CRRRaSh! 273 Doctor Who: The Sea Devils (1972) 2019-06-29

By Roy Mathur

Binge Rewatch

This is the begining of my mad attempt to binge rewatch eighteen episodes of the last three Doctor Who serials of 1972.

It feels like the hottest weekend of the year so far. Every sane person is probably whooping it up at the beach or the park with family or friends (sods). Jony Ive's buggered off from Apple, so that he can work for Apple... from the beach. Boris Johnson's stupid face is all over the place because he's trying to hypnotise his party of idiots into believing he's not a useless twit, and he's probably doing that from the beach. At least the ridiculous UK porn pass porn block has been blocked (hahaha) by the EU because it's illegal, and I'm sure the porn block's probably at the beach too, and, sure, that makes zero sense, but I'm delirious.

Whereas, I, Roy, am indoors doing my laundry (finished at the time of recording—why am I even telling you—I really don't know), sulking, and watching Doctor Who. Of course I am. I know. I know! I knooow!!! Let the games begin!

Doctor Who: The Sea Devils (1972)

Cast and Production

Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant: Katy Manning
Director: Michael E. Briant
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Producer: Barry Letts
6 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from the 26th of February to the 1st of April 1972

What Happens

The Doctor and Jo visit a remote island where the Master has been imprisoned and guarded by unhypnotisable guards. The Master seems in good spirits. When the Doctor leaves to investigate the mysterious disappearance of ships in the area, we find out, far from being a prisoner, the Master has struck a deal with the prison governor. The Master has created a device to summon the sea devils, who are actually a sea-dwelling offshoot of the Silurian race.

In the meantime, the Doctor intrudes on a secret Royal Navy base, but gets no help from the base commander. Instead, he and Jo independently explore a sea fort at the centre of the disappearances and find a dead body, and crazed survivor, and are then attacked by a Silurian.

Eventually, the Doctor is captured and tries to make peace between the humans and the Silurians, but an attack by the navy stops negotiations.

The Doctor returns to the naval base, where he is captured again and taken to the Silurians undersea base. The Doctor helps the Master build a machine to revive the Silurians sill in suspended animation, but it is actually a self destruction device. The Doctor and Master depart escape just as the Silurian's redoubt is destroyed, and are rescued, but the Master escapes disguised as one of the crew.

What I Thought

Early on, there's a great sword fight between the Doctor and the Master. It's all very The Prisoner of Zenda

Jo gets a more active role. She even gets to fight and take out some of the men. Has the Doctor been teaching her Venusian Aikido? I really appreciated seeing that, because I'm a bit fed up of seeing her just running and screaming.

I liked the submarine captain, who seemed quite cool and efficient... for a human. (Oh dear, I'm really losing myself in this, aren't I?)

There's a nice scene where the Doctor makes peace and touches hands with the Silurian leader.

Actors stay in frame. I first thought it odd, the way actors bunch up. I was reminded of the "close-talker" episode from Seinfeld, but they were using a narrow video format back then, so I suppose they had to do that to stay in shot.

For a Doctor Who serial, the production looked expensive. There was a large cast, many stunts, a crazy amount of military harware and vehicles—boats, a motobike, landrovers, ships, patrol boats, a fake submarine, a submersible, a hovercraft, two little jet ski-sized motorboats for the final chase scene, and even some awful little doorless variant of a Citroen 2CV. There was even a rescue scene with the Doctor and Master pulled from the sea in floatation suits.

The script seemed to be really well researched. At one stage, he Doctor references the subject of palaeontology, and the naval jargon seems spot on too.

This is the second time the Silurians suffered almost total defeat from the humans. Maybe it's time Silurians, once and for all, make peace with the humans.

I really like the Silurians. They are always portrayed quite . Strange alien species are quite often shown to be more sympathetic than war-like, xenophobic humans. It is one of the major reasons, I like the show.

The creatures are beautifully realised in rubber(?) art. There's a definite sense of Admiral Ackbar's species, the ridiculously named Mon Calamari, from Star Wars. I'd love to have one of the costumes, and just to go slapping my webbed feet through a convention.

Let's Get Bingeical

Join me for the next serial. I have cold drinks on stand by and caffeine to keep me going. Ahhh... feel the binge!