5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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THE INVISIBLE ENEMY
"It's out there! Evil!"
Buy this Dr Who DVD: UK
It had to happen, didn't it? We were getting smug. We were getting complacent. Philip Hinchcliffe had trained us to expect quality stories with great scripts and a knock 'em dead Doctor and companion. Well, that's all over now. The Invisible Enemy is the biggest steaming pile of compost we've yet encountered.
It's not as if Bob Baker and Dave Martin can't do it if they try. Come on, this is the team that turned out The Hand of Fear, after all. While that had its weak points (like the entire last episode), overall it was a pretty good story with some excellent characterisation. But this script? It's... just... horrible.
Now, we're not mean girls. We racked our brains to think of something nice to say. And here it is: we like the green PVC jumpsuits. Sorry, but that's it.
As for the rest of Invisible Enemy, where do we start? Well, there's the plot, which is stuffed with enough bad science to get Einstein revolving in his grave on high rotate. It'd take us all day to list all of it, but particularly enraging is the witless way they deal with their Fantastic Voyage ripoff. So the Doctor and Leela clones go on a day excursion inside the Doctor's brain, do they? Uh huh. How, exactly, are they breathing in there? And why is it when they disappear they leave various bits and pieces, like Leela's knife, behind? (Not a particularly good idea in itself, we'd have thought. Any sudden movements and the Doctor's going to get a needle through the synapse.)
Then there's the whole virus bit. Leaving aside the prawnliness (what's that about?), a virus that spawns and hatches? Argh! And what about the clones? Apart from the awesome stupidity of them being fully dressed, let alone being produced - from a single cell! - as adults with all the memories of the originals, there's all that ridiculous stuff about how Leela bumping her head on the outside gives the Leela clone a headache. What are they like? No, we can't do this anymore. It's bad for our blood pressure.
Apart from the bad science, the plot's one long illogicality: we spent the entire time going "But wait a minute...". And of course anything jammed with characters all doing the bog-standard I Have Been Taken Over By An Alien Entity schtick can't fail to be a total yawnarama. And none of this is helped by the introduction of that loathsome lump of tin K9, whose deus ex machina interventions make the plot even more listless. The special effects don't add much, either. It's Gerry Anderson-a-go-go, only without the flair (or the flares).
And then there's the dialogue. Dear God, the dialogue. It's fantastically clunky. The actors do their best, but Christ, it's an uphill battle. And that brings us to the worst insult of all, which is the truly ghastly characterisation of the Doctor and Leela. The Doctor, bad as he is, still gets the better deal: it's not that he's out of character, exactly, more that the power and impact the character usually has is totally missing.
What happens to Leela, though, is terrible - it's like watching a slow-motion car crash. From the uneducated but highly intelligent woman we've seen up till now, complementing the Doctor's talents with her physical skills and finely honed instincts, here she's been turned into a dribbling moron. From her fretful clutching of the Doctor's scarf in the TARDIS as she prophesies doom to her struggles to understand K9, if she were dumbed down any further she'd need watering. This is not the Leela we know, who immediately abandoned the superstitions of her tribe when the Doctor explained science to her. Nor does the Doctor's description of her as being all instincts and emotion fit what we've already seen of a woman who can give the Doctor a run for his money in the catching-on department. How Louise Jameson managed to get her lines out without vomiting we'll never know.
Up till now, we thought The Web Planet was the worst Who we'd seen. But at least The Web Planet was trying, even if it failed spectacularly. This is just a cynically slapped together mess that spits in the audience's eye. Ugh. Take it away.
MORAL: It's not a good idea to stick a prawn in your eye.
IT'S DEFINITELY ME
We don't know why it is that they keep tricking out the companions in the Fourth Doctor's duds, but whatever. That hat looks a lot better on her than it does on him.
OH, GO ON. I'LL GIVE YOU A JELLYBABY
We go from seeing Leela with her hand firmly blocking the door control to seeing the Doctor tripping gaily outside the TARDIS with a docile Leela in tow. What exactly happened in there?
SILK PURSE/SOW'S EAR
Michael Sheard (Laurence Scarman) as usual does a good job as Lowe, although it's a thankless part.
FROM MY LIPS TO GRAHAM WILLIAMS'S EAR
Doesn't Tom hiss "Kill her!" re Leela with enormous conviction?
SOMETIMES CALLED LYCANTHROPY
Oh, God, the Doctor's furry hand. Spare us. Not to mention that silly face fuzz they all start sprouting.
YOU AIN'T SEEN ME, RIGHT?
When the Doctor points a gun at Leela, why does she crouch down on the spot rather than nipping round the corner?
The "futuristic" spelling (egzit, isolayshun) nicely reflects the IQ level of this show.
Isomorphic controls in the TARDIS, yeah? So how does Leela program it, then?
VE HAFF VAYS
Another Germanic scientist?
IN A MINUTE
Lowe's busy spouting about killing the reject, so why doesn't he kill Leela on Titan while she trusts him?
BROUGHT TO YOU BY HASBRO
That scene of the shuttle crashing into the station is seriously crap.
So the first successful cloning was in 3922? Well, they were only a couple of thousand years out.
ARE YOU BEING SERVED?
The service shaft? Again?
COME BACK CSO, ALL IS FORGIVEN
We don't think we've ever seen a worse special effect than that wall which K9 breaks down, with the break lines blindingly obvious even before he starts. What were they thinking?
Both inside the Doctor's brain and on the scanner, we only hear one heartbeat.
RUST NEVER SLEEPS
How, exactly, does an organic virus affect K9?
DON'T RUSH ME
Given that they'd only got ten minutes, they're taking their time inside the brain, aren't they?
The Doctor does a horrible supposedly comic double take when he notices the nucleus.
DON'T BE SO SHELLFISH
We thought the clothy-thing nucleus was hilarious. Until we saw the prawn.
BUT FIRST I MUST KNOW ITS EVIL PLAN
Why is the Doctor having a leisurely chat with the virus instead of trying to disable it?
As usual, the Doctor's attitude to violence is a bit on the dodgy side here. He says to Leela "That's your answer to everything, isn't it - knock it on the head", having just arranged for K9 to knock Marius on the head! He also makes no objection to K9 blasting the hell out of the guard on the ground. Worst of all, he gloats when Titan is blown up - and it contains people he could have saved with the antibodies.
Buy this Dr Who DVD: UK