Regular readers might have figured out that production of Doctor Who‘s fifteenth season was troubled and erratic. It really was, and that’s before we came to the collapse of the six-part serial that was planned to end the season. It was scripted by a veteran TV writer called David Weir and it wasn’t working, so “The Invasion of Time” was an eleventh-hour replacement co-written by the show’s producer and script editor, Graham Williams and Anthony Read, and broadcast under a pseudonym.
It’s an interesting story, but it’s not a great one. We’re back on Gallifrey, where everything is starting to look like a 1970s beauty salon and where many, many details are different since we were last here fifteen months or so previously. None of the actors from “The Deadly Assassin” returned for this, just names and ranks and costumes. John Arnatt takes over the role of the Doctor’s former teacher, Borusa, in this adventure, and the wonderful Milton Johns plays Kelner, the new Castellan. He’s the police commissioner, basically, and the head of the citadel guards is a barely competent red-clad fellow who wishes he could be Chief O’Hara when he grows up.
The real fun in parts one and two is that the kids in the audience are not in on the secret of what’s going on. It’s all a big mystery, although one that won’t tax adult viewers. The Doctor has signed a contract with some alien invaders, and K9’s in favor of this plan, but Leela can’t be allowed to stay in the Time Lord city. Revisiting the plot of “The Deadly Assassin,” the Doctor has returned home to assume his role as president, so that he can access the Matrix, but Leela has to be expelled, K9 has to destroy the planet’s force field, and the Doctor needs a private room with lead-lined walls, ceilings, and floors… almost as though he needs to keep a big secret from somebody. Our son enjoyed this, especially seeing K9 cause lots of explosions in the force field generator basement, but he is completely stumped as to what our hero is planning. Good!