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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
U.N.I.T Files
(Invasion of the Dinosaurs / The Android Invasion)


Starring: Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker
RRP: £30.63
Certificate: PG
Available 09 January 2012

Another year means another Doctor Who box set, the theme this time is UNIT with the inclusion of the third Doctor's run in with dinosaurs and the fourth Doctor battling an alien incursion.

When the Doctor and Sarah-Jane return to London they find it uncharacteristically quiet, that is until they run into a looter and get arrested by the army. They quickly discover the source of these strange events as UNIT have been battling dinosaurs which appear and disappear, apparently at random. With the Doctor reunited with UNIT he sets about solving the mystery…

Invasion of the Dinosaurs is a six part story staring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. The show was originally transmitted between 12 January and 16 February 1974. Directed by Paddy Russell from a story by Malcolm Hulke it appeared in the eleventh season of the series.

Let’s get the usual criticism out of the way, everybody who saw the show and everybody who worked on it agree that the actual dinosaurs were not only completely rubbish, but that their failure overshadowed many good aspects of the story.

That said, not even the most generous review can hide the cracks in the story. When the show gets passed its set up we have a tale of ultra-green evangelists who plan to turn the world back to the time of the dinosaurs to avert, what they see as, the imminent death of the planet.

Not only that, but, they have conned a bunch of particularly dim acolytes into believing that they are being sent to a nearby, earth-like planet, regardless of the fact that no propulsion exists which would get them there. Worse still, is the central idea that a bunch of humans could even survive living next to dinosaurs, had their plan come to fruition they would have provided less of a new beginning and more of a dino-snack.

Amongst all this nonsense is a good character driven story, with Sarah-Jane having a particularly strong part.

Invasion is presented over two discs, the first holding primarily the six episode story, including a colour version of episode one, as well as a full length commentary with Toby Hadoke and Paddy Russell, from episode two he is joined by Terrence Dicks, Richard Franklin, Peter Miles and Richard Morris.

The main bulk of the extras reside on disc two and kick off with People, Power and puppetry (32 min, 44 sec) has the crew trying to big up the plot of Invasion, I have to say with some success. Let’s face it, if the dinosaurs had never appeared this would have been a story better thought of. There are a couple of deleted scenes (4 min, 49 sec) as well as another in the Now and Then (13 min, 44 sec) series, which looks at how the locations have changed over time.

There is a delightful feature, Doctor Who Stories: Elisabeth Sladen - Part 1 (14 min, 01 sec), with Elisabeth talking about her time on the show, from her first interview to becoming a regular on the series. There is a short commentary from John Levene (10 min, 16 sec) and a short sequence from Billy Smarts Circus (1 min 43 sec) with Jon Pertwee introducing an act from his whomaville. The disc is topped off with PDF materials, a photo gallery and subtitles.

Landing in what appears to be an ordinary English village, the Doctor and Sarah-Jane soon realises that things are not what they seen. They have landed on the planet Oseidon, the residents of which are planning an invasion and have duped an Earth astronaut to help refine their plans.

The Android Invasion is four-part story staring Tom Baker as the Doctor, still with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. The story was originally transmitted between 22 November and 13 December 1975. The show was directed by Barry Letts from a Terry Nation script.

Although Nation had written many non-Dalek stories, it was unusual for him to provide one for the show. What he did was rewrite a very English idea previously explored by John Wyndham amongst others. The cast have a good time with a solid plot.

For the extras there is another full length commentary overseen by Toby Hadoke, with contributions from Philip Hinchcliffe, Milton Johns and Marion McDonald. The Villager that came to Life (30 min, 58 sec), presented by Nicholas Briggs, sees the cast and crew look back on making the story. Life after Who: Philip Hinchcliffe (29 min, 38 sec) has Celina Hinchcliffe discussing with her father his long and distinguished career, opening up what happened to him after he moved on from Doctor Who.

The disc also contains a random Weetabix advert (34 sec) featuring the Daleks as well as the usual PDF materials, photo gallery, listings production notes and Coming Soon for The Sensorites.

With the extras and especially the colour version of episode one of invasion, this is a well-rounded and desirable set.


Charles Packer

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