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17 November 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 321: The Sea Devils, Episode Three

Dear diary,

I’m finding that The Sea Devils is almost the exact opposite to The Curse of Peladon for me. At the end of those four episodes, I found myself with little to write because I simply wasn’t enjoying it. Here, it’s tricky to say anything because I am enjoying it! I simply want to hurry over onto the next episode.

If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t quite know why I’m enjoying The Sea Devils so much. Today is probably the perfect example - the shot of the creatures rising from the ocean to swarm the beach is one of those iconic Doctor Who moments, up there with the Daleks on Westminster Bridge, or the Cybermen outside St Pauls. I’ve never actually seen this scene, though (what? Oh, stop judging me. It’s from a Pertwee story, and you all know my thoughts on the era from before I started on this marathon…), and I’m assuming that the end of today’s episode isn’t it.

It felt like everything was in place. The Doctor and Jo have been cornered on the beach. On one side, they’re blocked in by a mine field. In the other direction, a carful of the prison’s guards has just pulled up (for all the good they’d do. Just how easy was it for Jo to break in and free the Doctor? This is supposed to be a high security prison!). Behind them, the Master and Trenchard have arrived with their new Sea Devil remote control. Ahead lies the crashing waves of the ocean as the machine is switched on, calling the creatures to the shore…

And then a single Sea Devil pops his head up from the water! I mean, don’t get me wrong, it still looks quite good - I’m always slightly impressed that the costumes can survive the pressures of being submerged underwater - but I’d amped myself up for something more exciting, which I can only assume comes later on in the story? It’s an interesting new angle on the whole ‘wishing I knew less about the series’ complaint that I often find myself making, in that I’m not sure if there is a scene with many Sea Devils walking out of the water, of if I’ve just assumed there is, and this is that famous shot of the creatures rising from the waves? No spoilers, please, I’m looking forward to finding out.

I need to wonder a little bit about the prison here, too. I’ve already commented on the seeming inefficiency of the guards (overpowered by Jo twice, Overpowered by the Master… their training isn’t the best!), but I’m more concerned about the facility as a whole. Is the Master their only prisoner? There’s not been any mention of other prisoners at all, but I’d assume there must be some to warrant having so many guards on the staff. I assumed that we’d see the Master stirring up some kind of prison revolt (well, he has got prior form…) but now I’m not so sure.

I’m also not sure that I fully understand his plan - but then, what else is new? He claims that he wants to help the Sea Devils reclaim the Earth as they were once its rightful rulers (another direct link to Doctor Who and the Silurians. I’m not sure where I got it in my head that the connection was made later), and he seems to want to see the Human Race wiped out simply because it’s a species that the Doctor is so fond of. Is he just out for revenge, now?Is this like his plans with the Nestenes, where they can destroy the world and he can then rule the empty rock? He may be in charge of things in the prison now, but he still doesn’t seem to have any real idea of his ultimate goal…

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