“The Invasion” is an adventure of the sixth season of “Doctor Who” classic series which aired in 1968. It follows “The Mind Robber” and it’s an eight parts adventure written by Derrick Sherwin and directed by Douglas Camfield.
The Tardis rematerializes near the Moon but is attacked by a missile. The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) evades the missile and lands in England but the Tardis was damaged. The Doctor, along with Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury), goes in search of an old acquaintance, Professor Travers, for help in the repair of some circuits.
The Doctor discovers that Professor Travers left and it seems that there’s no news of him. Investigating, he discovers that something strange is happening at Electromatics International, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic devices. The Doctor and his companions aren’t the only ones who are investigating, because they run into another old acquaintance, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), who after their last encounter was promoted to Brigadier General and became commander of UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce).
This DVD is rich in extras. There are typical contents such as production subtitles and a gallery of pictures from this adventure.
There are comments in the adventure alternative audio track by protagonists Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, actor Nicholas Courtney, production assistant Chris D’Oyly John, animator Steve Maher, animation editor James Goss and composer Mark Ayres.
Flash Frames. A look at the creation of the animated episodes.
Love Off-Air. A tribute to the fans who recorded the “Doctor Who” soundtracks in the ’60s: their soundtracks have helped the restoration of this and other adventures.
Trailers. Two animated trailers for this adventure.
Character Design. A short documentary on the work of Steve Maher’s animation work.
Evolution of the Invasion. A 50-minute documentary on the production of this adventure.
VHS Links. The narration by Nicholas Courtney, who described the two lost episodes in the 1993 VHS edition of this adventure.
The Cybermen had been a success since their first appearance and Kit Pedler, one of the creators of those cyborgs and the scientific consultant for “Doctor Who” production, was asked for a new idea for a story that would include them.
As always in those years, production was pretty chaotic with ideas that were considered, modified and sometimes rejected. In this case, Kit Pedler’s idea was taken into consideration but problems arose to find one that could be used to produce the following adventure. The consequence was that producer Peter Bryant decided to incorporate that idea into an adventure that had to be eight episodes long, at the time the longest in “Doctor Who” history after the epic “The Daleks’ Master Plan”.
“The Invasion” is so long that actress Wendy Padbury doesn’t appear in the third episode because she was on vacation while actor Frazer Hines appears only at the end of the eighth episode because he was on vacation and the footage he appears in was prerecorded.
Production effort was remarkable because “The Invasion” was filmed mostly on location. For this reason, shooting was longer than usual and in some cases it forced to make some changes to the script when it proved impossible to carry it out as originally planned.
Eventually, “The Invasion” was only partly an adventure with the Cybermen, which appear only in its central part and become the protagonists at the end. Even if the ending includes an iconic moment of “Doctor Who” with the Cybermen in London, the real villain of this adventure is Tobias Vaughn, owner of International Electromatics.
Thanks also to a great performance by actor Kevin Stoney, Tobias Vaughn is a villain with great depth, charismatic, cunning and manipulative. Vaughn is assisted by his ruthless security chief Packer, with whom he gets angry when something doesn’t go as he planned. Packer is the classic guy who behaves like a thug with almost everyone but is submissive when dealing with his boss.
Generally, in the Second Doctor adventure, comic moments are the prerogative of the Doctor but in this case there are times when Vaugn and Packer really look like a comedy duo.
“The Invasion” is also significant because it marks the debut of UNIT, the military organization which aims to protect the Earth from alien threats under the UN auspices. The adventure “The Web of Fear” represented the debut of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, then Colonel, here promoted to Brigadier in command of UNIT.
In “The Invasion” there’s also the debut of Benton, with the rank of corporal, another recurring character, especially in the Third Doctor adventures. Over the years, various changes were made in “Doctor Who” production but this adventure is a kind of prologue to the UNIT stories that mark particularly the Third Doctor era.
The sum of all those elements creates an extraordinary adventure, complex, sophisticated with great performances by both the regular and the guest cast. Despite the limited budget, “The Invasion” looks also quite realistic for a production of ’60s, thanks to the many location shots and the use of real images of military test missile launches.
In the its episodes the pace of this story is often slow, as it was the case in several adventures of the ’60s, but in the second half of this adventure it becomes faster. Perhaps “The Invasion” is a couple of episodes too long but the production needs of those years meant that the adventures tended to be long.
The first and the fourth episode of “The Invasion” are among the lost ones. For the DVD edition an animated version was created, accompanied by the original soundtrack. The animation isn’t the realistic type that can be seen in some recent movies because the budget didn’t allow it but I think it’s pretty good and allows you to appreciate the lost episodes.
“The Invasion” is considered with good reason a great “Doctor Who” classic and the DVD edition contains several interesting extras so I highly recommend buying it.