by Mark Greig
I hear you, mate. I hear you.
The Fifth Doctor era is something as a nostalgia-fest. John Nathan-Turner, a slippery PR man unwisely given creative control of the nation's favourite family drama, regularly rummaged through the show's history in a desperate bid to boost ratings. His mission statement as producer never seemed to be about producing a great show every week but rather to simply get everyone watching the show every week--regardless of the quality. And that is how we ended up with dreck like 'Warriors from the Deep'.
On paper it sounds like a brilliant idea. The Silurians and the Sea Devils were two of the most memorable monsters from the Third Doctor era. Who wouldn't want to see them team up? Alas, the end result is a dodgy comeback that comes across likes Johnny Byrne doing a very bad impression of Malcolm Hulke after only reading a short synopsis of both stories. I'm not going to sit here and claim that Hulke (who sadly passed away in 1979) was a perfect writer. His stories tended to be too long, preachy and dull. But when he was at his best he wrote gritty, thought provoking science fiction with interesting characters and not clear cut villains. Apart, of course, for the Master, who Hulke always wrote brilliantly.
'Warriors of the Deep' lacks the depth and moral ambiguity Hulke often brought to his stories not to mention even a basic understanding of either of the species it brings together. Byrne, who I suspect did as little research as possible, has the Silurians and the Sea Devils refer to each other by those names, which makes no sense since they were names given to them by humans, not the actual names of their respective species. But that is by far the least of this story's cock ups.
The masks for the creatures are a little more detailed, but even more stiff and unconvincing than they were in the 70s. For some bizarre reason the Sea Devils have been given a Samurai makeover, while the Silurians now sound like they had helium for breakfast. And don't even get me stated on the Mykra, reigning champion when it comes to cheap, embarrassing Doctor Who monsters. Still, it is worth a chuckle when Ingrid Pitt tries to karate kick it for some bizarre reason. What was she thinking?
Notes and Quotes
--No sign of Kamelion.
--The Mykra was a rented pantomime horse costume spray painted green with some fins glued on. It was such a rush job that the paint was still wet when filming started and the blokes inside were dizzy from the fumes.
--Peter Davison and Janet Fielding both announced they would be departing the series during production of this story.
Tegan: "What year are we in?"
The Doctor: "Around two thousand and eighty-four."
Tegan: "Little seems to have changed since my time."
The Doctor: "Absolutely nothing, Tegan. There are still two power blocs, fingers poised to annihilate each other."
The Doctor: "I sometimes wonder why I like the people of this miserable planet so much."
One out of four karate kicks.
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