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The Invisible Enemy

Reviewed by Paul Scoones

What can I say about this story? It was just so embarrassingly bad, easily below the level of the worst story of Season 14. Doctor Who at this time obviously still had yet to learn not to write big-budget adventure for low-budget production. The Invisible Enemy wasn't even particularly well-written at that, full of flaws and clichés - Bob Baker and Dave Martin wrote great stories in the Jon Pertwee Era - The Claws of Axos and The Three Doctors for instance. Under producer Graham Williams, they are but a shadow of their former selves. Flaws, blunders, bad acting and hopeless special effects abounded throughout all four episodes - how was Leela able to fly the TARDIS using a set of destination co-ordinates when she had trouble even writing her own name? Why were Leela and the Doctor's clothes cloned with them - surely what they are wearing at the time isn't part of the make-up of a person's single cell? How did K9 get into the TARDIS when it was clearly seen that with only one door open the gap wasn't wide enough? Why was K9 taken over by the virus when Leela wasn't? Also, the way in which the Doctor engineered the explosion at the end was more than a little suspect:

The special effects, too, were absolutely awful, reminiscent of a Gerry Anderson production, and it is interesting to note that the special effects designers actually used Anderson's old studios at Bray - they should've known better. With the exception of the Bi-Al Foundation interiors (vaguely reminiscent of some of the sets of the much, much later The Trial of a Time Lord segment set on the Hyperion III), the sets were pretty lousy too.

But by far the worst thing about this serial was the virus-nucleus creature; whoever designed or built it should be shot! I could not help but cringe at the end of episode 3 when the thing appeared in the booth, and its appearance throughout the last episode was just totally embarrassing in the extreme. No, this story was just plain tacky on all counts and the only positive point was Frederick Jaeger's Professor Marius, although portrayed just a little too humorously, I thought. Leela is fast becoming the writer's cliché that turned me off her the first time Season 15 screened here, and Tom Baker, who often carries a bad script, was very uneven in his performance, as if he sensed it was a flop. The lesson to be learnt here is not to attempt full-blown space operas, but to stick to quarries and the like. In short a dismal failure on all counts, and perhaps the best thing about it is that it's now over, and I can look forward to an old favourite, Image of the Fendahl.

This item appeared in TSV 3 (October 1987).

Index nodes: The Invisible Enemy