Number : Season 13, episode 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 parts.
Plot : The Doctor and Sarah 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 in the guise of 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 parts of this – as their evil robot duplicates. The ‘actual’ invasion happens in the last part – and feels a little rushed
Review With Spoilers : The Android Invasion is the 4th episode of season 13 and is a twisty mind-bending identity episode from Terry Nation.
The Doctor and Sarah land the Tardis near to UNIT HQ, near a village called Devesham. They are harrassed – in a wood by some space-suited men, with Auton-style gun hands.
They then find a UNIT Corporal, who 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 with 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 accidentally leaves the key in the Tardis door, it automatically dematerializes – all point to the Doctor’s suspicions, that this isn’t the real Earth.
The Doctor uncovers 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, that they will encounter.
“[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 it really was Earth but were unsure as to what was really going on. You see The Android Invasion keeps you nicely guessing. Are they really on Earth and are all of the villagers under alien influence? Etc.
The Kraal’s have a kind of Sontaraan vibe crossed, with a hairless chuaiuau look about them. In their manner and their look. The cliffhanger 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 android’s. 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.
Also, the scene where a robotic Sarah-Jane falls to the floor and stands up – sans her face, unveiling her robotic inner workings, is very reminiscent of Westworld but no less effective – and 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 part 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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