Because The Invasion is split across two DVDs, the menu screen leads my wife down the garden path.
Sue: Four episodes. Excellent.
I know I’ll pay for it later, but for now I decide not to correct her mistake.
Sue: Does it move?
Sue: What the hell is this? You said it moved.
Me: It is moving! Look – their mouths are opening and closing and everything!
Sue: You made me perform our real episode dance under false pretences. I’ll never trust you again.
Once she gets over the initial shock, Sue starts to appreciate the animated episode on its own terms.
Sue: This is pretty good, actually. It’s very moody. Why couldn’t they have done this for all the missing episodes?
Me: Well, they are animating a William Hartnell story as we speak.
Sue: And how’s that supposed to help me, exactly?
The TARDIS’ visual stabiliser is on the blink, so when it lands on Earth, it’s completely invisible.
Sue: So the TARDIS has a cloaking device? Since when? Actually, if the TARDIS did what it was supposed to do, and it blended in with its surroundings, it wouldn’t need a bloody cloaking device. He really needs to get that fixed.
The Doctor takes Sue’s advice and sets out to repair his dodgy circuits.
Sue: I really like the music in this story.
Me: Sadly, this is Don Harper’s one and only score for the programme. Dudley Simpson was the de facto composer at this point, but the director fell out with him over a misunderstanding involving a bottle of champagne and refused to work with him.
Sue: I wish all the directors had fallen out with Dudley Simpson. This is a great soundtrack. You can almost hum along to it.
The Doctor and his companions arrive at Professor Travers’ house.
Sue: So is Professor Travers the Doctor’s bezzie-mate or something?
Me: Yes, he was the James Corden of his time. The Doctor is always popping in for a chat.
However, Professor Travers and Anne are in America, and their house has been taken over by a dolly bird who’s taking photos of herself.
Sue: She’s doing a Scarlett Johansson.
The Doctor and Jamie arrive at International Electromatics in search of Isobel’s scientist father. Unfortunately, their progress is hampered by a computerised receptionist.
Sue: This is exactly what it’s like when you talk to BT today. When is this episode supposed to be set?
Before we can broach this thorny subject, Tobias Vaughn distracts Sue with his suave charm.
Sue: He’s such a Bond villain. Where’s his cat? And why does his office sound like a lift? What’s with all the muzak? And is it just me or has he ‘whited-up’?
Me: That’s a new one.
Sue: He’s like Steve Jobs. Look at him giving out iPods like they were sweets. I bet IE have really sexy packaging as well.
The episode concludes with the revelation that Vaughn is working with – gasp – aliens.
Sue: I like the way the music blended into the credits. That was clever. I really enjoyed that. I wish all the recons were like that.
Sue: This is very gritty. It’s a bit like Get Carter.
Me: But with slightly less pornography.
Sue: You can almost see Isobel’s knickers.
Me: I rest my case.
Sue: Is Packer looking through a hole in the door?
Me: No, that’s early video conferencing.
Now that we’re watching a real episode again, Sue can’t wait to comment on its direction.
Sue: Douglas Camfield is great, isn’t he?
Me: Wow! You did it again! That is amaz…
Sue: I saw his name in the credits for the last one, you idiot. But seriously, you know you’re in safe hands with Douglas. He’s the best Doctor Who director by a mile.
The Doctor and Jamie are abducted by two men (“No, I didn’t know that one of them played a Yeti”) and taken to… wait for it… the Brigadier.
Sue: It’s UNIT! And about time, too! I feel safer already. All I need now is for the Master to turn up and I’m all set.
Meanwhile, Vaughn is chatting to the alien machine that’s hiding in his cupboard.
Sue: Oh great, another shit robot with an impossible-to-understand voice. Why did they have to ruin this story with that? I can’t see that invading the building’s foyer, let alone a planet. What a shame.
Zoe and Isobel find themselves up against IE’s automated reception computer.
Sue: This computer isn’t what you’d call user-friendly. Where’s the button that says ‘press here to start’? No wonder they don’t get that many visitors.
Zoe bamboozles the computer with an unsolvable equation and it blows itself up.
Sue: She’s even cleverer than the Doctor. That’s interesting.
When Vaughn discovers that the Doctor might be an alien, he tells Packer to capture Zoe and Isobel so he can use them as bait.
Sue: These two make a great double act. I could watch these two all day. How long do you think Packer and Vaughn have been lovers?
I can do a pretty good impersonation of Tobias Vaughn, even if I do say so myself. Anyway, the episode concludes with Jamie trying – and failing – to escape from the henchman we love to hate.
Sue: I’m getting tired of Jamie. He’s like a bull in a china shop.
Sue: You’ve gotta love the Camfield. That moment where Jamie walked through the car – I bet it wasn’t in the script – was such a great character moment. Everyone is pulling out the stops for this one. You know, I wouldn’t be ashamed to show this to a normal person. It feels like proper telly.
Me: Do you like the way they’ve managed to save money by using the same set in two different locations?
Sue: Yes. And since all the Apple Stores look exactly the same, it makes perfect sense. Seriously, this story is years ahead of its time.
We enjoy watching Packer as he descends into madness (his nail-biting is a very neat touch), and even though the Doctor’s escape is almost farcical at times, Sue still laps it up.
Sue: I’m surprised Jamie didn’t go up the ladder first so the Doctor could peek up his skirt. He missed a trick, there.
As they ascend a lift shaft – “This reminds me of a Star Wars film” – Sue is distracted by some graffiti.
Sue: Whatever happened to Kilroy? You never see him any more. Or Chad. Whatever happened to Chad?
And then Vaughn completely loses his cool and it’s ****ing terrifying.
Sue: He’s a brilliant actor. He was great in that Dalek story, but he’s even better in this. You can’t take your eyes off him.
The Doctor and Jamie are on the run from IE’s goons when they take refuge in a nearby railway siding. They find some crates in an IE train and Jamie is forced to crawl inside one. But he isn’t alone.
Sue: It’s obviously Zoe in that trunk. Here’s your chance, son.
Sue: I love four-parters – they zing along at just the right pace. No flab, no holidays for the Doctor, just a nice adventure that doesn’t outstay its welcome. Every Doctor Who story should be four parts.
I am so dead.
Sue: Damn, it’s animated again.
Me: I thought you said you liked the animation?
Sue: I do, but I was enjoying the real-life performances. It’s a shame the final episode doesn’t exist. Still, this is the next best thing, I suppose.
Dead, I tell you.
Sue: They are talking up the alien something rotten, but it isn’t very convincing, is it? I mean, it’s just a climbing frame made from plastic cups and bits of wheel trim, and it’s sitting in a cupboard.
Sue fails to pick up the clues which point to the identity of the real enemy, and while I’m vaguely disappointed by that, I’m simultaneously thrilled by the thought that the cliffhanger will probably freak her out (and I’ll need a distraction when we reach the end of this episode, let me tell you).
Sue: There’s a lot of up-skirt action in this story. Camfield definitely had a pervy side. And these guards are terrible shots. But at least they admit it. I bet this looked great. They must have spent some cash on this one.
When the Brigadier announces that the crisis has been averted, Sue believes it’s all over. She even starts to mark the story out of 10.
Sue: The ending was a bit rushed, and the alien was rubbish, but I enjoyed everything else about it.
But instead of wrapping up, the action shifts to an IE warehouse where someone – or something – is waking up.
Sue: They are trying to cram an awful lot into these last few minutes.
And then the cliffhanger hits her.
Sue: A Cyberman! EH?
I will carry that bruise for the rest of the week. But it was worth it.
Sue: Actually, I’m enjoying this so far, so I’m not that bothered. In fact, I’m actually pleased this is six parts.
Sue: Are you sure there are only eight episodes?
Me: Yes, look at the menu screen – eight episodes.
Sue: I don’t trust you any more. There could be another four episodes on a disc you’re not telling me about. Is this the 10-part story I’ve heard so much about?
I think it’s safe to say she’s dreading it.
Sue: There isn’t any muzak in Vaughn’s office any more. It’s been replaced by some spy music instead. That implies that Vaughn is actually playing scary spy music in his office. Which is a bit weird, even for him.
Cue Cybermen stomping about.
Sue: I’m glad the Cybermen keep updating themselves. I also love the way Vaughn knows that the Cybermen will betray him eventually, so he gets in there first. I like the way he plans ahead. He’s a brilliant villain.
And then Isobel introduces feminism to the programme with the unforgettable battle cry of: “You, man!”
Sue: I bloody love this episode.
Isobel wants to show a misogynist UNIT captain that she can look after herself by leading Jamie and Zoe into the sewers. As Zoe climbs down a ladder, Sue spits out her tea.
Sue: I can see what Zoe had for breakfast!
A police officer tries to intervene.
Sue: They’re like the Scooby Gang, these pesky kids.
We bet they wished they’d listened to him when they end up in the path of a Cyberman that’s been driven insane.
Sue: Seeing Cybermen in the sewers like this is actually very, very scary. This one keeps getting better and better.
Sue: The sound these Cybermen make is starting to freak me out. Actually, the Cybermen in this story sound like the Cybermen in the new series. In fact, didn’t RTD do this story once? I’m sure the Cybermen did a similar thing with people’s mobile phones. Does that make me a fan?
UNIT save the pesky kids, but they lose a man in the process.
Sue: Isobel is very cheerful considering some poor sod just got himself killed because of her blasé ineptitude. Still, why worry about dead soldiers when you can flirt shamelessly with live ones?
Professor Watkins shoots Tobias Vaughn’s cybernetic chest at point-blank range, but it barely makes a scratch.
Sue: It’s a good job he didn’t shoot Vaughn in the head. That would have been funny.
Sue is disappointed that we don’t see UNIT rescue Watkins – the build-up sounded so impressive – but she’s intrigued by Vaughn’s plans for the Cybermen.
Sue: It’s a nice idea to kill the Cybermen with emotions. It’s a bit like when those Cybermen were killed by the ‘Power of Love’ in that Matt Smith episode a couple of weeks ago.
Me: I’ve told you never to mention that in my presence again. You know how I feel about that.
Sue: I don’t see what your problem is. It’s entirely consistent with this story.
Me: SHUT UP!
The episode ends with an iconic scene, which still manages to send a shiver down my spine.
Sue: Well it doesn’t get any better than that.
Sue: Why do I recognise this? Did I see it when I was a kid? Have I seen it on a documentary? Have you made me watch this before, Neil? It’s so familiar…
Me: There’s an episode of EastEnders were Bradley takes Stacey to a reconstruction of the Cybermen mooching around outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
Sue: Oh yes, that definitely rings a bell.
Me: I can’t believe he didn’t get Stacey to sit down and watch The Edge of Destruction with him. What an amateur.
IE’s goons attempt to recapture Watkins, and Jamie is brutally gunned down in the process.
Sue: They just shot Jamie! Is he okay?
Me: No, he’s dead.
Sue: I don’t believe you.
Vaughn continues to plot against his so-called ‘allies’.
Sue: I find it hard to believe that the Cyber-brain can’t hear Vaughn plotting against it while it’s sitting in his cupboard. Can’t it eavesdrop on him? Seriously?
As UNIT prepare to tackle the Cybermen, Sue’s affection for the soundtrack takes a sudden downturn.
Sue: The UNIT theme tune is a bit rubbish. It sounds like something from Trumpton. A Greek version of Trumpton.
Packer and Vaughn decide to plough on with their increasingly unlikely invasion plans.
Sue: These two can’t even run a small office, so how do they expect to rule the world? And who would want that kind of responsibility, anyway? The hours must be terrible.
As the Cyberfleet approaches Earth, Zoe searches for a formula that will destroy the lot of them.
Sue: That soldier was checking out Zoe’s arse back there. He didn’t even try to hide it! The world is about to end and he’s ogling her arse. Unbelievable.
Me: You can hardly blame him though – look at her!
Sue: She’s a child! You worry me sometimes, Neil.
And then, just when Sue thinks it’s all over, the Cybermen pull out a megaton bomb in a fit of pique.
Sue: Everyone has a Plan B in this story. George Osborne should watch this.
Sue: I hope they don’t **** up the ending. I’ll be really disappointed if they do. Even the extras are giving it their all in this episode. Just look at the way the soldiers are reacting to the news about the bomb. It’s completely believable and quite tense.
I nearly jump out of my skin when a Cyberman’s head suddenly appears on a view screen (I think I may have screamed). Sue, on the other hand, just laughed her head off.
Sue: You’ve seen this before and you still wet yourself. That’s sweet, Neil.
And then a Cybermen kills Packer.
Sue: No! You can’t kill Packer! PACKER!
The Doctor retaliates by blasting the Cyberman.
Sue: The Doctor just used a gun! That can’t be right, can it?
Me: It was self-defence.
Sue: I suppose so, but it still doesn’t feel right.
The Doctor and Vaughn join forces, and the Brigadier orders his troops to help them.
Sue: You know, the Brig was very handsome back in the day.
Me: Okay, steady on.
Sue: I can’t wait for him to become a regular character.
And then, just when you think Vaughn will achieve redemption by successfully disabling the Cybermen’s homing beacon, he’s shot by his former allies.
Sue: Is that it?
Me: That’s it. Vaughn is dead.
Sue: That was an anti-climax. Am I supposed to feel bad about him dying? Because I do.
But hold on! It ain’t over yet. Now we have to wait for a Russian rocket to take out the Cybermen’s mothership.
Sue: They are certainly getting their money’s worth out of this stock footage.
Sadly, after all that excitement, the ending falls a little flat.
Sue: Damn, this is turning into a bit of a let down.
The episode concludes with Isobel bidding farewell to the Doctor and his companions, which now miraculously includes Jamie again.
Me: Did you miss Jamie?
Sue: Not at all. In fact, I’m annoyed he’s back. Can you imagine how dramatic it would have been if they’d have killed him? A bit of a wasted opportunity, if you ask me. And why isn’t Isobel taking any photos of the TARDIS? She says she wants to be a photo-journalist, but she’s rubbish!
Sue: That was probably the most enjoyable story so far. It was heading for a 10 out of 10 at one point, but it’s at least one episode too long, and the ending was vaguely disappointing. Still very, very good, though.