5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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INVASION OF THE DINOSAURS
"And to top it all, my apparatus has been messed about with!"
(Just to prove we can give the Disco Guide a run for its money in the nudge-nudge department.)
Despite the appalling dinosaurs, Invasion Of The Dinosaurs is actually pretty good. It's worth remembering that pre-Jurassic Park the idea of dinosaurs in a modern setting would have packed quite a punch - and that's the least interesting story strand.
It's a bold writing tactic to use the dinosaurs just as a smokescreen for the real plot, and it was a cool move placing this story shortly after The Green Death, since it's the other side of the eco-coin. The fake spaceship is a finishing touch of pure genius - it's one of those rare plot turns in Who that's genuinely, jaw-saggingly surprising. Well done you, Malcolm Hulke.
Invasion Of The Dinosaurs is an interesting story character-wise, too. Sarah Jane is brilliant again - she's way ahead of the game when it comes to figuring out what's going on, and she's brave, too, risking her life by going back inside the "spaceship". The hapless, helpless Jo from Planet Incompetent seems like someone from another species.
The adorable Benton gets some shining moments when he lets the Doctor go and when he swings into action overpowering all and sundry. Which is nice. And what about that weaselly Mike Yates? Aha! We knew it. (We never liked him anyway.)
The guest secondary characters are intriguing too, from the they-mean-well-really ecoplotters to the freedom-as-long-as-you-do-it-our-way space colonists. The shades of grey give the characters a significant boost over the all-too-common insane and/or evil megalomaniacs.
As for the Doctor, there's nothing particularly startling here for him, but he does a perfectly fine job of being appropriately Doctorly.
Mixed in with all the good stuff, of course, is too much padding in the form of the inevitable captures and escapes, and the special effects are really, really, really bad, but overall, this story's got a lot to recommend it.
MORAL: Green is good, but don't overdo it.
IS ANYBODY THERE?
The first episode has a fantastically creepy, post-apocalyptic feel which is enhanced by the black and white footage. Brrrr.
IT'S THE OLD TROUBLE AGAIN
The Doctor hasn't been having any difficulty recently getting the TARDIS where he wants it to go, so why does he now?
WHO SAYS THIS ISN'T ART?
There's a lovely close-up of the Doctor's face just after he realises the thief is dead. We only see him for a brief second, but the compassion on his face really sums up his character. Nice.
CAN I PHONE A FRIEND?
Sarah tries to ring the police, but can't get through. Why doesn't she try to ring UNIT?
THIS HAS BEEN WORRYING US, YOU KNOW
When the Doctor travels back into the past, he usually knows what happened in history and tries not to change the timeline. However, he never seems to know anything about what he comes across in the present and the future. Why? It's not his present and future, after all, only ours.
LIKE A PTERODACTYL ON A STRING
The pterodactyl manages to convey quite a nice Birds feel despite its woefulness.
DO THAT AGAIN AND YOU'LL HAVE TO MARRY ME
The soldier searching the Doctor and Sarah pats down the Doctor's inside leg, but loses his bottle when it comes to Sarah.
OH, YEAH. THAT PTERODACTYL
Why are the Doctor and Sarah constantly asking what's going on in London even after they've seen the pterodactyl?
Why doesn't the Doctor show his UNIT ID when he's put on trial?
BEAM ME UP, RASSILON
Doesn't that neck pinch look rather... familiar?
THE PLASTICENE ERA
And if you thought the black and white dinosaurs were bad, they're even worse in colour. What on Earth gave them the idea they could produce credible dinosaurs out of sticky-back plastic and some string?
The Doctor thinks capturing a dinosaur and studying it will "lead him to the source". Does he expect it to be wearing a dog tag?
Why are the dinosaurs impervious to UNIT's weapons?
I KNEW THEM WHEN
THOSE BASTARD LOOTERS
Where did Sarah's bomber jacket come from?
How come Sarah doesn't hear the lift?
'ULLO JON, GOT A NEW MOTOR?
Oh, God, the Whomobile. Deeply, deeply cringeworthy.
THIS GIVES ME AN IDEA...
With the clingfilmed people and all, the whole deep storage thing is very Ark in Space.
We don't know what's worse - the pterodactyl, or the Doctor mopping it. Even Venusian aikido is better than that.
SO YOU SAY
Why doesn't the Brigadier believe the Doctor's eyewitness account? Seriously annoying!
I SHALL SAY THIS ONLY ONCE
The head space colonist woman is played by Carmen Silvera from 'Allo 'Allo.
SO YOU SAY PART II
The colonists refuse to believe what Sarah is saying, even though David confirms it and they have no reason not to trust him. All they have to do is see Sarah open the airlock, at no risk to themselves, but nooooo, that would be too easy. This plot contrivance is overused in Who in general, but is particularly noxious in this adventure.
YOU CAN'T BE TOO CAREFUL
Why is Grover wearing a spacesuit when he's supposedly coming into the ship from another shuttle through an airlock?
FORGIVE AND FORGET
Sarah talks about the colonists being decent people, which is pretty saintly considering that they planned to kill her for not toeing the party line.