The Friendly Invasion

Posted in Audio by - June 24, 2023
The Friendly Invasion

Released June 2023


As World War II rages on in 1943 and D-Day approaches, the Allies have taken up temporary residence in the quiet village of Westbourne. Amidst the locals’ conflicting feelings about these soldiers, however, something else with a much more ominous agenda is also visiting in Chris Chapman’s ‘The Friendly Invasion.’

Of the myriad threats to time and its progression that the Doctor has encountered, individuals risking their very existence to change history simply for the adrenaline rush and hope of winning a bet is arguably one of the most terrifying given the sheer recklessness and lack of any forethought involved. These temporal hangers-on riding in the wake of rich tourists likewise provide another intriguing link to humanity’s obsession with zygma energy in the far future that has caused the Doctor such consternation before, and while the future setting itself is not truly explored in any meaningful fashion here, it nonetheless highlights an altogether different shade of the danger humanity intrinsically possesses within in contrast to the overt horrors of war while also bringing into focus the importance of an individual act and sacrifice in the flow of established history.

While the intrinsic dislike and even hatred of the American soldiers by some of the locals is simply taken as fact with no real exploration into reasons, Chapman does quite well with establishing this wartime village and its denizens within the brief running time of this story. As it becomes apparent that Private Joe Powell is integral to the nefarious plot at hand, Jackson Milner adds a very human element to the wartime component as such a crucial moment in history approaches, reminding everyone that these soldiers are young men with very normal hopes, dreams, and fears. To that effect, Evie Killip capably helps to develop the story of a burgeoning young love, one that becomes all the more poignant as Joe comes to learn of what fate will come to befall him.

Given the somewhat indirect nature of this threat to established time, it naturally takes the Doctor, Leela, and Margaret some time to comprehend the true danger before them. Nonetheless, as Margaret capably steps into the role of barmaid to glean information while still coming to terms with just what she should and should not reveal about her knowledge of the future and with the Doctor fulfilling a dream of becoming a pub landlord ever so briefly, the leads have plenty of opportunity to interact with the locals and soldiers alike and to showcase their dedication and fortitude. This is a story that perfectly exemplifies the Fourth Doctor’s unique roguish charm and fierce determination, and Tom Baker is on stellar form here as his character dauntlessly continues his search for the threat that is targeting Joe. Likewise, Louise Jameson and Nerys Hughes are brilliant as Leela and Margaret show an incredible range of empathy and resolve, all while trying to work around the Doctor loudly proclaiming his presence and intentions from the start that so boldly goes against their norms. While Margaret is very much still learning the nuances of time travel and how to interact with locals without revealing too much, she has become an extremely confident companion already, and her slightly softer nature and strong sense of morality continue to make her a perfect complement to the bolder Leela and the incredible bond that the Doctor and Leela have formed over their innumerable travels together.

As with most two-parters, the ultimate resolution is quite rushed and leaves the actual source of this type of threat relatively untouched, but ‘The Friendly Invasion’ is a clever and wholly satisfying twist on the typical invasion formula that boldly dives into the emotional turmoil of this particular point in history while also tangentially delving into the history of Doctor Who by looking to established elements from its Earth’s future. As Margaret’s time aboard the TARDIS nears its end, the wonderful dynamics of this lead trio are wonderfully on display, and Chapman’s ability to showcase the importance of a single life both to those around him and to the future within the incredibly vast scale and scope of a world war forms a strong and emotional foundation that serves this story and its characters exceedingly well.

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