Sue: Is this the first time we’ve seen the words ‘Doctor Who and the...’ in the title?
Me: The first and only time, yes.
Sue: You sound like you’re annoyed. What’s wrong?
Me: You won’t have a problem with it because you think the character’s name is Doctor Who.
Sue: But it is Doctor Who.
Me: I don’t agree.
Sue: Even in the face of all this mounting evidence? You’re insane.
Me: In fact, the title of this story is wrong on so many levels, it’s difficult to know where to begin…
Two potholers are exploring some caves…
Sue: This doesn’t look like it was shot on film. We’re back in the studio again, aren’t we? That’s a shame. Still, at least the sound is okay, even if the colours are a bit smudgy around the edges.
The potholers are attacked by a dinosaur.
Sue: At least the director is trying to disguise the fact that the monster isn’t very good. Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, thankfully.
We cut to the Doctor tinkering with a vintage yellow car.
Sue: His number plate is WHO. Why would he have that number plate if his surname wasn’t Who? You’ll just have to accept it, love. That’s his name.
Talking of names, the Doctor has decided to christen his new mode of transportation: Bessie.
Sue: I didn’t know his stupid little car had a stupid little name. How quaint.
Liz convinces the Doctor to take Bessie for a quick spin up to Wenley Moor’s nuclear research facility. It’s a day out, I suppose.
Sue: Is this the British version of the Large Hadron Collider? Do they accidentally suck everyone into a black hole? Is that the plot?
Me: And where, exactly, would a dinosaur fit into that?
Sue: Don’t look at me, I didn’t write it.
Dr Quinn activates the reactor’s complicated intercom system so he can ask his colleague to join him in the control room.
Sue: Why doesn’t he just wave at her? She’s standing two feet away from him!
And no, she doesn’t recognise Fulton Mackay, although fans of 1970s sitcoms shouldn’t give up hope yet.
Sue: So is the Brigadier in every Jon Pertwee story?
Me: He’s in most of them, yes.
Wenley Moor’s security officer, Major Baker, doesn’t like the fact that UNIT are interfering in his affairs.
Sue: He can’t shut his briefcase, but he’s carrying on with the scene anyway. What a trouper. And he’s definitely got the hots for Liz. Actually, he’s borderline creepy.
As the scientists conduct another experiment, a technician begins to behave very oddly indeed.
Sue: Are the aliens hypnotising the humans again? It’s the same story every week!
What has changed is Sue’s appreciation for the incidental music.
Sue: I really like it. Is it Dudley?
Me: No, it isn’t.
Sue: I didn’t think so. It’s good. I love the oboes.
The Doctor is threatened by the same dinosaur we saw earlier. Cue credits.
Sue: Oh dear, that really does look naff.
Captain Hawkins is driving Sue potty.
Sue: I recognise his voice. I’ve definitely heard it before.
Me: You have. He’s very famous.
Sue: Just tell me.
Me: It’s Paul Darrow.
Sue: Is that supposed to mean something to me?
Me: He’s Avon! From Blake’s 7! We named a cat after him, she’s outside playing with Orac the hedgehog right now. How can you live with me and not know this stuff?
Sue: I thought Avon was a girl’s name.
Me: I know, I thought she was a boy, which is why her pregnancy came as a bit of a shock.
Sue: And I’ve never seen Blake’s 7. I thought we were saving that for the sequel, Adventures with the Wife and Blake?
She’s joking, of course. That will never happen.
I should probably interject here and explain that part of my job entails me teaching students the finer points of Blake’s 7 during a lecture on 1970s telefantasy for a university module called MAC387: Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. I am not making this up. I even talk about the Silurians. Anyway, each year I show them the climatic last five minutes of Blake (it’s technically from the 1980s but what can you do?) and, without fail, they always laugh their socks off. So, Paul Darrow, beautiful man that he is, recorded this for me, so I could play it to them as their laughter subsided.
Sue: Anyway, I’m glad there are two monsters in this story. The first one was shit.
Sue: Okay, the music has gone a bit mental now. Bring back Dudley. No, wait. Hire somebody else.
The Doctor and the Brigadier gang up on Dr Lawrence.
Sue: The Brigadier and the Doctor obviously respect each other. I like that. The Brig is basically acting like one of his companions.
The episode concludes with Liz trapped in a barn with a Silurian.
Sue: Poor Liz. I’m sorry I didn’t say a lot about that episode. That’s the trouble with the good ones: I get too wrapped up in the story to say very much.
Sue: It must be hard work walking around with vision like that. I’d keep bumping into things.
When Dr Quinn arrives at the barn, which is miles out of his way, he arouses the Doctor’s suspicions. Sue, on the other hand, has more important things on her mind.
Sue: Bessie will get soaked in that rain. He should have put the roof up.
At least the big-budget helicopter sequence goes down well.
Sue: It looks great, but what are they hoping to achieve with those silly flares, exactly?
Dr Quinn activates a Silurian recall device.
Sue: I’m sure I’ve heard that sound effect somewhere else. It’s driving me mad.
Me: When you picked me up from that Doctor Who convention I went to in Newcastle on Saturday, Paul Jones kept mimicking that noise behind your back. You know, just to tease you.
Sue: Is that what you fans do at conventions? You sit around making Doctor Who noises all night?
Me: Not all night, no. By the way, what did you think of the convention? When you weren’t hiding in the restaurant, I mean.
Sue: The food was terrible. The prawn starter was an Asda ready meal smothered in balsamic vinegar. It was awful.
Me: Yes, but apart from that, what did you think?
Sue: It was more normal than I expected. It was a bit boring, actually. I thought everyone would be dressed-up. I did see the back of Peter Purves’ head, though – not that I would have known it was Peter Purves’ head if you hadn’t pointed it out to me. And I got to meet Rob Shearman, too, which was nice. You never told me Rob Shearman was that nice, Neil.
The episode concludes with our first good look at a Silurian.
Sue: Is that a fish?
She doesn’t know what to make of the so-called aliens at first.
Sue: Are you sure we haven’t seen them before?
Me: They turn up in Matt Smith’s era quite a lot.
Sue: Do they? I’m sure I’d remember them if they did.
I open my laptop and show her an image of a 21st century Silurian.
Sue: Piss off! They don’t look anything like them!
Me: I know! Ridiculous, isn’t it?
Sue: The new ones are so much better. The old ones look dreadful.
Sue: I’m surprised they killed Dr Quinn. I thought he’d be there to the end.
When the Doctor bumps into a Silurian, he offers it the hand of friendship.
Sue: I love that. That sums the Doctor up for me. Anybody else would have run away or shot at it.
The Doctor is disappointed when the Silurian decides to run away.
Sue: Has this Doctor got a lisp?
Me: Have you only just noticed that?
Sue: Yes. Is this part of his punishment? Have the Time Lords done this to him so people won’t take him seriously?
The Brigadier and the Doctor can’t agree on how to proceed.
Sue: There’s quite a bit of tension between the Brigadier and the Doctor. The Doctor doesn’t trust the Brig, does he? It’s difficult to watch this because I like both of them. And there’s another problem with this story.
Me: Oh yes? What’s that?
Sue: The funny noises. They must be using frequencies that our dog can’t handle; she’s left the room to get away from them. It’s not right, Neil.
The Silurians interrogate Major Baker.
Sue: These Silurians strut around like they own the place.
Me: But they do own the place.
Sue: Yes, but they’re walking around like they’re super-cool. I’m not saying they look cool, they just think they look cool.
When the Doctor and Liz are harassed by a dinosaur, Sue exclaims:
Sue: I’m pretty sure that’s chroma.
She didn’t really say that. What she really said was: “That looks a bit dodgy”. Ha! Just you bloody wait, love…
Sue: It’s a very gritty episode. It’s as if we’re watching an adult drama for a change. This is definitely not for kids.
The biggest topic up for discussion in this episode is the young, hot-headed Silurian, or as Nicol so eloquently puts it as she strides into the living room:
Nicol: It’s Jar Jar Binks!
I think it’s because he keeps shaking his head as he walks and talks.
Sue: Maybe he’s got Parkinson’s Disease?
Me: It’s Packer who’s doing the Silurian voices, by the way. You know – “Paaaacker…”
Sue: What? All of them?
Sue: *** off!
Me: I am not making it up. It’s Peter Halliday from The Invasion. The actors inside the costumes are probably overcompensating when it comes to moving their heads because they aren’t the ones doing the talking.
The Silurians have got themselves into a bit of a pickle, or as Sue puts it:
Sue: That was one hell of a lie-in!
She likes the idea that the Silurians are the planet’s indigenous life form, even though she’s heard it all before.
Me: You have. There’s a Matt Smith story with practically the same plot and the same aliens. This one is much better, though.
Sue: I wouldn’t go that far.
Me: Do you want to sleep on the couch tonight, love?
As a young Silurian plots humanity’s downfall, Sue believes the Doctor has been tricked.
Sue: Has the Silurian gone back on his word? That was quick!
Me: No, this is a completely different Silurian.
Sue: They all look the same to me.
Geoffrey Palmer’s Man from the Ministry turns up to sort things out. Or, if you’re Sue: “The crap husband from Butterflies will fix it.”
Sue: (Singing) “Love is like a Butterfly…” Wait a minute, this guy’s name is Masters. He’s not the, you know… Is he?
Me: No, he most certainly isn’t.
Masters prepares to return to London, even though he’s feeling bit under the weather.
Sue: It’s probably Ria’s cooking repeating on him again.
The Doctor and the Brigadier arrive at Wenley Moor’s hospital as Major Baker succumbs to the Silurians’ disease.
Sue: Don’t touch him, you idiots! Opps, too late. I hope he’s only got the measles.
But it isn’t the measles and Major Baker drops down dead.
Sue: It’s all gone a bit Survivors, now. What would Greg do?
Sue: Hang on a minute. The Doctor said it was an alien disease. So are these Silurians aliens or not?
Me: I think he means ‘unknown’. Don’t be so pedantic.
Sue: But it’s a crucial plot point, surely?
The Brigadier barks some orders into his personal radio.
Sue: We couldn’t afford walkie-talkies when we were kids, so me and our kid would steal car aerials and just pretend.
Me: A racist and a vandal. It’s all coming out tonight.
Masters returns to London with the Silurians’ disease oozing from his every pore.
Sue: This is great. I’m not sure you’d get away with something like this today, not with all the compliance forms you have to deal with. I don’t think the public actually knew they were appearing in an episode of Doctor Who; the camera is miles away. It’s really well-directed, though. It’s very realistic. It’s more Cathy Come Home than Doctor Who.
Oh, and she’s completely obsessed with the Silurians’ tiled flooring.
Sue: It looks like Terrazzo. Or maybe it’s Karndean. It’s very nice, whatever it is. They must be an advanced civilisation if they’ve invented flooring as nice as that.
Masters collapses in the street, and half of London follows in his wake.
Sue: Bloody hell, it’s turned into Threads. This is very bleak.
The Doctor implies that he’s several thousand years old.
Sue: But I thought the Doctor was only a thousand and something.
Nicol: The Doctor lies.
Oh, so she is listening, even if her face is buried in Facebook.
Sue: The make-up is really good.
Half of Dr Lawrence’s face appears to be missing.
Sue: Too good, perhaps. This is definitely not for kids.
The Doctor is kidnapped by some Silurians after they burn a hole in the wall that leads to his lab.
Sue: Can’t he feel the heat coming off that wall? And surely he can hear that terrible music. Our poor dog…
Sue: The Brigadier seems to spend a lot of time on the telephone. This is a basically a masterclass in telephone acting.
Captain Hawkins is killed by the Silurians’ death ray.
Me: No! Not Paul Darrow!
The Silurians force the Doctor to rig the power complex to a device that will destroy the Van Allen Belt. If successful, the planet will become too hot for humanity to handle.
Sue: Can’t he turn it on just a little bit, so they can have a nice summer?
As the Doctor gets to grips with the machinery, Sue raises a solitary eyebrow.
Sue: The Doctor’s in a t-shirt. That’s not right, is it? Saying that, Pertwee is certainly ripped. He must work out. He reminds me of this old, butch lesbian I used to know.
The Doctor tricks the Silurians into overloading the nuclear reactor.
Sue: (Shouting) It’s too loud! I can’t hear the dialogue! What’s going on?
Me: (Yelling) PARDON? WHAT DID YOU SAY?
The complex is about to explode, so the Silurians leg it back to their base for a quick nap.
Sue: The Doctor must be bluffing. You’d think the Silurians would check his story before they buggered off.
Which means Sue is completely wrong-footed when she discovers that the reactor is going to explode, after all.
The Doctor saves the day by reversing the polarity.
Sue: I feel sorry for the Silurians. I can see where they were coming from.
The Brigadier ensures that the Silurians’ base is destroyed.
Sue: Oh, Brigadier, I’m very disappointed in you. And the Doctor will be furious with you, too.
Sue: That was excellent. I might have to give this another 10… No, on second thought, it’s at least one episode too long, and the dinosaur served no purpose at all. Some of the Silurian acting was a bit over the top, as well. No, I’ll give it:
Sue: It was very good, though. It’s as if we’re watching proper telly all of a sudden. The location work was some of the best I’ve seen in the series so far, and the plot was complex enough to keep me entertained. Are all the Pertwee stories as good as this, Neil?