Doctor Who episode 223: “The Invasion” – Episode Four (23/11/1968)
At last, the Cybermen make their appearance just in the for the fifth anniversary episode. And the brief glimpse looks great – obviously a Cyberman, but with some nice redesigned elements that take them pretty much to the classic Cyberman shape. I wonder whether anyone watching this wasn’t aware who the enemy aliens would turn out to be – presumably the famous St Paul’s Cathedral photograph was used to trail this new story. And the clues dropped through this episode, including the idea that ’emotion could be used to destroy them’ and the discussion about conversion, ‘becoming completely inhuman’ definitely suggests Cybermen to anyone paying the slightest attention. On the other hand, the mentions of the Intelligence Task Force and the Travers, and the presence of Lethbridge-Stewart might have left some expecting a third Yeti adventure.
Sadly this is one thing that’s nearly impossible to recapture on a watch-through in 2020. Whereas, having seen them in a relatively compressed span of time, the similarities between Mavic Chen and Tobias Vaughn are plain to see. Just like Chen, Vaughn dictates terms to his alien allies, over-estimating his own importance. And just like Chen, Vaughn has his own plans for the partnership – here, it’s to ‘use their force and might and then discard them.’ It’s not to suggest Stoney’s performance is exactly the same – Vaughn has a streak of ranting violence missing from Chen’s more urbane demeanour. But clearly when director Douglas Camfield read the script, it led him to think of Stoney.
Elsewhere the episode is full of action – the helicopter rescue of Isobel and Zoe is probably the most dramatic set piece so far, with the new production approach of completing filming in advance of studio recording (rather than during rehearsals) paying off with tonnes more location work. This ‘missing’ episode benefits more than the first from being animated, as it feels less reliant on Troughton’s acting papering over the cracks or longueurs in the script
Next episode: “The Invasion” – Episode Five