I had to have an early Dalek story. Come on. I HAD to. But it was a little tricky as I was tempted to choose the very first Dalek story. However its an extra ep longer and it happens at a far more methodical pace. I feared it would be too slow for you new comers. To me Invasion is the best of the early Dalek stories. It mostly
cracks along. With changes of the setting happening throughout. The riverside and warehouse. Rebel hideout. Dalek ship. The sewers. Various places in occupied London. The house of the two ladies and finally the mines. There are so many more scenarios that our heroes get stuck into but it does come at a cost. Some are obviously a bit of padding. The intelligence test in the cell is probably the most obvious. Its meant to be to see if any of the prisoners are worthy of becoming a Roboman. Fine. But later on we see that the chap who doesn't have anything to do with the test becomes a Roboman.
Given the state of the Robomen I'd hate to see what the real thickies of the human race would be like Robotised.
At least things like the firebomb and the Slyther don't end up making no sense. But all these things keep it interesting for me.
Most of the characters along the way have something about them. A bit of history. Someone lost or missing. They add to the world. Even the incidental characters later on, the women who sell out Babs and the guy running the black market, add to the backdrop of this dystopian future. Each of the regulars get plenty to do as well as they make there separate ways across the story. The Doctor does go missing a little in the middle but this is partly down to an accident that happened during filming. William Hartnell was dropped on his back and needed time off during filming. But the rest keep things going. Of course this would prove to be the end for Susan and whilst her romance could have been written a little better I feel its shown enough over the course of the story as to not feel out of place. Being able to show you the first time someone leaves was a good enough reason to pick this over the The Daleks I think and what a final speech.
Plus you get to see the group after they bonded.
For the most part the production is strong. But its a hugely ambitious script so of course some elements don't work out. The Robomen are cool but a bit too on the slow and clumsy side. I like that they seem a bit zombie like but it does stop them being very effective. The location filming is amazing and truly made an impact. Seeing them in London, suckers in the air, is an image that would no doubt have resonated with viewers less then 20 years after WW2. Some of the stuff near the end didn't quite work out so well. The Doctor has to describe whats happening to the Dalek ship and its not quite clear how Ian makes a difference. The model work here hasn't aged that well. But a fan made quite a nice CGI update that isn't horrendously out of place.
One downside is the Daleks themselves. The voice work is sometimes a miss and whilst they feature in the story a lot they are never as creepy as they are in there first appearance. Buts its clear the production are experimenting with them. This is the first time we have a leader Dalek for example.
As Ord pointed out this story was used for a film adaptation a few years later in Invasion Earth: 2150 AD. Its rather entertaining in its own way. But I do find it rather hollow in comparison. Naturally the production values are through the roof compared to the tv series. So I like to merge them together in my head.
One other little thing. Some of you might have noticed that series 4 ends with the Daleks moving the Earth across space in The Stolen Earth. This is of course a large nod to this story. I'd rather like to see the Dalek succeed in piloting a planet around space one day. Operating as a giant space station. Maybe a kind of death planet.
and the Robomen kind of got an update in Asylum of the Daleks......