Having said that it is more of a comic horror type of story with Tom Baker literally hamming it up throughout. From the early moaning and groaning from Sarah Jane (are we there yet, are we there yet Type of complaining about getting back home) to the Marie celeste type village - could be in Epcot - through to the twisted Sontaran type aliens there is a lot of tongue in cheek humour. This also is a bit of a prototype of the later, not as good, Peter Davison story 'Four to Doomsady' which has a number of similarities but not as good sets or location.
This story is quite droll and if it was to be taken too seriously then I must admit it would not be such a good tale. I have not seen such a Doctor Who where Tom Baker is in such good comic form. It reminds me of a later UK tv show where he played a house doctor and obviously had a lot of fun doing it.
Do not judge this story too harshly. Given the context of the other stories of the season and the Tom Baker series it would not be terribly logical to broadcast a dummy.
Watch it in lightheart and you will get much enjoyment from it.
Originally broadcast 22 November to 13 December 1975.
However, they see a UNIT corporal commit suicide over a cliff, and upon closer examination discover he has all newly minted coins and bills in his wallet. Upon closer examination of the village of Devesham, which Sarah recognizes, they discover it deserted. When people do appear, they do so in a robotic, clockwork fashion. Among those in the pub is none other than the corporal, alive and well! Sarah gets off a parting shot at his expense: "I don't you think you should be drinking so soon after breaking your neck."
Both decide to explore the Space Defense Station a mile from the pub, where to their bewilderment, they find their friends, Mr. Benton and Harry Sullivan, under orders to hunt them down. To add to the mystery, they are being led by Guy Crayford, an astronaut testing a new space freighter XK-5 who vanished, presumably killed by a colliding asteroid. "All our friends led by a dead man," the Doctor observes wryly. But Crayford is under the thrall of Styggron, a strange alien resembling a cross between a rhino and a boar.
The military vs scientists motif is explored as Styggron puts the emphasis on science as the thing that will help his fellow Kraals, while Marshall Chedaki insists on military might. All I can say is that if Chedaki were in charge of the operation, the Earth wouldn't stand a chance, as Styggron makes mistake after mistake. Chedaki's analysis of the Doctor as someone who has a history of supporting libertarian causes is half-accurate--I'd include a "left" in front of "libertarian."
The astronaut-suited androids with index finger guns is a revamp of the Autons, whose hands dropped down to reveal guns. At one point, the Doctor looks at a robot pointing its gun at him, and asks "Is that finger loaded?"
In the Phillip Hinchcliffe's gothic regime, this is a take on the original movie of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, down to the black pods and duplicates, and the paranoid atmosphere that anyone could be a duplicate. Barry Letts, who was Hinchcliffe's predecessor as producer, directs this one!
Continuity errors irk me to no end, and here's one. The bogus calendar in the village reads 6 July Friday. This is a problem if one considers the UNIT and contemporary Earth stories to be set in the exact year the story was broadcast. This aired from 22 November to 13 December 1975. The closest years with the calendar structure is 1973 or 1979. It can't be 1973, as the Doctor is still in his third incarnation, and it can't be 1979, as the Brigadier has retired by then. He is still in action in this story. The only possible explanation is that the Kraals first conceived of the plan on 6 July 1973, which would fit Crayford's disappearance two years ago. OK, that's sorted out then. Whew!
There are a few good moments, such as an android Sarah's faceplate falling off to reveal circuits beneath, and the difference seen between the cold emotionless robots and the actual humans with warmth and feeling.
This is the last series appearances of John Levene (Benton) and Ian Marter (Harry), the latter having died suddenly at his home in 1986.
While owing a lot to its sci-fi roots, The Android Invasion has consistency errors, all regarding the Kraal plans and the androids. Their plan make the use of androids redundant, so why use them? Not one of the better Fourth Doctor stories.