The Android Invasion (1975)

The Android Invasion is a story that I like but not quite sure why. It was part of Season 13 and was sandwiched between Pyramids of Mars and The Brain of Morbius. Written by Dalek creator Terry Nation and directed by former producer Barry Letts. This story emphasises the idea that you should things aren’t exactly what they seem.

There is a lovely build up of mystery in the first episode. The Doctor and Sarah find things that don’t make sense. With the appearance of UNIT it seemed like it would see the return of all the old gang. The story sees the Doctor and Sarah arrive on what looks like Evesham. However not everything is what it seems. They are shot at, see a man fall to his death and when they arrive in the village its deserted until a load of people walk in and then suddenly start walking and talking. Soon we are introduced to Crayford who is an eye-patch wearing man who seems to be taking orders from someone else. Who turns out to be Styggron. The story does see the return of Sergeant Benton (John Levenne) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter). Its nice to see them play their roles in a different way.

The Kraals are a mixed creation. Look at any photo and you can’t fail to be impressed with them. They look grotesque and very impressive, however when they start talking it looks like the masks are too big for them and they are having to really fight to show that they are talking. The ending to Episode 2 is also something that I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand it’s a great revelation that the Doctor knows he’s been walking around with the android Sarah but the way she just falls down and her mask conveniently falls off. It just felt like they couldn’t think of a better way to reveal that she was a robot.

Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are both superb in this. This is still quite early in Tom’s reign as the Doctor (9th) and its well before his silliness became so much of his act. Both Baker and Sladen have great chemistry and it shows very much throughout this story. Milton Jones is very good as Crayford. You can tell that he’s a nice guy. He’s just someone who has been captured by the Kraals and has been brainwashed by them. Jones puts a lot of energy into the character.

I can’t really fault the directing. The location work is brilliant in this story. There are some really beautiful shots of the village and surrounding countryside. They took advantage of that rare thing in Britain – sun. There was a slightly iffy shot where the explosion of the bomb but apart from that there a so many lovely shot. Terry Nation’s script is also hard to fault. Its not a Dalek story of which there are so many similarities but the benefit of having a non-Dalek story is that it allows Nation to be imaginative and not be restricted.

The Android Invasion is a good standalone story but suffers from being sandwiched between two superb stories. Its ranked 123rd in the Mighty 200 which I do think is a fair assessment. I ranked it one place higher in August 2010. Good location filming along with some good acting makes this adventure a nice enjoyable story.

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