You know the drill. Having righteously struck down The Massacre and rescued Time and the Rani from its poor reputation, with sword of truth I turn to fight the satanic powers of people who can't sit back and embrace decent entertainment when it walks all over them dressed as the Myrka for panto season.
1) The title. Seriously, how awesome is that? The new series of Doctor Who starts with WARRIORS FROM THE DEEP! It instantly evokes darkness, subterranean vistas, and undead armies arising to wage war on the surface facing an enemy totally unprepared for this. And like Warriors' Gate, it is a complex morality tale while Fury from the Deep provides us a nearotic seabase commander filled with people being brainwashed until they go crazy and a threat easily solved by something the base happened to have on hand to deal with the menace. So, not only is the title awesome, it is accurate. It makes no mention of darkness, decent production values, welcome fashion decisions or whether it refers to the human characters or not.
2) You ever see AdultSwim's SeaLab 2021? You may not have and it's certainly an acquired taste (the nearest comparison would the redubbed Rush by Mick Molloy and Tony Martin as The Olden Days, with 1970s Saturday Morning kid cartoon remade on illegal recreational narcotics) but it's impossible not to think of when watching this story. A greying, arrogant shoot-first loon as a commander for an undersea lab full of backstabbing zealots in blue and orang jumpsuits constantly threatening to blow the complex up, including bizarre fish people, token females, evil communications officers, and killing off the entire cast at the end of an episode to make a quick point. I myself am physically unable to stop myself doing the "Uh-oh" song whenever bad things start happening and Vorshak and his pals exchange grim looks... my point is, even with a proper production, this would still be too macho not to take the piss out of it.
3) Yes, the SeaBase is floodlit and glaring white. People seem to think it should have been yet another copy of the Nostromo from Alien, all dripping water, rusty chains and pitch darkness. WHY?!?! This isn't a slasher story where Sea Devils could be lurking in any shadow, and SB4 is not a run-down cheap-ass space haulage ship but a state-of-the-art brand new missile complex put there at great expense by a military dictatorship. They're hardly going to take out all the light bulbs and make it creepy on the off-chance a Doctor Who story needs to be told there, are they? Are they going to have water leaks and rusty chains in 2084, with all the workers' comp and OHS legislation? Fuck off!
4) It's also ignored that the only floodlit sections are the main bridge, its computer room next door and the airlocks. Everywhere else is reasonably lit, with several corridors quite dark and the storage room full of Hexachromite is pitch dark compared to the TARDIS console room. By the above logic, half the scenes with the Myrka should logically become brilliant in reduced lighting.
5) Scibus, of course, is one of Doctor Who's comedy geniuses. He is so freaking funny, it's like he's been dropped from a cutaway skit of The Young Ones featuring Silurians. What's the first thing we see him do? Announce that he hasn't spotted anything bad happening. And Ichtar shouts that this is "Excellent, Scibus!" with such pride, you almost expect him to pat the guy on the head. Ichtar then tells Silurian Dougal there that the most important thing to do is for them to remain undetected by the humans. The next line of dialogue is that all the humans are quite clearly detecting the Silurian ship and already consider it a hostile invader ship, with only its organic structure giving them pause from nuking the lizards. Oh, Scibus!
8) Bar Season 4, this is the only time the show begins and ends a year with completely different TARDIS crews - it's a bit odd, in my opinion, especially as publicity at the time emphasized the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough as a genuinely awesome-looking 80s cool band. Seriously, have you seen those posters of the three of them against a black backdrop with dry ice swirling? It's practically albulm art and the opening scenes feel like empty excuses to get the performers on one at a time in their new outfits (Turlough even arrives putting on his tie). There's even a nice moment where the Doctor idly bitches he should have stolen a Type 57 TARDIS in the previous story because while the computers-and-keyboards model was eye-achingly modern and up-to-date at the start of 1984, fashion was fleeting. Considering the last TARDIS scene of the same season is the Sixth Doctor and Peri yelling at each other in clothes almost as loud as they are, it's like some massive cosmic learning curve or warning to future generations.
9) More comedy homo reptillia as Ichtar carries on a whole conversation by himself, never letting the others get a word in edgeways as he basically goes "Mwahaha, my evil plan will work! What evil plan, you ask? This evil plan, which relies on a bunch of soldiers who have been frozen so long even if I can wake them up they will be brain-damaged zombies. Is that a flaw in the plan? Hmm, guess it is! Oh, well, I've started, so I might as well finish... Will you two stop interrupting me?"
10) Tarpok gets his own back with an oh-so-drammatic button pressing that suggests he's drunkenly trying to get a lift to stop at the floor he's already on. Made all the funnier by the fact he turns away from the others to do this, then gives up and hastily turns back to face them with what can only be described as a hopeful reptile man smirk...
11) Following Season 19 of Adric dealing with a foster family after the death of a parent, and Season 20's Turlough desperation to break out of high school, Season 21 kicks off with Maddox - the unloved redhaired stepkid who's only here for work experience and not getting any better with all the fresh grown-up responsibilities. Oh, the sympathy I think many feel for the guy as he rushes out for a smoko when actually he's having a full-blown anxiety attack about screwing up on his first day on the job... well, actually maybe I'm alone in that. I generally stress any job I do is the equivalent of nuclear war, but during the 1980s when the BBC showed Threads for shits and giggles, probably many a young man was terrified of being nuked before he got to third base and probably had to run to the gents to weep so no one picked on him.
12) Even more significant is Karina rescuing with a blunt "might never happen", which is endearing because it's such a pathetic reassurance. No Captain Kirk speeches, no charming insight to the human soul, just "hey, WW3 might not start today". It's the best on offer, and chillingly it shows that even nice, friendly wouldn't-hurt-a-fly Karina is convinced war will break out. At best, it'll keep till the end of the week. And that applied to every poor sucker at home watching, when Rowan Atkinson was laughing off the real fear he and his audience would be dead before the next installment of Not The Nine O'Clock news and suggesting they all just get shagging now while they still had a chance... Bloody hell, it's practically a relief that some prehistoric reptiles show up to take our minds off our doom!
13) It's not just ninety-nine red balloons or flocks of geese that
could cause the Pentagon to go to DefCon 1, it's the TARDIS too - if
that isn't a blunt statement of how screwed up things are. Despite the fact this police box has appeared in high orbit and contains people someone able to communicate with them, Sentinel Six has no imagination or human restraint. He's dumbfounded by the Doctor's "Sorry!" because he's expecting either a serial number or a flock of missiles, and when he gets neither he... opens fire. Even though there's no evidence that the police box could be any threat. It is left unclear if Sentinel Six is a computer-run satellite or there's a crew, but either way it doesn't bode well something so stupid is ready to launch the nukes - a further indichtment of the time when Nuclear War was inevitable because of morons in positions of power.
No one, not even Andrew Pixley, knows who did the voice for Sentinel Six. Or if he was paid. Maybe he did it for free. But this blind spot is very surprising, especially considering that the guy playing Sauvix tried to sneak off early to appear in a feature film and get a mate to put on the Sea Devil outfit instead of him. Pixley found out about that, but the identity of S6 remains a mystery to this day. IT COULD BE YOU!!
15) The Doctor's escape by "a materialization flip-flop" is surely the first step to him declaring a missile attack as "explody-wody" when he's Matt Smith. In an interesting aside, this scene where the TARDIS goes haywire, the roundels turn back and the room goes dark was considered the most awesome part of the story by the ABC, who advertised it on video directly after the TV Movie's first screening. They also showed The Sea Devils, but that was just the Third Doctor electrocuting a guy with a green rubber glove. I know which one more people were talking about the next morning!
16) A lovely detail is that Lieutenant Michaels, a character never seen, is built up in dialogue as a sort of Gregory House style loveable asshole that everyone needs. As soon as Maddox suggests that Michaels was murdered, it instantly suggests he's not paranoid and evil is afoot in SeaBase 4. And then we get Nilson and Solow taking their coffee break and informing each other of their own evil plans of which they both already know - but, since they've been apparently waiting years for a highly-strung work experience kid to be aboard, one can forgive their need to vent. But... seriously? They've been waiting for years and this is the best plan they've come up with. As Michael Palin would say "The war could be over by then!" It conjours up the idea of them being Snidely-Whiplash cartoon villains who have failed at every other plan they've tried. "You're a hard man, Nilson, but you forget, I'm a doctor! Swapping the salt for the sugar does not come easily to someone of my training!" "Stop bleating, Solow! If your reluctance to give Commander Vorshack cavities bothers you, lock it away in a strong box until our task is completed!"
17) Time to bring in Terrance Dicks' lovely novelization which kicks off with some devastatingly deadpan commentry on the settings ("It might have been in space – but it wasn’t.") and gives the Silurians some fabulous 80s ballgowns care of Jackie Pearce. But it also tributes Malcolm Hulke in giving personality and depth to the most one note of characters: "She was an ideological convert to the cause of the East Bloc... it was Nilson himself who had converted and recruited her... Disappointed in her career, left alone by the death of her husband and her parents, she had fallen an easy prey to Nilson’s arguments. He had persuaded her that the East Bloc philosophy of uniformity, obedience and central control was the answer to all life’s problems. Once the East Bloc ruled supreme, suffering and injustice would vanish magically from the world... she had come to accept that most terrible of creeds, that the end justifies the means... she did not find it easy to suppress all conscience in the cause of political expediency... Her voice was dull, almost lifeless. By now Doctor Solow was becoming used to murder and treachery... Like many political converts Nilson had become a complete fanatic, if anything more ruthless than the masters he served..." Neatly summing up why Nilson is clearly the bad guy yet working for the power bloc that, despite its ominously communist leanings ISN'T the one reprogramming the brains of its subjects and removing the concept of free will. It also gives a note of hope that even brainwashed tools like Nilson and Solow can overcome their conditioning and rebel against the system, cause in a story like Vengeance of Varos or Timelash next year, they'd be de facto supporters of the Doctor throughout.
18) The humor turns darker rather than outright hilarious, as the TARDIS crew idly wander around the base doing the whole "Do you know, this place seems rather quiet" shtick while two floors up everyone's freaking out screaming that the next world war is starting.
19) I'll just take a moment to point out that, at first glance, the Seabase and everything in it is as retarded as the character of Peri Brown in The Kingmaker. They have nuclear weapons that can only fire if one person with the right sort of brain is wired up to the central computer and if anything at all happens to that person - say, I dunno, even being concussed by tripping over - the entire base is defenseless. It is also completely cut off from the outside world except for whatever info High Command puts on the twitter feed - which would, it seem, cover UFO-police box sightings but not actually whether war has been declared. On top of that, it has a commander, a leader of men, who upon seeing a teenage boy having one of several panic attacks whenever he gets told what his job requires, starts screaming "THE BASE IS DEFENSELESS WITHOUT YOU!!" because a) Maddox would obviously have forgotten and b) that'll help. But the thing is, one has to remember the basic truth: this power bloc (which Terrance Dicks calls the West for ease of clarity) brainwashes its crew. Everyone in SB4 has been brainwashed with a spinning CD, technology that separates from their enemies (which is why Nilson has to steal it). It is shown in the story to be able to turn Maddox from a twitching hyper-anxious kid into a bland drone with no personality - and worst of all that's when the bad guys are doing what Vorshak wants! Nilson needs his huge buzzy remote control to turn Maddox evil, the rest of the time, he is like everyone else on the base, a tranquilized zombie. The reason Maddox was the only normal person there is just that: he was the only normal person there! The work experience kid who had not been brainwashed already to be "reassured" by the powers that be that the bomb is good and the bomb is safe and the bomb is the only thing between us the commie pinkie redneck BASTARDS! So, watch that scene again and you're seeing literally the only sane man surrounded by trigger-happy yanks getting Manchurian-Candidated into towing Reagan's party line. Not so funny, now, huh? And if this plot detail explains the appalling standard of acting from some of the cast, all the better, say you not?
20) Change the mood a little with some more comedy: the Doctor and Turlough get all manly and grunty trying to open a door. Tegan idly grabs the handle and slides it back with no effort whatsoever and goes through, not noticing the hugely awkward look between her two pals. It's up there with the Second Doctor and Jamie accidentally holding hands in Tomb of the Cybermen or the Doctor and Rory realizing they've snuggled up together in Amy's Choice. The guys can't cope around pretty girls, can they?
21) Scibus gets asked what the temperature is behind the door. He replies there's no way of telling because it's too cold. I expect there's a cut scene where Ichtar headbutts the wall in frustration.
22) Ok. The Hexachromite gas. Now, on the one hand, you gotta respect the proper Chekov Gun rule - if you see a reptile-only-death-chemical in act one, you better damn well see it used in act four. And you know, at least it's better than those stories where the Cybermen invade a base that happens to be stockhoused with their one weakness. I think the thing is that the fact is that it's so random. The Doctor says it's perfect plot device appropos of nothing. Maybe if the plot required it as its original use of sealing hull fractures, or if anyone else on the damned base realized they were using illegal toxic chemicals that could be used against invaders, it wouldn't seem so bad. Or if Hexachromite had to be mixed with another gas to be perfect Silurian-Mortein... but the fact remains, in part one, the Doctor learns he has access to exactly what he'd need to kill some Silurians. In part two, he discovers there are some Silurians in the area. It's not so much about him waiting four episodes before he can wrap up the plot, he's spending the whole story refusing to take the easy way out. Imagine if passing Sea Devil #53 hadn't accidentally gassed himself, no one else would have thought to use hexachromite gas. How utterly random would it be then, huh?
23) Despite Uncle Tezz's full-fisted determination to try and give WOTD the passion it deserves, he can't quite escape the Saturday morning cartoon villainy: "Nilson too looked grave, but inside he was thinking exultantly, ‘Precisely, Commander. Helpless. Just as I planned!’" Cut to Dr. Claw laughing evilly, MadCat howling and fade out for an advert break!
24) Davison's "reckless innocent" Doctor is never clearer than in part one. Upon realizing they can't sweet-talk their way into SB4, what does he do? Set the nuclear reactor to blow up! Of course, it will take three hours before it blows up and easily be shut down by the crew, and is little more than the equivalent of going "look over there!" while they run for it. Tegan is the first to think this is overkill, but is pacified by Turlough of all people who doesn't think for a minute there's a real danger of getting a nuclear explosion in the face and is proved right when it is fixed a few minutes in the next episode. That's right - risking Chernobyl is small potatoes in the Cold War. Grim, huh!
25) More evidence that the Western Bloc are brainwashing their own troops is the fact they are so freaking stupid. You think the garlic-munching comedy stooge who electrocutes himself by stupidly putting his hand into Turlough's sabotage was dumb? The guards wear fallout suits. They are reactor guards and half their time is devoted to running the nuclear reactor (the other half being dying when Sea Devils kill them, obviously) so you think they'd get some basic training. But no, Bulic has to manhandle one of them to stop him opening fire in the middle of the reactor and screams "WE CAN'T RISK A SHOT IN HERE!" Since Bulic is clearly not so dumb he wants to warn intruder/saboteurs that that they can escape, it must be because these non-speaking extras have been labotomized...
25) Interesting trivia - the bloke who plays the Doctor during his backflip into the reactor tank is the same bloke who played George "the Beast" Cranliegh in Black Orchid. It seems the only thing stopping him being in more stories was the demand for stuntmen in pullovers.
26) According to the plot, the Doctor falls into the water where the current from the reactor sucks him straight down to the bottom of the tank. On TV he just lies on the surface face down for a moment. This makes Turlough's scream of "He's drowned!" less like a brutal assessment of the facts and more like a convoluted excuse to escape. "No, Tegan, he's definitely drowned. I know he's blowing bubbles, waving and saying 'I'm not dead yet', but that's just a reflex animal reaction. He is so totally dead, Tegan. Any minute now. No, don't wait to see, it's obvious, he's clearly drowned..." Either way, after spending a year wondering whether or not he should kill the Doctor and make it seem like an accident, Turlough is clearly a bit miffed at how bloody easy it would have been to do...
27) Seriously though, it's nice to see the TARDIS crew are so much less disfunctional this year. In Season 19, Tegan would have spent a good five minutes bitching and arguing before trying to help the drowning Doctor, but here she grabs the chains to go to rescue without thinking. Similarly, Turlough instantly chooses to sacrifice himself to save Tegan when it looks grim. But thankfully when they're given time to think about it, they're still the whining gits we know and love as Tegan tears the Doctor a strip off for surviving and Turlough whines that human beings are a bunch of deluded self-destructive cretins who don't know when to run away. Intriguingly, this show shows them when the chips are down and rising to the occasion BEFORE acting like jerks. This nonetheless works better than the Saward-added scenes in Kinda where you'd think for all the world a voodoo curse has abruptly been placed over the Doctor, Tegan and Adric in mid-dialogue.
28) When Ichtar introduces his companions-and-nothing-more-than-that-I'd-like-to-point-out-thank-you-very-much, Scibus gives the Sea Devils a girly little wave, like he's shy and trying to flirt with them. Sauvix blinks slowly as he stares back, unimpressed. Hil-fucking-ilarous.
29) The Doctor says that garlic-muncher trooper is only unconscious and will survive Turlough's rewiring. This mean either two things: he either sleeps through the rest of the story and wakes up to find the base full of corpses and nerve gas; or he wakes up earlier and is killed either by the Myrka, the Sea Devils or Nilson. While wandering around in his freaking underpants. Tell me that image doesn't make you laugh.
30) Now, the Sea Devils. In their original story they were surprisingly cute and fast-moving monsters (though they keep changing colour, you notice?) with purry singsong voices, a love of high-fiving people and apparently referred to themselves as "Green Gilbert". Ichtar warns the audience that this incredibly dodgy defrosting process might leave them all arthritic morons - and boy, do they. Keep an eye out for the Sea Devil who walks staring up at the ceiling and pointing a gun at it as though he's chasing a fly. Or the one who's head swings through 180 degrees from shoulder to shoulder. But undoubtedly the most awesome is Sauvix himself. Not only is his head fins shaped to look as though he's gone bald, he is the biggest stoner I have ever seen. Ichtar hands him a scroll and tells him to "study it well". Sauvix holds it up and stares at it cross-eyed with total fascination, going "Oooooh, pretty!" instead of unscrolling it and reading it. Then he walks off, still admiring the subtle beauty of the scroll as Ichtar stares on, incredulous.
31) The Doctor abandons his original costume in this story. His replacement is so similar as for you not to notice the difference, but it can't be a coincidence that this coincides with his "darker" persona for the rest of the year - like the Seventh Doctor suddenly wearing dark brown shades in Season 26 or Tennant wearing a mourning suit after losing Rose or Smithy's Victoriana gear post-Pond...?
32) The novelization does a decent job of fitting the Silurians into continuity (and, in a rare moment of justifiable fanwank from Ian Levine, the original script made it even worse). It establishes that Ichtar and K'to are one and the same, and Dicks remembers that K'to was the biggest jerk of the Wenly Moor gang - he just went with the flow and was willing to commit genocide if it meant he had an easy life; he was far more of a bastard than Morka who, for all his bigotry, didn't hesitate to sacrifice himself rather than ask another Silurian to die in his place. The novelization notes that only a few Silurians have third eyes that can psyhically kill folk, and it seems Ichtar and his pals ain't one of them (though given he hangs around with Scibus and Tarpok, quite possibly they neutered themselves to stop accidentally killing each other). It also nicely shows that the Silurians are incredibly desperate; their battle cruiser is an underpowered second-hand museum piece and Sauvix's army is a tiny, under-staffed and under-supported raiding team. Ichtar's so desperate to carry out his Plan (it always is capitalized) he's willing to use unreliable resources now because a) they have no way of conquering Earth on land, and storming undersea bases is all they can manage and b) he's a loony. And if b) is good enough for The Caves of Androzani, it's good enough here.
33) More grimness. Commander Vorshak, a Brigadier-wannabe, offers to treat Turlough "honourably" if he cooperates. So Turlough does cooperate and provides a story that, while bizarre, is not obviously a bunch of outright lies. Evil Nilson suggests they brainwash Turlough in the PS Unit (the Psycho-Surgical Unit, the permanent operating room in constant use changing how people think aboard). Now, Nilson suspects that Turlough is either genuinely harmless or a fellow saboteur, so his desire to get Turlough alone is simply to interrogate him further. But Vorshak the nominal good guy just says "See to it, Nilson". So, "honorable" treatment includes "brutal mind probing" instead of, I dunno, using a lie-detector app or checking Turlough's story (locating the TARDIS and proving he's an alien can't be that difficult, can it?) It's moments like this that makes you glad Icthar shoots the bastard in the back first chance he gets.
34) Do those reactor guards Preston send off into the TARDIS interior ever come back? Or do they join Kamelion, some Cybermen and a Sontaran in the lost tribe of the roundel-worshippers? And do they suffer the same fate as poor garlic-muncher, emerging from the TARDIS to either be killed on the spot or left to clear up the mess? And, could be the moment they see the inside of the TARDIS, the web of time requires all witnesses to be killed to stop them changing history? Is SB4 a fixed point in time? OK, maybe not, but it worked for Earthshock and Waters of Mars, didn't it?
35) Speaking of Preston, she gets one of the coolest "Ah, I've caught you" moments since Ransome in The War Games where with icy politeness she asks if she can help Tegan hide outside the bridge. I know many a child would have been similarly confronted when out of class at school, and Tegan definitely plays that way - amping up some empathy with the audience in a surprisingly subtle way.
36) Despite what some critics may have ranted, saying the Doctor criticizes mankind for daring to defend itself and thus being sickly appeasing death-worshiping scum that requires all Doctor Who post-Tom-Baker to be wiped from existence, nothing of the kind happens in this story. An unidentified seaship appears on the scanner and Vorshak announces that they must annihilate it instantly. When the Doctor suggests they try and make contact with the Silurians first, Vorshak retorts the Silurians motives are irrelevent. "It's not what they want, it's what I want, Doctor - and I want to keep them away!" What a fuckwit. Despite this clearly being the same Sentinel Six shoot-first-then-shoot-later policy, he actually is arrogant enough say, "You're telling us not to defend ourselves?" to the Doctor. The Doctor's reply - "I'm telling you, you have no defense" - is borne out completely as not one of the base's weapons so much as dent Icthar's bitching ship and all he's done is make humans look like even bigger assholes than they already are. Does Vorshak admit that maybe he was wrong? That maybe the Doctor might know what the hell he's talking about? No, he tells the Doctor that DESPITE surrendering, proving his story that he's a lost non-combatant and providing accurate intel on the Silurians that "we have no reason to trust you" and he is to be shot at the first sign of "treachery". And when Vorshak is reminded he is completely incapable of actually fighting the titular warriors of the deep, how does he react? "I can try." The Doctor is quite clearly storing this up. All of it. So watch out, Davros.
37) Tegan points out the flaw in the Doctor's optimism - what will he do if the Silurians are all genocidal bastards instead of misunderstood martyrs? The Doctor characteristically dodges the question by telling her to "look on the bright side". At that exact second he realizes that the Silurians have sent their biowarfare division rather than the diplomatic core and his face falls.
38) "Oh dear," groans the Doctor with embarrassment as the Myrka appears, all ping-pong eyes and seaweed beard. It actually adds verisimilitude, if you ask me - the platypus looks ridiculous, but if it stings you there's not enough morphine on the planet to save you. There are plenty of animals in the natural world that look damn stupid, like the seahorse for instance. And you have to admit that, not only does the Myrka look like it evolved parallel to the Sea Devils, it is clearly part of the same unconvincing rubber genus as the monster from The Silurians. At least the Myrka doesn't constantly give a double-thumbs up like a cross between a pleisosaur and the Fonz. And I bet the Myrka looks cooler underwater anyway. Besides, if YOU had a bullet proof electrified dragon that can crush steel with its bare claws, would you really give a shit if it looked stupid as long as it worked? Charles Daniels summs it up, "knowing that something that stupid could actually kill me makes the Myrka absolutely terrifying..."
39) As soon as the Doctor isn't around, Vorshak admits that he's probably
right about the Silurians being more important than the war and keeping
radio silence is completely stupid. But typically instead of "wow,
ancient reptile people with awesome tech who have arisen just in the
middle of a war and wish to make contact with mankind", Vorshak dubs
them a threat to all mankind. Without any evidence so far that they are
actually hostile (so far all they've done is stop the seabase shooting
them with no casualties). It is really hard by this point not to think
that Nilson's actually got moral superiority here...
40) Of course, that's when they brainwash Maddox into becoming their slave. You do have to wonder why they're getting Maddox to do all the work for them - since he's smashing up everything, it's not like they need his skill. Why doesn't Solow get an axe and help out instead of driving their slave to slowly die from exhaustion? Why, because she's a complete bitch. But this petty villainy goes out the window with the truly horrible sight of Nilson forcing Maddox to throttle poor Karina, the only nice person on the base, to death. And Maddox is completely aware of what they're forcing him to do. Nilson could have shot her and spared them all discomfort, but instead they get this scene - the natural culmination of the Master's cruel tricks in Logopolis getting Nyssa to keep strangling Adric. Frankly, Karina's murder is the cruelest and nastiest part of the story and typically the Silurians have absolutely nothing to do with it.
41) "Doctor Solow caught Karina’s body under the arms and began dragging it across the room. It was strange, she thought. With all her medical experience, she hadn’t realised that a dead body could be so heavy..."
42) I don't get why people whinge that when the airlock door falls on Tegan's ankle it doesn't cripple her for life. There's plenty of other debris that could have cushioned it, and, hell you think maybe in another sixty years they might have a lightweight metallic substance for doors? Anyone who whines that it looks like a mattress has fallen on her should actually have a mattress dropped on them unexpectedly and see how they like it... Besides, in Resurrection of the Daleks, Tegan gets some realistic injuries and concussion and is promptly written out of the main plot for the rest of the story. I prefer the unrealistic approach instead...
43) More of Vorshak's assholedom. When Bulic says they can't shoot the Myrka, he suggests using grenades - because blowing up your airlock would be a really good idea. When Bulic refuses to do so on the grounds the Doctor and Tegan would be killed, Vorshak thinks that it would be better to lock them in with the Myrka. Even though it has already chewed through both airlock doors and the internal bulkhead is much thinner. He doesn't tell Bulic to try and blow up the Myrka and the Doctor and Tegan, nor does he say rescue the only person who seems to know what's going on. He just says lock the door and, at best, buy ten minutes before the Myrka breaks it down and the Sea Devils come in through the back. Notably, even Bulic grimaces with disgust at this pigheaded moronitude, but it shows that people in this world literally cannot think through the consequences of their actions. Presumably because, like Maddox, they'd go mad.
44) In a curious bit of history repeating, it was many a year before I saw episode three of this story. Thus, the cliffhanger to part two - where the Doctor and Tegan are trapped in the airlock about to be murdered by the roaring Myrka and no one able to help - ended up as unresolved as part one of Remembrance of the Daleks - where the Doctor is trapped in a cellar about to be exterminated by a screaming Dalek and no one able to help. Made all the more ominous because Tegan actually refutes the usual "brave heart" with an incredulous, miserable and utterly embarrassed "THAT THING IS GOING TO KILL US!"
45) Also note Steven Moffat reuses that cliffhanger when he wrote Time of the Angels - a returning menace causes the Doctor's companion to become paralyzed and she grimly orders the Doctor to abandon her. He refuses and frees her, but ends up trapped and cornered as the monsters move in for the kill with no possible way of escape - only for him to grab a gun from an extra and use it in a surprising way to keep the monsters at bay long enough for them to escape through a doorway. So the Moff can see the potential in this story if no one else can. And then he commissioned Cold Blood!
46) All the Myrka's scenes are actually the first take, because reshots were
impossible. It's amazing how well it went, all things considered. I
mean, its head could have fallen off or something but those two blokes
actually managed to make it work to that degree with absolutely no
preparation whatsoever and recording the scenes in real time. Makes you
proud to be human, dunnit?
47) More nice characterization of Turlough as a hero when he's working on instinct but a coward when he thinks; his attack of Nilson also pressages the revelation he was soldier in the Triic Civil War. The novelization explains why Nilson agrees instead of ordering Maddox to throttle Turlough: "Nilson had no wish to die in defence of the Base he was working to destroy."
48) In my opinion there is nothing more scary when a character in a show is killed off by a monster when they do the sensible thing. In Xtro, we have a woman so stupid that when an Auton-like action figure is smashing her apartment with a bayonet she actually gives away her position by LOUDLY EATING CHOCOLATE IN THIS LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION. The Auton bayonets her, and quite right too. But in the same film a lone young bit of Swedish jailbait hears something rustling in the dark bushes outside her isolated cabin and... instantly locks all the doors and windows and tries to call for help, only to discover the titular Xtroid has teleported inside her home and she's dead meat. That's not fair, she wasn't stupid, she did the right thing and still got killed. Here, a bunch of extras wisely flattern themselves against the wall and hide as the Myrka shambles down the corridor opposite and it never sees them or even knows they're there... but its electrified tail conducts through the metal and fries them all anyway. How cruel.
49) Did we mention Vorshak's a git? He tells Bulic to take a suicidal charge against the Myrka. When Bulic points out the guns don't work, their brave leader orders "HAVE THEM TRY!" and when the Doctor backs him up, the bold and noble warrior yells "THE WEAPONS WILL WORK ON YOU!!!" and then actually says "WHEN I WANT YOUR HELP, I WILL ASK FOR IT!" when the Doctor says he knows one way to kill off the Myrka. "I SHOULD HAVE YOU SHOT!!!" Let's be clear, the last character this self-destructive and obviously insane was Hindle in Kinda.
50) I have always found the Sea Devil guns in this story cool for some reason. I think because it works well in the comic medium - you draw the character in black felt tip, then colour a circle of red to show where the shot strikes. A lot easier than the shimmering emerald rings of the cyber-guns.
51) The Sea Devils sleepwalking shambling isn't particularly threatening, but given we know they're all brain-fried zombies and also in bulletproof armor, they don't NEED to hurry. (Is it coincidence the hit single during this story was Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax"?) They're basically waiting for the humans to run out of ammo and kill them. Also compare this sequence to Resurrection of the Daleks - that might be the better-made story, but here the returning monsters completely wipe the floor with the humans and drive them back to certain defeat. The Daleks barely get out two words before they get blown up and then Saward's Mary-Sue bitches at a Black Dalek for being a useless twat before he and some generic stormtroopers wipe out the humans with a suspiciously hexachromite-style poison gas.
52) A round of applause for the beautiful moment Sauvix forgets his line in
mid gesture. "Bring forth..." long pause, tumbleweed rolls by, crickets
chirp, other Sea Devils stare at him, "...the cutting device!" It's as
though he was trying to remember if it was a sonic lance or a thermal
lance or a laserson probe and just gave the damn hell up. Considering
this is exactly the same plot line as the Cyber invasion of the
freighter in Earthshock (wiping out the first wave of troopers, cutting
through bulkheads, hijacking the bridge), its fascinating to see it
carried out not by gleaming competent cyborgs but a bunch of very, very
stoned turtles in samurai armor. Cowabunga indeed.
53) A nice moment of tension before the fighting starts, from the book of the film: "The edges of the bulkhead door were charring and smoking like burnt toast, thought Turlough. Nostalgically he remembered the ritual of study-teas at his public school, with a terrified fag to make the toast. He looked at the blaster in his hand and wondered what he was doing here." Like Maddox, Turlough's the only unbrainwashed/sane man there, the only one afraid of facing certain death. It also returns to the theme of waiting uselessly for total anihilation, in this case a firefight with invulnerable soldiers who will kill you without blinking a very slow and bloodshot eyelid.
54) It's a nice background detail that SB4 has a solarium, ensured that the
human crew all have deep tropical tans - and thus could visit the
surface without being a walking clue they'd just done a term of service
at the bottom of the ocean for six months. Plus, it makes a useful
weapon. The same logic as the hexachromite, but undoubtedly more subtle
and logical. Of course, it was only in the script to get Tegan and Turlough in sexy swimwear and it's a pity they lost it, because it would have tied in neatly to "kit off" vibe of Planet of Fire...
55) Similarly, the Doctor doesn't use the hexachromite on the Myrka because it's a cyborg and thus might survive the gassing (not to mention he would hardly by now want to trust Vorshak with it, would he?) and he manages a wonderfully bitchy line to Tegan after she, for the upteenth time, suggests his latest plan is going to suck big time. "Perhaps you should ask it nicely to go away?" he offers sweetly, which is less embarrasing than his butch Bond one-liner, "I'm planning to bring a little sunshine into the Myrka's life!"
56) Solow's death scene was entirely improved by the actress herself. Originally the Myrka wandered past her, accidentally whacked her with its tail and she died. Instead Solow unleashes the inner power of the primal warrior and kung-fu kicks the Myrka to death - an act almost as hilarious as the completely bewildered Myrka whose frantic paw gestures suggests he's in a Marx Brothers skit and has the confused impression that Solow is actually his reflection. Comedy freaking gold, ladies and gentlemen, and easily the most memorable death scene since Soldeed. Compare to how Nilson is killed off by the actor sticking to the script and ask yourself which actually makes you sit up and take notice. Full fist, Ms. Pitt. Full fist.
57) It amuses me Bulic somehow knows what the Sea Devils are called without being told. I guess these marine types just know a Sea Devil when they see one, as in their last appearance. Vorshak also knows what Bulic is talking about when he's told "the Sea Devils are everywhere". He could easily have gone "Don't worry, it's just the DTs! You're hallucinating, there aren't any devils there..."
58) It's probably a goof, but the way Tarpok and Scibus seem to have their picnic hamper and then not have it suggests they put it down at one point and forgot about and had to go back for it like Aldo and Royce in Warriors' Gate. Almost as amusing is Sauvix, being told that the Sea Devils and Myrka are almost at the bridge, stops and goes "Whoa! Then the outcome... is DOUBLY... certain!" and looks as if he's going to give Ichtar a big hug and scream, "DUDE, I AM SO FUCKING WASTED RIGHT NOW!!!"
59) I still don't get why you have to cover your eyes to make a wish. But there is something creepy about the way the Doctor literally fries the Myrka's brain inside its skull and its body keeps twitching and jerking in agony. Of course, that was probably one of the actors high off the glue fumes doing the funky chicken and with no idea what's going on - but the sight is one of an animal in agony as Tegan asks "Is it dead?" and the Doctor brutally grunts "Very!" Had this been a Pertwee story, he probably would have eulogized the Myrka who was, like Aggador, just a wild animal used as a weapon against its will and not inherently evil. Still, at least this way we don't have a scene where the Doctor hypnotizes the Myrka with the TARDIS key and it ends up humping his leg happily in the last scene...
60) Is Vorshak a moron when he assumes that Nilson is just criminally negligent and incompetent rather than an outright enemy agent? He really seems to believe that Nilson had just forgotten to check on the most important thing on the base after he asked for it to be given to him? That he didn't hear Maddox trashing the very next room and brutally murdering Karina? Is this more evidence brainwashed Western Bloc soldiers lose their iniative and imagination? They instantly achieve a Mexican standoff when the Doctor pulls out a gun, but when Nilson does they all bend like human palm trees instead of giving him an instant lead transfusion. "Don’t take it too hard, Commander. Like you, we were only doing our duty," Nilson says, and it's hard not to notice he did it a lot better than Vorshak has - he's got the disc, crippled the base, and only the random factors of the Doctor and an alien invasion stop him. He should get his own series. Wait, he did - Survivors. Ironically, he died in that show from a stupidly-avoidable accident there, too.
61) Another grizzly detail - when the Doctor uses the UV light on Nilson, he covers his eyes and in the shadow you can see his eyes vanish in a red glow as they burn out. Frankly, seeing the competent, unrepentant fanatic blindly and mutely stumbling around in agony, wordlessly shooting in the wrong direction is nasty. Hard not to think of his death at Sauvix's claws as putting him out of his misery. And the Doctor deliberately blinds and cripples an enemy, the nice Fifth Doctor. If the Sixth Doctor did that, we'd probably be up in arms - though Sixie would probably have very casually done it, shot off a witty one-liner and chided Peri for getting kidnapped while Nilson was sobbing on the ground, clawing at the remains of his face.
62) Either way, had Nilson just left Tegan behind he probably would have escaped and then the Eastern Bloc (who, it turns out, have known where SeaBase 4 is all the time, so the radio silence issue was a complete waste of freaking time) would have been able to nuke the base, ending the threat to the world. At the least that would have meant the Silurians would have had to cooperate with the Doctor to deal with the common threat before they could unleash MAD, and possibly prevented the bloodbath. Mind you, Nilson's threat to Tegan was a bit feeble - did anyone believe he was going to let her live after he murdered two harmless teenagers for getting in his way?
63) The thing about warriors, of course, is they have a warriors' code and I love the detail of the Sea Devils never harming unarmed civilians is kept from their original story. If you have a weapon and try to fight them, they will kill you instantly, but if you are helpless and do not pose a threat, they'll just lock you up. Sauvix instantly shoots Nilson for attacking them but for all his menacing "YOUR TURN!!" at the cliffhanger, he just ushers them into a room. Similarly, Bulic and Turlough survive the same way by dropping their guns and surrendering and Ichtar dryly comments that if Vorshak's men weren't fighting back, the Sea Devils wouldn't keep killing them (Vorshak pleads for a chance for them to surrender after three hours of ordering them to die in wave after wave, Zap Brannigan style). Notably the only time a Sea Devil threatens an unarmed person is when Sauvix is directly ordered by his leader to find and kill the Doctor, and even then he is clearly uncomfortable and looks for an excuse not to do it. It's really hard not to be sympathetic for the cute Ninja Turtles who are showing more honor and practicality than the stupid humans who have not only started this Cold War but brainwashed themselves to keep it going.
64) "What's this?" "A ventilation shaft." It feels like some metatextual homage to the cliches as laid down by the first base-under-siege story, The Tenth Planet where the male companion was locked by the not-always-lethal monsters in a bunk room with a convenient air vent to safety. I also like that it's impossible to tell if the Sea Devil through the window is just pacing up and down while on guard or there is meant to be an endless queue of the lizards marching past.
65) "You are mistaken," says Ichtar in a bland, bored voice when the Doctor says they know each other. It's like he's weary of the fame of being part of the Silurian Triad and constantly being asked for autographs and liking facebook pages. He also uses the same tone whenever he tells people "the Myrka will deal with it" as if he's been coming up with that reply for years and just can't give a damn any more.
65) Surprisingly, the scene where Icthar recognizes the Doctor doesn't entirely screw up continuity. True, the dialogue suggests a very different version of The Silurians to the one we saw but we know K'to did basic tests on the humans captured, and the Doctor at the time was quite vocal that he was not a human being. He also made repeated attempts to reason with Okdel and Morka, and given the fact we know how well sound travels in the base (see how Baker won't shut the hell up), there's no reason to believe he wouldn't know of the Doctor. Besides, why would a stranger a century later claim to be the same person? As for knowing Ichtar as part of the noble masonic lodge of the Silurians, we know the Doctor was left to look at the Silurian wikipedia page for a while. It's only when Icthar says he once tried to work out a proper treaty (and met the Doctor at the time) that it gets wrong. He speaks of mankind attacking them twice, but that only really fits with The Sea Devils, so it suggests a missing story in between - take it as The Scales of Injustice or UNIT: The Coop where a Torchwood-wannabe group try and ruin a peace accord between mankind and homo reptilia. Either way, does anyone really care? As evidence soon proves, Ichtar might have three eyes, but he's definitely myopic about past events...
66) Tezza rewrites the scene to make it a tad clearer: "So you are the Doctor," said Icthar finally. "You betrayed us, Doctor. You have much to answer for."
"Twice I have tried in vain to make peace between your people and the human race," admitted the Doctor. "Twice I have failed, thanks to the self-destructive efforts of the extremists on both sides. Must it happen again? When we last met, your leaders were at least prepared to consider living in peace with the other inhabitants of this planet. There are vast portions of the land and of the seas that the humans will never use. At least some of your leaders agreed that there was room for both races. Why abandon such an enlightened policy now?"
"You forget, Doctor, that twice, at your urging, we offered the hand of peace to these ape-descended primitives. It will not happen again."
"But peaceful co-existence between Man and Silurian is the only way. There is no other solution."
"There is, Doctor. A final solution."
67) Silurians apparently only wage war in defense. Who the hell were they fighting considering apes were little more than seagulls on the political scale at the time? Could it be the Cybermen? (Don't knock it, when the Silurians ruled the Earth, Mondas was in orbit and the lizard folk have used cyber-conversions on the Myrka and apparently themselves, judging by their flashing lights and robotic voices - has no one else read The Steel Nursery where Mondan Silurians build cybernetic mobile assault nodes or CyberMAN out of Silurian-ape hybrids?!) Sorry. I guess this isn't actually a reason the story rocks, but it DOES make you think. Especially given the fact their Silurian battle cruiser has Cyberman guns built into it and Scibus likes yelling down the barrel at them. Which is a sight gag that most definitely rocks.
68) Scibus installs the Manipulator by lining it up with a square on a table. He really puts a lot of work to it. In fact, he seems positively OCD about it. And then, once it's lined up, he announces that "alignment is confirmed" and Icthar shouts "Good!!" because he's just so damn proud of the little guy.
69) "You'll get no help from ME, Silurian!" sneers Vorshak in a tone that suggests he's playing hard to get as Ichtar woos him over a romantic candle-lit supper. It's a very funny line, especially as the rest of the scene is the Doctor patiently explaining to the moron they can just kill him and cut his hand off, which is the kind of security flaw that was being exploited in Demolition Man and Red Dwarf in the early 90s so a century later people really should have developed an app for that.
70) "What is it about Earth people that makes them think a futile gesture is a noble one?" demands Turlough, rather unsubtly flagging up the themes of the story where Vorshak's entire MO has apparently to get the most patriotic gravestone. Even so, when he whines "If there was any chance of saving them, I'd be the first to go," we know he's actually being honest, having risked his life several times to save Tegan in this story alone. Yet Tegan's stubborn insistence to try and find the probably dead/captured Doctor is shown to be the right thing rather than Turlough's entirely sensible "let's just leg it" approach. I like it; it lacks bias.
71) The Doctor's clearly trying to think the best of the Silurians but when they use a war-dragon to barge down the front door of the base he realizes they are there for the missiles instead of a peace accord, but assumes the lizards will use them to blackmail the world. Yet Ichtar's plans involve detonating all the proton missiles and triggering a nuclear war that will (altogether now) leaving the Earth a burning cinder hanging in space. The "wiping out the apes in a sea of their own blood" part of the strategy can't be faulted, but when Ichtar starts going on about "the true life force" of this planet returning when the rest of homo reptillia are defrosted is quite clearly bollocks. Plenty of the colonies have been wiped out through continental shift and the like and if they had the technology to terraform the Earth to that degree the scaly bastards would never have gone into hibernation in the first place. The Doctor's quiet "I see" is exactly how he treats the pant-suckingly-insane Hindle. Ichtar's gone batshit deranged; but given he, like Vorshak, thought reenacting Threads for real could count as any kind of victory - are we surprised.
72) And lo, in the words of Pmavsnart the Eelnat Okadas: "Using Hexacromite gas to prevent a war
would have been no moral dilemma to him, and he'd have no condemnation for the humans for suggesting
it. Why are we supposed to support the Doctor's rant that the humans are
pathetic savages, when Preston sacrifices her life and takes a bullet to
protect the Doctor? The Doctor doesn't honour her noble sacrifice and
decides to try and save Icthar, urging that the Silurian race somehow
needs warmongering genocidal leaders like him who'll lead his race to
Now, let us look at the facts. As soon as the Doctor learns Ichtar's crazy plan, he pauses only to escape before saying the first thing to do is go to the chemical store where he points out the hexachromite to everyone and says he wants "something less lethal that will do the job just as well". Amazingly, neither Bulic nor Preston seem to understand this until a passing Sea Devil accidentally shoots the hexachromite and gasses himself in front of them and the Doctor has to explain YET AGAIN that their enviro-unfriendly sealant is 100% ethnic cleansing when it comes to the scales. Preston demands they use it (though she doesn't lift a damn finger to do it herself) and the Doctor is horrified that she's as bloodthirsty as Icthar, even though there's no evidence there isn't any Hexachromite-lite available that the Doctor can use.
So, to summarize - the Doctor is the one that suggests the gas in the first place, and he condemns Preston because she wants all the reptiles slaughtered in a hideously brutal way. The Doctor's "rant" is one line of dialogue where he reminds Preston that the "invaders" are, to him, just as valid and intelligent life forms. Vorshak's been a complete warmongering fuckwit, but should the Doctor use cyanide on all the humans on the base if there's an alternative? The Silurians and Sea Devils aren't pests, the Hexachromite is not something to be used lightly and Preston's flippant "kill em all" attitude is repellant. Notably, it's Turlough who points out that their hands are being forced and the greater good. Oh, and Preston doesn't take a bullet for the Doctor - she goes to shoot the Doctor before he can turn off the gas. And Sauvix kills her, as she's armed and dangerous. If Preston had been a better soldier, or just shut the fuck up and did what she was told, the Doctor would have had a chance to reason with Sauvix (OK, admittedly, that would have been difficult without some snacks and possibly a beanbag) from a position of strength. She's not nobly sacrificing herself and the whole story has, as Turlough said, proved noble gestures are selfish denial.
The moral dilemma, ultimately only comes when the Doctor realizes that there isn't another gas he can use (or at least not one he can find in time) and thus must choose between risking killing all the homo reptillia and letting war break out. So his ENTIRE moral dilemma consists of the following exchange:
TURLOUGH: What are you going to do?
TEGAN: You must decide, Doctor - billions of people could die!
DOCTOR: Yes, all right.
That's it. They realize there's no time to look for an alternative and the Doctor immediately agrees to use it. This is not the two wires in Genesis of the Daleks or using the Moment in Day of the Doctor, is it? So it's clear now that in no way an "unforgivable, self-destructive note" to start an "evil season" and it sure as hell doesn't "advocate self destructive
suicidal appeasement and having a self-indulgent crisis of conscience
instead of actually preventing nuclear war". And as for "Davison's
Doctor told us to be a victim and to never fight back", I refer to him killing the Myrka, Nilson, wiring the reactor to blow, talking down bullies like Vorshak and Preston and also accepting the brutal truth there are days you can't have a happy ending approximately ten seconds after the countdown begins.
So, let's just move the fuck on, shall we?
72) Isn't it funny that Sauvix the stoner is the only one to notice the Doctor has left the room while all the higher lifeforms didn't notice him walking out one of two doors in complete view of the rest of the room?
73) Ichtar shows off his true moral highground to the audience but, tragically, not to the Doctor when he reveals that rather than being a noble demon forced to commit genocide for a greater good he is a foam-at-the-mouth psycho who immediately orders the Doctor murdered on sight. On the other hand, you can't say he's being stupid - both Morka and the Chief Sea Devil foolishly assumed the Time Lord escaping from them wouldn't end up anything bad, so Ichtar clearly has learned from his predecessor's mistakes. Smart guy.
74) This exchange is, in my opinion, one of the most ruthless and chilling even out of context and even Troy McClure and the nasal lizard man still makes it work. At the time, it must have made many a British citizen flinch when even Freddy Mercury's latest film clip had families flash-fried in nuclear blasts as they listened to Radio Gaga. Cool heads do not prevail and reason cannot work on the unreasonable, who will always find an excuse to press the button.
VORSHAK: You're mad...
ICHTAR: The ape primitives have developed this weaponry. We cannot be held responsible for it.
VORSHAK: Contact the heads of governments, tell them your demands! They'll listen!
ICHTAR: Your people have already had their chance.
VORSHAK: Try one more time! For pity's sake...
ICHTAR: It is too late for pity! It is much too late!
75) It's also good that Ichtar finds the set up of the base as stupid and poorly-thought out as Vorshak himself. And then tells him so. Say what you like about Eric Saward, he gave some damn good bitchy putdowns to bipedal lizards.
76) The novelization has this little summary of the shitheap world about to be blown up: "This was a particularly dangerous time in Earth’s long and stormy history. A period of maximum tension, between two colossal powers. The different warring groups and countries and philosophies had solidified into two massive groupings. There was no communication, no trust between them. Each poured out a steady stream of propaganda, blackening the other side. Worst of all, each side had come to believe in its own propaganda, to believe that the opposing Bloc was populated not by human beings much like themselves but by cold-hearted ruthless monsters. Armed satellites filled the skies, each side observing the other with constant suspicion. There were human spies too – espionage and sabotage flourished as never before. Each side had one overriding fear, that the other would come up with some advantage, some new weapon, that would make its aggressive use worthwhile. Strangely enough, the invention of the proton missile had made matters worse. In the days of the atomic stalemate there had at least been the hope that no one would be fool enough to start a war that could only end in an uninhabitable planet. Now that check was removed..."
77) Now, if you want actual scripted proof that Sauvix is off his cute turtle face and not firing on all cylinders, consider this. He walks into the chemical store and sees the Doctor and pals pumping gas into the airvents and with the natural intellect of a born leader realizes it is clearly being used to overcome lizards everywhere. So what does he do? Shout "DOCTOR! I HAVE FOUND YOU!" and then he rings up Ichtar and shouts "I HAVE FOUND THE DOCTOR!" and then hangs up, not mentioning the whole "poison gas in the air vents thing" which would have altered the entire plot. So Ichtar doesn't find out about the threat until it's too late, requiring the Doctor to go there in person and shout the truth. (And don't think Sauvix didn't notice the hexachromite, because he orders the Doctor to switch off the pump without being told about its relevance, so he obviously knew what it was - he just never bothered to tell his boss! Maybe he wanted to be all cool about it. "Yeah, the Doctor was totally going to gas us all, but I just stopped him, didn't think it worth mentioning, just a Sea Devil doing his job, ya dig?")
78) Oh, and in case anyone think that Preston's death (which is a brutal
repeat of Kyle's
in Earthshock, even down to the way it's shot) is unmentioned
and unmourned, it makes the Doctor more determined to ensure the
missiles aren't launched and her world is not blown up. Just so we're
clear, they actually show more emotion about her death than Bulic does:
TEGAN: She's dead.
DOCTOR: A waste.
TEGAN: Well, don't let her death count for nothing.
DOCTOR: No. No, I must get to the bridge.
79) The Hexachromite proves to be faster acting than the Doctor expected,
meaning the reptiles will start dying before he gets a chance to
negotiate. We then see Bulic for the last time as he sets up another
canister - but it's unclear as to whether or not he's doing this with
the Doctor's knowledge (as he believed it would take lots of gas quite a
while to take effect). The book, however, pulls no punches: "Bulic
checked the gauge on the gas cylinder. It was almost empty. Swiftly he
uncoupled the cylinder, rolled it away, heaved a full one into place and
connected it up. Bulic had little faith in the Doctor’s peacemaking
efforts, and little interest in their success. As far as he was
concerned the Hexachromite gas would deal with the Silurians very
80) I suppose its a deep and moving moment that Vorshak, who has been itching to set off the missiles since the very start (only held back by the computer constantly crying wolf), is left begging pathetically to the Silurians that he doesn't want to be the guy who pulls the trigger and starts the war. Except, he just yodels "I will not be responsible for the destruction of my own kind!" which is very clunky dialogue at the best of times, and is very self-pitying. Does he really think Icthar will say "Oh, jeez, man, sorry, I guess I crossed some boundaries there, hope you still respect me dude!" You know what, the stupid gimp probably does!
81) One last brilliant comedy moment is Icthar, losing all connection with reality and decides to martyr himself and everyone else. Unfortunately, everyone else is too busy dying in this noble gesture to do anything, and we end up with Icthar squawking "KILL THEM! KILL THEM!" at the Sea Devils who promptly drop dead at his feet. It's like Life of Brian where Michael Palin, finding nothing amusing in the situation, announces "I have a friend in Rome called Biggus Dickus" and all the centurians collapse in helpless laughter one by one, until Brian can just stroll out.
82) Linked to the above, Scibus death scene rivals Solow's earlier on as he starts to spin an invisible hula hoop around his waist as he sits at a table. And his "OooooooOOOoooooOhhhhhh" noises, clearly some Silurian baby talk for "Um, Ichtar, I don't feel so good..." Seriously, as he slumps face first onto the console, you could add cartoon birds circling his head and not detract from the drama at all.
83) The Doctor's desire to rescue the Silurians, in my not-at-all-humble opinion, makes perfect sense. For a start, his initial plan was to scare them into running away, not gassing them like badgers. Also, given that there will be plenty of Sea Devils still alive at that moment in the base (assuming Bulic did stop the gas), it would probably help control them with a living Silurian's authority. Also, the Doctor doesn't actually know Icthar is a total bloody psycho; just that he was so desperate to save the reptiles he chose nuclear war instead. Besides, after saving the most important Silurian on the planet, the human race will have huge kudos with homo reptillia, if not Icthar himself. At the very least seeing their beloved Triad member in a straightjacket screaming that they must wipe out Earth to save it from the apes will make them realize that he is not the political horse to back at the moment, won't they? As long as Ichtar isn't a deranged, gun-weilding nutter, there is nothing that can go wrong with this plan...
84) Upon finding out that the missile countdown has been started and WW3 is inevitable, the Doctor immediately volunteers to wire himself into the insane computer and risk his own brain trying to defuse them. Now, here's a suggestion I heard and worth repeating: imagine, if you will, that Caves of Androzani and Warriors of the Deep swapped places. Would we really hold up the Spectrox War as the height of awesome drama if it was filmed under the conditions of this story? If the titular caves were overlit and we saw more of the panto-horse Magma Beast, not to mention bits where the cast thought it were a rehearsal and not properly recorded? Hey, both stories involve a pointless grubby conflict in the future that leaves barely any survivors, poison, gas weapons and an unconvincing rubber monster eating brightly-coloured extras with guns. And this way we have the Fifth Doctor's finale as a fanwank epic of Pertwee monsters, and nobly sacrificing his life to prevent thermonuclear conflict of the permanent cold war. Is that better or worse than dying from playing with bat poop and then dropping the antitode at the last second?
85) Either way, the Doctor's selfless willingness to fry his frontal lobes to save the world (and by extension all innocent humans and Silurians contained therein) is clearly the poster of the "never cruel or cowardly, never give up, never give in" creed. It sure as hell does not come across as a "twisted allegiance to murderous genocidal reptilian thugs" which "ruins 20 years
of laudable characterisation of the Doctor". Otherwise he would just have let them fire, which is what Ichtar wanted, right? Instead he's overpowered the entire invasion force with weapons he'd personally rather not have used and is now risking his life to make sure the Silurians' plan cannot be achieved. Is this he "a suckhole quisling being malevolent in his apologist sycophancy to the Silurians and refusing to stop them killing the humans out of spite"? Is attempted diplomacy "sucking up to a bunch of genocidal fanatics"? Is a story about the Doctor being the only one trying to save lives in a story full of killers "a mean-spirited, misanthropic hateful story of such contempt for
the show's hero and the life-force he usually champions rather than
betrays, that it gleefully trashes 20 years of past good work to build
him up as an admirable, intelligent hero worth rooting for"? If it is, you probably consider yourself "a very benevolent democratic, peace-making and 'for the people' leader" who likes burning all media that contradicts your worldview. Hello! I loved you Scibus-esque logic that "For God's sake whether it's a Silurian law or not, if they're on British soil the British rule applies to them still!"
86) Another gem from the novelization about the synch-op throne: "Somehow people avoided mentioning, or even looking at it." The thing is, it's a bloody electric chair. It looks like one and the story turns on the Doctor being electrocuted in it! I dunno if this is some commentary on capital punishment, or that the man who theoretically would launch the missiles deserves to die while the man who wants to stop them being fired has to sacrifice himself. The Doctor's stolen coveralls even suggest prison fatigues. Spooky coincidence, huh?
87) In the novelization, Icthar grabs the gun and tries to shoot the Doctor to stop him aborting the missiles, but Vorshak acts as a human shield. In the TV version, Tegan and Turlough try and disarm an unnamed Silurian and the shot goes wild, and it's not confirmed that Vorshak was shot till he drops dead. Certainly it seems odd that the deadly Sea Devil weapon isn't instantly lethal for the first time ever if it was, as some claim, a cowardly shot to the back.
88) It might just be a squib in a polystyrene vest, but there's something very gross when Turlough uses a Sea Devil blaster on Ichtar at point blank range and his exo-shell bursts apart with a gunshot instead of the pretty red flash that everyone else gets. This is also the first and only time Turlough kills anyone in the program, which I feel never gets addressed enough.
89) "So many dead, thought the Doctor sadly: the traitors Nilson and Solow; Maddox, their helpless pawn, and his victim, Karina; Lieutenant Preston; all the crew members killed in the attack; and now Commander Vorshak himself. Then there were those other deaths that would always be on the Doctor’s conscience: the Sea Devil guards, and Sauvix, their leader; the Silurians Tarpok and Scibus; Icthar, their leader, last of the great Silurian Triad. Still, at least the missiles had not been launched. Mankind had not destroyed itself – not this time."
90) Vorshak's dying act is to snuggle up to Scibus' corpse. Aww. It's like all the racial tensions fade away and everyone's best friends as they die for their respective causes.
91) A visual clue that the humans were all brainwashed - after nearly
having his brain burnt out by mind-altering computers, the Doctor comes
out with the same eye makeup as all the human characters. Clearly
guyliner disguises the labotomy scars in 2084, and Marilyn Manson may
possess dark secrets.
92) "So, there should have been another way," sobs Peter Davison in a
moment of acting so blisteringly intense critiquing the previous four
episodes seems almost beside the point. But this proves to be Davo's own
Waters of Mars-esque slippery slope. The next story has the
Doctor casually tell Will Chandler that killing the villain in cold
blood will save the day, "if we can't find another way". That's a huge
change of policy right there, is there not? The Doctor's gone from
seeing mass slaughter as the worst possible scenario to one that's a
valid approach. The next time he discovers a canister of gas that will
kill monsters but not human beings, he uses it without hesitation - and
also throws grenades at them and watches their death throes on the
scanner. His attempts to save Icthar just let the lizard try to kill
him, so he shows no mercy on Sir George, or Davros or the Master. By
Androzani, he will have dismissed the entire Spectrox War as nothing to
do with him. At the end of the season, the Sixth Doctor will be
considering letting thugs like Preston and Bulic die, and negotiating
with monsters by throwing acid at their faces when they turn his offer
down. This story is effectively like Journey's End, a tale that finally breaks a Doctor's spirit and changes him forever.
93) Byrne was given the guideline of remaking Earthshock but
different. No one can't say he doesn't deliver, swapping the shadowy
freighter for the bright SB4, the Silurians and Sea Devils for the
Cybermen, the Myrka for the androids, and killing everyone except the
main characters. Interestingly, both end with Jurassic-era natives being
wiped out by future technology and the TARDIS crew left unable to
prevent the catastrophe, triggered by escalating political tensions with
faults on all sides. It's a wonder they didn't do silent credits again
94) Interestingly the "everyone's dead" ending was not the work of Johnny Byrne,
nor Eric Saward - who both intended the story would conclude with
Preston and Bulic alive, amongst other survivors, to show that mankind
had won the day. Pennant Roberts, however, thought this glamorized the
concept of warfare and - with Threads and The Day After being so horrifically fashionable at the time - wanted the ending to emphasize the futility of it all with both sides dead.
Significantly, Saward didn't show Bulic's death because in his mind,
even a single human survivor meant that the apes won over the filthy
lizards. Um, thanks Saward.
95) Is Bulic alive anyway? The novelization confirms he and other humans
survived the conflict, but both "in-universe" reference books (The Monsters and His Lives And Times) depict SB4's entire crew being wiped out, so presumably Bulic was killed during the gassing - and maybe his refusal to turn off the gas earlier might have been because he was dead. And that's a good excuse, all told. Either way, the rescue teams find one of their seabases has been slaughtered and this adds more sparks to the international powderkeg. Especially as the Eastern Bloc know exactly where SB4 is and have a gunship in the area ready to nuke it at a moment's notice. So, not only is the ending a downer, it also finally sparks of WW3. With darkness like that, do we really need mood lighting in this story?
96) Seriously, though, why has no one written a sequel to this? I mean, a direct sequel! At the end of part four, the Doctor and friends are still marooned on the SeaBase with the non-functional TARDIS with the potential of both human and reptile survivors ready to continue the conflict. You think Bulic isn't going to want to use the Manipulator to ensure the Western Bloc doesn't need sync-ops any more, thus giving total superiority over the East? Or all the other goodies in the Silurian battle cruiser just waiting to be reverse-engineered outside the base? Oh, and the fact there's an East Bloc ship nearby patiently waiting to blow up the base? How long before jihads from both sides are carried out, with bands of hexachromite-weilding killers searching the caverns and chasms looking for sleeping homo reptillia to wipe out to ensure mankind's dominance? Let's be honest people, Warriors of the Deep is many things, but it aint a narrative dead end.
97) The DWM preview cannily pointed out the best thing about the story was that it had lots of monsters. It never mentioned anything about writing, directing, acting... just summarized the plot and that it would be the first proper monster story to start a season since, um... Terror of the Zygons. Fancy that. The critical reaction from fans was quite positive; it was universally-decided the plot had everything but production couldn't cash the checques the script was writing. Infamously, Gary Russell declared it "a flawless story" in DWM, and a glance at the layout shows he's not lying that the words "There's absolutely no way you could call this a" were recklessly deleted; even if you were unaware of this, you would wonder at such praise in a review full of sarcastic and bitchy commentary on the plot and acting. Sticks out like dog balls on a gnat.
98) What did the public make of Warriors of the Deep? Well, all the reaction I can find is a cartoon drawn in the Radio Times showing an adult cowering in fear on the sofa while on his knee, his daughter bravely watches the television. The daughter happily yells, "It's all right, Dad, you can look now - the Doctor's overcome his moral dilemma and zapped the monster!" Presumably viewers were craving more black-and-white kill-the-monsters-like-we-did-in-the-Fawklands entertainment after the cerebral stories of the last couple of years, and bizarrely suggests that the final line was more unwelcome to the public than the 90 minutes preceeding it.
99) Interestingly, while the ratings dipped across the story (as ratings often do), they remained pretty consistent around the seven million viewers. That's seven million people who just kept watching, even after the Myrka showed up. In fact, the ratings for Season 21 went up and up until The Twin Dilemma started and even they were acceptable till part four...
100) There's no doubting 80% of the problems with this story were forced upon it by being produced two weeks before that same 80% of the production was halfway ready. And this is because of Margaret Thatcher calling a snap election to ride out the wave of good publicity winning back the Fawklands, nuking the General Belgrano and floating atop a tide of Argy-Bargy hatred. Unsurprisingly, the Tenth Doctor grimaces in disgust at the thought of Thatcher, and never quite forgives Harriet Jones from homaging her - and why? Because Tennant is a fan, and he knows she caused this story!
101) While the story may not be brilliant - or even sub-par - it inspired countless fans to create such brilliance as Blood Heat, Bloodtide, Cold Blood, other stories with blood in the title, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, The Scales of Injustice, two types of Dapol Silurian actioin figure, the Paternoster Gang, Rob Shearman's acting career and much more. Out of its inedaquacies, countless good did come and not only is Warriors a living embodiment of "what NOT to do" it makes damn fucking sure you remember it - and more of an effort than the next two stories of the season, or several from the last.
Warriors of the Deep, I salute theee!!!