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The Invasion of the Cybermen - Yet Again!
on 28 January 2012
The Invasion is a masterpiece of British television in general, let alone one of Doctor Who's best serials. This is the fourth and final Cybermen serial in Doctor Who during the 1960's, having previously appeared in "The Moonbase" 1967, "The Tomb of the Cybermen" 1967, "The Wheel in Space" 1968 and "The Invasion" 1968. I feel sure that the production team felt that the Cybermen were being under-used, so this is why they elected to burn 22 episodes of Cyber action in to our brains in just 2 short years. The reason I love the Invasion therefore, is because the Cybermen are distinctly absent from events, their first appearance being in episode 4, half way through this mammoth 8 episode 190 minute story. For me though, the Cybermen are just a backdrop for the serials main villian, Tobius Vaughn, the greatest human villian that the series ever created. The Invasion is not a cybermen serial, after all, Vaughn has more onscreen time than any villain in Doctor Who, I would'nt be surprised is he was on screen longer than the Doctor himself.
Anyway you look at it, the Invasion is Doctor Who at its best, and I certainly think that the story deserves its mantle as an absolute classic and one of the all time greats. Douglas Camfield was the perfect director for Doctor Who, he never created a dull story, or even a dull scene, his fantastic eye for action was what made the Invasion great for me, every detail is made obvious and casting great actors like Kevin Stoney and Peter Halliday as the villains was a masterstroke. Another great choice of Camfield's was to employ the talents of composer Don Harper, the incidental music in the Invasion is probably the best in the series history. Although not as great as Dudley Simpson's talents, Don Harper was highly skilled in his scoring of the Invasion and it stands as a massive compliment to the story to have such vivid and exciting music for the backing. Another great choice of Camfield's was to cast Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier in this serial, The Brig is one of the most fondly remembered characters from the 48 year old programme, and still today, is regarded as one of the all time greats of Doctor Who.
Now, on to the BBC's reimagining of missing episodes 1 & 4, well, having heard of the animation of these episodes long before I actually saw them, I can tell you I was dubious to say the least. 1960's Patrick Troughton episodes being animated, surely not? Well after actually sitting down and viewing the whole story in one fell swoop, its fantastic, you really don't notice that much that you are watching animation, alright, maybe some people can but what we must remember is that this is the ONLY way in which any of us is going to be able to see these lost episodes. I for one am pleased with the results and am glad to hear that plans have been set in motion to animate more missing episodes for release on to DVD. Having watched every single missing episode in telesnap, audio etc etc form, it is a breath of fresh air to see some movement, the distictive motion of the B&W animation is unique. So here's to more BBC funding going towards animating other lost TV episodes of Doctor Who for release on DVD in the near future. Hurahh.
As well as the utterly brilliant animated episodes, this BBC DVD boasts many other little beauties. All remaining 6 episodes look like they were shot yesterday in high definition due to the painstaking work the Restoration Team has put into them, the picture and sound quality is truly amazing. I am unfortunate enough to have owned the BBC Video release of the Invasion from 1993, good god, I couldn't see or hear a thing. Thankfully, the days of the BBC just throwing these episodes out on to video are long since dead, and thusly we have these beautifully remastered BBC DVD's to enjoy in full digital quality. As well as all this you get a 50 minute long documentary narrated by Frazer Hines about the making of the Invasion, some documentaries concerning the animating of the Invasion and the usual other 5 minute or less tit-bits accompanying every release. Worthy of note however is the photo gallery, of which has a 6 minute uninterupted segment of all of Don Harpers pieces of incidental music used on this adventure. Great listen.
All in all the Invasion is a true classic, at 8 episodes long you would think that it is too long but if anything it could do with another 2 episodes, like the War Games. Kevin Stoney's Tobius Vaughn will remain in my eyes the greatest ever human Doctor Who villain, and the animated episodes are a huge welcome to BBC DVD's range of Doctor Who adventures.
Highly highly recommended 10/10
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