Monday 12 March 2012

476 The Invasion of Time Part Three

EPISODE: The Invasion of Time Part Three
TRANSMITTED: 18 February 1978
WRITER: David Agnew (a.k.a. Graham Williams and Anthony Read)
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Invasion Of Time

The shimmering alien invaders, named as Vardans, take control as the Doctor enquires as to if the redecorations of his office have been finished. The Vardans order the Doctor to find the great key. Finding the lead panelling in place in his rooms the Doctor is finally able to talk with Borusa his old teacher and confides in his plans. He tells him of the Vardans' plans and how the lead in the room shields them from their telepathic abilities. Andred catches Leela & Rodan escaping from the citadel, but rather than turn them in he helps them escape. In the Wilderness beyond the citadel Leela & Rodan are quickly captured by a tribe of outsiders who have rejected Time Lord society. Kelner sets a bodyguard over the Doctor with orders to report everything the Doctor does to him. The Doctor, Chancellor Borusa & Castellan Kelner meet with the Vardans, but Borusa refuses to obey them and is placed under house arrest. Kelner is ordered to crush any resistance and to produce a list of troublemakers. The troublemakers are expelled from the citadel. The Doctor is ordered to dismantle the shields surrounding Gallifrey. Andred decides the Doctor has betrayed them and follows him to the Tardis. K-9 is connected to the Matrix as Andred arrives and pulls a gun on the Doctor.

So.... the Vardans. Hardly in the episode and when they are they're a sheet of bacofoil jiggling around like it needs the toilet (thank you Liz). Not the world's most successful monster are they? But we know they're powerful telepathic superbeings: the Doctor's told us so. Liz is with me watching this and we both collapsed in fits of giggles as the Doctor opens his coat and says "do you know what this is?" to the guard? It's the Sash of Rassilon but the dialogue immediately makes you think the Doctor is indecently exposing himself!

Is this the first appearance of the longer version of the end theme on a Tom Baker episode? I think so, it's the first time we've heard the middle bit for a while.

One of the main problems I have with this story is the presence of Christopher Tranchell as Andred. Not because it's a bad performance, though it isn't the greatest, more because I associate him with presenting Play School when I was younger. It'd be like the new series having Justin Fletcher as the chief Time Lord guard in the new series! Tranchell had previously appeared as Roger Colbert in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve and Jenkins in The Faceless Ones. He later finds himself being given the cold shoulder by the BBC for his left wing political leanings. John Arnatt becomes the second person to play Borusa after Angus MacKay portrayed him in the Deadly Assassin. Milton Johns, playing Castellan Kelner, is putting in the sort of performance that wouldn't be out of place on one of the many sitcom appearances on his CV. He'd worked on Doctor Who twice before as Benik in The Enemy of the World and Guy Crayford in The Android Invasion, both directed by Barry Letts. Charles Morgan, as Gold Usher, is the sole actor in this story to have appeared director Gerald Blake's previous Doctor Who: he was Songsten in The Abominable Snowmen. A thought: imagine how different the serial would have been if Blake had also recalled Norman Jones, Khrisong in The Abominable Snowmen, instead of the similarly named Milton Johns and have him play Kelner instead?

Two more of the Time Lord actors have even earlier Doctor Who form appearing in Hartnell stories: Dennis Edwards, Lord Gomer, was a Centurion in The Romans while Reginald Jessup, Lord Savar, was the Servant in The Massacre while one of the Vardans, Tom Kelly we've seen much more recently as different Guards in both the The Face of Evil & The Sun Makers.

Finally getting a major part in a Doctor Who story is regular supporting artist & stuntman Max Faulkner, playing outsider leader Nesbin. He'd previously been in The Ambassadors of Death as a UNIT soldier, The Monster of Peladon as a miner, Planet of the Spiders as a Guard Captain, Genesis of the Daleks as a Thal Guard & The Android Invasion as Corporal Adams as well as fight arranging Hand of Fear. This is his final credited Doctor Who appearance. His fellow Outsider Presta is played by Gay Smith who, according to Wikipedia, is now a famous race-horse trainer in Australia!

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