A new year, a new story, and some new sounds never heard by Sue before…
It only takes a few seconds for Sue to pass judgement on Malcolm Clarke’s avant-garde soundtrack.
Sue: I really like the music.
Well, I certainly didn’t expect that.
Sue: It’s nice and bassy. This isn’t Dudley, is it?
The next thing to elicit a response from Sue is the mode of transportation that picks the Doctor and Jo up from the dock.
Sue: What the hell is that supposed to be?
Me: They did that on purpose, to make the cars seem more futuristic.
Sue: Futuristic!? It looks like it’s had all its doors nicked! The security at this place must be atrocious.
When Sue discovers that the Doctor and Jo are visiting the Master in prison, she isn’t all that interested to be honest. No, she’s far more interested in Katy Manning’s state of mind.
Sue: Jo looks knackered. Did she have a late night? Or was she sick on that boat?
The Doctor and Jo are taken to the Master’s cell.
Sue: The Master has his own gym! I have to pay a small fortune to visit a gym. That doesn’t seem fair. He’s killed loads of people, hasn’t he? Shouldn’t he be strapped to a table or something?
The Doctor starts treating the Master like an old friend, instead of a mass murdering fiend.
Sue: This is all very pleasant but it’s blatantly obvious that the Master hasn’t changed one bit. I bet the governor has been hypnotised by him. The Doctor can be such an idiot, sometimes.
Meanwhile, at a nearby naval base…
Sue: Ooh, sexy secretary alert. Is that shot supposed to be an homage to The Graduate?
While Captain Hart concerns himself with missing boats, the Master is watching television in his cell.
Me: I told you The Clangers would appear in Doctor Who eventually.
When the Master tells Trenchard that he believes the knitted creatures are genuine alien lifeforms, Sue knows precisely what he’s doing.
Sue: He’s taking the piss.
When I tell her that some fans take umbrage at that scene because they believe the Master is undermined when he suggests that the Clangers are real, she doesn’t take any prisoners.
Sue: He rolled his eyes after he said it! What more do they want? A diagram? It’s a very funny scene. Jesus.
Our attention then moves to an old sea fort (“It’s Fort Boyard!”) that is staffed by a skeleton crew. One of them has a face that only a mother could love.
Sue: This bloke has been smashed in the face by the ugly stick. Everyone has the right to be ugly but this bloke is abusing it.
She is, however, very complementary when it comes to Michael Briant’s direction.
Sue: It’s very good. There are some nice angles and the lighting is very atmospheric. They are just showing enough of the monster to get away with it. I’m sure this would have scared the kids.
When Jo climbs the ladder to the fort, “her” bum wiggle instantly gives the game away.
Sue: That’s not Jo, is it? She’s moving up that ladder like a constipated Donkey Kong.
And then, looming out of the shadows, we get our first good look at a Sea Devil.
Sue: Is that a giant pig? What is it with this show and giant pigs all of a sudden?
The episode concludes with a figure in the darkness advancing menacingly towards the Doctor and Jo.
Sue: That was a very odd cliffhanger. Why bother hiding the monster at the end like that? They already revealed it a few minutes ago. That was very strange. Still, that episode wasn’t a bad start. Let’s crack on.top
It turns out that the shambling monster in the corridor was actually the ugly chap in the Aran sweater.
Sue: On second thoughts, that’s probably just as scary.
But it’s the Sea Devil’s attire that causes the most concern for Sue.
Sue: Is it really wearing a string vest? Seriously? A string vest?
Me: It’s a net. Like a fishing net, I suppose. They looked a bit rude without any clothes on. Allegedly.
Sue: I’m surprised they didn’t just wheel out some shower curtains. Was the person who designed the monsters for Doctor Who in the 1970s a sex maniac?
Me: Don’t the Sea Devils ring any bells?
Me: There’s a six-inch Sea Devil action figure sitting on the bookshelf behind you. It’s been there for about three years, I think.
Sue: Really? That’s a bit sad.
Me: I have very vivid memories of watching The Sea Devils. I distinctly remember pretending to be one in a playground at nursery school.
Sue: How did you pretend to be a Sea Devil? Did you just walk around in your vest?
Me: No, they hold their weapons in a very specific manner and it’s easy to mimic them. I would demonstrate it with my action figure, but one of our cats ate his gun.
Sue: Hang on, when did this story go out?
Me: Early 1972.
Sue: You would have been far too young to remember this, and you wouldn’t have been at nursery either.
Me: There was an omnibus repeat in May 1974. It replaced a cancelled cricket match, I think. I must have seen it then.
Me: They edited the story down into a 90 minute movie.
Sue: What? So why aren’t we watching that version? We’d be halfway through it by now!
Me: The episode counter on the website is confusing enough as it is. Anyway, we haven’t got a copy. Believe me, I’d have been sorely tempted if we did. There will be another opportunity to watch an omnibus that has been released on DVD a little later, but we might get lynched if we do. Just forget I even mentioned it.
The Doctor explains to Jo that the Sea Devils are related to the Silurians.
Sue: That’s a bit of a leap – they don’t look anything like them.
The Doctor explains that the term Silurian is really a misnomer; they should have been called Eocenes.
Sue: Eh? So what do we call the Silurians now? This is becoming very confusing. I’m pretty sure they’re still called Silurians in the new series. And why didn’t anyone check the name out before they made the first one? This never would have happened if Wikipedia had been around in 1972.
The Doctor decides to radio for help.
Sue: The Doctor puts on a posh voice whenever he’s on the phone. That’s quite funny.
Incredibly, the person who answers the Doctor’s distress call sounds even posher.
Sue: Was it a rule that only the landed gentry could use a CB radio in 1972?
Sue still can’t take her eyes off 3rd Officer Jane Blythe.
Sue: She’s definitely in on it. She is acting suspiciously. She’s slutting it up as well. She was checking her make-up in the background a minute ago. I don’t trust her.
The Doctor returns to the prison to check on the Master, who has been spotted waltzing around the naval base. Their meeting results in an epic sword fight.
Sue: What are swords doing in a ****ing prison? That’s ridiculous!
It doesn’t matter how effectively the resultant fight is choreographed, Sue can’t forgive this contrivance. Even worse, when the Doctor clearly has the upper hand in this duel (he even finds the time to stuff his face with a sandwich) he chooses to give the Master back his sword so the fight can continue.
Sue: What the hell is he doing!?
The episode concludes with the Master throwing a knife at the Doctor’s back.
Sue: That was a pretty good cliffhanger but the set-up was unforgivable. Swords? In a prison? Eh?top
Sue: Do we really have to watch this sword fight again?
Me: Yes. I’m sorry.
Sue: Well in that case, I’m going to make a cup of tea.
And she did. And she still made it back in time to see the Master throw a knife at the Doctor’s back at point-blank range again. He misses, of course.
Sue: You know, there are a lot of really ugly people in this story. The governor looks like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Ugly people and moustaches. That sums up The Sea Devils so far.
The Doctor grows increasingly angry about the Master’s ability to treat the prison like a hotel.
Sue: You shouldn’t have given him his ****ing sword back then, should you? You ****ing idiot.
As Jo tiptoes around the prison’s grounds, Malcolm Clarke really decides to let rip.
Sue: OK, the music is just ****ing weird now. Please get Dudley on the phone.
With the Doctor in chains, the Master unveils his nefarious plan.
Sue: Don’t tell me – the Sea Devils will betray him five minutes before the end of Episode Six? He never learns, does he?
Meanwhile, Jane Blythe has deduced that something untoward is going on at the prison.
Sue: It looks like I was wrong about her. She’s not just a pretty face after all. Unless it’s a trap. Am I sexist for thinking that?
Jo sneaks back into the prison via an open window. It’s a very tight squeeze, and at one point we are treated to a close-up of Katy Manning’s derriere in all its glory.
Sue: Pippa Middleton has nothing on Jo. That shot was definitely one for the dads, wasn’t it?
As Jo prepares to free the Doctor from his bonds, Sue sighs.
Sue: Three episodes in and we aren’t exactly being overrun by Sea Devils, are we?
Me: Just think, if we were watching the omnibus repeat, we’d have finished this by now.
Sue: Nothing is happening. It’s just shameless padding. And the music is just taking the piss now. I can’t tell what is supposed to be music and what is supposed to be a sound effect anymore. It’s driving the pets crazy as well. You know I have to knock marks off whenever an episode drives the cats out of the room, don’t you?
The worst culprit in this department is the Master’s machine.
Sue: It’s a cross between a hair dryer and a Singer sewing machine. I like the Master’s little radar dish, though. It’s very cute.
Meanwhile, on a nuclear submarine…
Sue: This is the most spacious submarine I’ve ever seen. You could play table tennis in it! I thought submarines were supposed to be cramped? The model shots are great but the interior isn’t quite right.
Me: We are in the near future; submarines are very different here. A bit like the cars with no doors.
The submarine’s captain is played by Donald Sumpter and Sue can spot talent when she sees it.
Sue: I love his nervous twitch. That’s a very nice touch. Unless the actor really does suffer from a nervous twitch, in which case I’m sorry I brought it up.
The episode concludes with the Doctor and Jo escaping to the beach, just as a titular monster rises from the sea.
Sue: Finally! Some Sea Devil action! It doesn’t look that bad, actually. For a monster in a dress.top
Sue: Oh dear. Boom in shot.
Yes, Sue’s far more interested in the production errors than she is in the Doctor flinging himself over some barbed wire.
Sue: Why didn’t he just blow up the mines with his sonic screwdriver before they went into the minefield?
Me: It’s a good job he didn’t or they’d probably both be dead now.
Sue: True. Sometimes the Doctor’s stupidity can come in handy, I suppose.
Me: This is a very iconic scene. Isn’t it doing anything for you?
Sue: Not really. The Sea Devil looks ridiculous in his little blue dress. Who in their right mind goes swimming in a dress?
And when we are treated to an extreme close up of a Sea Devil’s face:
Sue: It’s Lady Ga Ga!
Meanwhile, Donald Sumpter is still twitching as the Sea Devils prepare to storm his submarine.
Sue: He’ll be giving Hitler salutes like Robert Lindsay in GBH, next.
And then, back at the naval base, the Doctor does something truly horrid. Forget blowing up Gallifrey, this is much, much worse. Yes, the Doctor steals some sandwiches from a clearly famished Jo.
Sue: What a ****! He had a sandwich in the last ****ing episode!
I’ve never seen Sue get so het up about Doctor Who before.
Sue: That’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen the Doctor do.
Me: Calm down. It’s just a bit of harmless comedy.
Sue: There’s nothing even remotely funny about it. Poor Jo. Why does she put up with it? She’s like an abused wife who keeps coming back for more. It’s sad.
As Leading Telegraphist Bowman monitors the situation, Jane Blythe brings him a nice cup of kai.
Sue: A cup of what? Are you sure she isn’t a spy? Is ‘kai’ Russian for ‘tea’? Did she just slip up and give herself away?
As the action moves out to sea, Sue is impressed by the Navy’s co-operation.
Sue: Why would the Navy help out Doctor Who like this?
Me: It’s good PR. They probably thought it would help with recruitment, especially if any impressionable teenagers happened to be watching.
Sue: Gary joined the Navy in 1972.
Me: What? You don’t think…? Nah, surely not.
Sue: He only lasted six weeks.
The Doctor decides to use to a diving bell to investigate the fate of the stricken submarine.
Sue: Nice anorak. Do Doctor Who fans pretend to be Jon Pertwee in The Sea Devils whenever they turn up at a convention wearing an anorak? Is that how it works?
As the Doctor prepares to begin his dangerous journey, Jo is beside herself with worry.
Sue: Why is she so upset? He stole her ****ing sandwich!
The Doctor reaches the sea bed and a Sea Devil leers into view. The diving bell is winched back to the surface and Jo eagerly takes a look inside. She gazes up in horror.
Sue: Is the Doctor splattered all over the ceiling or something?top
Sue: I had a polo neck just like Jos. Although mine was lime green.
As we chew over the ramifications of that, the Doctor is brought inside the Sea Devils’ secret base.
Sue: So this is basically exactly the same story as last time, yes? I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it the last time I saw it, so do I really need to see it again?
Me: Don’t the Sea Devils’ voices remind you of something else? Another children’s television character, perhaps?
Sue: The Mysterons?
Me: Not Larry the Lamb?
Sue: Never heard of him. I have heard of Larry Lamb, if that’s any help.
The Sea Devils decide to trust the Doctor and they agree to share planet Earth with humanity.
Sue: The Earth is two-thirds water so they are getting a pretty good deal.
However, the Master wants to stir up hostilities between the two species.
Sue: Just think, if it wasn’t for the Master, we could be living next door to a Sea Devil.
Sadly, the Master isn’t alone in his thirst for war – he is inadvertently helped by Parliamentary Private Secretary, Walker, who has turned up at the naval base demanding a cooked breakfast and some nuclear warheads.
Sue basically tuts every time he speaks.
Just as the Doctor appears to have made peace with the Sea Devils, the base is pounded by explosions. The Master is triumphant.
Sue: The Master just broke the fourth wall!
Then, as bits of the first, second and third walls break under the impact of the Navy’s attack, the Doctor manages to escape. But the respite is short-lived and the episode concludes with the Sea Devils invading the naval base.
Sue: That was the best episode so far. The performances were very good and the script included some great dialogue. This story is finishing strongly.top
Sue: Guns or music? Music or guns? I really can’t tell anymore. Just make it stop. Please.
The Sea Devils take Captain Hart, Walker and Jo prisoner. They lock their quarry in a store room but they don’t take into account the ventilation shafts. Captain Hart decides that the hole is too tight for him to fit inside, so Jo volunteers instead.
Sue: He could easily get through that hatch. It’s just a normal loft hatch! Does he make his wife go into the attic for the Christmas decorations? I don’t think so! And Jo can’t go in there or she’ll get her trouser suit dirty.
Sue suddenly notices that one of the Sea Devils is a little on the short side.
Sue: Awww, there’s a little baby Sea Devil. That’s sweet. Oh, he just killed someone. That isn’t so sweet.
When the same Sea Devil is shot, he decides to forward-flip himself to death.
Sue: He’s like the little one in Diversity.
Me: That’s the stuntman Stuart Fell.
Sue: That’s a great name for a stuntman. Stuart Fell very well.
As Captain Hart pummels several Sea Devils into the sand with a very large gun, Sue sighs.
Sue: I feel a bit sorry for the Sea Devils. This isn’t really their fault, is it?
Meanwhile, the Doctor escapes from the clutches of the Master with the help of a Chief Petty Officer. The Doctor runs off, leaving the Master in the CPO’s custody.
Sue: Don’t leave him there! He’ll just hypnotise the guard! There, see! He’s hypnotising the guard! The Doctor is an idiot!
As the Master escapes with a machine that will supposedly reawaken Sea Devils across the globe, Sue tries to look on the bright side.
Sue: Oh well, at least the Sea Devils haven’t betrayed the Master this time.
The Doctor pursues the Master to a beach…
Sue: What a handy pair of jet-skis. I’m surprised they don’t have ‘The Doctor’ and ‘The Master’ stencilled on the front. Maybe there are some swords lying around as well? And while that’s definitely Jon Pertwee on his jet-ski – he’s such a petrolhead – that certainly isn’t the Master. I don’t think the stuntman even has a beard! It’s no good hiding your face, mate, it’s too late for that now.
The Doctor and the Master return to the Sea Devils’ base, and as soon as the Master’s machine is switched on, the Sea Devils turn on the errant Time Lord.
Sue: Oh look, the Sea Devils have betrayed the Master. Oh well, at least this show is consistent. Maybe next time he’ll take over the planet on his own. At least he’ll only have himself to blame when he ****s it up.
Thankfully, the Doctor sneakily reversed the polarity of the neutron flow and the machine eventually overloads, blowing the Sea Devils’ base to bits. The Master and the Doctor escape to the surface just in time, and a Navy hovercraft picks them up.
Sue: A lot of this is just an advert for the Royal Navy. It’s like a corporate video. With added sea monsters. You know, there’s a massive gap between documentary realism and some of the more bizarre stuff we’ve seen, and putting them both together like this can be quite jarring. It’s a very strange mix. But I appreciate what they are trying to do. It’s trying to be epic and it’s almost succeeding.
The story concludes with the Master escaping in the hovercraft, after he somehow manages to disguise an innocent man as himself when no one is looking. The Doctor is furious.
Sue: So the Master just happened to have a mask of himself in his pocket, did he? I’m not sure I buy that. Oh well, it’s too late now, he’s off again.top
The Final Score
Sue: That wasn’t bad at all. It was two episodes too long (but that’s nothing new) and the music (if you can call it music) was very iffy in places. Still, the direction was very good, the performances were very good and the plot was, well, the plot was the same as the last time they did this story. But I enjoyed large portions of it. It was definitely one of the better Pertwees. I bet the omnibus repeat was great.
The experiment continues…top
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