Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Invasion of Time - "Anyone who likes Jelly Babies can't be all bad."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Invasion of Time - Details

Season 15, Story 6 (Overall Series Story #97) | Previous - Next | Index

Are all Gallifreyans Time Lords? Are all Time Lords Gallifreyan? Does every TARDIS have a swimming pool? When did Leela decide to get married and remain on Gallifrey? This was the best plan the Doctor could come up with to protect Gallifrey from the Vardan invasion, really? (And the Vardans themselves ... ~shakes head ruefully~)


Lots of questions and the answers are less than satisfying. What should be a memorable and meaningful story featuring the departure of a companion, being shown parts of the TARDIS we've never seen before, the return of the Sontarans, being exposed to more of Gallifreyan culture ought not to feel so ill-conceived and slight. I understand there was a problem with the serial that was originally planned for this slot in Season 15, forcing the production to team to slap something together very quickly, which makes the decision to take on such meaty parts of the mythology so extraordinarily unwise.

Unfortunately, this is one where Baker's charm and performance is strikingly uneven. He's his usual anarchic, playful self at times, but in some scenes he seems out-of-sorts, almost as if he's not sure how to play the scene or didn't really want to. There were times watching this one where I wondered if he was ill, suffering from the flu or something. His bearing and appearance in the costume are even a little off here, it looks too big for him, like he's lost in it, too deep in the shadow of the brim of his hat, and chin deep in the collar and scarf.

Bow to the Sash of Rassilon
And, of course, we have to acknowledge the odd decision to break the fourth wall, twice, in the most egregious way since "The Daleks' Master Plan." Having recently watched Hartnell toast the viewing audience with holiday well-wishes, I'm not as condemnatory of Baker's remarking to the camera that the even the sonic screwdriver can't get him out of this one, as he does in one cliffhanger. Though I was knocked on my heels a bit by his crazed, lingering, direct-into-the-camera smile at the end of the final episode. The thing is, while they are plainly Baker breaking convention, we can at least imagine that the Doctor was talking to himself in the first instance and was having a bit of a manic reaction to Leela and K-9 Mark 1 leaving him in the second, the camera just happening to be pointed directly at his face.  The scenes could have still played out the same way if they'd been filmed from a different angle. (It's a stretch, I know, but my point is Hartnell's toast simply could not be imagined the same way.)

It's problematic, yet watchable. Has a few nice touches among all the baffling decisions that beg for it be retconned away. It's watchable, but not essential.

The inspiration for Clint Eastwood's chair routine at the 2012 RNC?
Leaving some stray observations and remarks here as I head out to enjoy the waning daylight hours of this gorgeous Saturday afternoon ...

If you're playing Artifacts of Rassilon bingo, this one calls out the Rod, Sash, Crown and Key. (Look elsewhere for the Tomb, Seal, Ring, Coronet, Black Scrolls, Harp, Gauntlet, and Star to fill your card.)

Did the Wachowskis ever acknowledge the debt The Matrix owes to (among other things) DW?

Boy, this story loves to transition with a quick cut from someone saying something to someone contradicting that statement. It's funny once or twice, an obvious crutch after that.

Andred really should have taken his gloves off before fishing around for keys. The scene where he fumbles with a bunch of keys to try in the TARDIS door with those bulky gloves on feels like it drags on while we wonder why he didn't just take the silly things off ...

The idea of Gallifrey have a Citadel full of elites and a wasteland filled with barbarians could have been interesting. It's a shame it's not.

Back at the pool ...



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