15x6. The Invasion of Time
Writers: Anthony Read & Graham Williams (as David Agnew)
Director: Gerald Blake
Script Editor: Anthony Read
Producer: Graham Williams
Synopsis: The Doctor pretends
to cooperate with an alien race called the Vardans, who are planning to
invade Gallifrey, and to this end he claims Gallifrey's Presidency and
appears to betray his people. But upon stopping the Vardan invasion, he
discovers that the Sontarans are also planning an invasion, and they
use the opportunity to launch their own attack.
Review: "The Invasion of Time"
is perhaps most interesting for showing the Doctor as a more deceptive
and manipulative character than we're accustomed to seeing. He makes a
convincing show of betraying Gallifrey to the Vardans, going so far as
to shun and eventually banish Leela while treating those around him in
an arrogant and bullying fashion. While the impact is somewhat lessened
by knowing (to us repeat viewers) that it's an act, it's still the
first time we've seen the Fourth Doctor carry on this sort of ruse for
such a long time, and it isn't until Episode 3 that the script clearly
lets us see him drop the pretense in order to let Borusa in on the
plan. The portrayal of Gallifrey as a corrupt, declining aristocracy
isn't as striking as it was in "The Deadly Assassin," but it's still
effective in showing the Doctor's home planet as powerful but largely
complacent and ineffectual. Leela, in what turns out to be her swan
song, has a strong role in mounting a resistance against the Vardans
while still trusting that the Doctor must have some grand plan
underneath his apparent betrayal.
Unfortunately, there are some very questionable storytelling choices along the way, notably:
1. By K-9's own estimate, the Vardan invasion would have been more
likely to fail than not, if not for the Doctor's sabotage...so why is
the ruse needed in the first place? Couldn't he have just gone to
Gallifrey and warned them about the impending attack? After all,
several people do end up getting killed during the course of his
2. Leela exits the series on the basis of some sort of romance with the
Gallifreyan guard Andred, despite having little significant interaction
with him until the end, and the Doctor is still calling her a "savage"
at the end, implying that he thinks she's really learned very little
from her travels with him.
3. While I don't want to wade too deeply into the whole "the Graham Williams
era is too jokey" debate, at least not yet, most of the sixth episode
consists of a weirdly lax and flippant chase through the TARDIS that
undermines the idea that this Sontaran invasion is really a matter of
any significant concern.
4. The Doctor eventually finds the Great Key of Rassilon and uses it to
build a "demat gun" with which he stops the Sontaran attack. Okay, so
this vitally important relic of Gallifreyan history has remained hidden
for all this time because whoever has it might be able to...build a
really big gun with it? Seriously? That's it?
What this amounts to is a story that announces itself as a Really Big
Deal but fails to establish itself as such in the details of the plot
and the style of storytelling. I'm aware that the script was apparently
written in a hurry by the relatively new producer-script editor team of
Graham Williams and Anthony Read due to behind-the-scenes difficulties.
However, that may just be a lesson that it's unwise to throw everything
and the Gallifreyan kitchen sink into a script when you're working
under a tight deadline. "The Invasion of Time" gets points for
attempting some interesting things, but it has too many flaws to be
considered a success.
Rating: **1/2 (out of four)
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