‘INVASION OF THE DINOSAURS’
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It’s time for some ‘Doctor Who’ adventures with U.N.I.T.!
The ‘U.N.I.T. Files’ DVD box set of ‘Doctor Who’ is very enjoyable to have and watch! I purchased this DVD box set when it was released in January 2012. The box set contains two stories. There’s ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ with Jon Pertwee and there’s also ‘The Android Invasion’ with Tom Baker.
Both of the two stories are action-packed adventures featuring the Doctor working alongside U.N.I.T. back in the 1970s. Both of these stories are very engaging and action-packed to watch. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy these two classic adventures. They’re worthy to add to your ‘Doctor Who’ DVD collection!
‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ is a six-part adventure by Malcolm Hulke on a 2-disc DVD set. Disc 1 contains the story, whilst Disc 2 contains the special features. It features Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.
There’s also Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith with Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier, Richard Franklin as Mike Yates and John Levene as Sergeant Benton. And of course it features the dinosaurs!
This story has been very enjoyable, full of socio-political intrigue and messages running throughout. It’s such a shame that the dinosaurs didn’t live up to everyone’s expectations as they look so dodgy.
The story has the Doctor and Sarah Jane returning to London after their previous adventure. They find London to be deserted, except for some looters, minimal army forces and ‘terrifying’ dinosaurs.
Eventually the Doctor and Sarah Jane meet up with the Brigadier and U.N.I.T. to solve the crisis. But it turns out there’s a conspiracy, as scientists try to roll back time and bring forward ‘the golden age’.
I always find Malcolm Hulke’s stories very reflective of the socio-political atmosphere of the 1970s. This story is no exception, as it deals with issues that are causes of harm and pollution to Earth society.
I’m afraid I’m not very familiar with the climate of the 1970s by this period. But I enjoy watching these ‘Doctor Who’ stories that reflect it. They’re balanced with very good storytelling and action adventure.
Seeing London deserted in the story was mesmerising to watch. It was interesting to spot some famous London remarks and see the London streets that were empty with no people walking there.
Jon Pertwee delivers a brilliant performance as the dandy action-packed Third Doctor. I like Jon’s balance of suave elegance in his Doctor, as he attempts to oppose those destroying the planet Earth.
He works things out very well when solving the mystery of the dinosaurs and is very good during a chase sequence by army soldiers. I also like how he forms a good relationship with Sarah Jane Smith.
In this story, we’re introduced to the Doctor’s new car called the Whomobile. Jon Pertwee had this car made for him in the series. It does seem cool-looking like a space-car, although I do prefer Bessie best.
Elisabeth Sladen is lovely as Sarah Jane Smith in this adventure. She and the Doctor have just started in their relationship as travelling companions and already she’s so resourceful and adventurous here.
Sarah Jane does get herself into trouble when getting locked in a room with a Tyrannosaurus Rex and misled by people she thinks she can trust. But she’s on the right path, even on a fake spaceship.
Nicholas Courtney is great as the Brigadier in this adventure. The Brigadier is under orders from General Finch in this story and finds things pretty baffling when the dinosaurs are attacking London.
He’s very relieved when the Doctor and Sarah Jane show up to help out in this adventure. I like it that despite being ordered to treat the Doctor as a criminal, the Brigadier is, as ever, very loyal to him.
Richard Franklin returns as Captain Mike Yates in this adventure. Mike Yates has recently been on a period of sick leave following his latest brainwashing by the B.O.S.S. computer in ‘The Green Death’.
But unfortunately Mike turns traitor in this story, as he’s working with the people behind the ‘Golden Age’ project. But he won’t commit acts of murder as he sabotages the Doctor’s experiments.
I have met Richard Franklin in real-life at conventions and he’s pleasant to talk to. This is a standout story for Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. I’ve now had a photo of him as Mike Yates from that story signed by him.
John Levene returns as Sergeant Benton in this story. Benton stands out very well here, as he’s very loyal to the Doctor and helps him out to escape by telling him to ‘get busy’ with his ‘Venusian oojah’.
There’s also a moment when Benton is threatened with a gun by General Finch when ordered by the Brigadier to bring in reinforcements. He gets to overpower the General with one punch on the nose.
The guest cast in this story are superb. There’s Noel Johnson as Sir Charles Grover, an M.P. in London. Sir Charles seems a pleasant, well-meaning person. But don’t be taken away by his charms.
There’s also Peter Miles as Professor Whittaker, who’s been conducting time-travel experiments. Peter would later play Nyder in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ and he’s great as this cold, practical scientist.
There’s also Martin Jarvis as Butler, who works with Whittaker on his experiments. Martin has appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before and it was superb to see him in this role before he became famous.
There’s also John Bennett as General Finch. Finch is a stiff upper-lip military man who’s also in with the ‘Golden Age’ project like Mike Yates. However his tactics are more ruthless and colder than Mike’s.
This leads me on to sadly talk about the dinosaurs in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. Yes! The dinosaurs are pathetic in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I didn’t find them convincing in this.
The dinosaurs are static throughout many scenes of the story and didn’t look so threatening as they should be. I know they tried their best with puppets, but surely they could have done better than that.
The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s an ‘Episode 1 Colour’ option. I don’t know why they had a colour and black-and-white option for this episode, although the colour’s not great. There’s a commentary with Richard Franklin, Peter Miles, Terence Wilton, designer Richard Morris, script editor Terrance Dicks and director Paddy Russell, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Sensorites’ with William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Carole Ann Ford.
On Disc 2, there’s the ‘People, Power and Puppets’ making-of documentary, deleted scenes, the ‘Now and Then’ locations featurette and the ‘Doctor Who Stories: Elisabeth Sladen – Part One’ interview. There’s also a ‘John Levene Commentary’ on ‘Episode Five’ of the story, a photo gallery of the story, ‘Billy Smart’s Circus’ and PDF materials including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story. There’s also an Easter Egg to look out for on the first menu of the special features disc of ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’.
‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ has been a great story to watch from the Jon Pertwee era of ‘Doctor Who’. Despite the dodgy dinosaurs, the story is well-written by Malcolm Hulke and the cast are pretty good. The story is also reflective of the 1970s, focusing on socio-political issues from the time.
‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ rating – 8/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE DINOSAUR INVASION’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Operation: Golden Age Revisited
Can the dinosaurs be better in this novelization/audiobook of a ‘Doctor Who’ story?
I enjoyed reading/listening to ‘Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion’ by Malcolm Hulke. This is the official novelization of the TV story, ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’, featuring Jon Pertwee’s Doctor with Sarah Jane Smith and U.N.I.T. It was great revisiting this 70s ‘Doctor Who’ adventure in book/audio.
‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ is a thought-provoking tale about humanity; its mistakes and how a small group of people attempt to roll back time in order to replenish the Earth to its ‘golden age’. It’s a shame this adventure is mainly remembered for its dodgy dinosaurs; not its socio-political message.
The book was first published in 1976, two years after the story was originally transmitted on TV in 1974. The novelization has had many reprints over the years in 1978, 1979, 1993 and 2016. I purchased the novelization from Amazon.co.uk and I got the 1993 edition, which was disappointing.
Now I’m not saying I’m not happy I got a novelization of ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. I’m glad I had a copy of the book to read with the unabridged audiobook in the background and it stuck to the text. But I was hoping to have the original 1976 edition of the book, as that had an interesting cover on it.
The 1976 edition of the book has a cover art by Chris Achilleos. The cover art is interesting as it has the Doctor with dinosaurs and London in the background and a pterodactyl with a cartoon sound effect going ‘KKLAK!‘ This is unusual to have ‘Doctor Who’ book with a sound effect of ‘KKLAK!’ on it!
I was hoping to get that 1976 edition of the book to see what it was like. Instead I got the 1993 edition with artwork by Alistair Pearson. Now there’s nothing wrong with Alistair Pearon’s artwork. But the book is simply titled as ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’; not ‘Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion’.
Despite these niggles I have, the book was enjoyably interesting to read and listen to. I’ve read/listened to previous novelizations by Malcolm Hulke on ‘Doctor Who’ stories by him and not by him. So I looked forward to finding out how he novelized this adventure and removed the padding.
The book is divided into 10 chapters. It has a prologue at the beginning focusing on the dinosaurs. It’s not a great prologue, as it focuses more on the history of the dinosaurs and how they came to be wiped out. This was before it turned out the dinosaurs were wiped out by a freighter in ‘Earthshock’!
The audiobook of ‘Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion’ was released in 2007. Strangely enough, this was before the story was released on DVD in 2012 in the ‘U.N.I.T Tales’ DVD box set. I’m not criticising the producers of the audiobook, but how will some people know the story without watching it?
The story is read by Martin Jarvis, who played Butler in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ as well as star in ‘The Web Planet’ and ‘Vengeance on Varos’. I was pleased Martin read this story. I heard him on audio before, as he voiced God in ‘The Audio Bible’ and did some ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ audiobooks.
Martin Jarvis’ narration and performance of the characters is very good. They’re not exact recreations of the voices of characters like the Doctor, Sarah Jane, the Brigadier, Mike Yates, etc. But he gets the tone of the characters’ voices well done, especially in accordance with the novelization.
I purchased the ‘Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion’ audiobook as a download on Audible rather than purchase it on audio CD. I read and listened to the novelization/audiobook at the same time, especially when I attended the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017 which was superb!
In terms of how Malcolm Hulke changes things in the novelization, he does stick the plot. But he removes some unnecessary long chase scenes and quickens the pace of the book by shortening some dialogue scenes. I surprised myself with how the book went through many scenes so quickly.
The book features a new opening scene from the point of a view of a character not featured in the TV story, Shughie McPherson. Shughie is a Glaswegian football fan who gets drunk and is left behind in London during the evacuation when the dinosaurs come to invade and he’s killed by one of them.
Now this was interesting to have and not start off the book with a deserted London as you would expect from the TV story. Malcolm Hulke homes in on one of the characters who experiences the London evacuation himself. It would have been great if Shughie was evacuated with everyone else.
I must mention that the story has the Doctor and Sarah Jane return to London from having an adventure in the past. This would have been referencing to ‘The Time Warrior’. Things have changed since, as ‘The Paradise of Death’ takes place between ‘The Time Warrior’ and ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’.
There’s a moment in Chapter 1 where Sarah Jane is hungry and she and the Doctor go into ‘Bert’s Café’ to find something to eat. But when Sarah Jane sees the food looking so delicious, it turns out to be rotten. This was not featured in the TV version and it makes for an interesting scene in the book.
I like how the Doctor and Sarah Jane try to defend themselves regarding the furs they’re accused of stealing during the interrogation scenes in the book. They’re more effective than in the TV version, even though the Doctor doesn’t tell the lieutenant that he’s the scientific advisor of U.N.I.T. as in the TV version.
There’s an interesting scene given by Lodge, one of the looters who Sarah Jane and the Doctor meet up with, when he explains how the dinosaurs came into London. This involves children claiming to have seen a dinosaur before getting killed as well as people being attacked and killed off by pterodactyls.
This leads me to talking about the dinosaurs in the story. The dinosaurs are well-written and aren’t static as they were in the TV story. They’re threatening and very destructive when it comes to houses and buildings in London. They’re not restrained by very slow puppet effects as shown on TV.
I’m sure Malcolm Hulke was disappointed with the end result of the dinosaurs shown in the TV story as was everyone else in the production team. So the book allows Malcolm Hulke an opportunity to create convincing dinosaurs that are threatening and intimidating. The book covers help this as well.
An interesting point to mention about the novelization is that the Whomobile doesn’t appear in this story. I know that the Whomobile was made at Jon Pertwee’s request during the making of the story. But it’s interesting that Malcolm Hulke doesn’t include it in his novelization for the TV adventure.
Instead of the Whomobile, the Doctor uses a borrowed army motorbike which was the mode of transport in the original scripts for the TV version. Not meaning to disrespect Malcolm Hulke, but I found the Whomobile more interesting in the TV version. Not an army motorbike in the novelization.
The character of Butler is given a distinctive feature in the novelization. He now has a scar, which he received as a result of working as a fireman. This was unusual to discover in the book, since he had no scar in the TV story. I’m not sure whether this was meant to make Butler more sinister than the TV story.
There’s a nice scene between Sarah Jane and Butler, when he puts her into a storm room in Chapter 9. Sarah Jane learns more about what happened to Butler and she says to him he’d look handsome without a scar if he got some plastic surgery. These lines of dialogue weren’t in the original TV story.
Whitaker’s character is shown to be more selfish and arrogant in the novelization compared to the TV version. There’s even a hostile relationship between him and Butler compared to the TV version. I’m not sure why Malcolm Hulke made Whitaker more selfish and hostile as I prefer the TV version.
The scenes with the Doctor getting chased around in ‘Part Five’ is removed from the TV story. And I get what Malcolm Hulke is doing here in the novelization, as those chases scenes slow the story down and it’s mainly padding. But all the same, there are some vital scenes and moments removed.
For example, there’s the scene where Sarah Jane gets out of the fake spaceship’s airlock with Mark watching him. The next scene has Sarah Jane return to U.N.I.T.’s temporary HQ without the scenes to depict how she got there. This pushes the novelization so fast in my opinion for it to be explained.
There are also no scenes where the Doctor sends fake radio messages to the army patrols chasing after him. I think it would have worked better if those scenes were kept in, since, as the reader, we don’t know what became of the Doctor when he was getting chased around by soldiers in the story.
I like Bryson’s character in the novelization of this story, where he’s now promoted to corporal instead of private. In his scenes with Sarah Jane, Bryson offers to make her a cup of tea as he’s feeling lonely. Sarah Jane appreciates Bryson’s efforts to be kind, but there’s not a moment to spare.
I also like how Bryson comes in with cups of tea to give to the Doctor, the Brigadier and Benton before giving them a chance to knock out Mike Yates in the room. Bryson is apologetic but the Brigadier applauds him for saving the world from extinction. I don’t recall this moment in the TV tale.
There’s a new scene where Grover begins to sway some of the Golden Age colonists to his ideals towards the end of the story and before the Doctor arrives. Ruth (Carmen Silvera’s character) is one of those swayed by Grover. This was a shock for me as it didn’t happen in the TV version of the story.
And yeah, I get what Malcolm Hulke is trying to say here. It’s to show who these colonists were; what they wanted to do to get away from Earth’s evils. But it shows Ruth’s character to be ‘headmistress’-like; not an ideal role model and it doesn’t redeem her when you judge her character.
The book ends with a brand-new scene that does not take place at U.N.I.T’s temporary HQ at a London school. Instead it takes place in London itself in the Charing Cross Road area and has the Doctor and Sarah Jane in a jeep. It doesn’t have Mike Yates’ resignation bits nor Florana mentioned.
I wonder why Malcolm Hulke didn’t include that original scene from the TV scripts into his novelization for that story. It certainly doesn’t help to lead into ‘Death to the Daleks’. It also seems rather unfair to not establish what would happen to Mike Yates in the novelization for this TV story.
But the new ending for the book isn’t uninteresting. On the contrary, it has the Doctor consulting the Holy Bible in a bookshop and looking up the Book of Ezekiel. The passage is from Ezekiel, Chapter 1, verses 5-6. It’s meant to suggest what happened to Grover and Whitaker during their ‘golden age’.
Now I found it amazing that Malcolm Hulke would refer to a passage from the Bible in one of his ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations. This is considering that Malcolm Hulke isn’t all that religious and has more left-wing views. So it begs the question, why did he use a passage from the Bible in this book?
In the book, the Doctor suggests the ‘four living creatures’ in the Ezekiel passage could be from another planet or from the future of this planet. This is different to what I read in a Life Application Study Bible. These four living creatures from Ezekiel turn out to be a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle.
They’re also connected to the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This was interesting for me to discover, since I’m a Christian and I was fascinated by what the Ezekiel passage meant from the ‘Doctor Who’ novelization. Ezekiel also happens to be a prophet, in case you want to know.
‘Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion’ has been a very enjoyable novelization of the TV story. I enjoyed reading it whilst I was away for the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017 and I did enjoy hearing Martin Jarvis reading the tale via the audiobook when playing it in the background.
The novelization itself leaves a lot of important scenes out and it does feel pretty rushed in certain places. But aside from that, it was interesting how Malcolm Hulke novelized his ‘Doctor Who’ story for the Target novelization range. I hope it won’t be long before I read another novelization by him.
‘Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion’ rating – 8/10
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