Doctor Who Invasion of hte Dinosaurs
One of the sadly overlooked adventures from the Pertwee era
of Doctor Who is Invasion of the Dinosaurs.
The only time I saw this story previous to screening the DVD was
years ago or so, and the only thing I remembered about was the aspect
everyone recalls: it's the one with the
really crappy dinosaurs. Yeah, they are
embarrassingly bad, even for Doctor Who
which is famous for its abysmal looking creatures (I didn't want to
turn anyone off so there's only a single screen cap at the very bottom
of hte review), but they don't appear that
often and if you can get past that there's a very good story with some
interesting ideas and a message you don't often see in SF.
The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith return from space in the
TARDIS and land right in the middle of London. The
odd thing is, it's totally deserted. When
they do discover someone he attacks them
and soon after that they're arrested my the military police for being
It turns out that London, and
only central London,
has been invaded by dinosaurs. The giant
creatures will appear at random, stay around for a while, and then
disappear. Sometimes they are placid
herbivores, and other times vicious meat-eaters that kill people. The only people left in the city, aside from
some looters, are UNIT forces and some Army troops.
The whole operation is under the command of British
Army officer General Finch (John Bennett).
In addition there are a few government personnel, including
with Special Responsibilities Sir Charles Grover (Noel Johnson).
Once the Doctor is reunited with the Brigadier and brought
up to speed, he quickly realizes that the dinosaurs are being brought
time from somewhere in London. He comes up with a device that will capture a
dinosaur and knock it out. When it goes
back to its own era the readings should allow The Doctor to pinpoint
of the time machine. Sarah figures that
a time machine would take a lot of power and goes off in search of a
nuclear power plant.
Of course The Doctor is right, there's an intelligence
behind the dinosaur appearances, and a conspiracy to make sure he
figure out what's going on. A group has
decided that humanity is on the wrong course and that the world is
damaged. They want to erase the last few
millennia of history are start over with a hand-picked group of
ecologically-minded pacifists who will guide the earlier version of man
better future. That does involve wiping
out everyone on the planet, but since they're changing history it will
like they were never born, they won't be killing them.
At least that's who they're justifying it.
While I'll be the first to admit that the special effects
for the dinosaurs are absolutely wretched, the rest of the adventure is
good, which wasn't always the case for a six-part story.
There was a good amount of suspense, some
nice twists, and I especially like how Sarah really stepped up to the
plate. She came up with a great way of
discovering where the time machine was, and while she does get captured
than once) she escapes on her own and is instrumental in resolving the
situation. She's much more than just
someone screaming for The Doctor to save her.
The other great aspect of this show is how they portrayed
the villains: they were people who
basically had the right ideas but that they took it way too far and
evil. When the idea of ecology is first
introduced in the story, The Doctor is a big proponent of the concept. They don't paint the basic tenets of the
antagonists as wacky or just wrong... it's the fact that they go way too
that's wrong. It's their inflexibility
that is the flaw, and it's scary how apt that is today, especially in
This release is a two-disc affair. The six episode story is on disc one
the second one is reserved for the bulk of the special features.
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits the show
fine. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but the
generally crisp and clear and there is no background noise, tape hiss,
distortion or dropouts. There are optional subtitles in English.
I was pleased with the full frame color image. Only a B&W
copy of the
first episode still survives and that plays by default.
It's okay, though the dark scenes in the
garage have a lot of grain and banding. There
is also a colorized version of the episode on disc one that can be
the extras menu if you prefer watching it that way.
(I screened the episode in black and white
but spot-checked the color version and they did a very good job. The added color looks natural and doesn't
have any of the flaws that early colorized products were plagued with
(bleeding, slow, jerky motion since they cut out frames during action
etc.). I was ready to skewer the color
version, but I really can't. As for the
rest of the serial, the Restoration Team did their usual top-notch job.
The colors are nice and the fine detail is
good. The blacks are pretty strong too. There are some
are a bit softer than I'd like but it's not a big deal though.
very comparable to the other Who
releases from this time frame, which means your getting a pretty solid
This disc has some good extras included, but nothing that really got me
excited. The commentary track is
actually done in two parts. Three
episodes have director Paddy Russell discussing her role in the story
others have various members of the cast and crew (actors Richard
Yates), Peter Miles (Professor Whitaker), Terence Wilton (Mark), script
Terrence Dicks, and set designer Richard Morris together in different
combinations on various episodes) reminiscing.
All are moderated by Toby Hadoek.
The Paddy Russell tracks are a bit dry and they should have
her down to one or two episodes. One of
the installments they spend almost exclusively discussing her other
work in TV,
which I found pretty uninteresting since I hadn't heard of a lot of the
shows. The other tracks were more
with everything (especially Terrence Dicks) taking shots at the crappy
dinosaurs. There's also a stand alone commentary to a ten-minute except
one of the episodes by actor John Levine (Sgt. Benton).
The first featurette is People,
Power and Puppetry, a half hour look at the show with many of the
who appear on the commentary tracks appearing for interviews. It's a nice overview of the filming and talks
about why the dinosaurs looked so wretched.
I also really enjoyed Doctor Who
Stories: Elisabeth Sladen Part One, a 14 minutes bit where the late
companion reminisces about some of the more memorable events in filming
episodes she was involved with.
There's also a Now and Then featurette that's pretty
standard, a one minute clip from some show called Billy Smart's Circus
Jon Pertwee appears in the Whomobile, and four minutes worth of deleted
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option
which is very informative as always. It does give some dry
statistics, like how many people viewed each episode, but there are
interesting notes such as script changes that were made and background
information on the supporting characters. The extras are rounded
storyboard comparison, a trailer for the story, a photo gallery, and
listing from the Radio Times in .pdf format.
Though I remembered this as being a mediocre-at-best adventure, I was
to discover that it was actually quite good and much more developed
the strong script by Malcolm Hulke. With
some nice twists and an interesting plot, this story deserves more
than it has generally received, crappy dinosaurs and all.