THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO BOOK
"EMPATHY GAMES" AND
THE TV STORY "IMAGE
OF THE FENDAHL."
BOB BAKER &
THE ENEMY WITHIN &
THE INVISIBLE INVADER
'K-9 TALES' DVD BOX
RELEASED IN JUNE 2008.
WHILE ANSWERING A
MAYDAY FROM A
REFUELLING STATION ON
MOON, THE TARDIS
PASSES THROUGH A
ALARMED, LEELA SENSES
PRESENCE. THE DANGER
TURNS OUT TO BE AN
VIRUS, AND THE DOCTOR
IS SOON INFECTED AND
FIGHTING FOR CONTROL
OF HIS MIND.
WITH THE TIME LORD
ONLY HOPE LIES ON A
SATELLITE. THERE, HELP
COMES IN THE UNLIKELY
COUPLING OF ECCENTRIC
MARIUS AND HIS DOG-
BUT CAN THEY SAVE THE
DOCTOR BEFORE HE IS
UTTERLY CONSUMED BY
THE ENEMY WITHIN?
The Invisible Enemy
1ST OCTOBER 1977 - 22ND OCTOBER 1977
Doctor Who’s fifteenth production block began with the recording of “The Invisible Enemy”, which would eventually see transmission as the 1977/78 season’s second story. It is notable for being Graham Williams first serial in charge as producer, K-9’s first story as a ‘companion’, and also for seeing the return of the original TARDIS console room. I do not think that I am alone in thinking that all three of these things were not necessarily positive steps forward.
The return of the original TARDIS console room was quite simply a question of Williams’ personal choice; he had not liked the gothic, ‘Jules Verne’ style TARDIS interior that had been used during the previous season. I think that considering the pressure that the producer was under from his superiors to tone down the horror and violence, the return of this bright white console room may well have signalled his intention to steer Doctor Who away from its ‘gothic horror’ days. Similarly, the decision to retain K-9 permanently – something that had never been intended in the beginning – probably also had a lot to do with Williams’ desire to inject a little bit of humour and potentially make the show more family friendly. And to be fair, as scorned as K-9 so often is amongst fans, he was certainly both popular and memorable with the general audience. After all, how many other robot dogs are there out there who get to form the centrepiece of a lush DVD box set forty years past their prime?
Above: Gary Gillatt in the "Dreams and Fantasy" documentary
As for “The Invisible Enemy” itself, it has to be said that I have a fervent dislike for this serial and so, as you can imagine, I was hardly thrilled to hear of its release on DVD ahead
of so many infinitely superior serials. Gary Gillatt’s eloquence almost had me warming to it as I was watched the DVD’s flagship special feature, “Dreams and Fantasy”, but at the end of the day this “awful to awesome” serial leans far too heavily towards “awful” for my taste.
Now that said, this serial does contain some fantastic elements – just take the whole sequence inside the Doctor’s brain, for example. In terms of sheer imagination, Bob Baker and Dave Martin have to be commended. It is the execution, however, that is all wrong. What could have been a wonderful sequence goes horribly awry as we end up just bearing
witness to the Doctor and Leela’s minuscule clones running around inside the Doctor’s very unconvincing head being attacked by his own phagocytes.
Above: "The Invisible Enemy", revamped for 2008 with new CG effects
I think that this DVD has taught me to be a little kinder to this story though; an attitude made almost effortless thanks to the new computer generated effects. And we are not talking
about just a CGI shot here or there, either. Like with “The Invasion of Time” DVD, almost every single shot in this serial is given the once-over and the result is simply stunning. One would think that decent effects would jar dreadfully when juxtaposed with the old 1970s footage, but the Restoration Team have done the new effects in a style that blends in with
the old footage extraordinarily well. The only trouble is, of course, that when the next DVD comes along that has not had all the special effects redone, I am going to feel hard done-by!
Save for the sadly Tom Baker-less commentary, the rest of the DVD special features are a completist’s dream. The disc has over twenty minutes of raw studio footage depicting Baker at his zenith (take that as you will) as well as an absorbing 16-minute featurette that sees visual effects designer Mat Irvine catch up with this story’s model maker Ian Scoones. This surprisingly informative featurette really helped me gain a whole new appreciation for the model maker’s craft. Best of all though is a short Blue Peter clip that sees K-9 get molested by the Blue Peter dog, Shep!
"How am I expected to talk to this fucking prawn?"
- Tom Baker
The serial itself culminates in a showdown with a macrocosmic viral nucleus that is quite possibly one of the series’ all-time worst props. Baker certainly thought so – rumour
has it that he kept laughing throughout his scenes with the nucleus, forcing several re-takes. What is more, after filming had wrapped Baker complained to Williams about the evident drop in production values, and quite right too, I reckon - “The Invisible Enemy” was hardly the best of starts to the new producer’s reign, and to this day remains a serial that is best avoided, no matter how well jazzed up and redressed for DVD.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007, 2008
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