Take a pipe, add some weed, breathe in deeply and let the raging paranoia begin.
Me: This is the only Patrick Troughton story that doesn’t begin with a ‘The’.
Sue: (rolling her eyes) Is that so? Remind me why I married you?
The TARDIS dematerialises in mid-air before gently landing on the North Sea.
Sue: I’ve seen this before. I definitely remember seeing that as a child. It’s very memorable. I was going to ask you if the TARDIS ever landed on the sea. I wish I had now. It would have freaked you out.
Me: Is this story any good, then?
Sue: I have no idea. I’m sorry, I probably switched over to ITV. We were a very working class family.
The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria take a trip in a small dingy to the shoreline.
Sue: They must really want to get to that beach. Instead of, oh I don’t know, taking off again and waiting until they land on some dry land? I like the Doctor’s hat, though. That one actually suits him.
They notice some foam on the beach and it doesn’t take them very long before they’re rolling around in it like idiots.
Sue: It’s a foam party! Have they landed on Ibiza?
Our heroes notice a pipeline running into the sea.
Sue: Ah, it’s Seaton Carew’s sewage works. I think I can hear Seaton Carew’s fun fair in the background as well.
Me: That’s Dudley Simpson’s music.
Sue: Really? I thought they’d got rid of him ages ago.
The Doctor decides to get a better look at the pipe and he pulls out his trusty sonic screwdriver.
Sue: The sonic! At last! So where has he been hiding it all this time?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe he invented it between stories? They could have had loads of adventures before this one and the last one.
Sue: If it wasn’t on the telly then it doesn’t count.
The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to loosen some, er, screws.
Sue: Is that the best it can do? It’s not that impressive when you compare it to the sonic in the new series.
Me: No, it doesn’t have 8 billion settings yet. This is 1960s Doctor Who; you only get the one.
Sue: This Doctor doesn’t have much luck when it comes to beaches, does he? He’s being shot at again! This only happened a couple of weeks ago. He should start wearing a bullet-proof vest or something.
Our heroes are swiftly captured and taken to the Base of the Week.
Sue: Harris is very polite. If I am ever arrested for suspected terrorism, I’d like Harris to be the one in charge of my interrogation.
Acting as a counterpoint to the exceedingly reasonable Harris is Chief Robson, a man who has turned irritability into performance art.
Sue: Robson is a bit of a git, isn’t he? I certainly wouldn’t like to get an annual appraisal from him.
Our heroes are locked up on suspicion of being suspicious and Jamie tries to escape through a ventilator shaft.
Sue: The Doctor is getting a bit of an eyeful here.
Once free, Victoria suggests that they all split up.
Sue: Yes, that’s a good idea. You never know when one of you might want to go on holiday in the middle of the story. Good thinking, Vic.
It also means that Victoria can end the episode locked up alone in a room as weed and foam threatens to engulf her.
Sue: Her moaning can still be heard over the end credits. That’s unsettling.top
This episode begins the same way the last one ended: with Victoria screaming her lungs out.
Sue: Turn the hysterics down a notch, Vic. You’ll shatter someone’s eardrums.
Robson refuses to turn off the gas flow, even when the pipes carry the sound of an echoing heartbeat.
Sue: That thumping sound they can hear is the night club next door. It’s Balearic Beat Night.
Sue assumes that Robson is in cahoots with the monsters already.
Sue: No one could be that much of a dick. He must be the bad guy.
When Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill make an appearance, Sue’s first impression is that they are just a tinsy-winsy bit camp.
Sue: Oooh, suits you, sir.
This doesn’t last very long.
Sue: Death by dog breath! Ewww, that was horrible. No wonder the Australians cut that out. I feel a bit sick.
Tensions mount in the refinery as the pressure in the pipes begins to fluctuate wildly.
Sue: If you happen to be an expert on gas drilling, or impellers, this is probably gripping stuff, but I’m struggling with it a bit. The only reason I’m still interested is because my dad used to make parts for the rigs that went out to sea. He never mentioned any foam, though.
Sue loves John Abineri (“He’s got a face you can trust”), which should please Toby Hadoke no end, and the episode ends with Van Luytens insistence that something terrible is waiting for them in the dark.
Sue: That was a very low-key cliffhanger. More menacing than monstrous. But I liked it.top
The episode begins with everyone staring a lump of weed on the carpet.
Sue: Don’t just stand there! Smoke it!
Robson blows up at Harris when he’s told that the Doctor has gone free.
Sue: Robson is a vicious ****, isn’t he? I bet he’s up in front of harassment boards every day of the week. They need to send him on a management course or something. All these Base Under Siege managers need some sort of counselling, if you ask me.
As Robson, Van Luytens and Harris engage in yet another blazing row (I think it’s their third in five minutes), Sue comments on the clarity of their arguments.
Sue: The soundtrack is very good. This may be hard to watch but it’s very easy to listen to. We should have put this on in the car.
Victoria finds a picture of the weed creature in a book about legends and superstitions.
Sue: It’s turned into Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
And then Robson goes completely mental. Well, even more mental than he was before.
Sue: If Robson can’t relax then maybe he should try smoking some of that weed. He’s seconds away from a heart attack.
In the midst of this, Victoria suddenly starts complaining about how they always seem to end up in mortal danger every week. She’s not happy.
Sue: Does Victoria want to go home? Good. She’s beginning to get on my nerves. Pull yourself together, woman.
The episode concludes with Harris’ wife, Maggie, doing a Reginald Perrin.
Sue: Bloody hell, how grim was that? I’m surprised that the Australians left that in. I bet there aren’t that many episodes of Doctor Who that end with someone committing suicide.top
Sue is fascinated to learn that Jamie and Victoria are sharing a room with a bunk bed.
Sue: Do you think Victoria or Jamie prefers to be the one on top?
But Victoria can’t sleep. She’s far too busy moaning.
Sue: I can almost see her point – being molested by monsters every single day would get on your nerves after a while. But at the same time, I don’t think I can be arsed with someone complaining about having all of time and space to explore. It also suggests that the Doctor never really gets a day off, which just go to prove that he didn’t have enough free time to make his sonic screwdriver. So there!
Me: At least this story is making an effort to signal Victoria’s departure in advance. We usually only get a few seconds notice when someone decides to leave. I like it.
Sue: You have to find the middle-ground. Banging on and on about it is almost as bad as never mentioning it at all.
Thanks to the Australian censors, we are suddenly treated to a scene that features the weed creature in all its moving glory, as John Abineri meets a very nasty fate.
Sue: That looked pretty good. I think. It’s still just foam, though. It’s hard to be frightened by foam, no matter how hard you try.
Abineri’s screams are horrific. They seem to go on for ages. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Ricky Gervais is the next in line to die. What, you didn’t know that Ricky Gervais was in charge of one of the gas rigs? Well, think again!
The Doctor ends the episode by putting the willies up everyone. He declares that the entire planet is under threat from the seaweed and humanity has one hell of a fight on its hands.
Sue: Battle of the Giants? I think the Doctor is overselling this a bit.
As the weed creature fills the inspection pipe, Sue appreciates the gravity of the situation.
Sue: They’ll need some Mr. Muscle to shift that.top
Sue: I do like Mrs. Jones. She doesn’t take any shit from anyone. She’d be an interesting companion, assuming that she replaces Victoria. She’d give the Doctor a really hard time. Actually, on seconds thoughts, that would be a terrible idea.
As if to underline this point, Victoria is still complaining.
Sue: Here she goes again! Moan, moan, moan. It should be like Big Brother: if you say you want to leave – even once – they should kick you out. Bang. You’re gone. Give her place to someone who might actually appreciate it. Oh look, that guard is played by the lead singer of Showaddywaddy!
Me: Roger Waters, surely.
The Doctor comes to the conclusion that someone in the refinery is working with the weed.
Sue: Maybe it’s Bill and Ben?
Me: Or Cheech and Chong?
When they are rumbled, Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill attack Jamie with their Halitosis of Death.
Sue: I knew a girl at school a bit like that, her name was *** **** and she had green teeth. Christ, she stank.
Robson, acting under the influence of the weed, steals a company helicopter with a kidnapped Victoria in tow.
Sue: Why would the Australian censors cut a scene of Robson starting up at a helicopter? That makes no sense at all. Why were we allowed to see that?
You know, sometimes it’s better if we don’t see any surviving footage in the middle of a recon. Sue is fine until they suddenly burst into life for a few seconds – and then I have to endure the sound of her tutting, sighing, or sometimes even wailing, “Why doesn’t this exist?” for several minutes. It’s depressing.
Sue: It’s been five episodes and the Doctor still hasn’t come up with a solution to this mess. Matt Smith would have sorted this out in 30 minutes, tops.
Me: Oh really? Do you remember how the TARDIS blew up series five? Has the 11th Doctor figured that one out yet? In the middle of series six?
Me: Exactly. Troughton would have figured that out ages ago.
The Doctor and Jamie are flown by helicopter to the control rig where Robson is holding Victoria hostage.
Sue: This story must have had a massive budget. It’s turning into Apocalypse Now. How many helicopters?
Jamie and the Doctor enter the rig only to find Robson surrounded by foam and weed.
Sue: That was a pretty good cliffhanger. I think that’s the first time Robson hasn’t shouted his lines. I was beginning to think the actor was deaf.top
Sue: Ah, there’s a reassuring sight.
Me: What is?
Sue: Episode 6. I love seeing those two words together when I’m watching Doctor Who. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this, but I enjoy the first and last episodes the most. I can’t help it.
The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria manage to escape from Robson in a stolen helicopter.
Sue: The Doctor flies a helicopter exactly the same way he flies his TARDIS. They’ll crash into the sea any second now.
The Doctor fights with the controls – flying a helicopter isn’t as easy as it looks.
Sue: This probably looked very exciting but they are really padding this out now.
Luckily, the Doctor is given instructions on how to fly the machine by a pilot on the radio.
Sue: It’s turned into Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em.
And then the Doctor finally puts two and two together and comes up with the answer: Yes, Victoria has a very big mouth.
Sue: Does Victoria stay behind so they can employ her to scream down a gas pipe every few hours to keep the weed at bay? Actually, that would probably piss her off. Yeah, let’s do that.
The Doctor rigs up a device to record Victoria’s scream, but when they ask her to deliver the goods, she gets a sudden attack of performance anxiety.
Sue: Just slap her! Or show a photo of a Yeti! Jamie – flash her!
Finally, she screams her lungs out again.
Sue: Why isn’t the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver? All this talk of sonic waves and he doesn’t even mention it! That’s a bit disappointing.
Large chunks of the final battle exist as moving images and Super-8 cine footage. It looks amazing.
Sue: The weed looks really good thrashing around like that. I’m impressed.
And then it’s all over. Victoria’s screams kill the weed creature and everyone lives (even John Abineri, although he doesn’t get to say hello which annoys Sue a bit). Even Maggie seems fine.
Sue: Why did Maggie walk into the sea again?
Me: I haven’t got the faintest idea.
Sue: So is that it, then? That was a bit quick.
Me: That can’t be right, there’s still eight minutes left.
Sue: It’s very unusual for the Doctor to hang around for a round of celebratory drinks after he’s defeated the monster. Maybe this isn’t over yet.
Robson walks into the refinery’s control room.
Sue: Robson is still under the influence of the weed. He’s going to blow up the gas pipes or something. I knew this wasn’t over yet.
But no, he’s just popped in for a chat with the engineer. He’s still a complete git but at least he’s toned it down a bit.
And then Victoria bids farewell to Jamie and the Doctor on the beach.
Sue: It’s like Bad Wolf Bay. Poor Jamie. Don’t get upset, love, there’s plenty of fish left in the sea. Although he may want to keep away from the sea for a bit after this.top
The Final Score
Sue: Good script, good performances, scary monsters. You can’t really argue with that. Yes, I enjoyed that.
The experiment continues…