Fans of the fifth Doctor please look away – the next three posts all feature your favourite Doctor! Which is strange, because Davison used to be one of my favourite Doctors – quite possibly because of his cricketing persona. I do enjoy many stories of his era and rate them highly, but it has to be said, he also carried his fair share of less enjoyable stories.
Warriors of the Deep is one such instance. Producer John Nathan Turner had a fancy for bringing back enemies from the show’s mythology – in this case the Silurians and the Sea Devils. Having watched the respective stories for these two monsters, I had hoped this story would live up to the excellent standards of the stories that inspired them. Tragically while the ingredients are there, they are badly undermined by poor execution.
The story centres on an underwater military base during a Cold-War style stand-off between two competing earth superpowers. The Silurians and Sea Devils team up, determined to seize control of the base, launch a nuclear strike, and precipitate a war that would utterly destroy humanity, and leave the way clear for Silurians and Sea Devils to re-take the earth. And predictably, the Doctor lands in the middle of this chaos …
The DVD slipcase acknowledges that the very last words of the serial (spoken by the Doctor) reflect what many fans felt: “If only there had been another way.” Poor production values (made worse by the serial going badly over budget) mean that the Silurians and Sea Devils are not as sinster, and their sea monster is nowhere near as terrifying as it ought to be. I for one missed the guttural hiss of the Silurians from when they appeared in their debut story, and felt the Sea Devils were reduced to mere cannon fodder. As with other serials I have so far reviewed, this is a story I feel could be made significantly better by modelling it on Vengeance on Varos – it simply lacks edge, grit and high quality production values.
I enjoyed the serial more than when I had first watched it on VHS – I imagine in part because at that stage I did not have the background story of The Silurians and The Sea Devils to add to my appreciation of the serial. I also resolved to enjoy the story the producers wanted to tell, rather than the story that emerged after the production fiasco. The story is not lower because I appreciate there’s a genuinely good story here, and the TARDIS crew do a very good job of telling it. It cannot be higher, because it deserved better than the production team delivered.