Doctor Who #205: Fury from the Deep Part 6

"He believes in people making up their own minds."TECHNICAL SPECS: Though a surprising number of clips and behind-the-scenes footage exists, it's still missing from the archives. I've had to use a reconstruction. First aired Apr.20 1968.

IN THIS ONE... The seaweed creature is defeated by Victoria's recorded screams, and the girl chooses to leave the TARDIS.

REVIEW: We finally get a good look at the seaweed creatures, and they're a mess of tentacles that hardly seem human, whipping out of the foam like some Lovecraftian horror. If I squint, I can make out the person inside, but I don't want to squint. It's a great effect. Plants and soap suds, an everyday monster. Therefore, the prescribed solution is also an everyday one. How brilliant of writer Victor Pemberton to use a Doctor Who trope as the monster's weakness. It seemed at times that Victoria (and various other companions before her) did nothing more than scream. And for once, it's a useful thing, foreshadowed not only in the effect of her various screams, but also the introduction of the sonic screwdriver, presenting sound as a powerful force in the Whoniverse. Pemberton has been very sharp in this story, taking such tropes and making fun of them, but also justifying them. There was talk of Earth being too common a destination, and here Victoria thinks it's silly to scream on cue, and in the epilogue, the Doctor laughs at the number of time he's been thrown into a cell. The show knows what it is and doesn't take itself too seriously, much like its Doctor.

When it's time to go, Victoria freezes. After all this, she can't possibly make herself leave, and it's rather wonderful how sensitive and understanding the Doctor is. All the opposition comes from Jamie, and part of Victoria too - her dutiful side - but in the end it has to be. She asks that they not leave without saying goodbye, but that goodbye on the beach is silent, people waving at a departing dinghy, and it's better that way. It avoids being too sentimental and just shows Jamie's dark mood in the TARDIS later, something that will impact the next Who Girl they come across. I don't think we've ever had such a lingering farewell for a companion. Usually, if there was a chance to go home or stop off, they took it quickly, said a few words, and parted ways. With Victoria, the TARDIS crew has obviously stayed until the base is cleaned up, and there's even an extra day thrown in in case Victoria wants to change her mind. Even Robson gets an epilogue to show he's back to his pencil-pushing self, though perhaps a quarter of a percent more mellow. In other words, the main plot ended way too soon.

But while the episode IS padded, there are some wonderful things in it. I wish the set piece with the helicopter had been too scary for Australians, because it sounds a hoot, as the Doctor, dying to try it, does impossible loop de loops and almost crashes into the rigs, foam flying off the blades. The music is notable, incorporating Victoria's screams into some kind of elephantine wail deadly to the weed, AND brings back her sweet theme from The Evil of the Daleks. And remarkably, everybody lives! Yes, even Van Lutyens who fell down a pipe. So perhaps it WAS worth sticking around for a nice dinner after all.

VERSIONS: Victor Pemberton wrote the Target novelization of his own story and turned in a manuscript much longer than the required word count. They published it at that length anyway. In interviews, Pemberton admits to writing it from memory for lack of video, but I am unaware of any notable differences with the broadcast story.

REWATCHABILITY: High - Big set pieces, lots of surviving clips, and a companion leaves. Shame about the padding, but the rest more than makes up for it.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Fury from the Deep is worthy of its reputation. Though probably too long by an episode, it is never boring or painful (which audio sometimes can be), plays with Doctor Who tropes in a smart and amusing way, and is of historical importance as well. If only Sutekh hadn't burnt the tapes...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

All right, another High! :-) And for what it's worth, I agree, it's a great episode.

S said...

What a jerk, that Sutekh

Siskoid said...

The biggest!

I hear he was the casting director for the part of Adric.

Craig Oxbrow said...

"I bring Sutekh's gift of Adric to all mankind!"

 

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