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"The Reichenbach Fall" And "Invasion of The Dinosaurs" On The Friday Lockback/Docback!! SHERLOCK (Story #6), DOCTOR WHO (Story #71), And More!!

 

Merrick here...

 

...with a look at "Invasion of the Dinosaurs," featuring third Doctor Jon Pertwee, which aired January - February 1974.  It was released on DVD this week - you can find the two disc set HERE in the U.K. and HERE in the U.S..

We'll also be looking at "The Reichenbach Fall" - the third and final installment of this wave of Moffat/Gatiss SHERLOCK episodes.  There has been no formal announcement that more installments will be forthcoming, although...considering ratings and the attention the show is getting...it's a safe bet further M/G Sherlock/Watson adventures will eventually be heading our way.  Although, in this business, I've taught myself never to assume anything.  So, until an official announcement...

 

SHERLOCK (Story #6): "The Reichenbach Fall" 

This Sunday brings us "The Reichenbach Fall" - the last episode of SHERLOCK until, well, we get more episodes of SHERLOCK.  Which'll presumably come about at some point, despite no official word on the matter at this time.  

That clip is genius.  

This week's installment is directed by DOCTOR WHO veteran Toby Haynes ("The Pandorica Opens," "The Big Bang," "A Christmas Carol," "The Impossible Astronaut," and "Day of the Moon") and scripted by Steve Thompson.  

Thompson adapted "The Blind Banker" in last year's SHERLOCK Series 1 - easily the least fully realized story of that batch.  My contention, however, is that the episode's struggles lay chiefly in uncentered direction by Euros Lyn  - who never seemed to nail the tone of the piece, and didn't come across as feeling particularly comfortable with the nature of the HOLMES reinvention he was dealing with.  Hopefully the pairing of Thompson and Haynes will net bolder results?  Of course, as I type this, I note that Thompson also scripted DOCTOR WHO's "Curse of the Black Spot" - which I regard as the slightest of all Series Six DOCTOR WHO adventures.  So...now I don't know what to tell you.  

With all of this in mind, know that BBC's slightly spoilery "Reichenbach" synopsis reads thusly: 

James Moriarty possesses the greatest criminal mind that the world has ever seen. Sherlock and John knew he wouldn't stay hidden for long. But even they never guessed the sheer scale and audacity of the crime that would propel Moriarty back into the headlines. The crime of the century. The Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville prison - all sprung open on the same day, as if by magic! But Moriarty's plans don't stop there...

Sherlock and John lock horns with their old enemy in one final problem that tests loyalty and courage to their very limits. Sherlock must fight for his reputation, his sanity and his life. But is he all he claims to be?

"The Reichenbach Fall"  transmits at 9pm Sunday on BBC One.  

 

 

 

"Invasion of the Dinosaurs" (Story # 71)

 

  

 

"My apparatus has been messed about with"

- the Doctor, “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”  Pt 4

 

 

Hehehe. His “apparatus!”

 

Ahem. 

 

 

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and companion Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) arrive in contemporary but deserted London - which is plagued by looters, policed by UNIT, and infested by dinosaurs.  Our heroes’ efforts to stem this pre-historic incursion quickly insnares them in a conspiracy encompassing the highest levels of government, military, and science. 

 

 

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and companion Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) arrive in contemporary but deserted London - which is plagued by looters, policed by UNIT, and infested by dinosaurs.  Our heroes’ efforts to stem this pre-historic incursion quickly insnares them in a conspiracy encompassing the highest levels of government, military, and science. 

 

 

In general, I'd think shooting a dino might work out better if one actually pointed their weapon TOWARDS the beasty.  But, what do I know?  I've never killed a dinosaur...

 

 

“Invasion of the Dinosaurs” - originally entitled “Timescoop” - must be evaluated...patiently.   Malcolm Hulke’s script, while perhaps relying on too many relatively similar human-vs-dinosaur cliffhangers, is tightly told and roundly conceived on the whole.  Hulke has rendered a fully realized conspiracy thriller here which could well have stood on its own as a shlocky B-movie action adventure film in the ‘50s or ‘60s -  with only a little tweaking and character adjustment required.  

 

Performances are generally solid across the board, with special notice for Noel Johnson’s genial-but-slippery Sir Charles Grover, John Leven’s Benton (in a nice sequence, the UNIT operative allows the Doctor to overpower him), and the mighty John Bennett (who would later appear as Li H’sen Chang in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”) -  he’s a General asshole named Finch here, and quickly constructs a ‘love to hate’ character.  

 

 

 

 

Paddy Russell’s direction is workmanlike - a term I generally detest using, but can find no substitute for at the moment.  Her efforts are never particularly noteworthy, nor does she do anything to sabotage the proceedings to any extent.  Her helming is competent and capable, but rarely filled with notable energy or flare.  She gets the job done...and on a show like this, that counts for a lot.   Especially given the dinosaurs she was wrangling - more on this shortly.   

 

Sarah Jane is very much “the reporter” in this story - and goes about solving the dino incursion mystery with the aggressive curiosity befitting the best newsperson and heroine.  One particularly amusing sequence finds the Doctor and Sarah Jane -  unflustered after being taken into military custody - enjoying having their mugshots taken perhaps a little too much.  She tries to leave her adventures with the Doctor behind at the end of “Invasion,” but he re-entices her with poetic descriptions of the otherworldly majesty of their next destination.  A lovely moment evoking similar instances in modern WHO.

 

Other highlights include the hamhandedly telegraphed fall from grace of Mike Yates (Richard Franklin), a recurring DW character at the time, along with some nice filmed material of helicopters and vehicles searching for an on-the-run Doctor...

 

 

 

 

With so many nice elements to its credit, why does an evaluation of “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” require ‘patience’?  Those dinos.  Those damn, silly, pitiable dinos.  

 


 

 

If ever there was a DOCTOR WHO begging for one of the super-nifty “Special Editions” BBC has afforded a select number of vintage DW stories (“Day of the Daleks!”)...

 

I’m guessing  the effects deficits here are so extreme, and the time and complexity required to render them appropriately for modern audiences would be so costly, that an SE of “Invasion” is never gonna happen.  But, to quote Pertwee’s Doctor, “Good Grief!”  

 

There are a few instances...precious few...when a fleeting glimpse or a particular angle of a dinosaur hints at what might’ve been.  But, on the whole, those moments are little more than cruel taunts.  Before any Docbacker jumps on me for being too harsh or negative about these crappy, shameful, embarrassing, laughable, inexcusably rotten dino effects - which were predominantly executed by puppetry if I understand correctly - please consider these ABRIDGED assessments from two of the episode’s producers (quotes from interviews presented on the DVD’s extras):  

 

"In story terms, the dinosaurs had to do certain things, you know, the monster scenes, generically.  They had to appear, they had to menace people. They had to advance on UNIT soldiers, they had to retreat when you threw grenades at them you know.  And they didn't do any of these things very well, or very convincingly, because they were kind of basically puppets."  - Terrance Dicks, Producer 

 

"...it's been a running sore in my memories of DOCTOR WHO ever since." - Barrry Letts, Producer 

 

Fortunately, although certainly not intentionally, the dino effects are so staggeringly incompetent that they are actually rather amusing.  Meaning sequences which might’ve been difficult to watch actually bring a smile to one’s face.  Scant reassurance and piss poor validation, I know...but that’s where it is, and a smile is better than some alternatives.  

 

Fortunately, the overall substance “Invasion” overcomes this dinocap.  Hulke’s script is juiced by moments of fundamentally smart invention and surprising depth, symbolism, and resonance which nicely elevate this story beyond the prehistoric idiocy of the puppets mentioned above.  One plot movement introduces us to a space ship airlock which, if walked through, reveals the “truth” about characters’ understandings of their circumstance - but many folks simply refuse to walk through that hatchway.  An excellent allegory for denial, intellectual resistance, and the shrugging-off of fundamental actualities.  The government/scientific/ military collusion in Operation Golden Age somehow feels right in a larger-than-life James Bond / Tom Clancy sort of way, despite the admittedly fantastic nature of their ambitions.  The story’s closing moments find the Doctor lamenting the way of our world with concerns that are as germane today as they were back when the show aired in 1974:   “It’s not the oil and the filth and the poisonous chemicals that are thew real cause of pollution, Brigadier.  It’s simply greed.”  

 

 

With multiple dino cliffhangers, three instances of Venusian Aikido, high-tech equipment fueled by Cold War technology, and a dino invasion which looks like geriatrics growling about in Halloween costumes they picked up at a thrift store down the street, there’s a lot to enjoy here...both deliberately and unintentionally.  Just don’t pay any attention to those dinos - they’ll get you every time.   

 

“Take the world that you’ve got and try and make something of it...” admonishes the Doctor as “Invasion” draws to a close.  Not a bad sentiment with which to start a New Year.  Not bad at all...

 
Extras include...
 
 
 
PEOPLE, POWER AND PUPPETRY (32:41)
 
Hosted by Matthew Sweet ("Broadcaster and Historian")
 
-- Terrance Dicks (Script Editor)
 
-- Barry Letts (Producer)
 
 -- Evolution of this story out of a proposal called "Timescoop"
 
-- Discusses how this concept was affected by "green politics" of the era. (THERE IS A STRONG ENVIRONMENTALIST MESSAGE RUNNING THROUGHOUT THE STORY).  
 
-- Peter Miles (Professor Whitaker)
 
-- Terence Wilton (Mark)
 
-- Director Paddy Russell talks about visiting central London at 4am with only a cameraman (Tony Leggo) and a sound guy (Fred Bagwell) to bag footage of a deserted London. 
 
-- Debut of the Doctor's Jetsons-like futuristic car, a vehicle specially commissioned by Pertwee for his personal amusement but used occasionally in the show.   
 
-- Jon Pertwee (1993 interview), who talks about being shaken down frequently by Policemen attempting to claim the car wasn't road worthy (it was). 
 
-- Richard Morris (Designer)
 
-- A through thrashing of the story's breathtakingly inadequate dinosaur effects by Producers Terrance Dicks (Producer) and Barry Letts.  
 
-- explains why the story's first episode is called "Invasion" while subsequent episodes use the full "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" (essentially to preserve audience surprise), and references scripter Hulke's intense displeasure with stripping dinos from the first episode's title.  
 
 
 
 
DELETED SCENES (4:48)
 
Cut or truncated sequences from the story. 
 
 
 
 
NOW AND THEN (13:43)
 
A tour of locations appearing in the episode contrasting their 1973 and contemporary appearances. 
 
 
 
 
DOCTOR WHO STORIES: ELISABETH SLADEN PART 1 (14:00) - via interview snippets from "The Story of DOCTOR WHO"
 
-- Sladen recounts her casting as Sarah Jane Smith and her initial encounter with then Doctor Jon Pertwee.  
 
-- Discusses acclimating to the role and coming to terms with both its strengths and limitations.  She talks about her first encounter with a WHO monster, her fist Dalek episode, her first CSO (color separation overlay - in effect, chroma key or  blue screen).
 
-- Talks about Pertwee's decision to leave the show shortly after her arrival, apparently based on his being reused a raise.
 
-- Says Ron Moody regretted turning down the Doctor role.
 
 
 
JOHN LEVENE COMMENTARY (10:15)
 
A brief segment of 2005 commentary from John Levene, UNIT Sergeant Benton.  
 
 
 
PHOTO GALLERY
 
 
 
BILLY SMART's CIRCUS (1:43)
 
A Pertwee television appearance, including the afore mentioned future car.
 
 
 
PDF MATERIALS
 
Radio Times Listings 
 

 

 

   

 

 

--- follow Merrick on Twitter ! ---

 

 

 

PREVIOUS DOCBACKS

 

[SEASON / SERIES SIX DOCBACKS]


"The Impossible Astronaut"

"Day of the Moon"

"The Curse of the Black Spot"

"The Doctor's Wife"

"The Rebel Flesh"

"The Almost People"

"A Good Man Goes To War"

"Let's Kill Hitler"

"Night Terrors"

 
 
 

"The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011 Christmas Special)  

 

[RETRO-WHO DOCBACKS - MOST RECENT DOCBACK IS HIGHLIGHTED]

"An Unearthly Child" (Story #1)

"The Daleks" (Story #2)

"The Edge of Destruction" (Story #3)

"Marco Polo" (Story #4)

"The Keys of Marinus(Story #5)

"The Aztecs" (Story #6)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7)

"The Reign of Terror" (Story #8)

"Planet of Giants" (Story #9) 

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (Story #10)

"The Rescue" (Story #11) 

"The Romans"  (Story #12) 

"The Web Planet" (Story #13) / SHERLOCK - "A Scandal in Belgravia" (Story #4)

"The Gunfighters" (Story #25)

"The Colony in Space" (Story #58) 

"Day of the Daleks" (Story #60) + Preview of the DotD Special Edition

"The Android Invasion" (Story #83) and SHERLOCK: "THE HOUNDS OF BASKERVILLE"  (Story #5) 

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (Story #91)

"The Sun Makers(Story #95)

"The Awakening" (Story #131)

"Frontios(Story #132)

"Time and the Rani" (Story #144)

"Paradise Towers" (Story #145) + New WHOvian Documentary / Newsbits

DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SERIES 

Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor (How Merrick Got Hooked On DOCTOR WHO)

DOCTOR WHO Title Sequences & DW At Comic-Con 2011

"The Crash of the Elysium" (Manchester version - interactive DOCTOR WHO adventure)

Why Eccleston Left, Here Comes Caroline Skinner, And Season/Series Six Part 1 on Blu-Ray And DVD

New Trailer For Season/Series Six Part 2

 

 

 
DOCBACK/LOCKBACK CODE OF CONDUCT
 
1) a Docback/Lockback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO or SHERLOCK (with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)... 

2) matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity.  Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example.  "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well.  " "**SPOILER** Holmes Kills Watson!** " or "**SPOILER** Why did everyone die?"  Is NOT good.  
 
 
And, above all... 

3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way.  Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning.  Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated.  Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.  One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docback.Lockback from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation. 
 
In short, it's easy.  Be excellent to each other.  Now party on...
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