The Invasion of TimeBookmark and Share

Thursday, 14 December 2006 - Reviewed by Robert Tymec

Another classic example in the series where I can let the "fun" of the story make up for some of its lack of quality. 

I will admit, "The Invasion Of Time" is one of the Tom Baker stories from my collection that I re-watch the most often. No, it's not some superbly-written, magnificently-crafted piece of brilliance like its predecessor "Deadly Assassin" was. But it is a pleasantly-surprising romp with some fairly minor flaws and some truly "inspired" moments too. 

One of those more inspired moments is the treatment of the title character. The Doctor is going home again - something the series always makes a big deal of - but along with this return is a very strange approach to the Doctor himself. Is he genuinely betraying his own people? Why is he acting so rotten? It must be a plan, of course - but it was great fun that it took two-and-a-half episode to finally reveal it. And though Colin really messed with our heads with his Doctor seeming evil, this is the first time we see this of Tom. The first time we see this, ever, in the series. That kind of boldness always impresses me. Especially with such an iconic hero. 

While on the subject of the main character, this really is Tom Baker at his best. Especially when you take into consideration just how little plot there is in episode two. He carries that episode on his shoulders by just being so bloody enjoyable to watch - particularly the monologue he performs alone in Borussa's office as he looks for the hidden exit (I love it when he tells an imaginary Borussa he's speaking latin!). He also strikes one of his best balances between the serious and comedic side of Doctor Four in this story. There are some great moments of silliness in his performance but also some very serious times (oftentimes highlighted with some neat fanfare). And, occasionally, we get a neat little dose of pathos with moments like him locking Leela out of the TARDIS and having to plug his ears as she hammers away to be let in. 

K-9 and Leela are also extremely well-used in this story. Particularly K-9, as he uses Gallifrey's greatest relics in order to save the day (though, I'm not sure, exactly, how the rod, sash and coronet empower him to do some of the things he does). All truth be told, I have always had mixed feelings about K-9. A cheesy robot dog seems more like something a bad American sci-fi series might do. But this story definitely handles him well. The banter between him and the Doctor is another factor that carries things along nicely when the plot gets a bit thin. 

Next, we have the Vardans. Definitely a villain that works better in theory than on-screen. The superimposed plastic wrap is just plain silly-looking. But, even with such a bad visual, the intent behind it is kind of neat. And the whole idea of them being able to broadcast themselves on any wavelength is quite clever. Of equal cleverness, of course, is how the Doctor manages to work around that and eventually take them down. 

The delightful cliffhanger at the end of part four is highly memorable. Especially since the production team was smart enough to use an established baddie. I awaited Episode Five with baited breath. 

And what fun we have in those last two episodes. Yes, the TARDIS appears to have rooms that aren't rondel-covered (oh horror amongst horrors!) but it is still nice to finally get such a nice tour of the place. And if it means we don't get a perfect sense of continuity, oh well. The gardens and swimming pools and lifts were all great fun. The fact that big nasty Sontarans are traipsing through them at the same time just makes this all the more enjoyable. 

Finally, we have a really good ending even if it is a bit "hasty" in places. Not just Leela's sudden decision to run off with Andred. But even Stor's decision to just suddenly blow up Gallifrey seems a bit at odds. Still, I love the whole "wisdom of Rassillon" moment with Borussa. It's a nice touch. Incidentally, of all the actors to take on this character, I enjoyed this performer the most. Wish he had come back one or two more times. Boy can that Borussa regenerate sometimes, eh? 

So, even though I will swear to the end of my life that Deadly Assassin is easily one of, if not, the best Who stories of all time. It's sequel, though disappointing in some spots, is really a lot better than a lot of fans make of it. Enough so, that I think I've actually watched this story more often than I have Assassin. Because, in the end, there's just a lot more fun in this one. And sometimes, fun can get a bit of a mediocre tale to rise above itself.

FILTER: - Television - Series 15 - Fourth Doctor