Me: This is the only Patrick Troughton story that doesn’t begin with a ‘The’.
Sue: (Rolling her eyes) Remind me why I married you, again, Neil.
The TARDIS dematerialises in mid-air before landing gently on the North Sea.
Sue: I’ve seen this before. I definitely remember seeing this when I was a kid. 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 probably turned over to ITV. We were a very working class family.
The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria use a small dingy to reach the shoreline.
Sue: They must really want to get to that beach. Instead of, oh I don’t know, taking off again and finding some dry land instead. I like the Doctor’s bobble hat, though. It actually suits him.
The beach is covered in foam, and it isn’t long before our heroes are rolling around in it like idiots.
Sue: Have they landed in Ibiza?
Our heroes notice a pipeline running into the sea.
Sue: 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.
Sue: Really? I thought they’d got rid of him ages ago.
The Doctor pulls out his trusty sonic screwdriver.
Sue: The sonic! At last! Where has he been hiding it all this time?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe he invented it between stories. There could be loads of adventures between this one and the last one.
Sue: If it wasn’t on the telly, it doesn’t count.
The sonic screwdriver loosens some, er, screws.
Sue: Is that really 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 18 billion settings yet.
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 bulletproof vest or something.
Our heroes are captured and taken to the Base of the Week.
Sue: Harris is very polite. If I’m ever arrested on suspicion of terrorism, I want Harris to be in charge of my interrogation.
Acting as a counterpoint to the exceedingly reasonable Harris is Chief Robson, a man who’s managed to turn irritability into performance art.
Sue: Robson is a bit of a git, isn’t he? I certainly wouldn’t want an annual appraisal with him.
Our heroes are locked up on suspicion of being suspicious, but Jamie escapes through a ventilator shaft.
Sue: The Doctor is getting a bit of an eyeful here.
Once free, Victoria suggests they split up.
Sue: That’s a good idea, Vic. You never know when one of you might feel like going on holiday in the middle of the story.
It also means Victoria can end the episode locked in a room that’s about to be engulfed in foam.
Sue: Her moaning can still be heard over the credits. That’s unsettling.
This episode begins the same way the previous one ended – with Victoria screaming her lungs out.
Sue: Turn the hysterics down a notch, Vic. You’ll shatter someone’s eardrums.
An echoing heartbeat reverberates through the gas pipes.
Sue: That thumping sound they can hear is the nightclub next door. It’s Balearic Beats Night, by the sound of it.
Sue assumes that Robson is in cahoots with the monsters.
Sue: Nobody could be that much of a dick. He must be the bad guy.
Sue believes that Mr Oak and Mr Quill are a teensy-weensy bit camp.
Sue: Oooh, suits you, sir!
Although this doesn’t last very long.
Sue: Death by dog breath! Eww, that was horrible! No wonder the Australians cut that. I feel a bit sick.
Pressure in the gas pipes is now fluctuating wildly.
Sue: If you happen to be an expert on gas drilling and impellers, this is probably gripping stuff, but I’m struggling with it. The only reason I’m still interested is because my dad used to make the 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”), and the episode ends with him insisting that something terrible is waiting in the dark.
Sue: That was a low-key cliffhanger. More menacing than monstrous. But I liked it.
The episode begins with everyone staring at a large lump of weed on a carpet.
Sue: Don’t just stand there! Smoke it!
Robson goes mental when he’s told that the Doctor has escaped.
Sue: Robson is a vicious ****ker, 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.
When Robson, Van Luytens and Harris have another blazing row (their third in five minutes), Sue comments on the clarity of their argument.
Sue: The soundtrack is very good. This may be hard to watch, but at least it’s 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: Maybe he should try smoking some of that weed. He’s seconds away from a fatal heart attack.
Victoria is sick of being in mortal danger every single week.
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 the Australians left that in. I bet there aren’t many episodes of Doctor Who that end with somebody committing suicide.
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 much too busy moaning.
Sue: I can almost see her point – being molested by monsters every day of the week would get on your nerves after a while. But I don’t think I can be arsed with someone complaining about having all of time and space to explore. It also suggests the Doctor never really gets a day off, which proves he didn’t have any free time in which 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 one of them decides to leave. I like it.
Sue: Banging on about it is almost as bad as not mentioning it at all.
Thanks to the Australian censors, we are treated to a scene, which features the weed creature in all its moving glory.
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.
John 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 to die. (You didn’t know Ricky Gervais was in charge of one of the gas rigs? Well think again!) 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.
Sue: I like Mrs Jones. She doesn’t take any shit from anyone. She’d be an interesting companion, assuming she replaces Victoria. She’d give the Doctor a really hard time. Actually, on second 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. The TARDIS should be like Big Brother. If you say you want to leave – even the once – they should kick you out. Bang, you’re gone. Give her place to someone who might appreciate it. Oh look, that guard is played by the lead singer of Showaddywaddy.
Someone in the refinery is in cahoots with the weed.
Sue: Maybe it’s Bill and Ben?
Me: Or Cheech and Chong?
Mr Oak and Mr Quill attack Jamie with their Halitosis of Death.
Sue: I knew a girl at school like that, her name was ****** and she had green teeth. Christ, she stank…
Robson, now under the influence of the weed, kidnaps Victoria and steals a helicopter.
Sue: Why would the Australian censors cut a scene of Robson staring 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 always seems to be 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 now, 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 in series five? Has the Eleventh Doctor worked that one out yet, in the middle of series six?
Me: Exactly. Troughton would have figured that out ages ago.
The Doctor and Jamie take a 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?
The Doctor and Jamie find Robson, who’s 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.
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 escape in a stolen helicopter.
Sue: The Doctor’s flying this helicopter the same way he flies the TARDIS. They’ll crash into the sea any second now.
Flying a helicopter isn’t as easy as it looks.
Sue: This probably looked really exciting, but they’re just padding it out now.
The Doctor radios for assistance.
Sue: And now it’s turned into Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em.
And then the Doctor puts two and two together and comes up with the answer: 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?
The Doctor rigs up a device to record Victoria’s screams, but when she has to deliver the goods, she suffers from performance anxiety.
Sue: Just slap her! Or show her a photo of a Yeti! Jamie – quick, flash her!
Victoria eventually screams her lungs out.
Sue: Why isn’t the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver? All this talk of sonic waves and he doesn’t even mention it!
Thanks to some Super 8 cine footage, short extracts from the final battle actually exist. And it looks amazing.
Sue: The weed looks pretty good, thrashing around like that. I’m impressed.
And then it’s all over. Victoria’s screams kill the weed creature and everybody lives (even John Abineri, although he doesn’t get to say hello, which annoys Sue). Even Maggie seems fine.
Sue: Why did Maggie walk into the sea again?
Me: I haven’t 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 unusual for the Doctor to stay for a round of celebratory drinks after he’s defeated a monster. This can’t be 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 Jamie and the Doctor farewell.
Sue: It’s just like Bad Wolf Bay. Poor Jamie. Don’t be upset, love, there are still plenty of fish left in the sea. Although he’ll probably want to avoid the sea after this.
Sue: Good script, good performances, scary monsters. You can’t really argue with that. Yes, I enjoyed it.