Sue: Great. Invisible monsters again. I bet this is another cheap one.
A spaceship is navigating an asteroid belt.
Sue: Oh shit, it’s a spacey one. I don’t like the spacey ones very much. I like it when it’s set in the past and…
Me: And they have wooden cabinets.
Sue: Yes, exactly. Look, I told you this would be cheap – someone’s pretending to be an astronaut in their own bedroom, and he’s invited his mates over to play with him.
Meanwhile, in the TARDIS…
Sue: Oh, it’s the other control room again. Good.
Me: Are you serious? I thought you preferred the wooden one? You know, all that polished mahogany and shit.
Sue: It was a bit pokey. I’m used to this. I like it. I’ve missed it.
Sometimes I can’t figure Sue out at all.
Sue: Leela is a bit dense this week. She’s acting as if this was her first journey in the TARDIS. There is such a thing as character development, you know.
The spaceship we saw earlier arrives on Titan and Sue pats herself on the back for spotting Saturn in the background.
Sue: Some of the model shots are very good, actually. They’re very detailed. It reminds me of Thunderbirds, but done on the cheap.
The spacemen egsit their spaceship and kill the crewmen they’ve been sent to relieve. And when they open their visors…
Sue: They’ve got Larry Hagman’s eyebrows. I wasn’t expecting that.
Sue isn’t very impressed with Titan.
Sue: Why do the aliens insist on conquering shit holes like this? Who’d want to invade this place?
Titan’s station manager, Lowe, (who’s played by the legendary Michael Sheard), is alerted to the mayhem that’s breaking out in the crewmembers’ boudoir.
Sue: He just put his cup of coffee on top of his computer. It’s a health and safety nightmare waiting to happen.
Lowe freaks out as the situation worsens.
Sue: Is this supposed to be funny? Does he want some pineapple with that ham?
Me: It’s Michael Sheard.
Sue: I don’t care who he is. Look at him! He isn’t just eating the scenery, he’s flame-grilling it first. And I can’t read the signage in this place. That font is bloody ridiculous.
I pause the DVD so she can take a better look.
Sue: Egsit… Eggs… Egg storage? Is this where they keep the battery hens? What?
Me: Read it again.
Sue: Egsit… Exit. Oh, right. So this universe is dyslexic. Fair enough.
Leela is also learning how to spell.
Sue: Lula? Who the hell is Lula? Is The Invisible Enemy dyslexia?
Leela can sense imminent danger.
Sue: Here she goes again with her pointless warnings. It will be of no use to them whatsoever.
The Doctor is attacked by a mysterious force, and when he eventually comes to, he’s speaking more gobbledegook than usual.
Sue: Is it an alien creature that feeds on language? That could be interesting.
The Doctor and Leela arrive on Titan and the Doctor confronts the infected crewmembers.
Sue: Half this script is just people repeating each other.
Me: Repeating each other.
Sue: Don’t you start. It’s exactly like that David Tennant episode that’s set on the bus with an alien that repeats everything, yes?
The Doctor has been infected.
Sue: Tom Baker can be very scary when he wants to be. His voice is terrifying.
The episode concludes as the Time Lord pulls a gun on his companion.
Sue: Great cliffhanger. That wasn’t so bad. For a spacey one.
The Doctor struggles against the malignant influence of the virus.
Sue: It’s really good, this. The Doctor is genuinely scared, and that’s always interesting.
The Doctor puts himself in a coma.
Sue: He should have propped himself against a wall first. That won’t do his back any good.
The biggest question posed by this episode is why Leela hasn’t been infected yet.
Sue: It must be a deadly strain of man-flu. Bloody fellas.
Leela and Lowe take the Doctor to the Bi-Al medical Foundation in the TARDIS, and the facility’s brilliant white interior dazzles Sue.
Sue: This is very swish. It must be a nightmare to keep clean, though.
When Leela checks the Doctor into hospital, she’s asked for his personal details.
Sue: Now Leela’s calling it Gallifree! Does anyone working on this programme know how it’s supposed to be pronounced?
A nurse asks Lowe why he’s wearing a protective visor indoors.
Sue: (As Lowe) They’re from Gok Wan. Do you like them?
She can’t quite believe it.
Sue: Is it really K9? Is this really K9’s first story?
Sue: I always imagined that the Doctor built K9 when he was bored one day. I didn’t know he turned up fully formed like this.
K9 is the property of Professor Marius.
Sue: So this bloke must die at the end. If the Doctor takes K9 with him, that guy can’t survive. No owner ever gives up his dog. Unless the Doctor steals him, of course.
Not only does Sue recognise Frederick Jaeger (“It’s Frank Spencer’s flying instructor again”), she enjoys his larger than life performance.
Sue: Now this is for kids.
Me: That pretty much sums it up.
Sue: I like it.
Sue: It’s a nice change of pace. Things have been a bit grim lately. This is the first time I can detect the hand of a new producer. It feels like a breath of fresh air.
Me: If you say so.
Sue: What’s wrong with you, Neil? Don’t you like K9?
Me: I love K9.
Sue: Well, then.
Lowe removes his visor and reveals the full extent of his infection.
Sue: Is he turning into an owl?
Contact has been made.
Sue: That catchphrase is the sort of thing the Moff would come up with. I could imagine Matt Smith in a story like this. And I bet he’d love K9.
The Doctor asks K9 for all the data he has on cloning technology. The dog tells him the first attempt was made in the year 3922.
Sue: Poor Dolly. Completely written out of history. The scriptwriters didn’t have much faith in science, did they? Over 2000 years before anyone even tried it? As if!
K9 keeps the infected medical staff at bay.
Sue: K9 just hit that porter right in his cock. Does he always hit people in the cock? I suppose he must do, being so small.
The Doctor and Leela are cloned.
Me: Do you have anything you want to say about that?
Sue: Not really. It was a bit quick, I suppose. I like the way Leela doesn’t want to meet her own clone because it would be too upsetting. Of course, it saves on any complicated doubling-up scenes…
Me: Doesn’t it bother you that they’ve been cloned with their clothes on?
Sue: Neil… IT’S FOR KIDS! I know you want to see Leela stark naked but it’s never going to happen, love.
The Doctor’s infection is getting worse by the minute and the medical staff has to hold him down.
Sue: (Screaming) Your mother sucks cocks in hell!
The clones are shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the Doctor’s head.
Sue: This is a rip-off of something else. I’m sure of it.
Me: It’s a homage.
Sue: The Incredible Journey.
Me: That’s the one with a dog and two cats trying to find their way home.
Sue: I love that film. Why haven’t we got that on DVD?
Me: Sorry. I do have a copy of The Fantastic Voyage, though.
Sue: What a surprise.
We compromise and watch a Doctor Who DVD extra instead. Sue’s tolerance for these varies from story to story, and nine times out of 10 she isn’t interested, or she’ll fall into a coma before it ends. However, every once in a while, we stumble across a gem. I am, of course, referring to K9’s appearance on Blue Peter, where he puts the wind up Shep.
Sue: That’s the best DVD extra you’ve ever shown me. Play it again.
Me: If you insist.
Sue: Brilliant. That’s made my night, that has.
The clones enter the Doctor’s head.
Sue: Are they dancing? They don’t half pick their moments.
The Doctor’s condition is monitored by Marius and his staff.
Sue: You can’t hear a word anyone is saying because that nurse’s latex uniform is squeaking and squelching so much. How much spillage did they expect in this hospital, anyway? She should be working at a car wash.
Only one thing can consistently drown out the sound of latex.
Sue: K9 doesn’t have a stealth mode, does he? You can hear him coming a mile off! They should have overdubbed him with some whooshy sound effect to make him appear more hi-tech.
The Doctor and Leela’s clones explore the Doctor’s brain.
Sue: It’s very imaginative, this. And quite funny, too. Although I can tell by the smirk on your face that you don’t like this one very much, Neil. I don’t have a problem with it. It’s a great idea.
K9 creates a barricade by blasting away part of a wall.
Sue: What’s your problem?
Me: The crack! The bloody crack, woman!
Sue: Oh, that. Well, either it’s got something to do with the Silence, the place was falling apart due to budget cuts, or they were having a bad day in the studio and they couldn’t get the effect to work. Look, Neil, there’s a talking dog on screen…
Me: It’s not a talking dog. It’s a personal computer that just happens to look like a dog.
The infected-Lowe rallies his troops.
Sue: Can’t this bloke pose naturally? It’s absurd. Every time we see this character, he looks like he’s modelling for the Grattan catalogue.
When K9 is infected by the virus, he shoots Leela in the head.
Sue: This looks rushed to me. Was K9 supposed to miss her head by a mile? Was that intentional? I like his ticker-tape, though; it looks like his tongue. That’s clever. Ticker-tongue.
With half the cast now under the thrall of the virus, Sue begins to lose patience with the make-up.
Sue: They look like they’re going to a masquerade ball. Lady Gaga would suit that. Just give her some sequins and false eyelashes and she’d be away. The green latex would be optional, obviously.
The Doctor and Leela hunt down the source of the infection.
Sue: Will we actually see the virus at some point?
Me: Yes, you’ll see it in a minute. Be patient.
I stifle a fit of the giggles. I’m sorry, I can’t help it.
Sue: I have a very bad feeling about this.
The clones step into the Doctor’s imagination.
Sue: I don’t want to say what the Doctor’s subconscious mind is full of, but it’s very rude.
The Doctor finally meets the virus, aka the Nucleus of the Swarm.
Sue: So it’s a bin bag with a claw for an eye?
Me: You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Sue: It’s very abstract. But nowhere near abstract enough.
As the Doctor confronts the Nucleus, a cloned-Lowe tries to intervene. Leela stabs Lowe in his chest and he’s eaten by the Doctor’s antibodies.
Sue: Doctor Who is suddenly not for kids again. That was vicious. It sticks out like a sore thumb when everything else is so lightweight.
We suddenly – and I do mean suddenly – cut to Marius extracting something from the Doctor’s eye. He places a slide in the cloning chamber and the sample grows into…
Sue: A giant seahorse. No, wait… It’s a prawn. It’s a giant dancing prawn.
Me: Finally, we get to watch some hardcore prawn together, Sue.
There’s only one topic of conversation during our 450th episode of Doctor Who…
Sue: Just fling it on the BBQ and let’s go home.
Even the Doctor can’t believe what he’s looking at.
Sue: How am I expected to take it seriously if Tom Baker can’t? This story just went from an eight to a five in as many seconds. Jesus… What possessed the director to shoot this thing in a long shot? It looks like something you’d see in a school play.
Of course, Nicol would choose this exact moment to walk in on us. Thankfully, she took one look at the Nucleus of the Swarm and walked straight back out again. I was relieved, frankly. And then Leela – for reasons that escape me as I write this – dresses up as a nurse.
Sue: She managed to find a costume that’s even more demeaning than the one she was already wearing. Wow.
The Nucleus is escorted back to Titan.
Sue: It’s another Doctor Who monster who needs a support worker to get around. It’s becoming a theme. I mean, why would you want to take over a universe that you can’t walk around in?
The Doctor and Leela arrive on Titan with K9 in tow.
Sue: K9 sounds like a Henry vacuum cleaner.
The Nucleus is installed in an incubation chamber.
Sue: Is it sitting on a loo?
I don’t get much more out of Sue, aside from the odd, “That was shit”, “That was really shit” and “**** me, that was shit!” But when the Doctor saves the day by blowing up Titan, she’s got plenty to say.
Sue: Has he blown up a moon?
Me: It’s only a moon. There wasn’t anyone living on it. Well, nobody who wasn’t evil anyway.
Sue: I bet Saturn might have something to say about that. I can’t believe he blew it up. I thought he’d come up with a cleverer solution than that. It’s as if the scriptwriters tantalised us with a better solution but couldn’t think of one. What a cop-out.
The Doctor and Leela return to the Bi-Al Foundation and Leela begs the Doctor to adopt K9.
Sue: All the kids are screaming, “Yes! Yes!”
Me: Twenty years later they’ll all be screaming, “No! No!”
Marius hopes K9 is TARDIS trained.
Sue: Oh, **** off.
Sue: I want to stress that I enjoyed the first two-and-a-half episodes, but it turned into a terrible mess. I think they tried to take on too much. You can’t have weird sets, costumes, effects, aliens, model shots and a robot dog and expect to get away with it. They spread themselves too thin. Some of the ideas were excellent but the execution was beyond them. I didn’t like the direction either. It was very flat. I liked K9, though.