Okay so we all know the Dinosaurs in question are rubbish and in our hearts we’d much rather Dan Hall spent the Colour Recovery money on some CGI replacements but Invasion of the Dinosaurs is still a cracking good story about the dangers of elites who think they know what’s best for the rest of us. And anyway, it’s only the T-Rex that’s really bad, the rest are just not very good.
In hindsight, you have to admit that this is one of the few times where Barry Letts really dropped the ball. Before committing to a “Dinosaurs! In London!” story, it might be best to either make sure the model dinosaurs in question, because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to do them, aren’t totally laughable, or not make them the focus of the story by putting them in the title. Sadly, the model dinosaurs were as bad as they had the potential to be and they did make them the focus of the story when they’re not really, so that was nil for two. We all know the special effects of the Classic Series do sometimes draw attention to themselves but if you’re going to knock the show for that then you probably shouldn’t be watching it anyway.
Aside from the wisdom of trying to do realistic model dinosaurs on a Seventies TV budget, why did nobody think of having the buggers come out at night when it was dark instead of during the sodding day? Was it really beyond the skill of the production team to do all the exterior filming as Day For Night? Just that one simple change would have covered a multitude of sins since any fool can tell you that realistic model dinosaurs is always going to be a bit of an ask. As it is, the whole thing can’t help but put me in mind of The Goodies episode Kitten Kong, that’s how ill-advised this was.
I always thought the hook of conspiracy stories was not knowing who’s on your side and who isn’t, in this one the game’s a bogey virtually from the off, and certainly from the moment Mike Yates appears in the bunker. It’s just a shame that Yates isn’t played by a better actor, if he was we might just actually give a toss that he’s been misguided enough to join the other side. Still, at least he redeems himself in a few stories time, even if he’s inadvertently responsible for the death of Dr Jon.
For this Fan Edit, Dino’s aside, the first thing I knew I could cut was the tedious chase in Part Five. In preparation for the DVD release I watched the story on VCD at a friend’s house to get an idea of what else I might not need. As well as ditching that chase sequence I knew I’d be cutting back the spaceship subplot to the bare minimum. But the thing that struck me the most was that Episode One is just padding from start to finish; it’s like the first part of one of Terry Nation’s Dalek stories, it just keeps you waiting for the titular monster to turn up just before the end. Thinking about it, that’s probably where they got the idea from!
And so there’s not a single frame of footage from Part One in this Fan Edit; we start with the Part Two shot of the map with Benton’s colour-coded pins and the Brig’s line “It all started when…” and what have we missed? Absolutely nothing. All I had to do was remove the references to the medieval bloke they met in the garage and voila! Now that’s a first, every other FE up until now has had some footage from every episode, no matter how little. Six episodes and the very first one is nothing but scene setting, and there’s plenty more padding where that came from!
The bulk of the material is from parts two and three, which are virtually intact. Once we get to part four and start all that bollocks with Sarah on the spaceship, the cuts start becoming more frequent. After that, it’s a case of cutting things back as much as we can to get to the climax as quickly as possible. As for the infamous Dinosaurs of the title, well let`s just say there`s a lot less of them than in the original. If I`d had the time, patience, skill and money to replace them then, believe me, I would!