Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain
Written By: Malcolm Hulke & Terry Nation
Release Date: 9th January 2012
Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online
Review Posted: 8th January 2012
Invasion Of The Dinosaurs
The TARDIS arrives back in present day London, bringing The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) to a deserted capital city. However the TARDIS isn't the only time machine operating in the area; and it's up to the Time Lord and his companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) to work out who's responsible for the rather large stegasaurus in the middle of Pall Mall in this two disc release from the BBC / 2|Entertain stable; forming one of the two stories making up the U.N.I.T Files Box-set.
Disc One is almost entirely devoted to the six part story, but there are a few little buttons to press that do things...
Episode One in Colour - Episode one is now presented in both formats - both the black and white version that existed in the archives, and now, a re-coloured version. It's a very nice feeling being able to see the story entirely in colour, and even though the restoration can be a little patchy in parts, it serves well as an option for viewing. Having said that, the black and white version does lend a touch more credibility to the programme's dinosaur shaped co-stars.
Commentary - One of the highlights of recent Doctor Who DVDs is listening to the very smooth tones of Toby Hadoke introducing the commentary; and this time we hear more of him, as well as Paddy Russell; the director of this six part story. The pair work very well together, and Paddy is never less than entertainingly honest and forthright. A welcome addition to the story as it diverts the attention from some of the less successful elements featured, and a great extra.
Coming Soon Trailer - The original TARDIS crew have to keep their cool, their wits, and their voices down when the Sensorites steal the lock of the time machine. Can the Doctor save the Humans, broker peace, and get the TARDIS restored? The Sensorites DVD is the next release.
Production Notes - Behind the scenes information, actors careers and of course those all-conquering dinosaurs are discussed in the on-screen trivia text featured on the disc. As usual with these notes, they're informative, entertaining and always good for raising a smile or two.
Easter Egg - The Doctor vs the Floor Manager in an entirely boring ten second extra... find the hidden light up green Doctor Who logo!
Power, People and Puppetry - A half hour look back at the people and production of the story, featuring both cast and crew. Particularly entertaining are Barry Letts and Paddy Russell - especially when it comes to the introduction of the Whomobile. Also with previously taped interview excerpts of interviews with the late, great Jon Pertwee, including a riotously funny account of the Police vs Doctor Who in his super space car.
The featurette, for all it's great interviews, isn't presented that well, and you're really never sure whether the host of the piece is for or against the story - if he's for, then his choice of launguage used to describe the story is lacking. One of the major plusses however is that it doesn't dwell on the dinosaurs too long - we all know they weren't the greatest models ever used in Doctor Who, and it's good that the documentary doesn't linger unnecessarily over this fact. It's touched upon honestly and with humour, but it never overshadows the rest of the featurette.
Doctor Who Stories: Elisabeth Sladen: Part One - Culled from "The Story Of Doctor Who", this featurette does two things: it makes you remember just how great Sarah Jane Smith was, and it breaks your heart when you think that Lis Sladen is no longer with us to reprise that great character. Featured in part one are her experiences with the Third Doctor, from her meeting with Barry Letts and Jon Pertwee, through her memories of Daleks, Exxilons and Whomobiles. It's hardly new material, or in most cases new stories and anecdotes, but it's just great to see such a wonderful Doctor Who legend on screen looking so full of life, even if knowing there'll be no more new stories adds a piquancy to the featurette.
Now And Then - A guide to the various London shooting locations used in the story as they appeared in 1973, and as they are now. Some very nice footage comparison via picture in picture and some great clips used from the show, but with a voice over that sounds like the narrator would rather be elsewhere... and he can't say the word "nuclear", opting instead for "new-kew-lar".
John Levene Commentary - A ten minute featurette of Sergeant Benton's alter ego - John Levene - giving his thoughts on this story. Not terribly long, but if you're a fan of Levene you'll probably enjoy this short piece.
Billy Smart's Circus - There are very few programmes in television history where the star's minute long cameo could send thousands of children into paroxysms of delight. Doctor Who is definitely one of those programmes, as this brief clip of Jon Pertwee [turning up in the Whomobile at this televised circus extravaganza] shows. Jon is clearly amused by his child hosts and their inability to remember their lines or stage directions; but there are few things quite as memorable to a child as hearing the Doctor Who theme start up and the Doctor himself arriving a few feet away from you. Great little piece of telly trivia and nostalgia. Nice of the BBC to caption Jon as "Dr. Who" onscreen, too...
On Disc Two the usual Photo Gallery of cast and production stills and the PDF Radio Times listings are included, and on Disc One there are Subtitles and Audio Description Facilities for those who may want or need them for the main story.
Invasion of the Dinosaurs, whilst not being the most obvious choice for a UNIT story is nonetheless very entertaining, and the recolourisation of episode one is especially welcome. The extras are for the most part well thought out and devised. It's a great DVD release overall, and works well when twinned with the other story in this set, The Android Invasion starring Tom Baker's Doctor.
The Android invasion
In the second part of this two story set, the errant Time Lord (this time Tom Baker in the title role) lands the TARDIS in Devesham, not far away from the Space Defence Station. However as the Doctor and Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) explore their surroundings, it becomes increasingly obvious that all is not what it seems; with fake trees, people and a set of grumpy space rhinos out to conquer the Earth.
Long before the Judoon, there were the Kraals. The original grumpy space rhino in a manic string vest/1960s dress combo - no wonder they were so annoyed! In a story that borrows rather a lot from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers there's a lot of tension and drama that plays out well. It's a great story, well-plotted, paced and acted, and the extras on this release really support that theme well.
Life After Who: Philip Hinchcliffe - Presented and perfectly pitched by BBC News presenter and daughter of the interviewee Celina Hinchcliffe; this featurette shows just what a versatile producer Philip Hinchcliffe was, and showcases some of the work that kept us glued to our screens away from the TARDIS. A very well paced segment that's interesting and convivial, Life After Who showcases the career of a talented witty man who, although mostly remembered for working on Doctor Who, had a hand in many other memorable programmes. Great piece!
Commentary - Toby Hadoke is in the command chair once more, this time with Philip Hinchcliffe (producer), Milton Johns (Guy Crayford in the story) and Marion McDougall, the Production Assistant on this story. Quite a gentle commentary but always interesting and amusing to listen to. Hadoke is, as always, a very engaging host and the commentary on this story is never forced and strung out. Very nicely done.
Weetabix Advert - John Scott Martin inside what looks like a repainted Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks, and sounding like the voice is his too! Made to promote the range of cut out and keep figures, this entertaining short piece of televisual fluff from the 1970's diverts the attention for a minute or so, and leaves you wondering where a Dalek found a red plunger...
The Village That Came To Life - Nick Briggs; the voice of everything these days - presents this behind the scenes look at the origins, filming and story behind The Android Invasion. Some locals in a pub are interviewed (one of whom has a worryingly prophetic name...) and Hinchcliffe et al provide their thoughts and opinions on what worked, what didn't, and... Tom Baker. There's a very nice bit in this retrospective from Hinchcliffe about a lacklustre episode ending he spiced up into one of the Classic Series' most frightening and remembered cliffhangers. Very well put together and a lot of interesting talking heads.
Photo Gallery - Set to a bizarre mix of incidental music and weird Kraal noises, the sets, actors and locations for The Android Invasion captured in photographs. Black and white and colour photos, publicity shots, and a particularly charming picture of the late Lis Sladen, signing autographs for kids on location, with Tom Baker behind her doing the same. Lis looks very happy and content, and it's a lovely picture to remember her with.
Info Text - The usual on-screen subtitle trivia section. Facts, figures, audience shares and suchlike are paraded across your screen in a friendly and accessible format. As always, the trivia text even comes up with what the Radio Times was saying about each episode. Frivolous fun that holds the attention well.
Easter Egg - Yes, there's another one on this disc, and it's marginally more interesting than the one on the Invasion of the Dinosaurs disc...Marginally.
With the usual Subtitles for those who may want or need them, and the PDF Radio Times excerpts included on this disc, The Android Invasion is a fantasitc story and the disc can still easily engross the viewer, many years later from the original showing.
The U.N.I.T Files Box-set as a whole works well, even if the stories chosen (especially The Android Invasion) aren't what you'd usually expect for a set about the Doctor's friends and allies in the Armed Forces. However, on a different level, the stories do work very well as tributes for two of the Whoniverse's most-loved and much-missed actors, who passed away in 2011. Nick Courtney and the glorious Elisabeth Sladen are both showcased by this set, and that alone would be reason enough for buying it - even if the rest wasn't up to scratch. Happily, the extras on U.N.I.T Files do both stories proud, and make a great addition to the explanding Doctor Who library available on DVD.
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