Doctor Who #317: The Sea Devils Part 4

"There's only one thing for it... we'll have to go through the minefield."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.18 1972.

IN THIS ONE... A recruitment ad for the Royal Navy starring the Doctor in a diving bell. And the sonic screwdriver returns.

REVIEW: The Doctor's been using a variety of sonic-like handheld devices, from the door handle in Inferno to the Aggador hypnotizer in The Curse of Peladon, but this is the first time the actual sonic screwdriver's been seen in the Pertwee era, one might say EVER since it's used not as a screwdriver, but as a magic wand, here to detect and later detonate mines. It's what the sonic still does today. And because we're in the color era, it,s a garish looking thing colored like a barber's pole or Christmas treat. And its reappearance may be why the sound effects are celebrating so much. Boy, is this a noisy episode. The Sea Devil's horrible screams, the Master's strident signal, the sonic's bleeping... It just doesn't let up. My cat was in an agitated state throughout. (Even the Zarbi didn't have that effect on him.)

Once it gets quiter, and gets slow as well, as we enter a section that looks like documentary footage, except that the television characters are walking around and using the equipment! So on the one hand, these bits are rather slow, but on the other, they're quite authentic. I lean to liking it more than I don't. Even without the procedural, I have to admit there's a lot of padding here. The harmless comedy of the Doctor stealing Jo's sandwiches, for example. It's cute, but it's just trying to fill out the episode's 25-minute time slot. Or maybe it's a theme this season, since something like it happened to Benton's snack in Day of the Daleks.

And yet there are things to recommend. The Doctor bravely throwing himself on barbed wire to get through the minefield. Those iconic shots of Sea Devils rising from the water. That for once, the baddies aren't bulletproof, which of course means UNIT is missing out on that action. The Sea Devil accosting the diving bell. And for those who love camp, the absolutely ridiculous double-take one of the prison guards gives when he sees the Sea Devils for the first time. And if you can't appreciate camp, can you really appreciate Doctor Who?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Slow, but authentic-looking; noisesome, but iconic; a thing of parts, both good and bad.


Mitchell Craig said...

In the trivia track notes, one stunt player saw part of his Sea Devil costume float by.

I was also thinking the same thing about UNIT missing out on shooting monsters that obligingly fall down and die. No doubt the Brig felt a bit put out when he read the report.

Siskoid said...

Trumped by the Navy. The shame.


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