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Warriors of the Deep

Production Code: 6L

First Transmitted

1 - 05/01/1984 18:40

2 - 06/01/1984 18:40

3 - 12/01/1984 18:40

4 - 13/01/1984 18:40

Plot

The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough arrive at an underwater Sea Base on Earth, where a scientific and military team led by Commander Vorshak are monitoring a rival power bloc. The team undergo regular missile launch test sequences to ensure that they are ready at all times to combat an attack.

Three Silurians led by Icthar - the surviving member of a Silurian triad - revive a colony of Sea Devil Warriors in order to invade the base and use its weapons to attack the opposing power bloc, thus provoking a global war that will allow the reptiles to conquer the Earth.

The Doctor uses ultra-violet light to destroy the reptiles' giant electrified sea beast, the Myrka. When it appears that there is no other option, he also reluctantly suggests using hexachromite gas to kill the remaining invaders. While this is done, he links his own brain into the base's computer to prevent the firing of the missiles.

Episode Endings

The Doctor is knocked from a walkway in a struggle with some Sea Base guards and falls into a water tank below. Tegan wants to stay and try to rescue him but Turlough urges her to flee, telling her that she must face the fact that the Doctor has drowned. The Doctor's body lies motionless in the water below.

The Doctor and Tegan are trapped in an airlock as the Myrka forces its way in and advances towards them. Tegan exclaims that the creature is going to kill them.

The Sea Devil leader Sauvix shoots down Nilson, a member of the Sea Base team who has been traitorously working for the opposing power bloc, and then turns his weapon on the Doctor and Tegan, telling them: 'Your turn.'

With Silurians and Sea Devils lying dead all around him and his companions, the Doctor grimly comments that there should have been another way.

Roots

Wargames.

Dr. No (guard costume design, the reactor pool).

Ice Station Zebra.

Dialogue Triumphs

Tegan : "What year are we in?"

The Doctor : "Around two thousand and eighty-four."

Tegan : "Little seems to have changed since my time."

The Doctor : "Absolutely nothing, Tegan. There are still two power blocs, fingers poised to annihilate each other."

The Doctor : "I sometimes wonder why I like the people of this miserable planet so much."

The Doctor : "There should have been another way."

Dialogue Disasters

"You'll get no help from me, 'Silurian'!"

Double Entendre

"We must remain undetected until we are ready to act."

Continuity

The 'Silurians' and the 'Sea Devils' know themselves by those titles [as the former is inaccurate and the latter is no more than a nickname this is doubtless a translation convention]. The 'Silurians' Scibus and Tarpok are led by Icthar, sole survivor of the noble 'Silurian' Triad, who ruled the The Silurians . He knows the Doctor. [These are a different group of 'Silurians' from those seen in Doctor Who and the Silurians, which features no named 'Silurians' and no Triad of rulers.] They also look and sound different.

The 'Silurians' third eye now flashes when they speak [and is perhaps a lens in an Ice Warrior-like helmet. It seems that its destructive power has been lost, although they never really have an occasion to use their built in weaponry: even at the end, one only reaches for a 'Sea Devil' gun in a weakened state. Their electronically filtered voices also hint at some degree of cybernetic enhancement].

These 'Silurians' are some possibly all of a small faction who have revived. Millions of others are still hibernating. It was planned that 'Sea Devil' Elite Group One [entombed for only hundreds of years, so presumably the 'Silurians' went into hibernation before the 'Sea Devils'] would awake at this point. Due to an error this hasn't happened.

[This is an old plan, conceived either by survivors of Doctor Who and the Silurians, or during the untelevised adventure.] 'Silurian' law forbids anything but defensive war. The 'Sea Devils' wear laser-proof armour, and carry large cutting devices as their new guns no longer produce heat. Hexachromite gas is deadly to both 'Silurians' and 'Sea Devils'.

Turlough can use a rifle, and knows how to sabotage electronic locks. He wants to stay with the Doctor a while longer to learn, and can already perform certain TARDIS tasks. Tegan is interested in the future of Earth.

A materialisation flip-flop hops the TARDIS to a nearby destination.

Location

Earth's sea bed and Earth orbit, around 2084.

Future History

Two power blocks are in a cold war in 2084. They regularly use orbital weaponry.

Untelevised

'Twice we offered the hand of friendship', says Icthar, which doesn't accurately describe the events of The Sea Devils. As the Doctor knows of the Myrka and 'Silurian' battle cruisers, having seen neither on screen, and knows Icthar by name, though he 'thought him dead', it seems clear that the third or fourth Doctors had an unscreened second adventure with the 'Silurians'.

Trivia

There is some excellent modelwork, including of the Sentinel Six defence satellite encountered by the TARDIS in Part One; the Sea Base; and the Silurian vessel.

Gareth Milne doubles - very convincingly - for Peter Davison in the underwater swimming sequence in Part Two.

Ian McCulloch, well known for his role as Greg in Terry Nation's BBC series Survivors, appears here as Nilson.

Horror film star Ingrid Pitt plays Solow. She had previously appeared in Doctor Who as Queen Galleia in season nine's The Time Monster.

Goofs

In episode one, Icthar's (human) eyes are visible, blinking through the costume.

In episode three, the 'Silurians' are clearly wearing T-shirts under their neck sections.

Tegan decides to put on a bra between episodes one and two.

Dr Solow's karate chop seems a bit optimistic.

Why does the Doctor want to go to the base's control centre, when he doesn't know anything's wrong and could just as easily have left?

He leaves the TARDIS unlocked in his haste to explore.

Then we have the polystyrene doors, Vorshak's stoic reaction to being shot, Missile Command on the BBC Micro, and 'Oh dear... the Myrka.'

Hexachromite gas (lethal to marine and reptile life) makes the plot very obvious.

Fashion Victim

Eye make up is all the rage at this military base.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Peter Davison

Tegan - Janet Fielding

Turlough - Mark Strickson

Bulic - Nigel Humphreys

Icthar - Norman Comer

Karina - Nitza Saul

Maddox - Martin Neil

Nilson - Ian McCulloch

Paroli - James Coombes

Preston - Tara Ward

Sauvix - Christopher Farries

Scibus - Stuart Blake

Solow - Ingrid Pitt

Tarpok - Vincent Brimble

Vorshak - Tom Adams

Crew

Director - Pennant Roberts

Assistant Floor Manager - Adrian Hayward

Costumes - Judy Pepperdine

Designer - Tony Burrough

Incidental Music - Jonathan Gibbs

Make-Up - Jennifer Hughes

OB Cameraman - Alastair Mitchell

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Norma Flint

Production Associate - June Collins

Script Editor - Eric Saward

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Peter Smee

Studio Sound - Martin Ridout

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Peter Howell

Visual Effects - Mat Irvine

Writer - Johnny Byrne

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

A great script, with a radical Doctor (his giving of his gun to the crew to get them to trust him is wonderful). The story is only spoilt by those two fan obsessions, design and continuity. Peter Davison, especially, is outstanding, and the last line is a gem.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Warriors of the Deep is a classic case of well-written scripts being let down by inappropriate production. The basic premise of a future Earth where two superpowers are facing off against one another with their respective arsenals of nuclear weapons poised to fire is an intriguing one with a great deal of promise. An added bonus is that writer Johnny Byrne astutely avoids identifying the two power blocs in conventional 20th Century terms. The plotting is also good, and the return of the Silurians and the Sea Devils is, in principle, welcome. Unfortunately, much of this potential is simply thrown away.

One of the most serious flaws is that the spacious, generally floodlit sets of Sea Base 4 give the viewer no sense of its location and engender none of the tension that would have been created had they been cramped and dark as Byrne had intended. 'The sets are simple and it shows,' bemoaned Charles Sandford in Capitol Spires Issue 2, dated July 1993. 'The main problem is that they appear too sterile and brightly lit and fail to give the impression of being under the sea. Perhaps if the [whole thing] had [had subdued lighting] it would have come across with rather more atmosphere... The only sets that truly work [are the interiors of] the Silurian ship, which because of subdued lighting [look] believable.'

The other major failing in the production is the realisation of the monsters. The Myrka looks simply terrible, and the scenes in which various members of the cast try desperately but unsuccessfully to appear afraid of it as it lumbers toward them at nothing more than a snail's pace are either deeply embarrassing or highly amusing, depending on the viewer's disposition.

The new costumes designed for the Silurians and the Sea Devils also fail to impress - particularly as they are not always properly fitted to the actors inside. 'The Silurians and especially the Sea Devils seemed to have been redesigned for the hell of it,' protested Saul Nassé in TARDIS Volume 9 Number 1 in 1984. 'The sight of that hatted Sea Devil standing in the background, its head practically horizontal, will haunt me forever. The faces were completely static which compounded the total lack of credibility. In short, this story destroyed the image of the Sea Devils/Silurians and was an insult to the memory of [their creator] Malcolm Hulke.'

Sandford had similar reservations: 'The Silurian costumes were dreadful and [made the creatures look] like what they were: men in rubber suits. As for the Sea Devils, they all appeared to have a permanent crick in the neck! Why they were redesigned is a mystery to me as the originals were far superior. And as for the Myrka - it was about as frightening as Dobbin the Horse from Rentaghost; a near black-out would be the only thing that would have made this creation anywhere near believable.'

Quite apart from the design changes, there is the unfortunate fact that the Silurians' third eye now nonsensically flashes in synchronisation with their speech, whereas previously it had acted as a ray tool. The Sea Devil voice is thankfully the same as in their debut story, but the Silurians now speak in a kind of electronic monotone that is nowhere near as distinctive as the voice heard in Doctor Who and the Silurians. The creatures now have names, too, whereas in their original outings they did not, and they actually refer to themselves as 'the Silurians' and 'Sea Devils', whereas previously these had been simply descriptive (and inaccurate) terms assigned to them by other characters. And then there are some rather curious dialogue references to what seems to be an unseen prior encounter between the Doctor and the reptiles.

Actually, this is not such a bad idea in principle - there is, after all, no reason to assume that all the Doctor's adventures have been seen on screen (a fact since exploited to good effect in ranges of 'missing adventure' novels) - but here disillusion sets in when one learns that the writer and production team really intended these references to be continuity links back to the earlier transmitted stories; they just botched them so badly that it is not apparent to the viewer. All this raises an interesting question: why did the production team think it worth bringing back old monsters in the first place if they were going to do so with such a lack of care and attention that it simply sullied viewers' memories of the originals?

The performances from the other members of Warriors of the Deep's guest cast are all sadly lacking in conviction - in some cases, in fact, they are completely wooden - and just to add to the story's problems there are some quite bizarre touches of direction from Pennant Roberts, such as in the scene where he has Ingrid Pitt as Solow making an almost surreal kung fu-style attack on the Myrka.

The final reaction can only be one of great disappointment, as summed up by Frank Band, also writing in TARDIS Volume 9 Number 1: 'I'm afraid I didn't like this story at all. The plot and the characters all had a lot of potential but, in my opinion, not nearly enough was made of them. The moral issues surrounding the Silurians' right to the planet, the Doctor's position and the entrenchment of the two opposing power blocs were all underplayed. Indeed I'm sure that anyone who didn't know the plot of Doctor Who and the Silurians and The Sea Devils would have wondered why the Doctor was making such a fuss about not killing them. The Silurians and the Sea Devils should have aroused our sympathy by themselves, through their words and actions; instead the Doctor half-heartedly encouraged everyone to have some respect for them, while they singularly failed to provide a good reason why anyone should.'

< The Five DoctorsFifth DoctorThe Awakening >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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