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Doctor Who: U.N.I.T Files
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- Aspect Ratio : 1.33:1
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 2.8 x 13.9 x 18.7 cm; 215 Grams
- Manufacturer reference : 5051561033766
- Director : Barry Letts
- Media Format : DVD
- Run time : 250 minutes
- Actors : Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, John Levene
- Subtitles: : English
- Studio : BBC
- Producers : Philip Hinchcliffe
- ASIN : B006H4R8W6
- Number of discs : 3
- Customer Reviews:
Frequently bought together
Double bill of classic 'Doctor Who' television serials.'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' (1975) is the last storyline to feature Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.When a group of scientists who want to return the Earth to a time before technology use dinosaurs to try and force people to flee the cities, the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) set out to stop them.In 'The Android Invasion' (1975) the Doctor (now played by Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane believe that they are back on Earth when the TARDIS lands near what seems to be a peaceful English village.But why is the local pub deserted? And who are the spacesuit-wearing figures with guns for fingers? The intrepid pair set out to discover the truth.
Technical Specs: * Languages(s): English
* Interactive Menu
* Scene Access
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Calling these adventures the ‘UNIT Files’ is a bit of a stretch, when the second one has only a loose connection to our heroes. However, the two stories do have a clear link, illustrating the very Seventies idea that “the enemy within” (Terry Nation’s excellent original title for ‘The Android Invasion’) were plotting to sabotage democracy and take over the country. Who exactly “they” might be depended on your politics, though no-one ever seriously suggested “they” were aliens – or androids – or had actual dinosaurs… but now the UNIT Files can reveal the truth!
‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ is probably the most underrated of all Pertwee-era adventures and for me makes this box set a 5* buy. I’ve loved this story ever since 1974 when ‘my’ Doctor took on another childhood favourite – the dinosaurs! Combined with a great UNIT story and a clever ‘whodunit’, plus layers of political satire for older viewers to appreciate, this is yet another classic by Malcolm Hulke. And now all back in colour again! 5*
‘The Android Invasion’ is, for me, somewhat of an off-day (most unusually) in the magnificent Hinchcliffe / Holmes seasons, with holes in the plot and less than convincing aliens. It’s not really a UNIT story in my opinion (they’re reduced almost to incidental characters), but it’s still worth seeing for excellent android elements, Barry Letts’ typically high-quality location filming and stunt work - and Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen superb as always. 3½*
(This review has grown almost as long as a Diplodocus, so thanks if you reach the end!)
‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ (6 episodes) 5*
Before I praise everything else about this adventure, I have to admit the Tyrannosaurus Rex mostly looks - rubbish. It’s a pity, because the dinosaur puppetry, CSO ‘blue screen’ work and model effects are better than their reputation would suggest – and it’s unfair to compare with modern CGI or the big-budget dinosaur puppetry from contemporary ‘70s films. And as an excited viewer in 1974, it never occurred to me that anything here was less than perfect. So please, watch with the imagination as I did back then, enjoy a great story and forgive the foam rubber ‘king’ of the dinosaurs…
NOTE: Episode One survived only as black-and-white, but has now been ingeniously re-coloured by the ‘chroma dot’ technique, merging the surviving mono film with residual colour signal that was left within the mono material. Apparently only partial colour data could be recovered for Episode One, so the result is not quite as good as, for example, ‘The Mind of Evil’, but it’s still very impressive and great to see the whole story in colour again… it’s almost as if they used a Time-scoop to raise it from the past....(!)
** To view Episode One in colour, you must select the option from the ‘Special Features’ menu, or the mono version will play. Colour Episodes 2-6 were never wiped, because VERY fortunately the order from high up wasn’t followed for some reason. (Just how appropriate that was for this of all stories, you will discover…) These surviving colour Episodes 2-6 are also newly restored and look excellent.
Arriving back in London, the Doctor and Sarah find the city almost uninhabited apart from a few looters, and the Army trying to keep order. The strange atmosphere of a great but abandoned city is very well portrayed, enhanced by the sunny weather and director Paddy Russell’s resourceful early morning filming, in a story packed with excellent location work plus very convincing sets by Richard Morris.
Jon Pertwee was in his final season in the role, but he’s still the Third Doctor at his most wonderfully flamboyant in this quintessential Third Doctor story; a mixture of brainpower, gadgets, vehicles and Venusian aikido, all combined with humour and a strong moral sense – and now with his Whomobile!, the futuristic ‘car’ of the Doctor’s own invention that really was pure Pertwee. Elisabeth Sladen’s second outing as Sarah Jane Smith shows the investigative journalist getting herself into trouble as any ‘companion’ must, but doing it by getting at the truth; an excellent performance in a really good script for the character.
‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ is a cracking UNIT story. Nicholas Courtney is excellent as always, with the Brigadier caught between loyalty to the Doctor and obedience to his commanding officer, General Finch. The quiet humour and decency he always brought to the role are perfectly shown here, and Richard Franklin and John Levene have great scenes as Captain Yates (back from sick leave after his traumatic time in ‘The Green Death’) and the ever-reliable Sergeant Benton. The actors are perfect as usual and Hulke’s script is excellent at showing the dynamics of the whole UNIT ‘family’ under some strain... Dinosaurs in London! The Doctor soon decides they are being ‘raised’ to clear London by someone tampering with Time for some deeper purpose – but who are “the enemy within” and what is their plan?
Paddy Russell assembled a really impressive guest cast for this story, showing yet again that ‘Doctor Who’ could always attract the best names in TV and theatre. John Bennett plays authoritarian General Finch, while Noel Johnson (famous as Dick Barton, Special Agent) is the urbane Minister and environmentalist, Sir Charles Grover. Martin Jarvis is the mysterious Mr. Butler and Peter Miles has another memorable ‘Doctor Who’ role as brilliant Professor Whitaker. All excellent actors and characters - but who among them can the Doctor trust?
Ex-communist Malcolm Hulke wrote a terrific plot about fanatics who begin with a noble idea, but who are so self-righteous in their quest for “The Golden Age” that they soon believe “the end justifies the means” - their excuse for atrocities on a colossal scale, as from the French Revolution to the Bolsheviks and Mao’s followers. Anyone who expresses free will (like the Doctor and Sarah) must either be “disposed of” or “re-educated” until they are ‘fit’ to belong to “The People” (the self-chosen people, of course). Can the Doctor uncover “Operation Golden Age” before it’s too late for the rest of humanity?
Giving impact to the ‘grand finale’ in a studio was never easy, but Hulke does it very well by reminding us that our hero is not only a hero, but a Time Lord, placing the Doctor firmly in the spotlight after a story rich in plot and great characters.
Sadly, this was the last time Malcolm Hulke would write for televised ‘Doctor Who’. But with all the other top writers, actors and production teams, he helped ensure that for countless fans (definitely including me), those classic seasons and Doctors of the ‘70s truly were “The Golden Age”. 5*
(Malcolm Hulke’s novelisation is highly recommended, especially Martin Jarvis’ superb Audiobook recording.)
DVD Special Features:
The commentary is rather mixed; best are the lively, very entertaining commentaries for episodes 2 and 3, with Richard Franklin, Peter Miles, Designer Richard Morris and Script Editor Terrance Dicks, also the commentary for episode 5 where Paddy Russell chats with Toby Hadoke about her long television career. (The production subtitles on this story are really very good and worth reading.)
On Disc 2:
An enjoyable extra commentary (recorded several years earlier) on ten minutes of episode 5, by John Levene.
‘People, Power and Puppetry’ (33 min) – looking at the highs and lows of making the story, with due attention to those dinosaurs, also the political context of the story. Great to see a contribution (from 1993) by Jon Pertwee, also Producer Barry Letts and most of the commentary team.
‘Doctor Who Stories – Elisabeth Sladen: Part 1 (14 min) – recorded in 2003, a superb and now poignant interview with the much-loved actress, this section covers the stories of her one Pertwee-era season. (Part 2 is on the ‘Terror of the Zygons’ DVD)
‘Deleted Scenes’ (5 min) – one cut scene (without sound) from episode 1, a few short scenes (cut for time) from episode 3.
‘Now and Then’ (14 min) – revisiting the locations and placing them around London. As usual on these features, it’s noticeable how much neater many places look now than in the 70s – if less atmospheric for film crews!
‘Billy Smart’s Circus’ (2 min) – a guest appearance by Jon Pertwee in the ‘Whomobile’.
‘Photo Gallery’ (6 min) – a very good gallery, also including Jon Pertwee in the ‘Whomobile’ and some pictures of the model ‘sets’.
The ‘Radio Times’ listings are included as a PDF, with a great ‘action cartoon’ illustration for Episode 1.
One Easter Egg.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
‘The Android Invasion’ (4 episodes) 3½*
This story is partly brilliant, but partly – less so. The alien Kraals need a new home, because their planet Oseidon has become contaminated by radiation. Earth seems suitable and will be occupied using (surprise) an invasion force of androids. So there are two faces to this story – the androids and the aliens.
The android part of the story is excellent except the title spoils what should have been a fabulous ‘reveal’ later in the adventure. Terry Nation’s own choice of title kept the secret: “The Enemy Within”. The opening episodes are really good, as the Doctor and Sarah return to a peaceful English landscape in fine summer weather, very close to the village of Devesham and the space defence centre where UNIT are apparently now based. But there are energy-finger-firing ‘spacemen’ in the woods and the villagers are silent and stony-faced – then suddenly switching into action and chatting in the pub – until they see two strangers; they don’t like strangers round here…
Barry Letts directs what in this part could have been one of his own era’s classic Pertwee stories; lots of excellent location filming, familiar settings with strangely unfamiliar inhabitants and action sequences with great stunt work. Max Faulkner performs two spectacular deaths in this story, each time as the same character – which you can do if you’re playing an android. According to the Special Features, Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Barry Letts reworked many sequences and dialogue while on location, with typically good results which look great in this newly restored version, very sharp with rich colours.
Tom Baker brilliantly plays the Doctor as a full-on action hero in this story (helped by stuntman Terry Walsh, a great combination as the closing fight scene shows.) Perhaps only four or five other stories (of which ‘The Seeds of Doom’ stands out for me) gave him similar opportunities and he’s very impressive playing the Doctor in this style too.
Elisabeth Sladen never put a foot wrong playing Sarah Jane Smith, although here she has to trip and sprain her ankle, get captured… But she also rescues the Doctor (twice), has a great solo escape scene and is excellent as usual. Sarah’s episode 2 cliff-hanger was a terrific idea from Producer Philip Hinchcliffe and still looks impressive – but it would have been an absolute stunner if we hadn’t known until that point that this mystery is all about androids…
Actually, it’s not ‘all about androids’, there are the Kraals. Martin Friend performs very well under a very large mask as scientist Styggron, but I don’t find them convincing compared with, for example, the unforgettable Zygons from this same season. Also, the Kraal part of the plot has quite a few obvious holes, for example the plan to use their androids to spread a deadly virus when a much simpler method would have worked. This is especially puzzling as the androids are obviously inspired by the idea of KGB ‘sleeper’ agents and Soviet schemes to weaken the West by stealth, seen in many films and TV shows of the period. It’s a great idea for an infiltration takeover story with an excellent twist when the ‘Kraal curtain’ is lifted, but the ‘virus’ idea makes the androids seem redundant.
This adventure features the last television appearances of Ian Marter’s Harry Sullivan and John Levene’s long-serving Benton – but, sadly, they are reduced almost to minor characters and don’t get a final ‘goodbye’. Apparently, this was never considered the ‘goodbye’ story for the UNIT regulars, it just happened that way. Even so, they deserved better roles.
Finally, guest star Milton Johns is excellent as Astronaut Guy Crayford, helping the Kraals out of gratitude because they saved his life and rebuilt him after a terrible accident to his spacecraft – all but his missing left eye… Not really a traitor, he became ‘one of them’ after being deceived about their ‘new world’ on Earth. However…
*** SPOILER ***
Crayford’s ending is poor. He turns against Styggron because the Doctor reveals that the Kraals tricked him; he wasn’t saved by them, but brainwashed. And the proof is - he has a good eye under his eye-patch and never realised, even in months… How much better if he had been revealed *to himself* as an android so perfect it believed it was human, containing a copy of Crayford’s mind, but nothing more… (Probably not an original idea, but there are elements of many other android and infiltration stories in this one.)
So the androids and ‘village’ themes are really good, the stars are always excellent and well-supported by the guest cast. But the Kraal part of the story is relatively weak, and it’s for that, the poor under-use of UNIT and the plot holes that I gave 3½*. For me, this story is the only ‘off-day’ in magnificent Season Thirteen, but even so, there’s still much to enjoy.
(Thanks very much for reading, and my apologies for the length of the review!)
DVD Special Features:
The commentary is really interesting, with Producer Philip Hinchcliffe, Milton Johns, Martin Friend and Marion McDougal (Assistant Director) providing a wealth of memories and information about the production. (The production subtitles on this story are again very good and worth reading.)
‘The Village That Came to Life’ (31 min) – Nicholas Briggs visits East Hagbourne (aka ‘Devesham’), still looking remarkably like it did forty years ago, and meets some locals in the pub… An excellent ‘making of’ feature with memories from locals who remember the filming, plus contributions from Barry Letts, Philip Hinchcliffe, Milton Johns and Martin Friend.
‘Life After Who’ (30 min) - Celina Hinchcliffe talks with her father Philip about his distinguished career after producing his three, now legendary seasons of ‘Doctor Who’. I especially remembered ‘Private Shultz’ and ‘Virtuoso’ among the excellent programmes discussed.
‘Photo Gallery’ (7 min) – includes very good location photos.
Easter Egg – on the second ‘Special Features’ menu. Seven minutes of sound rushes from the location filming. Regulars to these DVDs will recognise the voice of Barry Letts, directing.
Invasion Of The Dinosaurs (1974) – The TARDIS materialises in a seemingly deserted London. As the Doctor and Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) explore the empty streets, the only other the people they come into contact with are looters and army personnel. Mistaken for looters, they are court-martialed... These early scenes work really well, as it's always eerie to see scenes of a deserted London. What doesn't work quite as well, however, are the dinosaurs that pop up all over the capital. They are poorly realized, even by the standards of the day, and seriously detract from what is quite an engaging story. For the Doctor discovers that a high level conspiracy involving government officials, army officers, and scientists, are part of a programme to return Earth to a 'Golden Age;' a time before man polluted the planet. Using the time travel technology developed by Professor Whittaker (Peter Miles), they have brought various dinosaurs forward through time in order to clear the area that will be affected, for only idealists like themselves will be permitted to live in their Utopia. Those outside the protected area will simply cease to be. Though the Doctor sympathises with their cause, he disapproves of their methods. It's a good story for Sarah, as she follows her journalistic instincts to uncover members of the conspiracy. There is also a sub-plot in which a bunch of environmentalist writers and athletes believe they are on a spaceship bound for New Earth. It is interesting to note how they are depicted by writer Malcolm Hulke; so confident in their moral superiority that they cannot countenance an opposing point of view. Sound familiar? It is also a good story for the idealistic Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) who is part of the conspiracy and acts against his friends. In the end, 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' is a decent adventure; just remember to squint when the dinosaurs are on screen.
The Android Invasion (1975) – The Doctor and Sarah arrive in what appears to be a wood in England. Almost immediately, they are shot at by a group of men in boiler suits; then witness a UNIT soldier walk off a cliff. Soon after, they come across the village of Devesham, which is at first deserted. When the inhabitants do turn up they are strangely hostile, as are UNIT personnel at the nearby Space Research Centre. It turns out that they are not on Earth at all, but are on the Kraal planet of Oseiden, and everything they've seen is a replica of Earth's counterpart; including its people. The Kraals are a rhino-like species who, due the rising levels of radiation on Oseiden, plan to invade Earth. With their androids, and the help of astronaut Guy Crayford (Milton Johns), they hope to spread a virus which will destroy all mankind... The first episode is eerily mysterious and atmospheric, and beautifully directed by Barry Letts, but it falls apart thereafter. The Kraals plan hinges on Guy Crayford's willing co-operation, who feels that he owes them for saving his life, but how does he not realise that he has not lost an eye? Why didn't they remove it? Also, robot detector!? That's a bit of convenient kit. I also feel it's a shame that both Benton (John Levene) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) didn't have more substantial roles, considering that they'd never appear again. This was very much at the fag-end of the UNIT years. However, despite his obvious cold, Tom Baker's on fine form; the conclusion to episode two is good; and the Doctor has a taste for ginger pop. In conclusion, 'The Android Invasion' is a pretty looking invasion tale, but with more holes than a Swiss cheese.
'People, Power and Puppetry,' looks at the making of the Pertwee tale; whereas, 'The Village That Came To Life,' does the same for the Baker story. There are also interviews with Philip Hinchcliffe and Elisabeth Sladen; and an assortment of other oddities for the committed Whovian.
Invasion of the Dinosaurs
One of my all-time favourites. - even with the reputation of poor dinosaurs. If the dodgy dinos and special effects of a low-budget show of 1974 distract too much - try watching the whole story in Black and White. It adds to the atmosphere, and the "dodginess" is not so noticeable - or I think so. Just watch this with the imagination of a child - not expecting the CGI of 2018! and enjoy a very re-watchable classic story with the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Sarah-Jane (Liz Sladen) battling not only dinosaurs - but one of they're friends!
The Android Invasion
A fun and creepy story of the Doctor and Sarah-Jane battling to stop Androids controlled by "dodgy looking" aliens - the Kraals - in a deserted country village. Not one of my favourites, but still watchable just for the sheer delight of watching the Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah-Jane (Lis Sladen) together on screen.
The deserted London scenes would be difficult to achieve nowadays and the thinking outside of the box by the people who were often working to tight budgets, produced great outcomes, given the available money. In those days, the BBC did all of the program from within the organisation, so the crew all knew each other and had worked together.
Sadly today, with programs farmed out in the main, you don't get that sort of 'glue', but that said, the modern program makers are very good at what they do.
The Tom Baker story is well done, with replicant humans in a small English village, quite eerie and well written and made.