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19 February 2008 @ 07:24 pm
The Invasion  
I got the BBC's release of The Invasion for Christmas, this being the version where the two missing episodes have been animated based on the telesnap archives. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Cosgrove Hall's style of animation. B spent some time trying to convince me that static backgrounds against which characters move were typical of televisual style, but I'm fairly sure its just a marker of cheap animation and that the The Infinite Quest looked much the same without the excuse that it was animating the gaps between production stills. Leaving aside the issue of static backgrounds even the animation looked rather odd. In the end I decided it looked rather like puppet theatre - characters sort of bounce along, their legs out of shot, when they are supposed to be walking somewhere and other movements are a bit sudden and stilted like someone working with a limited set of movement controls. This may have been a deliberate stylistic decision - Cosgrove Hall have an impressive track record so I'd expect them to know what they're doing - but if so it isn't one that particularly works for me. However, all that said, since I'm not a great fan of audio drama (especially audio drama that was not ever intended to be audio drama) I appreciated having something to watch while the soundtrack played.

Elsewhere the story was remarkably watchable and not nearly as slowly paced as I had feared, even the endless breaking into and then out of the IE building and compound didn't appear nearly as padded as it could have done*. Vaughn was extremely well portrayed and benefitted from some intelligent characterisation in the script. But leaving him aside the acting honours mostly lay with the UNIT team and the regulars. The Watkins family were competent in their roles of doddery professor and ditzy dolly-bird with feminist ideas above her station but neither really rose above this essentially two dimensional characterisation. Packer, Vaughn's violent henchman, was a huge disappointment coming across basically as a clown-like stooge instead of the scary menace I vaguely recalled from the novelisation. UNIT shone though, seeming much more assured in their roles and set up in this, their debut adventure than, say, Torchwood appeared in their first outing**.

As a piece of trivia, it had somehow escaped my notice until I watched it that Jamie is almost entirely absent from the last couple of episodes. Frazer Hines was famously ill during filming of the previous story, The Mind Robber, and Jamie had to be played by Hamish Wilson (fortunately the Mind Robber was sufficiently surreal to allow the show to get away with this). It was also common practice in the Hartnell years to write characters out of a couple of episodes simply to give the actors a break from Doctor Who's then punishing production schedule but I hadn't been aware that the practice had carried over into the Troughton years.

* mind you parenthood has deprived us of the luxury of watching classic Who serials all in one go, forcing us to view them episodically as they were originally intended. It is possible they benefit from this.

** Though, to be fair, Torchwood was trying to introduce a lot more characters (although Sergeant Benton appears in the Invasion, it is really only trying to introduce us to the Brigadier and (the never again seen) Corporal Tracy) without the luxury of being intended only as guest regulars in a well-established show.