Monday, 25 February 2013

Story 62 - The Sea Devils

In which the Doctor and Jo go to visit the Master in his island prison. When Governor Trenchard mentions a recent spate of ship sinkings in the area, the Doctor decides to investigate. A life raft was retrieved from the scene of the last incident, and it is being kept at the nearby Royal Navy base HMS Foxglove. It appears to have been attacked by a heat weapon. The Doctor is arrested and taken to meet Captain Hart. Jo arrives in time with their UNIT ID. At the prison, the Master is furious that Trenchard mentioned the sinkings to the Doctor. Noting that all the incidents took place in the vicinity of an old sea fort, the Doctor and Jo borrow a boat and go out to explore. There are two workmen looking after the fort - and one is found dead and the other deranged, talking about "Sea Devils". The Doctor sees one of the creatures - and recognises it as being a marine cousin of the Silurians he and Liz had encountered in Derbyshire.

Their boat has been blown up, leaving them trapped, but they are rescued by a Navy helicopter. Jo sees the Master on the base, disguised as a Naval officer - just at the same time that Trenchard visits. The Doctor returns to the prison and is taken captive. The Master is in charge here - having fooled the governor into thinking he is working under cover to expose enemy saboteurs.  Jo rescues the Doctor and they make for the beach. The Master uses a device to call upon a Sea Devil to attack them, but they are able to escape. The Sea Devils capture a nuclear submarine. They then attack the prison to free the Master. Trenchard is killed. The Doctor decides to descend by diving bell to the sea floor by the fort to look for the Sea Devil base. He is captured.

Attempts to broker peace are thwarted when a civil servant orders an attack on the base. The Doctor frees the submarine crew and they escape. The Sea Devils want the Master to resurrect all of their kind across the globe. For this he needs equipment from the navy base and an attack is mounted. The Doctor is returned to the Sea Devil shelter where he is forced to help the Master. Captain Hart escapes and returns with reinforcements and the Sea Devils are forced to retreat. The Master finds himself a prisoner also after the resurrection device has been completed, and the Doctor informs him that he has sabotaged it. They use submarine escape gear to get back to the surface as the Sea Devil base is destroyed. The Master feigns illness in order to flee in a hovercraft - at liberty once more.

This six part adventure was written by Malcolm Hulke, and was broadcast between 26th February and 1st April, 1972. It marks the return of Roger Delgado's Master to our screens after a seven month gap, and is a sequel of sorts to The Silurians. Rather than simply bring back the cave dwelling creatures we had already seen, Hulke devised their marine cousins - their design based on sea turtles. The fishing net costumes were a late addition as they looked too nude to begin with - something that never seemed to bother their land-lubber relatives.
The army had helped out with the production of The Invasion back in 1968, and the RAF had assisted with The Mind of Evil, and so the Senior Service were more than happy to collaborate on this as it would make excellent publicity. A real gunnery base and some vessels were made available in the Portsmouth and Isle of Wight areas. Barry Letts and Jon Pertwee had served in the Navy during the war, and so both were in their element. Less happy with a sea-going story was Roger Delgado, who hated the water, according to Pertwee. It might just be that he did not want to get his costume wet as there wasn't a spare.

Hulke revisits elements from his earlier story. The original inhabitants of earth are once again woken accidentally by human activity - this time work going on in the sea fort. The Doctor again tries to make peace between the two species - only to be thwarted. There is another obnoxious civil servant. Captain Hart - played by Edwin Richfield - takes on the Brigadier role - as this is another UNIT free story. The biggest difference is that it is the Doctor himself who blows up the shelter. The Sea Devils are not about to launch some super-weapon, so it seems odd that he doesn't try very hard to pursue peace efforts.
The story has guest appearances by two veteran British actors - known from Ealing comedies and many classic films. Trenchard is played by Clive Morton, and the civil servant Walker by Martin Boddey.
Episode endings for this story are:

  1. Trapped on the sea fort, the Doctor and Jo hear something shuffling down the corridor towards them...
  2. The Doctor beats the Master in a sword-fight. The Master produces a dagger which he throws at the Doctor...
  3. Trapped on the beach by a mine-field, the Doctor and Jo see a Sea Devil emerge from the water.
  4. When the Doctor fails to make contact, his diving bell is brought back to the surface - and is found to be empty...
  5. The Sea Devils overrun the base and the Doctor is captured.
  6. The dead Master proves to be a hypnotised sailor in a mask. The Master drives off in a purloined hovercraft.

Overall, a very good story that holds up well over its six parts. It's nice to see a species being developed further. The help afforded by the Navy makes for an impressive production.
Things you might like to know:

  • The Doctor mentions that the name Silurian was a misnomer, and they should have more properly been called Eocenes. However, it is unlikely Homo-Reptilia could have developed in the Eocene era either. The story's working title was "The Sea Silurians".
  • The Doctor is about to imply at one point that he is thousands of years old. However, he may just have been talking about the amount of human history he has experienced.
  • As it was filmed out of sequence with The Curse of Peladon, this marks the last credit for Derek Ware's stunt team HAVOC. It is Stuart Fell's first recorded story - he's the back-flipping Sea Devil in the sequence of the hovercraft attack.
  • Famously, the design of the model submarine aroused the attentions of Whitehall spooks, as it appeared a bit too close to a top secret genuine propeller design.
  • The voice of the radio DJ is actually that of director Michael Briant.
  • A Rear Admiral is seen on deck wearing glasses - which is a production error as it would be against regulations. The actor is Norman Atkyns, who had earlier played the Guardian of the Doomsday Weapon in Colony In Space.
  • The Clangers episode being enjoyed by the Master is "The Rock Collector". This scene is referenced in the new series when the Master is caught watching the Teletubbies.
  • This is the only Pertwee story where he actually says he has "reversed the polarity of the neutron flow". He won't say the full phrase again until The Five Doctors.

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