Monday, 21 October 2013

Review: Doctor Who Classic: The Android Invasion

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How much cooler can Doctor Who get?
Doctor Who - Season 13, Story Four - The Android Invasion
Written 27/5/13

It's a little bit sad, really, that it's taken til this point in the season to find a story that I truly enjoyed. Sure, Terror of the Zygons and The Pyramids of Mars may have their merits, but this era's penchant for Gothic depressiveness leaves me with something of a bitter taste in the mouth. The Android Invasion has both a newfound sense of levity and a commitment towards new ideas, taking mystery and humour and wrapping them together in a tasty little ball. At one point I almost found myself calling it "Moffat done well," except for the fact that he probably doesn't like this story. (And at least three or four percent of my love for it comes from how Fandom tends to treat it.)
     The Doctor and Sarah believe they've landed in the quaint country village of Devesham, but something is amiss - there are armed, hooded men in the woods and the village seems abandoned. A deliciously slow reveal sees the village repopulated and the discovery of an astronaught, thought lost but in fact kidnapped and brainwashed by the Kraals, who have recreated the village and space-centre in order to plan their invasion of Earth using Android duplicates.
     There's a sense of fun in the script, with The Doctor out of his grumpy mood and finally having real chemistry with Sarah Jane again. Our villains aren't the forebearers of great myths, they're not almighty beings who are plotting to destroy the planet or the universe or such. They're just aliens rather maniacally trying to find a new homeworld. The use of Androids in this story is done rather well - a lot like the Androids of Tara, the duplication is played more for drama than for comedy, which means that it works just about perfectly. Put together with a nice country setting and a half-decent rocket control centre, and we're talking gold.
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Sarah saves the Doctor from being dissolved.
    The story also features one of my favorite cliffhangers of the Tom Baker era thus far, in which The Doctor discovers the duplicate Sarah and we see her face fall off as she's knocked to the ground. It's a brilliantly chilling moment and is one of many that I love. A man climbing out of a pod and strangling Sarah Jane, the Stepford-esque nature of the Androids in their confusion at the Doctor and Sarah Jane's presence, the scene in which The Doctor comes face to face with his armed duplicate. It's a treasure trove of great moments.
     I really fail to see why anyone can dislike this story, really. It was by far the most fun I've had this season - and that doesn't seem as though it's going to change any time soon, seeing as next week we've got a Frankenstein analogue and the week after it's a Triffids one. The concept behind android duplicates may not be particularly original, but the slow-burning mystery of the episode's premise was well-executed enough that it complemented the witty banter and made by far the most enjoyable serial of the season.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Where the production team decide to do more retconning in a single scene than Moffat managed to do in 45 minutes... it's The Brain of Morbius.

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