Doctor Who #615: Warriors of the Deep Part 4

"There should have been another way."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.13 1984.

IN THIS ONE... Massacre on the sea base, but nuclear war averted.

REVIEW: Finally, here in Part 4, the script shows signs of brilliance. Perhaps if it had undergone one more rewrite, or if somebody somewhere had done proper research on the serial it is meant to be a sequel to. The Silurians saying humanity would drown in a sea of their own blood. The rather clever machinations that will have humanity self-destruct, leaving the planet to the reptilians, their hands mostly clean. And that final line (quote above), with Davison's voice breaking at just the right place, it damn well near redeems the whole story. Beautifully staged scene too, following violent confusion (much better than the stiff fights that came before it, as the camera closes in on specific moments). It's no wonder I remember this story as better than it actually is. THIS very Doctor Who moment. And Davison, great throughout no matter what the production's problems are.

It's unfortunate then that the Silurians and Sea Devils don't actually deserve the Doctor's pity or advocacy. They used to, but not in Warriors of the Deep where they are unsympathetic, mechanical and genocidal. The script can evoke the events of Doctor Who and the Silurians all it wants, these are not of the same "noble race". Continuity-wise, it's a mess. The Doctor recognizes Icthar as the friendliest Silurian scientist from the first story, but he neither looks, sounds, nor more importantly acts like that character. It's a cheat to attribute that identity to him. Given the Silurians' important paradigm shift, it's a good thing Davison makes me want to believe in the Doctor's values - and one might think of his defense of the creatures stemming from guilt about his original diplomatic failure - because they are definitely worthy of it. Nor are they especially worthy of the gory deaths they are given, mind you. The production once again insists on a gross-out moment, a Sea Devil deflating and oozing green pus in close-up, which only made me wonder why a chemical that could do that to reptiles has absolutely no effect on mammals. All too convenient, but the quickest way to the almost-total massacre needed to bring the anti-war story home. (Horror of Fang Rock holds on to its Total Party Kill record by virtue of Bulic's survival somewhere in the bowels of the sea base.)

The countdown climax of the story requires the Doctor to think at an Atari 2600 console for a bit, which doesn't sound very exciting, but the action around him makes up for it, and I do like how the process has given him black eyes. The make-up adds to the final moment's sadness. The companion scenes are a mixed bag, mostly for production reasons. Tegan's insistence that they go rescue the Doctor is expected, though they need to cut every time she goes into or out of a ventilation shaft. Shouldn't have worn that skirt. Turlough tries to avoid acts of heroism, but he at least gets to explain his point of view, and I think there's merit in his pragmatic take on their futility. But somehow, my attention kept getting distracted by the bubble pack blankets in the barracks. But yeah, that final line...

VERSIONS: The Target novelization has a few small differences, most notably making Doctor Solow more sympathetic by having her belief the opposing side has a solution to the ills of the world, and Turlough and Preston staging a rescue of the Doctor (from the script, but cut to emphasize Turlough's cowardice).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Still some lingering design and continuity problems, but the final sequence redeems the story a great deal.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium
- As a whole, and potentially divorced from its prequels, "Warriors of the Cheap" still has a lot of point-and-mock problems, but it starts out well, and ends spectacularly.

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