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The Invasion of Time

Reviewed by Murray Jackson

When Paul Scoones asked me to review this story I felt a certain reluctance. For a start, Tom Baker is not my favourite Doctor, and I admit to only really enjoying his first three and last seasons. On top of that, The Invasion of Time is a six parter, and six parters are invariably overlong and padded out terribly. So with that gentle warning in mind here is a review of the aforementioned story.

The Invasion of Time is really split into two parts. Episodes 1-4 deal with the invasion of Gallifrey by the Vardans, and episodes 5-6 deal with the invasion of Gallifrey by the Sontarans.

Looking at the Vardan invasion, things started well. The opening model shot was easily the best model shot the series had ever seen. Such a pity the story didn't match it. The story was fairly ho-hum - another invasion story with the only spice being that it was set on Gallifrey and that the Doctor, for the first two end a half episodes, appeared to be a traitor. Unfortunately Gallifrey looked so static and boring and its occupants so pompous and two dimensional that I was left with a feeling of non-interest in the whole concept of Time Lords and their planet. No wonder the Doctor took off! What a pedantic and incongruous bunch he had to live with. At least the outcasts did something with their lives. The only one with any character was Borusa, portrayed dourly by John Arnatt. Milton Johns was okay as the cowardly Castellan, but he had little else to do except cower and act traitorish. As for the Vardans - well frankly, I liked their spaceship better. Invasion by Vardans? Invasion by tinfoil, more like it!

Episodes 5-6 concerned the Sontaran invasion. I say Sontarans, but basically you could substitute anyone or anything and there would have been little difference. They appeared in helmets throughout except for Stor. The Sontaran makeup was so bad that I wish he'd left his helmet on. He looked like a hairless armoured rodent, and I can only surmise that the opening model shot cost more than expected, as there was no evidence of money having been spent on the Sontarans.

The script for the entire story was extremely laboured, and it was a chore to watch all six episodes. Where was the characterisation? Where was the nice plot twist? Why did the supporting cast have so little to do or say? In the end, who gives a toss?

So were there any bright spots? Well, the opening model shot was nice, as I mentioned and the romp through the TARDIS was interesting if' you're into that sort of thing. I suppose some of the information on Time Lord culture interested enthusiasts. Apart from that, it was definite yawn material.

As for the companions, Leela certainly sprung a surprise by electing to stay with Andred. I had no idea she liked him that much. And K9 - well, personally, I'd have been glad if that was the last we'd seen of him. I cannot stand the self-opinionated little know-all.

I'm sure I've upset a great many people who enjoyed this story. But it is an honest evaluation of a story I expected more from. Liked the model shots though!

This item appeared in TSV 4 (February 1988).

Index nodes: The Invasion of Time
Reprinted in: Special Reprint Edition