Me: Right, we have two choices. We can watch a recently recolourised version of the first episode which is a bit ropey around the edges, or we can watch a black white copy instead. It’s entirely up to you.
Sue: Wow, I’m spoilt for choice. What do you recommend?
Me: I’d go with the black and white version if I were you. It looks better. Plus it’ll be our very last black and white episode. You, know, for old time’s sake.
Sue: Oh go on then.
Sue is captivated by the opening scenes.
Sue: How on earth did they do this? Did they get up really early one morning? It’s really creepy, like 28 Days Later. I’m hooked already. Didn’t they do this with the Daleks, once? Is it the Daleks?
As the Doctor and Sarah explore a deserted London, the only sound they hear is exceedingly loud birdsong.
Sue: Has Earth been invaded by giant birds? Is this an homage to Hitchcock?
Aside from the endless chirping, I can tell that Sue is enjoying this.
Sue: It’s very atmospheric. We should watch all the episodes in black and white.
The Doctor and Sarah stumble across a dead man in the street. It looks as if something very large has stomped on his head.
Sue: That was horrific! How did they get away with that?
UNIT are struggling to deal with the situation.
Sue: I like the idea of the Doctor turning up late. The TARDIS must be having another off-day.
In a deserted lock-up, the Doctor and Sarah are suddenly attacked by a prehistoric creature.
Sue: What the hell is that supposed to be? Are you sure the planet hasn’t been invaded by birds?
Me: It’s a pterodactyl. In fact, it’s Torchwood’s pterodactyl.
Sue: Is it really?
Me: Yes, it ends up working for Torchwood when this story ends. They call him Terry.
I’m trying to distract her. I really am. But as Terry attacks the Doctor, Sue isn’t buying it for a second.
Sue: Has the planet been invaded by Rod Hull?
Sarah and the Doctor are arrested for looting.
Sue: The Doctor really likes Sarah. He’s taken to her quicker than Jo. He treated Jo like shit for months.
Meanwhile the army are up to their necks in dinosaurs.
Sue: Right, so dinosaurs have invaded London?
Me: In a nutshell, yes.
Sue: So, it’s a 1970s version of Primeval?
Me: Yes. And that means 1970s special effects, I’m afraid.
Sue: It looks pretty bad. I bet it looked even worse in colour.
As the dinosaur (I hesitate to call it a T-Rex because it doesn’t look like any T-Rex I’ve ever seen) shambles down the street, Sue sighs.
Sue: So do you have any childhood memories you’d like to share?
Me: I’m not really sure. I usually get this story and the Chewits advert mixed-up in my head.
Me: However, I can say, with some degree of certainty, that this episode was playing on UK Gold when I moved in with you on Monday 5th July, 1993. Sadly, I don’t think Glen Allen introduced it.
Sue: He’s never around when you want him. So what did I think of this episode?
Me: Oh, you’d gone to bed by then. It went out pretty late.
Sue: So, let me get this straight: we didn’t go to bed together on the night that you moved in because Doctor Who was on? Is that what you’re saying? Why don’t I remember that?
Me: You fell asleep on the couch. Nicol had worn you out. You never stayed up later than 11pm when I first met you.
The episode concludes with our heroes being transported to a prison. And just when you think things can’t get any worse, they are intercepted by a dinosaur.
Sue: What were they thinking? How did they ever think they could pull this off? It’s a shame. The set-up was great. But this looks terrible.
Me: Did you notice that they removed any reference to dinosaurs from the title of the first episode?
Me: Can’t you remember the title of the last one?
Sue: I have other things to worry about.
Me: Right. Well, it was called Invasion. They removed …of the Dinosaurs to keep the audience guessing.
Sue: That was a good idea.
Me: Well, it might have been if the Radio Times hadn’t ruined the surprise. But worse than that, the writer, Malcolm Hulke, went mental. He fell out with Terrance Dicks and he never wrote for the series again.
Sue: He was that annoyed about it?
Me: Yes. And you shouldn’t make Hulke angry, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Meanwhile, in Invasion of the Dinosaurs.
Sue: I was right, it does look a lot worse in colour. And what is that soldier firing at? It looks like he’s shooting at a tree.
As the soldiers calmly amble back to their jeep, as if shooting dinosaurs is just a part of their regular job, Sue is much more fascinated by the inanimate object they pass in the street.
Sue: You don’t see dustcarts like that any more.
Me: It was probably picking up white dog poo.
Sarah wants to know what she’s just encountered.
Sue: She’s a journalist, she should know what a T-Rex looks like.
Me: Yes. If it looked like a T-Rex.
And then, to compound matters, they are attacked by a medieval peasant.
Sue: Did Bill Oddie turn up late for last week’s story?
Back at UNIT’s makeshift HQ (it takes a while for Sue to realise they have taken over a school: at first she believes that UNIT personnel are hanging their kid’s paintings on the walls), the Doctor declares that he wants to capture a live dinosaur, because a dead one is no good to him.
Sue: What’s he going to do? Interrogate it?
The intended victim is a Stegosaurus, who is minding its own business outside a branch of Woolworths.
Sue: It doesn’t look that bad. The dinosaurs look alright in very small doses.
When Martin Jarvis is introduced as Butler, Sue points excitedly at the screen.
Sue: I definitely recognise that actor. What would I have seen him in?
Me: The Web Planet.
The episode concludes with Sarah threatening to flirt with Yates, but then something far worse happens.
Sue: Oh no! Yates has turned to the Dark Side!
Sue can’t stop tutting at the dinosaur, but she is impressed when it eventually faints and falls over.
Sue: It looks quite good when it doesn’t have to move.
In the villains’ secret lair, Butler and Whittaker convince Yates to sabotage the Doctor’s equipment.
Sue: Why have they got a giant Cluedo board on their wall?
Later, as the Doctor tries to piece together the puzzle.
Sue: This is just like Fringe.
Me: I know, the CSO is pretty bad, but we have used that joke before.
Sue: No, I mean it really is like Fringe. Missing scientists dabbling in time travel and strange goings on. You could imagine Walter Bishop being behind this.
As Yates struggles with his conscience, Sue admires this story’s twist.
Sue: It’s brave of them to turn Yates into the bad guy. I didn’t think Doctor Who did things like that.
Me: Would it have been better if Benton had been the turncoat?
Sue: I know what you mean, but no. I wouldn’t want Benton to be bad. Benton is incapable of being bad. I love Benton.
When Sir Charles Grover, an ecologist MP who has been given responsibility for overseeing this emergency, turns up for a progress report, Sue is immediately suspicious.
Sue: I smell a rat. There’s definitely a hint of government corruption in this. I bet he’s behind this.
She doesn’t trust General Finch either.
Sue: He is in on it as well. He looks evil and I don’t trust him as far as I could throw him. Does he take his mask off in a minute? Does it turn out to be –
When the Doctor commandeers a jeep, Sue asks the obvious question:
Sue: Where’s Bessie this week? Is she in for a service?
Sarah decides to investigate the possibility of a nuclear generator hidden in the heart of the city.
Sue: I like the way Sarah Jane is a journalist. It’s a very good occupation for a companion to have. She can be inquisitive and proactive without it looking like she’s just aimlessly stumbling into trouble. She’s great.
Sarah shares her suspicions with Grover and he offers to check the government’s files with her.
Sue: He is definitely in on it. No one in the government is that helpful.
Sue: You just can’t trust anybody in this story.
When Sarah is assaulted by some flashing blue lights, Sue slumps into her chair in sympathy.
Sue: Not hypnotism again! They should ban on hypnotism for a year. It’s getting beyond a joke now.
The episode concludes with Sarah being told that she’s been asleep on a spaceship for the last three months.
Sue: Well, I didn’t see that coming. That was great. I’m definitely hooked now. This plot is quite heavy.
Sue: So has Mike Yates been hypnotised or not?
Me: No, he really is a traitor. This was his own choice.
Sue: That’s a bit grim.
And then the Doctor unveils a new mode of transportation.
Sue: What the hell is that?
Me: That’s the Whomobile.
Sue: Stop taking the piss.
Me: I’m serious.
Sue: For ****’s sake.
I tell her the story about Jon Pertwee designing the futuristic car and presenting it to Barry Letts as a fait accompli and she can hardly believe it.
Sue: It looks mental! How can you drive around in that and blend in? It’s “Look at me! Look at me! I’m the Doctor! I’m mad, me!”. I do like the leather work on the seats, though. I’m just surprised that you haven’t got a toy version of the Whomobile sitting on your shelf.
Me: They never made any.
Sue: What? They would make perfect toys. Why didn’t they merchandise it?
Me: I have no idea.
Sue: Maybe we should buy the rights and we could sell the toys ourselves. Who owns the design?
Me: I’m have no idea. Sean Pertwee could have inherited it for all I know.
Sue: We should look into it. We could make full-scale road-worthy replicas! We could retire on Whomobile profits.
Me: I doubt it. We can’t even get people to buy a bloody mug.
Meanwhile, Sarah is introduced to the Elders.
Sue: She’s famous. Is it Googie Withers?
But Sue, much like Sarah, isn’t fooled by their story.
Sue: The cut on her head hasn’t healed. She hasn’t been there for months at all.
The Doctor investigates the secret underground base (“It’s Edge of Darkness – with dinosaurs”), but when a door shuts, the rest of the set wobbles in sympathy.
Sue: This place wouldn’t stand up to a strong gust of wind, let alone a nuclear explosion. I do like Dudley’s music in this story, though. He’s settled down a lot. Some of his early stuff was mad but this is quite tense.
Whittaker kidnaps another pterodactyl from the Jurassic era and he unleashes it on the Doctor.
Sue: This is very cruel. Just imagine the shock the dinosaurs must have felt when they were suddenly transported from a jungle into the middle of Oxford Circus. No wonder they’re so angry.
As the Doctor defends himself against the justifiably pissed-off pterodactyl, Nicol walks through the living room.
Nicol: He needs a fez to go with that mop.
When the bad guys meet to finalise the final stages of their utterly bonkers plan, Sue struggles to piece it all together.
Sue: Are they really aliens who are just pretending to be humans? I don’t get it. What are they trying to achieve? Are they really the good guys? How does the spaceship fit into this? What the hell is going on?
The Doctor is lured into a trap by Whittaker, and a stegosaurus materialises in front of him.
Sue: Why have they sent a veggie? That’s a bit daft.
But no, the Doctor has been framed as the architect for this disaster.
Sue: Oh, fair enough.
As Mark tries to convince Sarah that she is about to settle down with him to colonise New Earth, Sue has other things on her mind.
Sue: Denim was very popular in 1974. I think all the men looked like this back then.
As the villains’ plans are made a little clearer (but no less insane), Sue believes she has a handle on the villains at last.
Sue: It’s like the Scientologists have joined forces with Greenpeace.
When Benton disobeys General Finch’s orders concerning the Doctor, Sue nods her approval.
Sue: Good old Benton. You can always rely on Benton. I bloody love Benton.
The Doctor disables Benton, to make it look like a genuine escape attempt, and the sergeant falls head-first onto the floor.
Sue: He could have helped him down a bit! He’s probably broken his nose!
When Sarah reveals the truth about the spaceship to Mark, Sue can see a modern parallel.
Sue: It’s just like that TV show Channel 4 did a few years back, when they tried to convince some gullible fools that they were on the space shuttle. It’s exactly the same idea! I bet the producer was a Doctor Who fan.
Me: It is hard to believe that anyone would go along with this plan and believe it.
Sue: Well, they went to all the meetings. They want to believe it. I can just about buy into it.
As Jon Pertwee races around a forest in a jeep (“He didn’t want to get the Whomobile dirty”), Sue admires his driving skills.
Sue: Pertwee would have been brilliant on Top Gear. He would have kicked Jamiroquai’s arse.
Me: It’s funny you should say that: Matt Smith was the ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ on Top Gear tonight.
Sue: How did he do?
Me: I don’t know, it was on Top Gear.
As the Doctor continues to elude some soldiers in a forest, Sue sighs.
Sue: This is classic Episode Five padding, isn’t it? We are just treading water at this point.
Meanwhile, back at UNIT HQ, Private Bryson informs Sarah that the Doctor is now a fugitive.
Sue: Who’s this guy? Is this the bloke they bring in when Benton and Yates call in sick? He looks like Simon Pegg’s dad.
The episode concludes with the Doctor running into a – okay, if you really insist – T-Rex.
Sue: Oh no, not him again.
We decide to break the rule that stops us from watching more than two episodes a night. Sue can’t wait to see how it this all pans out, and who am I to deny her?
Sadly, any enthusiasm she may have built up for this story rapidly dissipates when a T-Rex and a Brontosaurus decide to have a fight. Well, I say fight.
Sue: Awww, they are snuggling each other. That’s cute.
As the dinosaurs become more and more intimate, Sue’s patience with the effects finally runs out.
Sue: Not only did they just break the 180 degree rule there, the colour of the dinosaurs changed between the shots as well. This is not good.
As the specifics of Operation Golden Age are finally revealed, Sue finds the whole thing to be “a bit extreme”.
Sue: Are all the survivors on the fake spaceships British?
Me: I think so.
Sue: So this lot are genocidal racists who want to live with the dinosaurs? That’s odd, even for this show.
While our heroes consider the best way to thwart the lunatics, Yates turns up to spoil their plans.
Sue: It’s like Bodie pulling a gun on Doyle. It’s wrong.
Yates is clearly insane but Benton comes to the rescue. This results in the campest fight scene ever filmed for television.
Sue: Yates should have died sacrificing himself – that way he could have redeemed himself – this a bit lame.
As the story lurches towards its conclusion, Sue repeats the same refrain:
Sue: The plot is great but every so often some dinosaurs turn up to ruin it. Why don’t they go back and re-do this story with new special effects? It would be worth it. Get Rob Ritchie on the case.
As the villains politely rationalise their insane plan, Sue wonders how they ended up here in the first place.
Sue: How did they come up with this mad scheme? Can you imagine the first meeting where someone said, “I know, let’s bring some dinosaurs back from the past so we can wipe everyone out and start again”? I’d love to see the minutes for that particular meeting.
When the Doctor blows up a triceratops in the London Underground, Sue shakes her head.
Sue: Poor thing. It’s not his fault. He was quite happy chewing on some grass in a valley somewhere, and the next thing you know, he’s got his arse stuck in Moorgate Station. Bless him.
Benton punches General Finch’s lights out (“Jesus Christ! Benton!”) and then the Doctor sneaks into the secret bunker, taking down Butler in the process.
Sue: That was a textbook example of how to put someone down with just a finger on the chest. Now, why doesn’t he do that all the time?
The Doctor reaches the control room just in time to avert disaster.
Sue: He’s reversed the reversal.
When Whittaker reverses the reversal of the Doctor’s reversal, Grover tries to stop him. They vanish together.
Sue: Eh? What happened there?
But before Sue can get to grips with the story’s conclusion, it’s back to UNIT HQ for some cheerful banter.
Sue: The Doctor has a serious crush on Sarah Jane. Look at him charming her into that box of his. She should stay at home and bring down the government with her scoop of the century. Bloody government.
Sue: I loved the plot. The dinosaurs were completely unnecessary and it was two episodes too long, but some of it was quite edgy. I like the idea more than the execution, but there were some great performances and it kept me guessing throughout. Yeah, that wasn’t bad at all.