to present-day Earth, the Doctor and Sarah discover London
to be deserted and under martial law. Having been mistaken
for looters by the militia, they soon realise why the capital
has been evacuated - dinosaurs are materialising out of thin
main disadvantage of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, the
final complete Doctor Who story to be released on video,
is the prehistoric creatures themselves.
Quite apart from the fact that the dinosaur puppets aren't
sufficiently detailed or articulated, we experience the usual
problems that arise when CSO, a video-based technology, is
mixed with filmed footage of location work and model shots.
Ironically, the very first CSO effect in Doctor Who
was a dinosaur effect, in The Silurians, but that was
achieved entirely on videotape. When video and film footage
are combined in the same shot, the "wobble" that is inherent
in film becomes very noticeable, as do the different visual
qualities of the two media. Producer Barry Letts would eventually
overcome these problems in Robot, the first Tom Baker
story, which made use of outside broadcast video cameras for
its location recording.
not even videotape could have made the pitiful tyrannosaurus
rex in Invasion of the Dinosaurs look terrifying. As
it leans over to attack a brontosaurus outside a tube station
while the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) looks on, you almost expect
to see the hands of a small boy, playing with his plastic
toys, intruding into the shot. Jurassic Park it isn't.
We've used to seeing naff monsters in Doctor Who, but
the trouble with dinosaurs is that the audience already have
a clear idea of what they should be seeing.
all the effects are risible, though. The stegosaurus in part
two and the triceratops in the final episode aren't too bad,
but then they don't have to move about much.
the monsters are on screen for only a limited time. There
are hardly any of them in parts four and five. Elsewhere,
Malcolm Hulke's moralistic script comes into its own. The
only cliffhanger that does not involve dinosaurs is a masterstroke
of surprise. With its eerie deserted London streets, which
recall the classic Troughton tale, The Web of Fear,
and the military power struggle that takes place between the
Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) and General Finch (John Bennett),
this is actually the second-strongest story of the eleventh
season (after The Time Warrior).
Mike Yates' (Richard Franklin) role in the conspiracy is introduced
with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but consider how
shocking the betrayal of this recurring character must have
been back in 1974. This was long-term character development,
the seeds of which had been sown in the previous season's
The Green Death, and which would resonate into the
season finale, Planet of the Spiders, long before "story
arcs" were the in-thing in telefantasy.
first episode, which is simply entitled Invasion, exists
only in black and white. This is because the colour tapes
were accidentally wiped when the Troughton story The Invasion
was due to be junked - d'oh!
its monochrome opening and its dodgy dinosaurs, there's plenty
of fun to be had watching this story.
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