Number : Season 13, serial 4 of 6.
Which One : Westworld-style androids – impersonating UNIT.
Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Sarah-Jane : Liz Sladen
Harry Sullivan : Ian Marter
RSM Benton : John Levene
Guy Crayford : Milton Johns
Styggron : Martin Friend
Chedaki : Roy Skelton
Kraal : Stuart Fell
Morgan : Peter Welch
Corporal Adams : Max Faulkner
Grierson : Dave Carter
Colonel Faraday : Patrick Newell
Matthews : Hugh Lund
Tessa : Heather Emmanuel
Written By : Terry Nation
Produced By : Philip Hinchcliffe
First Broadcast : 22 November – 13 December 1975.
Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : The Doctor and Sarah-Jane, travel back to Earth; to see UNIT and wind-up – in a strange deserted English village. Here, they are chased by white-suited spacemen; with laser fingers – and Androids, masquerading as their UNIT friends.
Whats good : Twisty, mind bending paranoid episode. The robots. Harry. Benton. The Doctor.
Whats bad : Harry and Benton’s appearance is watered down, due to spending 3 episodes of this – as their evil robot duplicates. The ‘actual’ invasion happens in the last episode – and feels a little rushed
Review With Spoilers : The Android Invasion is the fourth episode of season 13 – and is a twisty mind-bending, stolen-identity story – from Terry Nation.
The Doctor and Sarah-Jane, land the Tardis near to UNIT HQ; near Devesham village. They are harrassed, in a wood by some beings in space-suits, with Auton-style gun hands.
They then find a UNIT Corporal, who inexplicably throws himself off of a cliff – and a village with no people. The Doctor happens across a number of clues, that something is wrong with this ‘Earth’. An abandoned village, calendars featuring only one day’s date, newly minted coins everywhere and a dartboard in the local pub – that is unused.
Coupled with some strange background-radiation readings and the fact that when Sarah-Jane, accidentally leaves the key in the Tardis door; it automatically dematerializes. Which all point, to the Doctor’s suspicion, that this – isn’t the real Earth.
The Doctor uncovers the fact that Deversham village, UNIT base and the surrounding area; are really a fake alien training-simulation; for an invasion attempt – by a force of androids. In the likenesses of the villagers and UNIT personnel, whose identities they will steal.
“[discovering a daily calendar with “July 6″ on every page] Strange!! A village without a future!” The Doctor.
It’s a nice twist in the story – when it comes, as up until this point. You were believing, that it really was Earth but were unsure as to what was really going on. The Android Invasion keeps the viewer guessing. Are they really on Earth and are all of the villagers under alien influence? It is a nice twist, on that scenario.
The Kraal’s have a kind of Sontaraan vibe, crossed with – a hairless chuaiuau. In their manner and their look. The cliffhanger of where a Kraal appears, staring through a gap in a wall at Sarah-Jane – is pretty chilling!
But the Kraals are really secondary villains, to the most effective turn in this episode; the androids. The scenes where an android Sarah-Jane attempts to fool the real Doctor – or vice-versa, are the best part of The Android Invasion and the resulting paranoia; which ensues, from the mistrust.
Also, the scene where a robotic Sarah-Jane falls to the floor and stands up – minus her face; unveiling her robotic inner-workings, is very reminiscent of Westworld but no less – shocking.
It’s an interesting last turn for UNIT regulars – Harry Sullivan and RSM Benton, also; who for much of this episode, play emotionless robotic duplicates of themselves. Although some may feel disappointed, not to see more of the “real” Harry and Benton – interacting with the Doctor; as this only happens briefly – in episode 4.
The Android Invasion, shows that sometimes, the best monsters don’t need fancy special effects, makeup – or masks. In this case, the actors playing robotic duplicates of themselves, is far more effective.
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