Picking the silliest moment from The Centre is difficult, mainly because there’s so many to chose from. But Hilio, Hrostar and Hylina screeching “Zaaarrrrbbiiiii” whilst flapping their arms about in an attempt to distract the Zarbi does take some beating. It’s a little over three minutes into this episode if you want to check it out for yourself.
Whilst the Menoptera and Barbara are fooling about with the Zarbi, the Doctor and Vicki are taken to the Centre. The Animus is revealed in all its glory – a mass of writhing tentacles. There’s an uncharacteristic spot of overacting from Hartnell, when he delivers the line “this infernal light is too bright for my eyes”.
The Doctor then collapses, which leaves Vicki to resist the power of the Animus by herself. The set is quite moodily lit, which helps to sell the illusion that the numerous rubber tentacles are actually part of a controlling intelligence (and not just being pulled off-camera by the crew!)
A major disappointment is that revelation the Animus’ ultimate aim concerns the invasion of Earth. “What I take from you will enable me to reach beyond this galaxy, into the solar system, to pluck from Earth its myriad techniques and take from man his mastery of space.”
Since this has been such a strange, other-worldly adventure it’s incredibly jarring to find that the Animus seems to be fascinated with the totally unremarkable planet Earth. Although if it believes the Doctor to be human that might explain its assumption that human beings have mastery over space.
The defeat of the Animus is a bit of a damp squib (Barbara waves the Isotope around for a few seconds). After six episodes you’d have hoped for something more impressive than that. But at least it allows Barbara to save the day.
And then it was over. I’ve developed a little more appreciation for the story thanks to this rewatch, but it still proved to be something of a trial (especially over the last few episodes).