The ending is most odd, with the sting seeming to briefly start and then stop a minute before the end. Are the last two scenes in the right order?

Part Four

“I only hope he’s TARDIS trained!”

Hmmm, so the nucleus and all its viruses can survive at human size? Er, yes. And it seems the TARDIS is still bigger on the inside with the dimensional stabiliser gone. But this is not the story to be asking such questions- best just to let the silliness wash over you. Amusingly, for the first time here we see the camera panning upwards from the step at the TARDIS entrance as K9 rolls inside. The first of many…

We get the first appearance of another Graham Williams era trope here too, as the Doctor enters the TARDIS and dematerialises with his scarf still caught in the Door. Never mind the fact we then cut to him at the controls with his scarf clearly far from the entrance!

Oh dear. From Talons to this in two stories! For all its faults it certainly wasn’t dull, and has a certain so-bad-it’s-good capacity to amuse, but this is the worst story since The Time Monster- silly and badly designed, with the Doctor often bordering on being out of character. 2/5.

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