I continue to be impressed by how much this TV show achieves with so little. An alien invasion, android duplicates of people, a copy of Earth, bombs going off, a space rocket launch and the whole human race in danger of extinction, and yet much of it simply filmed in a little village or a forest or in the standing UNIT sets. Quite amazing, really.
It’s often best to simply let your imagination fill in the gaps, and that’s put to good use here, because you’re not quite sure of what’s real and what isn’t. I really liked the twist that they were in a training area, with clues being slowly revealed. The android Sarah Jane was another great reveal, and the moment when it falls over and the front of its face comes off, or when one of the other androids bursts into flames and melts, is pure sci-fi horror at its best.
Before they know where they are, it seems like a village of brainwashed people, acting very strangely indeed. The space-suited androids, the abandoned village, the phones that don’t work, the calendar with the same dates on every page, and the superb moment when the clock strikes midday and all the people in the pub come to life, is all so wonderfully creepy.
The actual aliens themselves, the Kraal, are just another in a comically long line of rubber-masked menaces who want to conquer the Earth. I thought they were Sontarans at first, but then you get a good look and they’re not. They’re a bit dinosaur-looking, and there’s obvious limitations in getting the rubber mouths to move properly, but they are effective enough. I found it hard to believe the human astronaut would believe them to be benevolent, as they so obviously aren’t, but it’s all part of his brainwashing.
A few of the UNIT bunch return, including Harry, but there’s no sign of the Brigadier in this story, as he’s said to be in Geneva. There’s quite a lot of action towards the end. The Doctor gets into a few fights and, at one point, jumps through a window! He and Sarah continue to play off each other well – there’s definitely a trust developing between them and some relaxed dialogue. Sarah doesn’t seem to get hysterical as often, either. Good stuff, and if this is what Terry Nation can do when he’s not writing Dalek episodes, I hope he continues to not write Dalek episodes!