We don’t have very long to wait before Sue passes 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 that elicits a response from Sue is the 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 its doors nicked! The security at this place must be atrocious.
When Sue discovers the Doctor and Jo are visiting the Master in prison, she isn’t even remotely interested. In fact, she’s much more interested in Katy Manning’s current state of mind.
Sue: Jo looks knackered. Did she have a late night last night? Was she sick on the 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 use 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 treats the Master like an old friend, instead of a mass-murdering fiend.
Sue: This is very pleasant, but it’s blatantly obvious to me that the Master hasn’t changed one bit. I bet the governor’s been hypnotised by him. The Doctor can be such an idiot, sometimes.
The Master is watching television in his cell.
Me: The Clangers in Doctor Who. Who’d have thunk it, eh?
The Master seems to think that the knitted puppets really are alien life forms, but Sue knows exactly what he’s doing.
Sue: He’s taking the piss!
Me: Some fans don’t like that scene because they think it undermines the Master.
Sue: But he rolled his eyes when he said it! He’s joking! Do they need a diagram? It’s a funny scene.
Our attention turns to an old sea fort whose skeleton crew includes a man with a face only a mother could love.
Sue: He’s been smashed in the face by an ugly stick. Everyone has a right to be ugly, but he’s abusing it.
She is, however, very complementary when it comes to Michael Briant’s direction.
Sue: It’s good. There are some nice angles, and the lighting is very atmospheric. They’re just showing enough of the monster to get away with it. I’m pretty sure this would have scared the kids.
When ‘Jo’ climbs the ladder to the fort, her bum gives the game away.
Sue: That isn’t Jo. She’s moving up that ladder like a constipated Donkey Kong.
And then 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?
A figure in the shadows advances menacingly towards the Doctor and Jo.
Sue: That was an odd cliffhanger. Why bother hiding the monster like that? We only saw it a few minutes ago. That was strange. Still, that wasn’t a bad start. Let’s crack on.
It turns out the shambling monster in the corridor was actually an ugly chap in an Aran sweater.
Sue: Just as scary, though.
But not as disturbing as the Sea Devil’s attire.
Sue: Is it 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, apparently.
Sue: I’m surprised they didn’t put it in a shower curtain. Was the person who designed Doctor Who’s monsters a sex maniac?
Me: Does this Sea Devil ring any bells?
Me: There’s a six-inch Sea Devil action figure 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 the school playground.
Sue: How did you pretend to be a Sea Devil? Did you walk around in your vest?
Me: No, they hold their weapons in a very specific way, so it’s very 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: But that means you would have been too young to remember it.
Me: There was an omnibus repeat a couple of years later. It replaced a cricket match that was rained-off.
Me: They edited the story down to 90 minutes.
Sue: So why aren’t we watching that instead? We’d be halfway through this by now, you idiot!
The Doctor tells Jo the Sea Devils are related to the Silurians.
Sue: That’s one hell of a leap. They don’t look anything like them.
He also explains the term Silurian is actually a misnomer, and the Sea Devils’ reptilian cousins should have been called Eocenes instead.
Sue: Eh? So what do we call the Silurians now? This is very confusing. I’m sure they’re still called Silurians in the new series. And why didn’t anyone check the bloody name before they made the first one? This never would have happened if Wikipedia had been around in 1972.
The Doctor radios for help.
Sue: The Doctor always puts on a posh voice when he’s on the phone. It’s quite funny.
The person who answers the Doctor’s distress call sounds even posher.
Sue: Were only the landed gentry allowed to use CB radios in 1972?
The Master has been spotted on the naval base, so the Doctor returns to the prison to check that his arch-enemy is still under lock and key. Cue epic sword fight.
Sue: What are swords doing in a ****ing prison? That’s ridiculous!
It doesn’t matter how well the fight is choreographed, Sue can’t forgive this contrivance. Even worse, when the Doctor gains the upper hand in the duel (he even has enough time to stuff his face with a sandwich), he gives the Master his sword back so the fight doesn’t have to stop.
Sue: What the hell is he doing?
The Master throws a knife at the Doctor’s back. Cue credits.
Sue: That was a pretty good cliffhanger, but the set-up was unforgivable. Swords? In a prison? Eh?
Sue: Do we have to watch the sword fight again?
Me: Yes. I’m sorry.
Sue: Well in that case, I’m going to make a cup of tea.
She makes it back just in time to see the Master throw a knife at the Doctor’s back at point-blank range, again. He misses, of course.
Sue: There are lots of ugly people in this story. The governor looks like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Yeah, ugly people with moustaches basically sums up The Sea Devils so far.
The Doctor doesn’t like the fact the Master treats the prison as a hotel.
Sue: You shouldn’t have given him his ****ing sword back then, should you? You ****ing idiot.
As Jo tiptoes around the grounds, Malcolm Clarke finally decides to let rip.
Sue: Okay, the music is just ****ing weird now. Please get Dudley on the phone.
The Master unveils his latest plan for world domination.
Sue: Don’t tell me: the Sea Devils will betray him five minutes before the end of Episode Six. He never learns.
Jo sneaks back into the prison via an open window. It’s an awfully tight squeeze and it results in an extended close-up of Katy Manning’s derriere.
Sue: That was definitely for the dads, wasn’t it?
As Jo frees the Doctor from his bonds, Sue sighs.
Sue: Three episodes in and we aren’t exactly being overrun by Sea Devils, are we? And the score is just taking the piss. I can’t tell what’s supposed to be music and what’s supposed to be a sound effect any more. It’s driving our cats up the wall, as well. You do know I’ll have to knock some marks off for this, don’t you?
The worst culprit by far is the Master’s machine.
Sue: It’s a cross between a hair dryer and a Singer sewing machine. I like his tiny radar dish, though. It’s cute.
Meanwhile on a nuclear submarine…
Sue: It’s 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, though.
The submarine’s captain is played by Donald Sumpter.
Sue: I love his nervous twitch. It’s a nice touch. Unless the actor really does have a nervous twitch, in which case I’m sorry I brought it up.
The Doctor and Jo make it to the beach as one of the titular monsters rises from the sea.
Sue: Finally! Some Sea Devil action! It doesn’t look that bad, actually. For a monster in a dress.
Sue: Oh dear. There’s a boom in shot.
That’s right. She’s far more interested in spotting production errors than she is in the Doctor flinging himself over some barbed wire.
Sue: Why didn’t he blow up the mines with his sonic screwdriver before he went into the minefield?
Me: It’s a good job he didn’t or they’d both be dead now.
Sue: True. Sometimes the Doctor’s stupidity comes in handy, I suppose.
Me: This is a very iconic scene. Isn’t it doing anything for you?
Sue: Not really. That Sea Devil over there looks ridiculous in his little blue dress. Who in their right mind goes swimming in a dress?
Donald Sumpter’s eye twitches as the Sea Devils prepare to invade 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 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 episode!
I’ve never seen Sue 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 some 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 terribly sad.
Sue doesn’t understand why the Royal Navy are helping the BBC make Doctor Who.
Sue: What’s in it for them?
Me: It’s good PR. They probably thought it would help them with recruitment, especially if any impressionable teenagers were watching.
Sue: Gary joined the Navy in 1972.
Me: What? You don’t think? Do you?… Nah, surely not.
Sue: He only lasted six weeks.
The Doctor volunteers to investigate the fate of the stricken submarine in a diving bell.
Sue: Nice anorak. So do Doctor Who fans pretend to be Jon Pertwee in The Sea Devils when they turn up to conventions dressed in an anorak? Is that how it works?
As the Doctor begins his perilous journey, Jo can’t stop worrying about him.
Sue: Why is she so upset? He stole her ****ing sandwich!
The diving bell reaches the seabed and a Sea Devil peers through its porthole. Then, when the bell is winched back to the surface and Jo peers inside, she looks to the heavens with terror in her eyes.
Sue: Is the Doctor splattered all over the ceiling or something?
Sue: I had a polo neck like Jo’s, although mine was lime green.
While we are left to ponder the ramifications of that particular revelation, the Doctor is taken inside the Sea Devils’ base.
Sue: So this is basically exactly the same story as last time, yes? I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it last time, so do I have to see it again?
Me: Do the Sea Devils’ voices remind you of something? Another children’s television character, perhaps?
Sue: The Mysterons?
Me: Not Larry the Lamb?
Sue: Never heard of him. I’ve heard of Larry Lamb, though, if that helps.
Thanks to the Doctor’s diplomacy, the Sea Devils agree to share the planet with the rest of humanity.
Sue: The Earth is two-thirds water so they’re getting a pretty good deal.
However, just when it looks as if the Doctor has brokered a peace deal, the Sea Devils’ base is pounded by explosions.
Sue: The Master just broke the fourth wall!
Then, as bits of the first, second and third wall collapse under the impact of the Navy’s attack, the Doctor somehow 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 dialogue was great. This story is finishing strongly.
Sue: Guns or music? Music or guns? I can’t tell any more. Just make it stop, Neil. Please!
The Sea Devils lock Captain Hart, Walker and Jo in a store room but they don’t take into account the ventilation shafts. Unfortunately, Captain Hart decides that the hole is too tight for him, so Jo has to volunteer instead.
Sue: It’s a bloody loft hatch! Does he make his wife go in the attic for the Christmas decorations? I don’t think so! And Jo can’t do this – she’ll get her white trouser suit dirty.
One of the Sea Devils is a little on the short side.
Sue: Aww, it’s a baby Sea Devil. That’s so sweet. Oh, he just killed a soldier. That wasn’t so sweet.
UNIT retaliate and the baby Sea Devil dies with an impressive forward flip.
Sue: He’s the little fella from Diversity.
Me: It’s a stuntman called Stuart Fell.
Sue: What a great name for a stuntman. Stuart Fell very well.
Captain Hart pummels the Sea Devils into next week with an exceptionally large gun.
Sue: I feel sorry for the Sea Devils. This isn’t really their fault, is it?
The Doctor hands the Master over to a Chief Petty Officer.
Sue: Don’t leave him there! He’ll hypnotise the guard! There! See! He’s hypnotising the guard! The Doctor is an idiot!
The Master absconds with a machine that will reawaken every Sea Devil across the globe. Sue tries to look on the bright side.
Sue: At least the Sea Devils haven’t betrayed the Master yet.
The Doctor follows the Master to the beach.
Sue: What a handy pair of jet-skis. I’m surprised they don’t have ‘The Doctor’ and ‘The Master’ stencilled on the back. And while that’s definitely Jon Pertwee on his jet-ski – he’s such a petrol head – that 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 now.
The Doctor and the Master return to the Sea Devils’ base, but as soon as the Master activates his machine, they turn on him.
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 without any help. That way, he’ll only have himself to blame when he inevitably ****s it up.
Thanks to the Doctor reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, the Sea Devils’ base is destroyed instead. The Time Lords escape from the blast just in time, and a Navy hovercraft is sent to pick them up.
Sue: A lot of this is just an advert for the Royal Navy. It’s basically a corporate video, but 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 is quite jarring. But I appreciate what they’re attempting to do. It’s trying to be epic and it’s almost succeeding.
The Master uses an innocent man as a decoy in order to facilitate his escape. The Doctor is bloody furious.
Sue: So the Master just happened to be carrying a mask of himself in his back pocket. I’m not sure if I buy that. Oh well, it’s too late now, he’s off again…
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 a bit iffy. But 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 that story. But I enjoyed it. I bet the omnibus repeat was great.