Customer Review

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "This is our planet. We were here before man...", 12 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Doctor Who - Beneath the Surface (The Silurians [1970] / The Sea Devils [1972] / Warriors of the Deep [1984]) [DVD] (DVD)
A bit of a mixed bag this boxset, featuring all the appearances in DR WHO of the Silurians and Sea Devils - the super-intelligent reptiles who ruled the Earth millions of years before the appearance of homo sapiens. However, the wealth of extras makes it a must have for the serious fan and especially so if you like your WHO Pertwee-flavoured.

DR WHO & THE SILURIANS, originally transmitted in 1970 is the strongest of the 3 serials. A dark, morally-ambiguous QUATERMASS inspired tale that improves on repeated viewings, even if Carey Blyton's weird musical score (using the medieval crumhorn) can sound a bit funny first time around. With an excellent cast including Fulton Mackay, Peter Miles and Geoffrey Palmer this often absorbing and intense tale of Jon Pertwee's Doctor trying to make peace between humanity and the Silurians living in Derbyshire caves is arguably one of the most grown-up scripts DR WHO had attempted at that time. Production values are mostly high (give or take the occasional dinosaur) and Timothy Combe's direction is excellent. The Silurians largely succeed here despite the obvious rubber suits, because of the low lighting and their bizarrely distorted voices. If the story has a fault, it is that it is probably an episode or 2 too long, so probably best not to view all 7 installments in one go. The superb documentary: WHAT LIES BENEATH, charting the fictional, political and social influences on the serial enhances the viewing experience and features not only surviving cast and crew members, but an unusual appearance from Roy Hattersley! Those interested in the more conventional "Making of..." extra are also catered for by GOING UNDERGROUND.

THE SEA DEVILS from 1972 is one of the most popular stories from the Pertwee period and though more comic-strip in tone and less weighty than its prequel, still entertains. The Sea Devils, turtle-headed marine cousins of the Silurians, are beautifully designed; possessed of spooky hissing voices and looking great especially when emerging from the ocean to menace humanity. But the story actually belongs to Roger Delgado's Master. Here, trying to stir up a war, the evil Time Lord has one of his finest hours. Whether viciously fencing with the Doctor, impersonating a Naval officer or shrewdly manipulating Clive Morton's Colonel Trenchard he proves why the character was so popular. The location filming, use of real naval hardware and personnel adds a welcome touch of authenticity to this action-heavy tale. Again the extras are a treat for fans (HELLO SAILOR sees an enthusiastic cast and crew looking back with obvious affection) and include some amateur camera footage from the time of the location filming.

In utter contrast to both of the above is the rather woeful WARRIORS OF THE DEEP from 1984 starring Peter Davison. The extras on this disc show a cast who are either ruefully amused by the production's shortcomings or possibly still slightly traumatised by the experience. A lack of studio time and an inadequate budget clearly did not help matters here, but add the embarrassment of ("Oh no!") the highly unconvincing Myrka creature and you have a minor disaster. Not only this, but the stiffer, redesigned Silurian and Sea Devil costumes simply don't work (you can see jeans and T-Shirts poking through the gaps in some shots) and the cast are far from sparkling. Tom Adams' Commander Vorshak is particularly wooden (witness the ludicrous moments of his death) and the less said about Ingrid Pitt the better. Sadly, all of these problems mask the good qualities of the story. The script, when taken on its own merits isn't that bad - a different cast along with more time and thought given to the show's realisation might have created a decent little yarn. Also Davison and Janet Fielding act their socks off. The last line: "There should have been another way!" is highly appropriate.

If you can overlook or even forgive WARRIORS OF THE DEEP's many faults (some people might love the silliness of the Myrka) then there is much to enjoy here. Commentaries, photo galleries etc are all included in the package and the newly remastered SILURIANS with its more sharply defined picture made this fanboy's month.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Oct 2008 15:12:00 BDT
Richard says:
A really great review, well done! I thought I'd also mention that your 'The Brain Of Morbius' review really amused me.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2008 00:00:36 GMT
Adam Jackson says:
I agree, really great review - but when, WHEN are we gonna get The Daemons on DVD??!!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2008 17:11:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Dec 2008 10:57:54 GMT
Richard says:
Sorry I can't help you there mate - I don't think anyone knows when 'The Daemons' is coming out.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2009 23:43:41 GMT
D. Wright says:
Great review yet again Hector!

I agree with Adam and Richard: when is "The Daemons" coming out on DVD? I suppose that 2 Entertain's policy, as revealed in "Doctor Who" magazine, is "don't release all the classic stories ASAP".

Posted on 4 Feb 2010 19:53:25 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Feb 2010 19:53:42 GMT
Spidernick says:
Yes, an excellent review and made any review I would have added superfluous.

Posted on 3 Jan 2011 13:14:34 GMT
T. Powell says:
Great review - my only comment is that the Silurians is not too long. What annoys my generation about the current Dr Who is the frenetic pace. This was Dr Who moving towards its finest years. Maybe I'm just nostalgic.
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