Doctor Who #263: Doctor Who and the Silurians Part 4

"Yes, well, I've got no time to chat to under-secretaries, permanent or otherwise."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.21 1970.

IN THIS ONE... Intent on making friends, the Doctor goes down to the Silurian caves, but they're not the friendly type.

REVIEW: So now we're allowed to look at the Silurians and yeah, they're guys in rubber suits, but that's just yesterday's equivalent of guys in monster make-ups. And if you ask to choose between Silurians and the New Series' Homo Reptilia, I'll have to go with the classic look. Rubber or not, these Silurians look appropriately inhuman. Physically, there's nothing of us in them and that's how it should be, creating a complete dissonance when the Doctor offers one a hand in friendship. Their mouths are beaks, their ears fins, and they have three eyes, the third apparently bioware of some kind (which can be used as a weapon or a garage door opener). I do find flaws in the design of their lair, however, as the right angles of doors and cages are at odds with the more biological look of the furniture and surface textures.

The Doctor really seems to know these creatures. He calls them Silurians based on very little evidence and is desperate to make them and humanity share a planet he knows are both theirs. Surely, if the Doctor is a student of Earth, it makes sense that he would know about an entirely different civilization that once dominated the planet. But it's merely hinted at here, something to be explained later, if ever. This Doctor plays it as close to the vest as his previous incarnation did, it seems. He doesn't tell everyone everything and certainly never over-explains. He "forgets" to mention Quinn's death, for example, because it would only hurt his case for peace, but neither does he give his bureaucratic opponents all the facts about the Silurians to make a case FOR it. Like the 2nd Doctor, he's got a lot to learn about letting the people around him in on his secrets. Maybe they'll surprise him.

Speaking of surprises, the under-secretary (Masters, no relation) shows up and he's played by Geoffrey Palmer! He's not the stuffy git I was expecting based on my memories of this era, and strikes me as fair-minded. However, it does turn into a game of bureaucratic rock-paper-scissors, with the government trumping the military trumping the Doctor. The Silurians also seem to have trust issues with the Doctor and their own personal in-fighting. It's the characters and this game of trust that keeps our interest even though the story again plays for time by having the Doctor go back and forth between locations, and have the same fruitless conversations. The episode fools us into thinking a lot happens, with its awkward and brusque time cuts (a karate chop to an apology, or the map straight to the caves), but there's far less incident than I might like.

- Perhaps inevitable in the 7-part structure, the middle of the story sags. I'm sure Doctor Who and the Silurians could have been cut down to 5 episodes.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Doctor's treatment of Masters - who as far as he and the audience knows is a competent and conscientious civil servant - is just embarrassing. He's the friend with maturity issues you always find yourself apologizing for.

The Brigadier is at pains to put up with him in this part of the era - there isn't really a 'friendship' between them (yet) as you would think was always there from watching 'Mawdryn Undead' or 'Battlefield'. The Doctor is like a superstar employee the Brig has to muster a lot of patience for but has to find ways to tolerate because he really is indispensable.


Siskoid said...

I'm afraid that there's a lot of the third Doctor in me...


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