Friday 24 February 2012

459 The Invisible Enemy Part Two

EPISODE: The Invisible Enemy Part Two
TRANSMITTED: 08 October 1977
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Derrick Goodwin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: K9 Tales Box Set (Invisible Enemy/K9 and Company)

The Virus orders the Doctor to attack Leela but after wildly firing the gun he collapses, with a strange hairy growth on his hands. He puts himself into a trance to preserve his strength. Lowe, concealing the growth round his eyes with a visor, helps Leela take the Doctor to the Tardis and they journey to the Bi-Al foundation in the asteroid belt to seek help for the Doctor. He is taken to their isolation ward for treatment while Lowe is sent to the eye section. Professor Marius examines the Doctor assisted by his robot dog/computer K-9, who detects the Doctor's alien origins and the virus infection. The Doctor awakes while being examined and deduces how he was infected in the Tardis. Lowe infects the staff treating him. Leela seeks the Doctor but is prevented from seeing him by K-9, until Marius arrives. He wishes to have Leela scanned to discover why she is immune. Lowe and his infected medics approach where the Doctor is being treated. A second shuttle is infected by the organism and crashed into the Bi-Al space station isolating the level the Doctor is on. Lowe's team find a way round through a service shaft. Leela attacks the approaching infected medics. The Doctor has Marius clone himself and Leela. K-9 takes over the defence of the ward. Lowe issues Marius with an ultimatum and gives him 2 minutes to surrender. The Doctor clone fetches some equipment from the Tardis which he uses to shrink both himself and the Leela clone which are injected into the real Doctor as Lowe tells Marius that his time is up.

Want to tell me how, even armed with the co-ordinates, Leela managed to fly the Tardis to the Bi-Al foundation? No I don't know either, and that's the distinct impression I got from the episode watching it.

But what this episode is most famous for is the introduction of K-9, Professor Marius' mobile dog shaped computer. He's often presented as Doctor Who's answer to R2-D2 in Star Wars, but at the time of the story's writing Star Wars was still a few months in the future and at the point of broadcast (8th October 1977) had yet to be released in the UK (27th December 1977). The mechanical prop became the bane of the show's existence but it's voice artist, actor John Leeson (who also voices the Virus Nucleus) was a big hit crawling around on the floor in rehearsals in place of the prop. Up until Doctor Who his best known role was as Bungle in Rainbow but while in Doctor Who would also voice Jigg in Jigsaw, a children's series created by former Doctor Who vision mixer Clive Doig, alongside presenter Janet Ellis (Horns of the Nimon) and O-Man Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor).

We're still a year (in program time) away from the point where I started watching the show, but this episode represents the first piece of Doctor Who I saw from before I started watching it. In 1980ish a section from this episode, the piece where Leela meets K-9, was played on a Saturday morning TV program. It was almost certainly Noel Edmonds' Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and I suspect was in connection with the BBC announcing plans to write K-9 out of the series which was met with much protest in the media.

One actor & character is only seen in this episode: Kenneth Waller who plays the medic Hedges. He later plays "Old" Mr. Grace in the famed sitcom Are You Being Served?. Meanwhile K-9 creator Professor Marius is played by Frederick Jaeger who was Jano in The Savages and Sorenson in Planet of Evil. His performance is a somewhat stereotypical mad scientist and owes some debt to Professor Heinz Wolff who was making a name for himself on television when this program aired, later going on to present The Great Egg Race. Marius's assistant Parsons is played by Roy Herrick who was Jean in The Reign of Terror and one of the voices of Xoanon in The Face of Evil.

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