The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Serial Review: Invasion of the Dinosaurs (Season 11)

“Invasion of the Dinosaurs”
Written by Malcolm Hulke, directed by Paddy Russell
Featuring the Doctor, Sarah Jane, the Brig, and dinosaurs

Rating: B+

“Invasion of the Dinosaurs” is much maligned for the quality (or lack thereof) of it’s special effects, and rightly so. The dinosaurs were probably a bit overly ambitious for its time, but as far as I’m concerned this is still a really strong serial. After being deeply disappointed by “The Time Warrior” (see The Raggedy Podcast Episode #008) I wasn’t expecting much from this. I ended up being pleasantly surprised, though. This is the great Malcolm Hulke’s last script for the show, and although it is no “The Silurians,” I really enjoyed it.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane return to modern England to find all of London deserted except for some looters. They are mistaken to be among those stealing from the abandoned homes, and arrested, just as they begin to see that dinosaurs are the cause of the problems in London. The first part is perfectly directed and written to build the mood and sense of impending doom despite the sparcity of the score. It’s abnormally well-paced for the era.

Malcolm Hulke wrote characters like no one else while he was on Doctor Who; there is never a clear good or evil here, it is all gray areas. He also manages to develop existing characters well, giving Captain Yates an interesting arc that most characters, even long term ones, don’t really get the chance to have. I had liked Yates prior to this story, but it is nice to see him with some more depth.

In the end I think this is one of the better serials of the latter few seasons of Pertwee’s era. Nothing I have seen indicates that they were ever able to recreate the outstanding consistency of season seven, but there are still some gems in the other four seasons of the Pertwee reign. I’m sure I will be vehemently disagreed with but I really liked this one.

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8 thoughts on “Serial Review: Invasion of the Dinosaurs (Season 11)

  1. B+? You have seriously lost it now! 🙂

    I can’t think of a Doctor Who story with a more stupid and unbelievable plot than this one. In my opinion, the plot is even worse than those awful dinosaurs.

    You can read my review here: Invasion of the Dinosaurs

    My prediction is that DailyPOP will offer a similar, but more diplomatically worded opinion to mine.

    • You think Doctor Who plots have to be believable? I find that amusing, considering that it’s a science fiction show about time travel. It’s no worse or better than any other number of Doctor Who plots. So a bunch of scientists dabble in time travel on a massive scale? What’s so weird about hat? I also don’t think the dinosaurs themselves look too bad when there’s no people in frame.

      The fact of the matter is that its the first time a companion (or semi-companion) has actually been given an arch. It’s a very well directed story, with I think excellent pacing. It’s ambitious, which I think is a good thing and not a bad. And I like stories that have some level of moral ambiguity.

      This is going to sound like an assholeish question but I don’t mean it that way; knowing that you are an evangelical Christian based on your blog: do you believe in dinosaurs? I really don’t mean to be a dick but I have met some in the past who deny their existence all together.

      • Plots have to make sense, even if they deal in impossible things.

        Certain elements in the plot make no sense, even on the assumption of fantastic technology, such as the disappearance of key celebrities without Sarah Jane Smith being aware, the assumption that a dinosaur materialising next to the Doctor incriminates him, despite dinosaurs appearing everywhere and the establishment of a huge underground base underneath the centre of the UK government without anybody noticing.

        I have not met a Christian who denied the existence of dinosaurs. Young Earth Creationists argue that dinosaurs co-existed with people. I once shared that view, but I have changed my mind. I think the earth is almost certainly millions of years old.

      • I played in a band for a while, and of the five of us, three were fundamentalist Christians (LCMS) two of which didn’t believe dinosaurs existed. When asked about fossil evidence, I was told that God put them there to test our faith.

      • I know of a few Victorian theologians who took that view, but it has been long overtaken by the aggressive communication of creation science with its notion of humans, dinosaurs and Cambrian era sea creatures all living together 6000 years ago. It is unfortunate that Christians will buy into this idea without really understanding the science or the difficulties involved.

  2. You guys know that between the three of us there’s a sitcom in the making, right?

    I actually LOVE Invasion of the Dinosaurs. Much of that love comes from two things; nostalgia and Hulke’s morality drama. Also it has one of the best opening episodes of any Doctor Who ever. I remember reading Matthew’s negative review of Invasion of the Dinosaurs and being confused by his statement that the science wasn’t believable. I suspect he means that it comes off as cartoonish that a small group of scientists have managed to develop time travel in the 20th Century but given the general tone of the Pertwee era (a dude with fluffy hair dressed like Keith Moon driving a vintage car that can outrace any speedster), I accept that. For some reason that’s just far too much for Matthew, but he does have the added handicap of disliking Pertwee in general, later stories in particular. Matthew has praised some stories that I have never liked which prompted me to look deeper at them, I should mention. It’s his opinion, we all have ’em.

    I know that Invasion of the Dinosaurs has its haters and I can see why someone wouldn’t enjoy this one, but in my opinion it’s one of the best. To further confuse both of you, I view Time Warrior as another of the golden greats of Doctor Who.

  3. Okay. I eat my words. DP has lost it too. 🙂

    I am not that biased against the Pertwee era. I think The Time Warrior is a great story with a brilliant script, even if it is let down by a little bad acting.

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