You know how I’ll always champion the use of special effects in early Who, regardless of whether or not they quite work, because of the fabulous innovation and imagination on display? Well, it’s a lot harder to forgive the faults when the effects are so integral to the plot, and when they’re this woeful.
There were a handful of decent sequences, such as the T-Rex bursting out of the aircraft hangar, and… no, that’s the only example I can think of. The textures were too rubbery, the motion too restricted and the least said about the floppy pterodactyls the better. The fight between the T-Rex and the brontosaurus at the start of Part Six should have been brilliant, but was just too comical. I wasn’t sure if they were fighting or kissing.
All of which is a shame, because there’s a fantastic story at the heart of this. The dinosaurs are a complete red herring; the meat is in the unraveling mystery of who’s behind it and why. The plot is full of twists and turns, and you can kind of see most of them coming, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Especially since one of them is truly shocking, in that it goes against character conventions in a brilliant way.
I’ve always thought Yates was a slimy little shit, so him turning double agent made perfect sense, especially given the duplicity he displayed in The Green Death. What’s shocking is that the Doctor has been completely and utterly betrayed by someone he should be able to trust. I’m not going to get into a debate about who counts as a companion and who doesn’t, but this is certainly the first time that a recurring goodie has turned out to be a baddie. Sure, The Brigadier’s done some dodgy shit in his time, but there’s no coming back from pulling a gun on your own men. The UNIT family now has a black sheep, and it can never be quite as cosy again. The show is beginning the process of leaving it behind.
Elsewhere, all the other traitors were great too, as were the rest of the guest cast. General Finch was clearly a bastard from the start, but I was genuinely fooled by Grover at one point. Also, that grey-bearded chap from the fake spaceship totally looks like Jeremy Corbyn. Typical BBC bias to portray him as a big old communist, aggressively brainwashing people to conform to his left-wing peace-loving ways. Never mind the Thatcher stuff in the 80s, it was incredibly prescient of them to satirise a Prime Minister 46 years in advance.
Another huge positive is Sarah Jane, who’s already showing exactly why she was the one companion from the classic era to be brought back all those years later. Ultimately though, this is a story that feels like it’s a couple of episodes too long. I was gripped and intrigued by the plot, but at the same time wishing it would develop just that little bit faster. I don’t always feel that way with six-parters, but I am glad that this is the last season where four-parters aren’t the norm.
Oh, and the Whomobile is rubbish. Bring back Bessie immediately.