5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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THE SEA DEVILS
"Ah, but you haven't seen the quality of my footwork yet!"
Buy this Dr Who DVD: US
Take one plot, and just add water. Sea Devils is so like The Silurians that we can't believe they thought they could get away with it. Did they really think the audience had such a short attention span?
Let's see, now. We have a race of creatures that used to be the dominant species on Earth who are now in hibernation. When a few of 'em wake up, they decide they want their ball back, but seem amenable to the Doctor's reasoning until humans attack them. In the end, they get blown to smithereens.
The only difference that we can see, apart from the frills around the edge like all the Master stuff, is that in The Silurians the Doctor objected to the Silurians being blown up, whereas here he does it himself, apparently to avert a war. Well, yes, wiping out the other side is a remarkably effective way to avoid them fighting with you, as we're sure Davros and other assorted tyrants would agree.
They go to some lengths to establish that the Doctor has no choice, which is fair enough; what we can't understand is why some people stoutly maintain that the Doctor is a pacifist who never resorts to violence. As. If. (Why, incidentally, does the Doctor automatically take the side of the humans? It seems that the Sea Devils have just as much right to the Earth as they do, and it's not as if the humans have the moral upper hand, given that they're just as keen to waste the Sea Devils as vice versa.)
If it weren't for the fact that we've seen it all before, this would have been quite an interesting adventure, with the location work adding greatly to the atmosphere. It gets off to an intriguing start, and there's some fun action stuff in it, but it also contains quantities of padding which at times verges on the bizarre. Utterly adorable though it is, what's that Clangers scene doing in there? Why does the Doctor launch into a long and tedious explanation of how to convert a radio receiver into a transmitter? And a sword fight? Jo at least shows some initiative at times, but the Doctor is, after an improvement in The Curse of Peladon, back to his usual patronising self ("Not now, Jo!"). Sigh.
The Navy characters are a colourless bunch (Captain Hart in particular suffers in comparison with the Brigadier), although the two baddies Trenchard and Walker have a bit more life to them. As for the Master, Delgado is in top form and it's one of his better adventures, although his involvement is again on the spurious side. The Sea Devils unfortunately look too hilarious to be scary, particularly in their silly fishnet frocks.
If the plot hadn't been shamelessly recycled and the episodes hadn't been so padded, we might have quite liked this. As it is, wake us up when it's over.
MORAL: You snooze, you lose.
DAMN THESE GLASSES
When the Doctor and Jo first walk into Trenchard's office, Trenchard says "Youíre the chappie from UNIT!" as if Jo is invisible.
WHITE. TWO SUGARS
The Doctor is even more patronising towards Blythe than he is to Jo, calling her "my dear" and turning his back on her as if she doesn't exist.
Say what you like about Pertwee, he's undeniably an attractive man to watch, moving with style and grace. And he looks pretty damned sexy lounging on that sofa.
DOES MY BUM LOOK BIG IN THIS?
We doubt we can add anything to what's already been said over the years about the unbelievable scene of the stuntman with the blonde wig climbing the ladder, but we didn't feel we could let it pass unremarked all the same. We particularly like the way he shoves his arse out at a 90 degree angle, but it does make us wonder whether he's ever actually seen a woman before.
That's a very nice shot from above of the Doctor and Jo climbing the ladder.
WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH?
After the Doctor's endless explanation about turning the radio from a receiver into a transmitter, imagine our surprise when he gets a message on it!
I LIKE A MAN IN UNIFORM
Doesn't the Master look cute in his naval outfit?
IF YOU CANíT BEAT ĎEM
Even the Master, after his hypnotism failure, is forced to resort to the old back-of-the-neck trick. Twice.
SHE PROBABLY COULDNíT SEE IT
Why does Jo refuse to shake the Colonel's hand?
Blindfold golf? Why?
The whole swordfight scene is pretty cringeful. First, there's the fact that the swords are there at all, which frankly is stretching credulity to the breaking point. Then there's the sandwich bit, which is just plain stupid. What with that and the bit where the Master is slashing away at the curtains while the Doctor's standing behind him, the whole thing has a knockabout comedy tone which sits rather oddly with the rest of the adventure. Clearly, they didn't think it was exciting enough, either, because bits of the fight are shown speeded up. And as for the Doctor giving the Master back his sword, we give up. What is this, the Three Musketeers?
YUM PART II
MY GOD! MY LIPSTICK!
Why on Earth did they make such a fuss about Jo carrying her handbag (she carefully takes it off and puts it through the window before she climbs in) only to have her leave it in the prison? And obviously a scene takes place which we don't see in which she rushes back for it while the Doctor combs the prison for his coat, since they have these items when they start running towards the beach.
ITíS THAT UNIT TRAINING
Considering that this is supposed to be a maximum security prison, we find it rather odd that Jo manages to get in simply by opening a window.
HEíS NOT AS YOUNG AS HE WAS
With the prison staff in hot pursuit, you'd think the Doctor and Jo would run away as soon as they reach the bottom of the cliff, rather than standing clinging onto each other as they wait for their pursuers to catch up.
COME AND HAVE A GO, IF YOU THINK YOUíRE HARD ENOUGH
The Doctor and Jo must surely be able to see the armed men on the beach from the top of the cliff, so why do they go down to the beach?
DID SOMEONE SAY ĎACTIONí?
When the Doctor and Jo are down on the beach, why do the armed men just stand there at a distance aiming their guns at them instead of driving up and taking them prisoner?
In the minefield, the Doctor crouches down to use the gadget, but why does Jo crouch down as well?
YOU NEVER KNOW. THERE MIGHT BE AN SF CONVENTION DOWN THERE
Why does the Doctor put on an anorak to go into the diving bell? Surely he doesn't plan on getting wet? Incidentally, the sight of the Doctor in an anorak really brings it home to you how important the Doctor's costume is in establishing his character. He looks incredibly ordinary in civvies.
That's a nice shot of the parliamentary private secretary's mouth as he munches his toast.
WEíD NEVER GET THE STAINS OUT OF THE CARPET
"Take him away and kill him"? Oh, go on. Why not set a trend and just kill him here?
IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A PAPERWEIGHT
Why does the Doctor give the gun to the sailors, then act surprised when they use it?
THOSE VENUSIANS HAVE GOT A LOT TO ANSWER FOR
Please, Doctor, stop making that "Hai!" noise. You're embarrassing us.
LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU
Jon Pertwee gets in some primo gurning when he's attacked by the Sea Devil.
BANG. OR SOMETHING
That's the most fake-sounding gunfire we've ever heard - it sounds like someone tapping a stick against a metal box. Actually, it probably was someone tapping a stick against a metal box.
YOU CANíT TRUST ANYONE THESE DAYS
The Doctor and Master appear to be vying for some sort of stupidity award. First, the Master doesn't cotton on to the Doctor's transparent ruse with the high frequency device. Then, the Doctor leaves the Master with the guard despite knowing about his hypnotic powers. Duh all round.
IíLL MAKE THE TEA
Why does Jo, unarmed and with no visible purpose, go back on the hovercraft to the naval base?
AND THEN YOUíLL BE SORRY
Massive nuclear strikes? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The Doctor seems remarkably dry not long after coming out of the water. A Time Lord skill?
Buy this Dr Who DVD: US