Tuesday 10 January 2012

414 The Android Invasion Part One

EPISODE: The Android Invasion Part One
TRANSMITTED: 22 November 1975
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Barry Letts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: UNIT Files: Invasion of the Dinosaurs & The Android Invasion

A UNIT soldier walks jerkily through some woods. The Tardis materialise nearby. The Doctor is suspicious, which is confirmed when they are attached by white spacesuited figures with guns built into their index fingers. They escape but witness the soldier throw himself off a cliff into a quarry. Investigating the body the Doctor is worried by his pocket of freshly minted and identically dated coins. They find a burnt object nearby that the Doctor thinks reminds him of something but the white suited figures find & attack them. Seeking sanctuary in the nearby village they find themselves in Devesham, where Sarah has been before on a story. The village seems deserted and the pub is empty, but glasses sit half drunk on tables, the Doctor likening it to the Marie Celeste. All the coins in the till are freshly minted too. Sarah recalls her previous visit was to the nearby Space Centre. The Doctor wonders if there had be a radiation leak or similar escaped substance. The white suited figures walk through the village accompanied by the soldier. A truck arrives with the villagers sat in the back. They emerge, Sarah identifying the pub Landlord, with several entering the pub, and as the clock strikes they resume their normal activities & conversations. The Doctor goes to the Space Center to contact UNIT leaving Sarah in the pub where she is quickly detected and treated with suspicion by the locals. The Landlord thinks she might be part of the test and asks her to leave. Sarah catches sight of one of the white suited figures with it's visor up and discovers it's a robot. Arriving at the Space Center the Doctor is ignored by the stationary guard. Sarah returns to the Tardis, but as she puts the key in the lock she discovers another of the burnt pods and investigates. As she does the Tardis dematerialises. The pod opens and an arm emerges grabbing at Sarah and attempting to strangle her. At the space centre Crayford is contacted by his unseen superior Stygron who has detected movement in the complex. The Doctor enters the Brigadier's deserted office and is captured by Crayford, who has heard of him. He tells him that the Brigadier is in Geneva and Colonel Faraday is in command. The Doctor escapes, being shot at by UNIT troops but is recaptured by the white suited robots. Sarah sees and follows at a discrete distance. The Doctor is locked in a cell where Sarah attempts to free him. However they are observed by a hideous alien face.....

Oh thats fabulous stuff that is! Doctor Who doesn't do "little country villages with something not quite right" as often as you think (the only previous example is the Daemons) and here it works superbly with the villagers behaving very oddly, the UNIT corporal coming back from the dead and the odd sight of the white space suited figures wandering through woods, fields and country lanes. Something's going on but what is it? Set the mystery up in the first episode and let it run. Top Episode, best first episode for a long while. Sadly my memory of the story has it that things do go *slightly* down hill from here but hey ho. This is Terry Nation's first non Dalek story since Keys of Marinus in 1964 and Barry Letts' first turn in the Director's chair since giving up as producer.

The locations for Android Invasion are all located in Oxfordshire not that far from each other. The village scenes were filmed in East Hagbourne, just four miles from The National Radiological Protection Board in Didcot which serves as the Space Centre. Tubney Wood, close to the A420 which links Oxford & Swindon, provides the woodland locations seen in this episode while Worsham Quarry, 11 miles to the North, provides the quarry location where the dead UNIT Corporal was found.

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