Thursday, November 29, 2012

Doctor Who Story 049: The Space Pirates


Pirate Copies...

There is something almost perverse in that the only surviving episode of The Space Pirates exists in two places. One is a 35mm film print, which was preserved only because it was the first BBC program ever placed on film (which explains why said episode, Episode 2, is the only one surviving).  Then there is a rare instance of a video recorder being used on The Space Pirates.  Would you believe is the EXACT same episode!  That means out of the six episode story, only Episode 2 remains for us to enjoy.  Enjoy, however, may be too grand a term for it, because even in that one episode, The Space Pirates looks like a slow and dull adventure made slower and duller by its length.

The Space Pirates lives up to its billing: it's about pirates in space.  That in itself is a bright idea, and Robert Holmes, in his second Doctor Who screenplay, at least presents the notion as instructed.  However, The Space Pirates is more a 'Western in Space' than a pirate story, complete with crazed prospector.  These touches, along with others, sinks The Space Pirates to mediocrity.

The TARDIS materialises in Earth's future on a space beacon just before it is attacked by pirates. The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his Companions, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) find themselves trapped in a sealed section of the beacon. It is blown apart and flown to where the pirates will plunder it of the precious mineral argonite. They witness a conflict between the pirates and the Interstellar Space Corps, led by General Hermack (Jay Mack) and Major Warne (Donald Gee).

The ISC are convinced that the pirates' mastermind is an innocent yet eccentric space mining pioneer named Milo Clancey (Gordon Gostelow), while their true leader is a man named Caven (Dudley Foster). Caven has a secret base on the planet Ta. He is assisted by Madeleine Issigri (Lisa Daniely), daughter of Clancey's ex-partner Dom, who - unknown to her - is now his captive.

When Madeleine discovers Caven's full treachery she helps to bring him to justice. The time travellers are given a lift back to the TARDIS by Clancey in his rickety old ship, the LIZ 79. *

Even in the surviving Episode 2 we see what makes The Space Pirates a weak Doctor Who story.  Namely, the Doctor and his Companions are basically irrelevant to the story.  Minus the Doctor's efforts to bring the broken-off section of the spaceship closer to the piece where the TARDIS is (which given the length of the story, he obviously was going to get wrong) they played no part in the episode itself.  In fact, if you cut their scenes, you would have had a whole new story that might have worked as a separate series. 

The NuWho fans are fond of demanding spin-offs for every Tom, Dick, and River that appears as a guest star/character  (getting their wish with the Captain Jack Harkness spin-off Torchwood).  The Space Pirates gives us a roundabout vision of what a potential Doctor Who spin-off might have looked like.  For all the length of The Space Pirates, one could easily have written the travellers out of the story without being part of anything. 

Granted, it's pretty difficult to make that argument without being able to see the other episodes, but the synopsis is pretty Doctor-lite.   I'd argue that if you removed the main characters you don't affect the overall flow of the story.  That being the case, it makes it hard to imagine that a story where the Doctor is almost irrelevant would be a good to great Doctor Who story.

Even that perhaps could be forgiven (although intensely difficult to do so).  The Space Pirates unfortunately suffers from other factors.  The decision by director Michael Hart to ask his characters to appear as if they were in a Western (particularly with Gostelow's "hillbilly in space" Milo, which makes him look a pickax and dance short of Walter Huston in Treasure of the Sierra Madre) turns this almost into farce.  Another space crew member, Technician Penn (George Layton), was allowed to have shaggy hair and a mustache that made him look like a lost Beatle.

One poor decision was in the costumes, which in terms are grand and almost comical (the space helmets themselves being a source of unintended laughter).  Dudley Simpson's score was on the plus ambitious, but curiously the vocalization that opens each episode of The Space Pirates makes it sound far too grand for the story its telling.  One thing that is in retrospect amusing is that The Space Pirates with that vocalization predated Murray Gold's NuWho score which similarly echoes a female vocal in space.

One final note: Robert Holmes' script makes mention of a 'mind probe', and I have no way of knowing whether Terrance Dicks subconsciously drew from The Space Pirates or Holmes himself when he turned 'the mind probe' in The Five Doctors into one of the most famous (or infamous) lines in Who history...but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

One complaint I continuously make is that with the possible exception of Dalek stories, long Doctor Who stories (those that are longer than four episodes) simply can't maintain the stamina or interest of an audience.  The Space Pirates at six episodes appears to be another case of the story being far too long for the tale that it's telling.  Even if it were to be rediscovered I doubt The Space Pirates would be all that popular.  Still, it would be nice to have more lost episodes found, even if it were something as weak as The Space Pirates.

* My thanks to TARDIS Wikia for the plot synopsis. 


Next story: The War Games

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Doctor Who Story 048: The Seeds of Death


Ice Warriors Capades...

The Ice Warriors are not familiar to many Doctor Who fans. I imagine perhaps even those who followed the Classic series may not have seen the stories that featured our literal 'beings from Mars'.  They only appeared in four Who stories (The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death, and the two Peladon stories: The Curse of Peladon and its sequel, The Monster of Peladon...the latter being a rare sequel in Classic Who).  Since then, the Ice Warriors have been absent from Doctor Who and have yet to appear in the NuWho.  That is a real shame, because the Ice Warriors were quite effective in the fright department, and their second story, The Seeds of Death, is a simply brilliant story: cinematic in scope, with great performances, climatic cliffhangers, and an intelligent script.

The Earth has come to rely on T-Mat, a method of sending people and materials virtually instantaneously from one point to another by using the Moon as a relay point.  You could send food or yourself from New York to Canberra within seconds.  However, there is something evil afoot: the Moonbase (not to be confused with an earlier Second Doctor story called The Moonbase) is now been taken over by a mysterious force, and it isn't until near the end of Episode One that we discover it is the Ice Warriors.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, T-Mat's inexplicable failure is frustrating its engineers, in particular the T-Mat Controller and second-in-command Gia Kelly (Louise Pajo), who is both extremely efficient and extremely irritated that anything could have gone wrong.  However, no one could foresee that the Moonbase was now in enemy hands.  The Ice Warrior's leader Slaar (Alan Bennion) has either killed or forced the crew to do his work.  One, Phipps (Christopher Coll) has managed to escape the Ice Warriors, while Fewshan (Terry Scully) has become their terrified accomplice in betraying the planet.

Due to T-Mat's popularity with governments, there is no alternative method of reaching the Moonbase as the crisis grows, that is except for one.  Old Professor Eldred (Phillip Ray), who now runs a private Space Museum, is the only one who has both the knowledge and the machinery to launch a rocket (which by this time is seen as obsolete).  The professor, who is bitter over having his rockets replaced by T-Mat, at first refuses to help, but is persuaded to do so, thanks to three people who happened to have entered his museum.

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his Companions Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and Jamie (Frazer Hines) soon undertake the dangerous mission to the Moon to both find what's going on.  While they're in space, Fewsham has repaired T-Mat, but it's just a way to lure Controller Kelly to the Moon.  Now the nefarious plot thickens.

The Ice Warriors have decided to launch an invasion of Earth using T-Mat to transport their seeds to the planet.  These seeds will have two effects: it will reduce the oxygen levels (killing off the humans) and make the planet hospitable for their own species (they cannot stand heat being from the cold planet).  The Doctor, after recovering from an exploding seed of death, manages to return to Earth.  Unfortunately, so has an Ice Warrior, who is now on the rampage, with the seeds killing everything that comes their way.  The Doctor discovers a way to defeat the seeds, and the invasion is misdirected to approach the Sun (killing the invasion fleet).  With Slaar the only survivor of the Ice Warriors' invasion force, the heat on the Moonbase kills him, and the travellers escape unnoticed.

As I watched The Seeds of Death, I could not help marvelling at what a well-paced, well-acted, and beautifully-photographed story it was.  I have found that very few four-episode plus stories work.  They tend, with the exception of Dalek stories, to feel stretched out.  Even the previous story, while brilliant, felt one episode too long.  Not so The Seeds of Death.  At six episodes the story never felt either rushed or padded.  This is due to two factors: the script and the directing.

In regards to the latter, extraordinary credit should be given to Michael Ferguson.  The visual style of Seeds of Death is extraordinary.  He created a look that was almost cinematic and that stand up against almost anything NuWho has come up with.  There is a great visual flair in the story, starting from Episode One when we get the point-of-view (or POV) of the monsters.  The decision to withhold the reveal of the villains until the end of the episode was a brilliant one.  Again and again Seeds of Death has a great visual style that reflects an ambition that pushes the story to new heights, in particular in the Second Doctor's era.  Each episode has an arresting moment of beauty, from overhead shots of the Ice Warrior looking through a storage room for Phipps to when Slaar confronts Fewsham before a lighted screen to when Zoe and Jamie are avoiding another Ice Warrior at the Weather Control Center.  Rarely has a Doctor Who story been so cinematically shot to where it would be beautiful just to look at.     

However, The Seeds of Death also has brilliant performances.  Pajo is brilliant as the ever-efficient, ever-professional Kelly, someone who wants to be appreciated for her accomplishments, not dismissed for being a woman.  It's a credit to her acting talent that before the end of Episode One she is not thought of as a beautiful and bright woman but as a bright, even strong person.  I'm glad the story suggests the sexism she must endure (in Episode One her superior compliments her on her talent and beauty, which she chooses to simply ignore).  Scully's Fewsham is equally brilliant as this frightened and cowardly man who might not want to work for the Ice Warriors but who is too scared of dying to fight them.  That doesn't mean that when he does finally have a moment of courage and sacrifice himself for the planet, it doesn't move one emotionally.  Despite all the evil he did, I empathized with him and felt genuine sadness at his end.

In a smaller role, Coll's Phipps played his part beautifully: a bright but frightened man, doing what he can to survive but knowing he is great peril.  Same goes for Ray's Professor Eldred, who is both bitter and pleased that his rockets are now being embraced rather than dismissed.  None of the guest stars faltered in their characters, whether courageous or cowardly, whether fearful or forceful. 

Going on to the leads, I don't think the leads have had a finer hour acting-wise.  Troughton shows his Doctor to be both serious and comical (who wouldn't at least smile as he flusters his way out of the attacking foam) and Hines' Jamie also shows that he is fiercely loyal and protective for him and Zoe.  However, it is Padbury that clearly runs away with it.  She never makes Zoe's superior intelligence something to dislike in her because she always mixes her smarts with a sweetness that shows she's not being bossy, just brainy.  However, the cliffhanger at Episode Five is where Padbury excels. 

She has been caught by the Ice Warrior in front of the screen after she manages to start raising the temperature and is facing certain death, with only Fewsham in any position to help her.  She screams in total terror for him to help her, this man she doesn't really know and whom we know has never helped anyone else save their lives.  The abject horror and terror she displays (even as her face is partially obscured by the lights, with only her voice to project the emotions) is a chilling and terrifying moment. 

In regards to the second thing that makes The Seeds of Death simply brilliant, while the credit is given to Brian Hayles,  script editor Terrance Dicks also wrote part of the story (uncredited).  Whoever ultimately put Seeds of Death together, each episode ended brilliantly.  Besides the aforementioned Episode Five cliffhanger (truly one of the best in the series, perhaps in all of Doctor Who--Classic and NuWho), each cliffhanger does make one wonder, 'what's going to happen next?'  Even the opening to each episode, with the beautiful shots of the Earth and the Moon accompanied by Dudley Simpson's incidental music, had us in suspense (and again were beautifully photographed and edited).

I also think that the special effects still hold up remarkably well given the story is pushing fifty years.  Granted they might look not as sharp as things today, but whenever the Ice Warriors kill someone the visuals and music are shocking and so excellently put together.

I will be a bit nit picky by pointing out one or two things that didn't quite hold.  I wondered exactly how it was possible that the Ice Warriors didn't notice the rocket landing at the Moonbase.  We also have a bit of running down corridors, something that would soon become, excuse the pun, a running gag on Doctor Who.  In fact, I wondered whether that whole concept started in The Seeds of Death

Finally, let me address one of the most notorious moments in Seeds of Death.  When the Doctor manages to escape into the Weather Center he slips from all the foam.   Poor Wendy Padbury plainly starts laughing and while she continues the scene to its conclusion one can clearly see the smile on her face and the desperate efforts to control her laughter.  In this case, I'm cutting Padbury some slack since I doubt anyone would have been able to control themselves, and actually Padbury did better because she didn't draw attention to her reaction. 

Overall I found The Seeds of Death far more thrilling than I thought I would.  The pacing is brilliant, the acting is superb, the story holds your interest, the monsters effective, the visuals are stunning.  Given that there are only two stories left in the Second Doctor's tenure, it is hard to believe that they could come close to topping The Seeds of Death.

I'd be excited if they were to return to Doctor Who, but then I remember they'd be coming back to this...

Now, WHICH one's the lead and WHICH one's the guest star again?


Next Story: The Space Pirates

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Doctor Who Story 047: The Krotons


Something to Kroton About...

The Krotons is not held in high regard by Doctor Who fans, primarily because of the title characters themselves, who are seen as terrible monsters/robots.  However, after watching The Krotons for the first time, I think that this is a case of failing to see the forest for the trees.  The Krotons is the first Doctor Who story written by Robert Holmes, who was to become a true Who Icon, creating some of the most legendary Doctor Who stories of all time.  I'll grant that the actual Krotons themselves were pretty weak, but the story itself is overflowing with innovative ideas that should merit reexamination and reevaluation. 

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his Companions Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) have landed on an unknown planet.  No sooner have they landed than they find themselves involved in the affairs of the planet itself.  The Gonds, the humanoids on the planet, have for a thousand years given their brightest young people to "join the Krotons", their benevolent dictators.  No one has ever seen the Krotons themselves, and the young people given to join them are never seen or heard from again.  To join the Krotons is seen as a great honor, but one of the Gonds, Thara (Gilbert Wynne), angrily questions why they have to go.  His motives are more personal: his beloved Vana (Madeliene Mills) has been selected.  He urges revolution, but the Gonds won't rebel.

Of course, we already know what happens to 'the chosen ones': the emerge onto the wasteland and are promptly evaporated.  The space travellers, having landed on the wasteland, find that a man has already been vaporized and that fate awaits Vana.  She is rescued in time but her mind is terribly affected. 

Now with Thara outraged, there are rumblings of revolution, then outright attacks on the Learning Hall.  Here, the machines the Krotons provided long ago have not only given them what little knowledge they have, but have allowed the Krotons to find the Gonds' best and brightest.  This mini-Gond Spring raises the ire of the Krotons, who demand they stop.  The Doctor and Zoe, geniuses both, soon become the Krotons' ultimate targets.  Zoe, due to naivete, takes to the machines and is selected.  The Doctor then must take the tests and be selected himself.

They are submitted to the tests but manage to escape.  A concerned Jamie goes after them, but the Krotons quickly realize he is not a "high-mind".  Soon, the Gonds are split: some like Eelek (Philip Madoc) are for full revolution, while their leader and Thara's father Selris (James Copeland) urge that they must acquire knowledge if they are to defeat the Krotons. 

We discover that the Krotons nefarious plans: they need the Gonds' intelligence to keep them functioning.  Once they take their intelligence, the selected Gonds are eliminated.  With the Doctor and Zoe, they now have the ultimate ability to leave the planet.  Eelek (Philip Madoc) who has lead a virtual coup, cuts a deal with them: in exchange for leaving the planet, he will hand over the two "high-brains".   The Doctor is able to deduce that the Krotons can be destroyed with sulphuric acid.  The Krotons are defeated and the Travellers slip silently away, off to a new adventure.

There is no getting around it: the actual Krotons are junk.  Terrance Dicks (a Doctor Who legend himself who served as the script editor) always commented that while the Krotons looked menacing they couldn't do anything: not walk, not attack, not really useful.  Frazer Hines himself said that the Krotons were probably the worst or weakest monsters in his tenure.  There's no doubt that the Krotons themselves appear to be the poor cousins of the Daleks, closer to the Quarks from The Dominators than anything else.  HOWEVER, this is not Holmes' fault, or even that of director David Maloney. 

As hard as it may be, I would ask people to ignore the actual Krotons of The Krotons and instead focus on the story itself, which is both inventive and a throwback to other legendary tales.  While watching the first few minutes (which focus on the selecting of the two youngsters to join the Krotons), I couldn't help but think on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine with the Eloi willingly going to serve the Morlocks.  I also had a quick flashback to The Hunger Games, where we again face a situation where a society must send two people (apparently but not specifically a male and female) to be sacrificed as payment for a failed war. 

The more things change...

I was expecting a disaster while watching The Krotons given its relatively poor reputation, but what I found on the whole was an exciting and well-thought story that mostly overcomes the titular monster's weakness.  Maloney's pacing is incredible: moving quickly from one point to another while at times being almost experimental.  The scene where Zoe and the Doctor are being tortured with brain drain, visually speaking, is almost psychedelic.  The themes of free will vs. predestination expressed by Selris' desire to keep things as they are conflicting with Thara's questioning of the status quo can be seen as symbolic of how often things stay stagnant because 'that's the way they've always been'.  Youth, however, is both being sacrificed to maintain the old order (any hints of Vietnam?) and also the ones that finally rebel against the system.

Yes, I may be reading too much into things, but I think that Holmes' story is deeper, richer, and smarter than it has been credited.  Selris comments when learning of Eelek's plan to attack the Krotons head-on,
"It is not patriotism to lead people into a war they cannot win."

I find that line to be remarkably insightful into modern conflicts, from Hitler's mad idea that he could fight a war on two fronts to Syria's Bashar Assad's determination to remain in power even if it means wiping his own people out of existence.

Holmes, along with Maloney and the leads, deserve credit for also putting in moments of comedy in The Krotons and throwing in some surprises.  A surprise in The Krotons is when the Doctor asks ZOE rather than Jamie to accompany him to the Learning Hall.  The subtle message is clear: it's going to be brains, not brawn, that will defeat the Krotons.  This decision also allows Padbury and Troughton to work as a double-act, something that previous Who stories have not allowed given the wonderful chemistry between Hines and Troughton.   We have comic moments in especially tense situations, as when Zoe and the Doctor appear to argue as to who stands where just before their brains are to be absorbed by the Krotons or when the Doctor finds the Learning Machine more difficult than Zoe did.

The interaction between Padbury and Troughton is brilliant, and high praise goes to the former.  In other hands Zoe's high intelligence could have come off as bratty or arrogant, but she manages to make Zoe more innocent about how her high intelligence might be off-putting.  As far as she knows, she just is intelligent, but her nature isn't one that lords it over everyone, even someone like the simple Highlander Jamie.

Of course, that isn't to say Hines and Troughton still can't get in some funny bits between themselves.  For example, when Jamie is caught beneath the door and the Doctor and Zoe are pulling him out before they can be vaporized, the Doctor can be heard shouting, "Jamie, you're getting fat!" Take a look at this exchange between Jamie and the Doctor when Jamie emerges from the Krotons' cell:

The Doctor: How do you feel?
Jamie: Well...
The Doctor: Good.
The Krotons has suffered because the actual Krotons are terrible. However, this is a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Apart from the actual Krotons themselves, The Krotons is a much more complex and richer story than its been given credit for.  I for one am starting a reevaluation of the story, focusing on the acting and story as opposed to weak monsters.  If one turns away from the Krotons, one finds much to appreciate in The Krotons.


Next Story: The Seeds of Death

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Doctor Who Story 046: The Invasion


Who Knew Cybermen Were So Animated?

In The Invasion, we have a bit of a conundrum.  Episodes One and Four of the eight-part story are currently missing.  However, it has been released on DVD intact.  How is this possible?  Animation my friends, and what animation we have.  Somehow, the animated episodes not only work well within the story, they actually enhance it, making it more brilliant.  However, more on that later.  The Invasion brings back the Cybermen in perhaps one of their biggest stories of the Classic Era.   While the length of The Invasion may be a bit too much for the story to hold, on the whole The Invasion pushes Doctor Who to a higher level in almost all departments.

After having the TARDIS restored at the end of The Mind Robber, the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his Companions Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) narrowly escape a rocket launched at them from the Dark Side of the Moon.  They find they have materialized on present (read 1960s) Earth.  Quickly the three are wrapped in a mystery: there's shady and nefarious goings-on involving International Electromatics, a giant conglomerate headed up by the mysterious Tobias Vaughn (Kevin Stoney). 

Soon, we learn Vaughn's scheme: to help the Cybermen invade and conquer Earth!

However, Vaughn has a few tricks up his sleeve.  Ostensibly helping the Cybermen, he really will use them to become sole ruler of Earth.  He has forced scientist Professor Watkins (Edward Burham) to modify a device the good Professor had created.  Originally to help enhance education, Vaughn has it altered to enduce emotion, which would render the Cybermen powerless to him. 

While the Doctor eventually uncovers both Vaughn's scheme and the Cybermen connection, he gets help from an old friend.  Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) from The Web of Fear, now upgraded to Brigadier, has also been investigating International Electromatics, heading up a new organization called UNIT: United Nations International Taskforce.

Eventually, the Cybermen do invade, and with the combined efforts of UNIT and the Doctor & Friends (including Professor Watkins' niece Isabel, played by Sally Faulker), they and their ally Vaughn (who when learning the Cybermen will not make him Earth's ruler turns against them, giving his life in the struggle), they Cybermen are defeated.

Again, I should point out that The Invasion at eight episodes is a very long story, and I think an episode too long.  At Episode Eight we are introduced to some sort of Doomsday Bomb that will destroy Earth should the actual invasion be a bust.  Perhaps I was distracted but I don't remember that ever coming up in the discussions, and to my mind it seemed like Derrick Sherwin had to throw in one last thing to justify there being at least one more hurdle to overcome.

To my mind it seems once the Cybermen are actually defeated, throwing in this last-minute danger from almost out of nowhere is almost superfluous.

However, this last-minute action is only a slight flaw in a brilliant story.  The Invasion is an important Doctor Who story in many ways.  First, it introduces a long-standing group that will be vital as the series continues: UNIT.  As the show would expand, UNIT's role would also grow.  The Invasion therefore is the first to feature not just UNIT, but the character of The Brigadier, who would go on to become a true Doctor Who Icon (as opposed to that horrid rammed-in character of River Song).

Speaking of River, The Invasion is a textbook example of how to integrate characters from other stories right.  In the school of 'everything old is new again', we see that Classic Who, at least during the first six seasons, did what NuWho is doing now: it has characters making return appearances.  Take Professor Travers, who appeared in The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear (the two Yeti stories).  He was scheduled to return again in The Invasion, but Jack Watling proved unavailable, hence the new character of Professor Watkins (although it's clear that Professor Travers was suppose to appear, given the Doctor & Companions went looking for him).   The Invasion also brings back Lethbridge-Stewart from The Web of Fear.

Note that in each case, there was a logical reason to bring back the characters.  Travers/Watkins were scientists who had expertise in the plot, and Lethbridge-Stewart provided the military muscle to take on the threats.  NuWho unfortunately gets wrapped up in its own newly-created mythology by bringing back characters (like Winston Churchill and especially River) and throwing them into the story whether their appearance makes sense or not or are even necessary.  It also wraps the episodes together, rather than have the individual stories tie in with a character or two.  The Invasion has characters we've already seen, but it stands on its own.  In other words, one doesn't have to have seen The Web of Fear to follow The Invasion

This can't be said of NuWho, where if you watch The Angels Take Manhattan first you might be puzzled as to who the central character is or River's relationship with anything involving the plot.  If you next watch River's Secret Parts 1 & 2 (A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler), it becomes more confusing, let alone if you catch any other River-centric episodes (of which I'd argue there are far too many).  Classic Who had references and characters from previous stories, but they were integrated into the new stories and didn't have to have watched the first story because it was independent from the second.  NuWho at times becomes one long story with several episodes rather than various independent stories that it becomes convoluted.

Yet I digress.  The Invasion is brilliantly acted, in particular by Stoney's Vaughn, who keeps a mostly calm and chilling portrayal of a brilliant and evil genius. Stoney had a delightfully wicked manner to him, in particular whenever he said, "Packer" (Peter Halliday) when calling his dim-witted muscle or taking him to task whenever Packer bumbles his tasks (which is quite often, so much so one wonders why Vaughn didn't just shoot him).  When Stoney does rage, it becomes more terrifying because he keeps so calm, almost delightful, in his manner that when he does break it becomes full-on fury.

Even when he changes sides to help the Doctor, it wasn't any appeal to his humanity (given he was part-Cyberman himself, a brilliant and shocking turn), but because of his own megalomaniac motives.  It was a bright idea to not make Vaughn a sympathetic character but to keep him basically evil but who joins the Doctor's fight in the last minute for logical reasons.

Faulkner's Isobel is a great guest star, and it's nice to see Zoe get a girlfriend with whom to interact.  Isobel is not a damsel in distress (most of the time), and in fact she too earns points for being the first woman to tell the Brigadier he is a male chauvinist pig (which he was).  However, she also brought some well-needed lightness to her fun-loving Swingin' Sixties Girl, in particular with her flirtations with Captain Turner (Robert Sideway), whom she called Jimmy.

The Invasion is probably one of Troughton and Hines' finest hours as the perfect Double-Act of Doctor and Companion.  Individually they were great (Troughton's comic moments seemed perfect for his Doctor, while Hines' more man of action fit in with the story), but together they had a great rhythm to where they created moments of adventure and comedy throughout the story.  Padbury's Zoe was one who knew she was brighter than everyone around but she wasn't arrogant, but rather endearing, even childishly determined (as when she would not be defeated by a computer). 

One thing that needs commenting on is Don Harper's score.  At times, the music is quite cinematic, almost sounding like a gangster-film score enhancing the tension.  The cinematography is likewise brilliant.  Douglas Camfield put all these elements together in a masterful way to where The Invasion plays like a feature film. 

In particular are the actual scenes of invasion.  The quick cutting of the population coming across the Cyber Army and the scenes of the Cybermen marching in front of St. Paul's Cathedral is terrifying and brilliant.

Finally, let's move on to the animated Episodes One and Four.  Truth be told, The Invasion is so good that one doesn't even notice when it goes to an animated form.  The animated episodes themselves are so well rendered that the revelation of the Cybermen in Episode Four is actually more terrifying in the reconstruction than in the recap in Episode Five.  The animation is beautifully rendered and makes one wonder whether the other lost stories like The Evil of the Daleks or The Myth Makers couldn't be brought back with animation.

If it weren't for the Doomsday Bomb at the last minute The Invasion would probably be perfect.  Still, the fast pacing, the brilliant acting, the moments of comedy (such as when the Doctor stops to pose for Isobel's picture while everyone else goes after the Cyber Army) and the smooth integration of UNIT and the Brigadier into the Doctor Who mythos: it all works; this is one of the best Second Doctor stories available, even with the missing episodes that with the animation isn't incomplete anymore.    


Next Story: The Krotons