Monday, September 2, 2013

DVD REVIEW: “Doctor Who: Invasion of the Dinosaurs”

“Doctor Who: Invasion of the Dinosaurs” (Story #71)

Original Airdate: January 12, 1974 – February 16, 1974 (6 part weekly)

Starring: Jon Pertwee (the Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates), John Bennett (General Finch), Noel Johnson (Charles Grover M.P.), Peter Miles (Professor Whitaker)

Special Features:  The documentary “People, Power & Puppetry;” deleted scenes; “Now and Then” documentary looking back on the locations used in the serial; “Doctor Who Stories” interview with Elisabeth Sladen; commentary by John Levene; photo gallery; Jon Pertwee on “Billy Smart’s Circus”; PDF materials; trailer of “Doctor Who: The Sensorites”

In this DVD review I look back on “Invasion of the Dinosaurs,” the second story from the 11th season of “Doctor Who” – and what was Elisabeth Sladen’s second adventure as Sarah Jane Smith alongside Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.

Following their adventure in Medieval England, the TARDIS returns the Doctor and Sarah to the 20th century – or so they think. Central London is seemingly deserted, except for some looters and the Army – and a handful of…dinosaurs? The Doctor and Sarah get arrested after getting mixed up with some looters, but are rescued by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart from UNIT and are then able to begin figuring out what is happening. Their investigations leads to the discovery that a group of misguided scientists and politicians are planning to revert planet Earth back to a pre-technological level which, they are convinced, will solve all the problems in the world. Speaking of problems, the Doctor and Sarah find themselves up against one unlikely adversary – someone inside UNIT who is also one of the Doctor’s good friends.

Favorite Scene:
My favorite scene is in the very first episode, after the Doctor and Sarah get arrested by the police for supposedly looting and are brought back to the station to have their mug shots taken. Both the Doctor and Sarah just have fun with it, smiling for the camera and being so relaxed about it all – especially when the Doctor puts his arm around Sarah and asks the officer “Now, what about one of both of us?”

Notable Dialogue:
There are two bits of dialogue from the above mentioned scene that brought me to giggles. The first is when the Doctor and Sarah first arrive at the station and are being registered by the police:

Policeman: “Age?”
Doctor: “You’d never believe me!”

The second comes as the Doctor and Sarah are preparing to have their mug shots taken:

Doctor: “I think you’ll find that the right is my best side – ”
Policeman: “Shut up and hold that in front of you!”

Other Items Worth Noting…
·        The very first episode in this serial was broadcast in black and white and called simply “Invasion” in order to conceal the central plot device – the dinosaurs – but this was undermined by the show’s listing in The Radio Times, which gave a full synopsis of the story, including the dinosaurs.  The subsequent five episodes were broadcast in color and called “Invasion of the Dinosaurs.” The DVD gives you the option of colorizing the first episode, which I did try, but the result is very grainy, poor color so I ended up watching the first episode in its original black and white.
·        This story marks the introduction of the Doctor’s hovercraft-type vehicle called the Whomobile.

Why I enjoyed Invasion of the Dinosaurs:
The story itself was not something I was fond of – I know, I said the same of The Time Warrior – but again, I’ll confess that I am mostly watching these early episodes because of Elisabeth Sladen. And it was indeed the character of Sarah Jane that I loved most about this story. She is undoubtedly much more headstrong, being assertive and inquisitive no matter how many times the Doctor dismisses her or downplays her suggestions. Even after being told not to take any photos of the captured “dinosaur” she goes back with her camera anyway, and later she sticks with her instincts that tell her the “space ship” she was unwillingly taken to it really a fake - and uses some of that assertiveness to convince the others of it, as well.

Invasion of the Dinosaurs is available on DVD from Amazon.

Check out more about Sarah’s outfits from “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” over at The Sarah Jane Wardrobe Appreciation Society at

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