Doctor Who reviews: The Sara Kingdom Trilogy

“There are many sorts of ghosts, Jo. Ghosts from the past, and ghosts from the future.” – the Third Doctor, “Day of the Daleks”

On the Big Finish Audio group on Facebook it was mentioned that actress Jean Marsh turned 87 years old today. Marsh, who was born on 1 July 1934, has had a very lengthy and storied career. Among her many, many roles, she appeared a few times on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who.

Way back in 1965 Marsh appeared in episodes four through twelve of the Doctor Who magnum opus “The Daleks’ Master Plan” written by Terry Nation & Dennis Spooner, script edited by Donald Tosh, and directed by Douglas Camfield.  Marsh portrayed Sara Kingdom, an agent of the Space Security Service in the year 4000 AD.  Sara was initially depicted as an icy, ruthless operative who followed orders zealously. When the Guardian of the Solar System, Mavic Chen, informed Sara that fellow SSS agent Bret Vyon was a traitor, she believed it.  As far as she was concerned, Chen was her superior, and totally above reproach.  Sara confronted Bret and shot him dead.

Unfortunately, what Sara did not know was that Chen was collaborating with the Daleks and a number of other aliens civilizations in a diabolical scheme to conquer the entire galaxy.  Bret learned of Chen’s treason, and so he had to be eliminated.

Soon after gunning down Bret, Sara tracked down the Doctor and Steven Taylor, ready to dispatch them in a similarly ruthless manner.  Fortunately, the Doctor was able to convince Sara of the truth about Chen and his alliance with the Daleks.  Sara was utterly devastated.  Bret, it turned out, was her brother, and her unquestioning adherence to orders led her to kill him in cold blood.

Determined to thwart Chen, the man who manipulated her and betrayed her trust, Sara joined the Doctor and Steven on the TARDIS as they sought to stop the Daleks’ scheme.

At the conclusion of “The Daleks ’ Master Plan” the Doctor managed to turn the Daleks’ doomsday weapon, the Time Destructor, against them, destroying their invasion force.  Tragically, Sara was caught in the Time Destructor’s field, and rapidly aged to death.

In 2008, over four decades after she had portrayed Sara Kingdom on television, Marsh was given the opportunity to reprise the character in Doctor Who audio stories produced by Big Finish. The spin-off range The Companion Chronicles were adventures narrated by various individuals who had traveled with the Doctor throughout the years. The trilogy of Home Truths, The Drowned World and The Guardian of the Solar System featured Sara Kingdom. The three audio stories were released in November 2008, July 2009 and July 2010.

When author John Peel had novelized “The Daleks’ Master Plan” in 1989  he inserted a six month gap between the events of episodes seven and eight.  Peel liked the character of Sara Kingdom, and he stated that this gap could provide other writers with an opportunity to tell stories of Sara’s travels with the Doctor and Steven.

The events recounted in of Home Truths, The Drowned World and The Guardian of the Solar System are set during that six month period.  But, if Sara is dead, how can she be narrating the stories?  Well, it turns out we are listening to Sara’s ghost… sort of.  Author Simon Guerrier comes up with a very unusual and inventive way to bring Sara back in these this trio of audio adventures.

Marsh is an amazing actress.  It cannot have been easy for her to reprise a role she had played 42 years before.  Especially since of the nine episodes of “The Daleks’ Master Plan” Marsh appeared in only two (episodes five and ten) are still known to exist.  So she definitely did not have much material to reference.  Nevertheless, despite this obstacle, Marsh is positively brilliant in these three audio stories.  She does an amazing job slipping back into the character’s shoes.

As William Hartnell, the actor who portrayed the First Doctor, passed away in 1975, there was obviously no way he could have contributed to these productions.  But Guerrier’s dialogue sounds exactly like what the Doctor would have said.  And Jean Marsh, when speaking the Doctor’s lines, manages to capture the cadence and personality of Hartnell’s speech patterns.

The framing sequences of the trilogy are set on Earth in the far, far distant future, after some unnamed cataclysm has sent humanity back to a primitive technological level.  Robert, who is sort of a cross between a detective and a priest, is sent to investigate Sara’s “ghost.”  It is to Robert that Sara recounts her adventures.  Robert is played by Niall MacGregor.

Home Truths, the first installment of the trilogy, is a very introspective story.  Guerrier really gets into Sara’s head, and we learn a great deal about her.  The grief she feels at having killed her own brother is palpable.  Marsh narration imbues Guerrier’s script with deep, moving emotion.

The setting for Home Truths is a super-advanced computerized house, one that appears to be haunted.  Guerrier effectively uses Clarke’s Law, i.e. any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.  He also broaches upon the theme of how our technology advances far faster than our ability to control it or use it wisely.  And he focuses upon how each and every one of us has dark thoughts & urges buried in our unconscious.  Home Truths reminded me a bit of the classic 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet, with its “monsters from the id.”

The Drowned World, in contrast, is a more action based story.  The Doctor, Sara, and Steven arrive on an endangered asteroid mining colony.  Sara is really thrust to the forefront, as we see her steely determination that no one else dies on her watch.  Confronted with almost certain death, she refuses to give in, standing her ground and holding off the alien menace until everyone else gets to safety.

The story has a very 1960s feel, reminiscent of the “base under siege” formula utilized a number of times on the show.  Admittedly, the aliens in The Drowned World would probably have been impossible to achieve with Sixties special effects.  But they are good creatures to use in the audio format, where all that’s required is the listener’s imagination.

At the end of The Drowned World, Robert brings his gravely ill daughter to the house, asking Sara’s to use the house’s incredible abilities to cure her.  As The Guardian of the Solar System opens, we learn that Sara has healed the young girl, in return for Robert agreeing to remain in the house for the rest of his life, to keep Sara company.  Now, many years later, after his daughter has grown to adulthood and left the island the house is built upon, Robert requests that Sara finally allow him his freedom.  She agrees, but first wishes to tell him one last story…

While Sara was traveling with the Doctor and Steven, the TARDIS materialized within the bowels of a titanic clock that was warping the fabric of time & space.  Exploring amongst the maze of giant gears and chains, watching a towering pendulum swinging back & forth, they observed a group of tired, stooped old men shuffling amidst the gantries and walkways of the cyclopean clockwork mechanism.  The trio soon discovered that they are back in Earth’s solar system.  Even more pertinent to Sara, she learns that they have arrived approximately one year before the Daleks’ massive plot went into action.  And, on a more personal note, one year before Sara killed her brother.

The TARDIS travelers are arrested by the Space Security Service.  Recognizing Sara as a fellow SSS agent, their captors bring her to a separate interrogation room.  And there Sara comes face to face with her brother, Bret Vyon.  Nearly hysterical at seeing him alive, Sara begins to wonder if it is somehow possible to change history, to alter the events that will occur in the next year, events that will culminate in her shooting her brother down in cold blood.

Sara’s attempts to explain that she has traveled back in time are met by disbelief by Bret.  Between her emotional outburst at seeing him alive again, and Bret knowing that prolonged exposure to the forces within the humongous clock can cause mental disorientation, Bret finds her tale of time travel unbelievable.  Then Sara learns that she has another opportunity to alter history, for an important figure happens to be visiting the clock facility: Mavic Chen himself.  And Sara manages to gain an audience with him.

Coming face to face with Chen, the man she hates most in the world, Sara is forced to keep her calm.  She attempts to steer the conversation in a way that it might influence Chen might act differently in a year’s time.  All the while, she has to carefully sidestep mentioning any information that would indicate to Chen that she is aware of his alliance with the Daleks.  In the process, she learns the terrible secret of the clock, and a possible explanation for what led Chen to collaborate with the Daleks in the first place.

Guerrier once again does a superb job writing Sara.  He puts her through an emotional wringer, having her forced to see Bret alive once more, and then attempting to reason with Chen, a man she knows will very shortly betray Earth.

Likewise, Guerrier captures the character of Mavic Chen perfectly.  Chen is a master politician with a magnetic personality.  He is also incredibly good at reading people and knowing what to say to get them to act as he wishes them to, without them ever realizing they have been manipulated.  He hides his arrogance and ravenous hunger for power beneath a benign concern for the well-being of the solar system.  Even Sara, knowing what Chen’s future actions will bring, finds herself being convinced and won over by his carefully-phrased arguments.

Chen is an interesting, albeit terrifying, figure.  Judging by his role in the The Guardian of the Solar System audio play, what I’ve seen of him in the three episodes of “The Daleks’ Master Plan” that are known to have survived, as well as John Peel’s two volume novelization, Chen is undoubtedly a sociopath.  He is a charismatic and persuasive individual who casually uses and then discards people.  Chen is ready to betray the Earth, and then in turn double-cross the Daleks, so that he can assume total control of the entire galaxy, without a thought given to the countless lives that will be lost due to his machinations.

The original episodes of “The Daleks’ Master Plan” do not delve too deeply into the political climate or structure of Earth’s government in the year 4000.  However, there is a certain quasi-fascist atmosphere present.  We are not told if Mavic Chen was elected Guardian of the Solar System, appointed to the position, or seized power in a coup.  But it is quite clear that he holds tremendous authority, and there are not any apparent political checks & balances against him.  The agents of the Space Security Service possess a “license to kill,” and throughout “The Daleks’ Master Plan” we see them typically shooting first and asking questions later, if at all.  The members of the SSS appear to possess an unquestioning obedience to orders, which is what led Sara to so easily kill her own brother.

When Terry Nation created the Daleks, he used them as a blatant allegory for the Nazis.  It has been suggested over the years by various reviewers that the Earth government Nation presented in “The Daleks’ Master Plan” was also a metaphor for the Third Reich, albeit a much more subtle one, a form of fascism that had successfully hidden itself under the cloak of democracy.  Is it mere coincidence that the SSS is just one letter longer than the common abbreviation of the Nazis’ Schutzstaffel?   More than one commentator has noted that Nation recycled and fleshed out the political atmosphere of this story in his dystopian space opera Blake’s 7, which presented a tyrannical, fascistic “Terran Federation” brutally stamping out liberty and free will.

In The Guardian of the Solar System, Guerrier extrapolates on the seeds planted in “The Daleks’ Master Plan.”  The old men kept tending to the clock are apparently political prisoners or dissidents.  Sara unequivocally states that the SSS have been trained to follow orders to the letter, to not ask any questions.  SSS operations are routinely classified for reasons of security, so that each agent is left in the dark about what missions their fellow operatives have been assigned to.  The organization is run like a well-oiled machine.

In the gargantuan clock, Sara sees a metaphor for herself.  She was just a mere cog in a vastly complicated mechanism, completely unable to alter her destiny.  And when her attempts to alter history fail, that merely reinforces that helpless self-appraisal of her role in the scheme of things. In an anguished cry, Sara hollers “There isn’t any choice!  There’s never any choice!”

Guerrier plays with the possibility of a predestination paradox in The Guardian of the Solar System.  At the end of the audio play, Sara Kingdom is convinced that her attempts to alter history may very well have instead caused those events to take place.  This reinforces Sara’s feelings of being a cog in a machine, bereft of free will, this time not just in Mavic Chen’s government, but in the vast scope of history itself.

However, Guerrier deliberately leaves it ambiguous as to whether events were preordained.  Both Sara and the listener are kept in the dark as to whether Mavic Chen was already a part of the Dalek conspiracy prior to the events of the story, or if it was Sara’s actions throughout that led him to collaborate with Earth’s enemies.

Once again, as in the previous two parts of this trilogy, Jean Marsh is absolutely incredible as Sara Kingdom.  A thousand years after her mind had been copied into the computer of the mysterious house, Sara is still tortured by her actions, by the massive guilt she feels for unquestioningly following orders and killing her brother.  Unaware that Chen was exterminated by Daleks once his usefulness had run out, and that her original self died thwarting the Dalek invasion, the “ghost” of Sara has been left for a millennium with no closure.  In a way, the original, “real” Sara met with a more merciful fate.  Yes, she died a horrible death when the Time Destructor was activated, but at least now she is at peace.  The copy of her, however, the “spirit” possessing the house has been left for a thousand years with unresolved guild and unanswered questions.  Marsh brings across all of this torment and anguish with palpable emotion in a riveting performance.

Niall MacGregor also does a fine job as Robert.  It is no accident that Robert is a sort of priest, because Sara is quite clearly confessing her sins to him, in search of absolution.  Robert can only try to point out the good that Sara has done during her travels with the Doctor, the lives she has saved.  He regards her as a heroine who has repeatedly been ready to sacrifice herself to save the innocent.

Guerrier ends The Guardian of the Solar System on a striking note.  Sara, who has argued to Robert that she has never had any choice, is finally presented with a clear-cut opportunity to change, to decide her fate.  Restored to corporeal, mortal form by Robert, who has taken her place as “the ghost in the machine” of the house, Sara is now free to choose what she wants to do next.  And, granted this freedom for the first time, she is left undecided.  What happens when someone whose whole life has been mapped out for them is given the gift of choice?

The trilogy was directed by Lisa Bowerman, best known for playing Bernice Summerfield in the Big Finish audio plays.  Bowerman did a superb job, getting riveting performances from Jean Marsh in all three stories.

Each disk included brief behind the scene interviews.  I enjoyed these, as they provided Marsh’s thoughts on reprising the role of Sara.  Interestingly, Marsh indicated she would be open to playing Morgaine from “Battlefield” in an audio story.  Considering the end of that story left her fate up in the air (how exactly does one “lock up” a powerful extra-dimensional sorceress?) there could be potential in having her return in a Big Finish sequel.

In any case, these were very good productions.  I’ve always liked the character of Sara Kingdom, based upon viewing those two episodes from “The Daleks’ Master Plan” and reading the novelization.  It was great to have her appear in new stories.  Sara was so unlike the majority of female companions from the 1960s, who would usually scream their lungs out when confronted by the monster of the week.  She was sort of a futuristic Cathy Gale or Emma Peel, tough as nails and no nonsense, but with a caring, sensitive side buried under her hard exterior.  Sara was very much ahead of her time.

I was glad that Simon Guerrier brought back Sara Kingdom in these three audio plays.  Marsh subsequently portrayed Sara in several other Big Finish releases. I had hoped we might get a story in which the revived Sara would travel the Doctor in one of his later regenerations, as there’s the potential for some poignant drama out of a reunion of the two.  How would the Doctor react to Sara’s return, and how would Sara cope with the knowledge that her original self had died long ago on Kembel?  Would the Doctor be able to grant the absolution that Sara had sought for so long?  The storytelling possibilities are tremendous.

Of course, it’s quite possible that Marsh, now 87 years old, has retired from acting, in which case the likelihood of her returning to the role of Sara Kingdom once again is very remote. But at least we did have the opportunity to hear her perform in several memorable Big Finish productions within the past decade and a half.

Raymond Cusick, designer of the Daleks: 1928 – 2013

I wanted to take the time to remember Raymond Cusick, who passed away on February 21 at the age of 84.  Cusick was a long-time Designer working in the employ of the BBC.  It was in 1963 that Cusick made an indelible contribution to pop culture, when he designed the appearance of the Daleks for Doctor Who.

As many people are aware, the concept of the Daleks was originated by author Terry Nation, who wrote the original seven episode serial that marked their debut in late 1963, as well as many of the subsequent stories to feature the fascist mutant cyborgs.  But it was actually Raymond Cusick who conceived their iconic look.  The description that Nation provided in his original scripts was rather sparse:

“Hideous machine-like creatures, they are legless, moving on a round base. They have no human features. A lens on a flexible shaft acts as an eye. Arms with mechanical grips for hands.”

It was working from those few sentences that Cusick would create the now world-famous design for one of science fiction’s most enduring villains.  Obviously without Nation, there would have been no Daleks, period.  But without Cusick’s brilliant design, it is questionable that the monsters would ever have achieved anywhere near the fame and recognizability that they possess, in the process helping the entire Doctor Who series to achieve remarkable longevity.

Raymond Cusick alongside his iconic design for the Daleks
Raymond Cusick alongside his iconic design for the Daleks

I first became aware of Cusick and his work in 1986 when I read the non-fiction book Doctor Who: The Early Years, written by Jeremy Bentham.  In those pre-internet days, information about the show’s early seasons was pretty scarce, at least here in the United States.  Those few reference books that were imported here, such as Bentham’s, were an invaluable resource for young fans like myself.  The Early Years contained a wealth of in-depth behind-the-scenes information concerning the origins and development of Doctor Who in the early 1960s.  And a significant portion of the book was devoted to the contributions Cusick made to the series.

In addition to devising the look of the Daleks themselves, Cusick was the designer for their debut serial.  Among the other subsequent stories that he worked upon during the first three seasons of Doctor Who were “The Keys to Marinus,” “The Sensorites,” “The Romans,” “The Chase,” and “The Daleks’ Master Plan.”  His imaginative sets and props were extremely vital to the early innovative look of the series.

After departing from Doctor Who, Cusick went on to become a designer for a number of other productions filmed by the BBC.  He and his wife also opened a small hotel in South London which they decorated with many of the famous props and design illustrations he created during his time on Doctor Who.

I think that in the past Cusick’s contribution to the legacy of Doctor Who and the Daleks has often been overlooked or downplayed.  As a freelancer, Terry Nation retained ownership of the Daleks, and apparently made a fortune out of the vast licensing of them.  Cusick, in contrast, was a BBC employee, and so was only paid a regular salary.  At the urging of his supervisor, the BBC eventually gave Cusick a one-off “Special Merit” payment.  But for many years the majority of the recognition for the Daleks’ success, both in terms of money and publicity, clearly went to Nation.  I think it was due to the efforts of fans & historians such as Bentham that Cusick’s vital contributions were eventually recognized in subsequent decades.

The 2010 three disk DVD release of “The Space Museum” and “The Chase” contained a number of extras.  Among these was the 12 minute long “Cusick in Cardiff,” which documented the Dalek designer’s visit to the studios of the revived Doctor Who series.  I really enjoyed that one, because it was great to see the present-day creators of the show acknowledging Cusick’s contributions.

I’ve read that Cusick was not especially concerned with financial compensation, that it was more important to him to receive recognition for his role in the development of the Daleks.  His wishes were fortunately fulfilled in his later life, as fandom became more widespread & knowledgeable about the early days of Doctor Who.  Judging by the large number of obituaries that I have read over the last few days, all of which have credited him as “the designer of the Daleks,” it seems that the record has been clarified, and Cusick’s contributions to the Doctor Who mythos are now firmly established.

Doctor Who reviews: The Android Invasion

Last month my girlfriend got me the DVD of the Doctor Who story “The Android Invasion” as a birthday present.  This story actually has something of significance for me, as part two of it was the very first Doctor Who episode I ever saw.  Way back around 1981 or so, Doctor Who was briefly shown on one of the television networks here in the States on Saturday mornings.  I only ever caught that one episode, and I didn’t remember much about it, but the cliffhanger ending always stuck in my mind.  About two or three years later, when I discovered Doctor Who on my local PBS station, I immediately became a fan and, well, the rest is history.

Admittedly “The Android Invasion” is not an especially great Doctor Who story.  One of the main problems is that for the first two episodes writer Terry Nation struggles mightily to build up this sinister, creepy mystery as to what is taking place in the village of Devesham and the nearby Space Defense Station.  Unfortunately, most of the suspense is completely undone by the title of the story!  Why are the inhabitants of the village, including old friends of the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith, acting so damn peculiar?  Well, it’s because they are android duplicates, obviously!

This serial had at least two working titles, namely “The Kraals” and “The Enemy Within.”  While neither of these is nearly as dramatic as “The Android Invasion,” at least either of them would have maintained one of the main mysteries of the story’s first half, instead of blowing it wide open in the opening credits.

That said, the first time I saw this serial in full, it came as a complete & total surprise when at the end of the second episode the Doctor deduced that not only was everyone in the village a robot doppelganger, but in fact they were not even on the planet Earth.  Instead, this was a carefully constructed replica built by the rhino-like Kraals on their homeworld Oseidon as a training ground for their duplicate agents, a mock run for their conquest of the actual Earth.

A much derided aspect of “The Android Invasion” revolves around the Kraals’ human agent, astronaut Guy Crayford, who spends the entire story wearing an eye-patch.  Crayford believes that the Kraals rescued him from certain death on a space mission gone horribly wrong, and that is why he is assisting their invasion plans.  He thinks he has to wear the eye-patch because when the Kraals saved his life, they were unable to restore his eye.  That is until the end of episode four, when the Doctor convinces him to take it off, and Crayford realizes he has a fully function eye underneath.

Even as an eight year old viewer, my first reaction was to think “What, in the two years he was a prisoner of the Kraals, Crayford never once took off that eye-patch to take a shower?!?”  If one wants to be charitable, on two separate occasions the Doctor refers to Crayford as having been “brainwashed” by the Kraals, so perhaps he was programmed not to remove the patch.  But if that was the case, why give it to him to begin with, other than to provide a dramatic, out of left field twist when actor Milton Johns yanks it off in the story’s final moments?

There are several other glaringly obvious holes in the plotting.  I could list them all, but we’d be here for a while.  That said, I think most of them only become obvious upon repeated viewings.  And, as producer Philip Hinchcliffe commented, when he was working on Doctor Who, it was never expected that these shows would be re-watched over and over years later.

I also felt that “The Android Invasion” was an unfortunate exit story for the characters of Benton and Harry Sullivan from UNIT.  This would be the last time that actors John Levine and Ian Marter would appear on Doctor Who, and it’s a shame that neither of their characters is given a substantive role.  Hinchcliffe admits in hindsight that if he had known that this was to turn out to be the last appearances of Benton and Harry, he might have given the pair more of a presence in the story.  As it is, it’s unfortunate that these two well-regarded characters have what amounts to little more than extended cameos.  It’s also painfully obvious that Patrick Newell as Colonel Blimp, um, Faraday is a last-minute replacement for Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.  Although considering what a tiny role in the proceedings the Brigadier would have had if Nicholas Courtney had been available, it’s probably best that he did not show up, as he was given a much more dignified exit in the previous UNIT story, “Terror of the Zygons.”

Doctor Who: The Android Invasion DVD

Well, having gone on at length as to the faults of “The Android Invasion,” I will readily admit I actually quite like this story.  A major reason for this is the team of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen as the Doctor and Sarah.  Baker and Sladen had this absolutely incredible chemistry and rapport, and they work extremely well off of each other in “The Android Invasion.”  Some of the serial’s best scenes are the ones between the Doctor and Sarah.  They really were one of the greatest Doctor/companion teams in the show’s history, and that is readily on display in this story.

“The Android Invasion” has a really cracking script.  I’m not sure what should be credited to Terry Nation, what goes to script editor Robert Holmes (who was known for performing extensive rewrites to make stories workable), and what was improvised by Baker and Sladen.  Whatever the case, the dialogue is intelligent and witty.  I especially enjoyed the exchange between the Doctor and the Kraals’ chief scientist Styggron in episode three.  Baker does his usual routine of being threatened with death by acting silly and nonchalant.  Left tied to a ticking time bomb by Styggron and his android henchmen who then shuffle off, the Doctor exuberantly calls after the exiting villains…

“Don’t go! Stay! Just for a few minutes, then we can all go together!”

The silly banter between the Doctor and Sarah later in the episode in the Kraals’ duplication laboratory also cracks me up…

The Doctor: I feel disorientated.

Sarah: This is the Disorientation Center.

The Doctor: That makes sense.

Martin Johns does a good job portraying gullible astronaut Guy Crayford.  It would have been easy to play the role as an sneering villain.  Instead, Johns imbues Crayford with both this boyish enthusiasm and a very pitiable quality.  It’s obvious to everyone but Crayford himself that he is a mere pawn of the Kraals, and when the character belatedly realizes how badly he’s been manipulated, you genuinely feel sorry for him.

The direction by Barry Letts is top-notch.  There are some marvelously effective, atmospheric shots.  When a list of the top Doctor Who directors is drawn up, Letts’ name is not typically included.  Understandably, most fans of the show focus on his considerable role as producer in shaping almost the entirety of Jon Pertwee’s five year run alongside script editor Terrance Dicks.  It’s a shame.  I don’t know if I would rank Letts alongside such amazing directors as Douglas Camfield, David Maloney or Graeme Harper.  Nevertheless, Letts does some solid work on “The Android Invasion.”  I think his directing on this serial would be better regarded if he’d had a stronger story, but considering what he was handed, Letts makes the most of it.

The audio commentary on “The Android Invasion” was entertaining and informative.  The participants are Milton Johns (Guy Crayford), Martin Friend (Styggron), producer Philip Hinchcliffe and production assistant Marion McDougal.  I’ve observed in the past that for the older Doctor Who serials, it’s worthwhile to have a moderator to guide the discussion and help jog everyone’s understandably hazy decades-old memories.  Filling that role once again is Toby Hadoke, who does a superb job at leading the proceedings.

The extra feature “Life After Who” looks at Philip Hinchcliffe’s post-Doctor Who career.  Hinchcliffe went on to produce a wide variety of material, ranging from gritty crime series to period dramas.  Unfortunately, I’m unfamiliar with most of this material.  I’d have to check to see if any of it is even available on DVD here in the States.  That said, some of it looked very intriguing, and given the opportunity I’d like to be able to watch some of these projects.  Particularly of interest is Nancy Astor, the story of the controversial first female member of British Parliament.

So, despite its flaws, “The Android Invasion” is an entertaining serial, and the DVD contains some interesting extras.  As I said before, while it will never be considered one of the top Doctor Who stories ever made, it is a personal favorite of mine, in that, for all its silliness and gaping lapses of logic, it is a great deal of fun.  Actually, having written this review, I now feel like sitting down and watching it again.  That’s the hallmark of an entertaining story.