Warriors of the Deep was part of Peter Davison's 3rd and final season as the young & vulnerable 5th incarnation of the Doctor. Final down to a mere two companions, Davison's run as the Doctor had it's fair share of returning classic foes, this time was a double dip. The Sea Devils and the Silurians, both from Jon Pertwee's run as the third Doctor, are really a natural pairing as they are both prehistoric-sea species of Earth, it is almost astonishing that it hadn't been done earlier. Although the earlier incarnation of the Doctor could very easily been inserted in the place of the actual incumbent, most of the dialogue could have come from that era, down to the Doctor's thinly veiled distain for the destroyer / conqueror side of Humanity, thus his classic closing quote draws in sharp relief the return of the love/hate attitude that was in so much the third Doctor's lines, "there should have been another way..." This time the monsters are indigenous Earth prehistoric creatures so the humans are already the invaders in the scenario. Last time the Doctor faced the Silurians he made some hard choices of conscience bordering on treason (in UNIT's eyes) to do the right thing, as it were. This time that moral convection kind seems worn and thin, admittedly inspite of his young appearance this is an older Doctor, and in this story, a usually pessimistic Doctor.
This the 131st story or the six-hundredth and third episode of the 21st season aired in 1984. This was really a golden-age for the series (much like now with the 2005 return of the show). Of course, Tom Baker, like most Americans my age was "my Doctor," but having followed the show through the reworking of the series by executive producer John-Nathan Turner (much like Russell T. Davies reworking for the 21st cen. ) I was as invested in Davison's portrayal as Baker's. This particular season was maybe the darkest of the series history (up `til then, see the Attack of the Cybermen with the 6th Doctor), with dark stories like Resurrection of the Daleks and the Caves of Androzani following this one, all with high body counts. "Warriors of the Deep" is set, like many of this era in the futuristic twenty-first century where a deep undersea base is under attack. Unlike most stories in Doctor Who's history the returning reptilians are unceremoniously revealed seconds into the show, as opposed to the traditional monster reveal at the closing minutes of the 1st part. Anyway, minus the loss of suspense, the creatures, like all returning monsters are all "80ed" up with body armor and latex. Another mystery revealed early is the entire plan of the baddies, followed by the Doctor's discovery of an obvious story resolution minutes upon boarding the base. This discovery is the Hexachromite gas which is serendipitously deadly to all reptile life.
The human characters aren't particularly likeable (maybe it's the eye shadow), partly by design to make us more sympathetic towards the oppressed sea species, very much the voice of the 80's, if only Sting had arrived in time to perform a benefit concert for them.
Unfortunately the "monster" characters are no more likeable, between the Sea Devils and the Silurians weird voices their lines are hard to understand and all that costume and latex remove all opportunity for any facial expressions from the characters. But, the Doctor's companions aren't free of blame, Tegan and Turlough (who are both intolerable at the best of times) immediately leave the Doctor for dead deciding he's drowned instantly because his fallen in some water at the episode's cliffhanger. Turlough does counter this later by melodramatically offering that Tegan save herself while he scurries toward eminent danger (which just seem contradictory, really.) Speaking of companions...where is Kamelion, the shape-shifting robot, who will serve as a plot device in "Planet of Fire?"
Are his batteries low?
One major complaint about this one is on the technical side, the Silurians secret weapon is an oversized sea monster which sets Doctor Who back decades! In what is a pretty good story arc, with the return of some classic monsters, we have the "WORST CREATURE" presentation in I would dare to say the series multi-decade history (20 years at the point this was aired.) Bar none. The Myrka, as it is called looks like a scale pantomime lizard-horse, which is precisely what it is. Obviously, a couple of actors shuffling down halls, really well-light halls I might add. But to add insult to injury one character sees fit to disbatch this embarrassing creature in the most embarrassing manner, ninja-kick to the lizard gut!!! Pity considering the underwater base is one of the best sets of the season.
Over all this one just mixes too many genres to work effectively. It seems unsure of weather it wants to be a stylized action adventure or meaty drama with true emotional impact, resulting in flatly achieving neither. I love the 5th Doctor's final season but this one was poorly handled, even if it does round off a trilogy of prehistoric monster stories including: "The Silurians" and "The Sea Devils." Both of those should be released along with this DVD. Watch for Doctor Who - Beneath The Surface (Doctor Who And The Silurians / The Sea Devils / Warriors Of The Deep)the boxed set.
Some Drinking games for Warriors of the Deep:
--Someone or something dies
--camera cuts to someone wearing too much make-up
---the flashy thing on the Silurian's head flashes
--you lament your purchase