C042 Fury from the Deep


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Lethal bubble baths, homicidal seaweed and the first appearance of the Sonic Screwdriver



This entirely missing six-episode serial sees the Second Doctor and his (still) two companions Jamie and Victoria arrive in – guess where – England. In fact, they even remark on it in the opening scenes.

So they’re back, and once again there’s a monstrous menace threatening the safety of mankind. This time it’s seaweed –indiscriminately lethal, unapologetically megalomaniac, poisonous gas exuding, (potentially) toxic foam producing seaweed, to be precise.

Much like the Varga before and the Krynoids later on, this seaweed creature also has the power to infect humans and turn them into sentient plant life.

Marvellously suspenseful scenes, a terrific Troughton and the introduction of the Sonic Screwdriver are among the highlights. Awful pacing and an annoying Victoria are among the low points.

Victoria actually leaves the show at the end of this serial. Put that in either category; I won’t judge.

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4 Responses to “C042 Fury from the Deep”

  1. Peter Zunitch

    I’m in a rare place this time, as somehow I’ve never seen this episode before. I must have skipped it and thought I had seen it, confusing the title with the Underwater Menace. I’m honored to have the Who Back When community to watch it with.
    This week features another base commander driven mad. It’s not a Dr. Who trope I enjoy, as I feel it’s used far too often. On the flip side this series features a monster that has never been used before, or since in anything I’ve ever seen anywhere! It’s great because it’s unique and exciting. It’s a bit of a letdown because it’s seaweed with gas.
    I like the way Victoria’s departure is handled. They’ve been leading up to this for several series now, as each time she realizes more and more that she’s in way over her head. It’s also unfortunate because, as with all other episodes, they really just couldn’t figure out how to write her character. Now they’ve wasted the actress who played her so well. If they had a character like that in modern who she would be amazing to watch. We could see everything for the first time through her eyes as she first cowers and then grows, like they did with Mickey. Instead we get lots of damsel screams. Seriously, was there any story she was in where she didn’t get kidnapped?
    I was quite impressed with the handling of the creature, thinking it would be a total rubber-suited bipedal joke-fest. Instead the costuming was abstract and imaginative, and in the few moments that we get to see, the actor inside the tentacles whipped and flailed his heart out making for a quite intimidating beast. And the vines in the pipes were intimidating. My only complaint was that it should have been more obvious that this was just a part of a massive creature reaching in through the door, and not just a man-sized bushel. Still, I much prefer this to the way they portrayed the squid tentacles in Tom Baker’s, “The Power of Kroll”.
    I would have loved to have seen more of the creature in action, especially during the final battle. Likewise I would have loved to have seen the crazy helicopter ride, and so this week’s most missed footage award is a tie and goes to those two missing elements.
    All characters are well acted, interesting and for the most part realistic. Tweedle dumb and Tweedle Dee are especially menacing, but should have been in from the first episode. The arrival of Megan Jones late in the story is refreshing and gives the sense of a larger world. This story was particularly well directed and Hugh David beautifully realizes every moment of Victor Pemberton’s script, which was quite balanced and well rounded, if not a little repetitive.
    Were we able to step back in time and rewrite the script, I would remove the dozen or so repetitive “listen, it sounds like a heartbeat!” scenes and replace them with a visit to one of the offshore rigs where we could meet the people we’re supposed to care about. I’d also include a scene examining how the foam is related to the seaweed, as it’s everywhere, but clearly not dangerous. The heartbeat doesn’t make sense anyway, because, um…well…it’s a plant. I’d also remove the oxygen room nonsense. It’s superfluous. Replace it with some more exploration of the base and its machinery, and a scene where Victoria actually gets to know the people she eventually decides to move in with.
    I enjoyed this story, but it wasn’t amazing. I don’t mind the length, but it there were a few missed opportunities. It’s good, but it’s not phenominal. 3.2

    Reply
  2. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless / wrestlemania489

    Hello once again Podcast Land! I’ve returned once more for another Troughton serial mini. Today it’s “Fury from the Deep”. As always, let’s get to the fact file.

    • All six episodes of this serial are missing, and only certain clips and telesnaps survive.
    • This is the only Troughton serial not to have the word “The” as the first word in the title. This wouldn’t occur again until 1970’s “Spearhead from Space”.
    • This story features the first appearance of the Sonic Screwdriver. It’s basically a penlight that makes noise.
    • Portions of a certain episode were censored in Australia for being a little scary. I mean, that face could surprise anyone. How do you get your eyes to be that big?
    • About three minutes of alternate takes were found at BBC Archives at Windmill Road in July 2003. They feature the weed creature.

    What a small fact file. Anyways, on to the review.

    I wonder if writer Victor Pemberton lives by the maxim that worse things happen at sea. They certainly do in this six-part thrill-ride, containing rigs under siege, staff under pressure, a bizarre yet everyday threat and a dangerously mad leader – with a chopper chase and an outgoing companion added for good measure. It’s a rollercoaster ride of tone, too, from a sense of mischief and fun, through tense, sweaty horror of the unknown, to a gnawing sense of loss when Victoria decides to end her travels.

    You can find at least one great moment in every single Doctor Who story. Fury from the Deep features arguably the greatest number and biggest variety of scary scenes, among them: the cadaverous, pop-eyed Quill unleashing his catastrophic halitosis; Van Lutyens being sucked into a foamy bog; Maggie’s terrifyingly long, slow walk into the waves; and Robson’s “Come in, Doctor, we’ve been waiting for you,” beckoning his nemesis into the bubbles like some Vosene-addicted Blofeld. But there are so many more.

    It has to be said that the science is a little, well, shaky. What really is the connection between natural resources, thrashing tendrils, heartbeats, mountains of suds and gas-breath? It’s just like the famous Russell T Davies shopping list of ingredients, but in this case we never get the satisfactory flow chart that connects them all.

    And you sense that, beneath all the surging froth there’s a strident eco-message thrashing to get out. The RT featurette coinciding with episode one hinted that this was rich territory for just such a treatment. But environmental concerns aren’t overt in the way that they would be in, say, 1970’s Inferno (in many ways a re-tread of Fury), or in 1973’s The Green Death.

    Not that any of this matters. Pemberton seems much more interested in a straightforward, chill-filled escapade. And Fury has fathoms of fright, wiping all memory of The Underwater Menace away and it’s soggy inanities, and paving the way for other successful marine adventures (The Sea Devils, Terror of the Zygons, etc).

    It also contains one of the most telegraphed departures in the show. Consider these early warnings from Victoria: “I don’t really like being scared out of my wits every second”; “Why can’t we go anywhere pleasant, where there’s no fighting, just peace and happiness?”; “I’m tired of one crisis on top of another”. She’s even given a night to think it over, so when she tells the Doctor and Jamie she’s staying, they – and we – are more than prepared.

    Deborah Watling looks back on the story with fondness, especially the foam fight at the beginning. As she once said, “Pat and Frazer got into the middle of the foam. They’re having a wonderful time. All of a sudden they stop, look at each other and then look at me, walk towards me and drag me into the foam and I come out like a foam monster. A lot of the public were there and they just thought it was wonderfully impressive.”

    Not that the winter shoot in Margate was a picnic, as Frazer Hines said on it: “It was freezing. The wind was so cold that by the time we got ashore [on a dinghy] my knees were blue. I was going out with Susan George at the time and she had to massage the colour back into them!”

    Two other reasons the story stands out are the fact that both male and female characters are well drawn, from Victor Maddern’s hilariously belligerent but superbly acted Chief Robson (“What are you staring at?”) to Margaret John’s impressively sure-footed Megan Jones (“Pull yourself together, man!”), which was one of the show’s best guest roles for a woman.

    The use of sound is enterprising, too, with radiophonic rumble and splurge dovetailing nicely with Dudley Simpson’s piano reverb and cold synths.

    Fury from the Deep may not be especially deep, but it’s indubitably furious. Horror is pushed to the fore – and yet there’s not a single death. “Everybody lives!”

    So, overall, what rating does this serial get? Well, it’s gonna get a 3.6/5 from me. This is a wonderful serial and it makes me super unhappy that this serial doesn’t have any episodes in the archives. Hopefully one day this serial will eventually turn up. Thankfully, every serial from here on out has at least one episode or exists in full.

    But we’ll leave the last thoughts to Deborah Watling, and then Frazer Hines.

    DW: “I remember having to say goodbye to Doctor Who and Jamie. I adored Pat and he adored me, and Frazer was like a brother – a naughty brother.”

    FH: “We all loved Deborah and were very sorry to see her go.”

    Next time, the Doctor and Jamie continue on alone. More adventures ensue as the encounter the Wheel and it’s crew, and we bookend Season 5 with another appearance from the Cybermen. Next time, Ponken probably is going solo again as he boards “The Wheel in Space”. See you then!

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  3. Paul Fauber @wordsmithpaul

    When the TARDIS landed on the sea, the Doctor; Jamie; and Victoria rowed to shore and discovered a pipeline for euro sea gas in which they each heard something. Curious, the Doctor opened a control box with his sonic screwdriver. None the wiser, he closed it before being tranquilized with his companions as suspected saboteurs and taken to the refinery supplying gas to southern England and Wales. Upon recovering, the Doctor explained they had simply been curious and suggested shutting down the gas flow to discover the source of the noise. Harris, the refinery’s second in command, said Robson the experienced, hard-nosed man in charge would never agree. The refinery was experiencing drops in pressure and none of the drilling rigs responded to calls on equipment working perfectly well. The Doctor and Jamie tried to escape the cabin in which they’d been imprisoned through a vent while Victoria picked the lock. After a rig softly reported all was well over a poor connection, Harris couldn’t find the data he’d gathered supporting the Doctor’s recommendation to halt the pipeline and asked his wife, Maggie, to find it. As she searched vainly, seaweed in one of her husband’s files stung her, and made her feel unwell. Robson’s Dutch adviser, Van Ludyens, reported morale on the rigs was low and the men out there heard the same sound the Doctor and his companions had reported. As the escaped time travelers explored, the Doctor explained to Jamie the impeller pumped gas from the pipeline. Victoria discovered someone wearing a gas mask emptying oxygen cylinders and resealed them before discovering she was locked in the small storage room into which foam enveloped seaweed poured through a previously closed vent. She screamed.

    The Doctor; Jamie; and Robson; among others, found Victoria recovering from toxic gas she said a foamy blob of seaweed had emitted. Harris cared for Maggie, who seemed physically fine, at their quarters. Once alone, she felt drawn to the patio, where she had thrown the seaweed she’d found and a foamy mass grew. The refinery lost contact with the rigs again and pressure fluctuations in the pipeline didn’t persuade Robson to halt the gas flow and investigate. He believed the noise in the pipeline, reminiscent of a heartbeat, was an echo from a mechanical fault none of his staff’s repeated checks had found. Two technicians, Oak and Quill, visited Maggie, explaining they needed to look at her gas stove. As she sat at her mirror they both opened their mouths and gassed her. When the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria found and revived her, the Doctor realized the seaweed that stung her had been intended for Harris. Robson released gas from the pipeline and seemed to restore normalcy to Van Ludynens’ surprise. He advised reluctant Robson to inspect the equipment as the heartbeat sound became audible.

    At Harris’ quarters, the Doctor gathered a seaweed sample and advised Maggie to get medical care. Robson took out his frustrations on Harris, particularly upon learning the Doctor and his companions were no longer prisoners. The impeller stopped and started intermittently, prompting Van Lutyens to suggest descending its shaft to check it. He worried the problems communicating with the rigs would compound problems at the refinery. On the TARDIS, the Doctor put the seaweed sample in a fish tank to conduct tests with Jamie and Victoria. They determined it was alive and reacted with the gas in the pipeline to give off a toxic gas. As the Doctor found a reference to the seaweed in a 17th century book of nautical lore, seaweed emerged from the tank, but retreated when Victoria screamed. The Doctor and Jamie covered the tank as the Doctor pondered what had happened. The entire staff’s suggestion to check the impeller infuriated Robson, who stormed off to his quarters, where Oak locked him in and opened the vents. The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria returned to Harris’ quarters, which was partially filled with foam and seaweed that attacked. Harris sent for his boss, Megan Jones; had security look for Robson, whom he had seen flee his own quarters crazed after the seaweed attack; and asked medics to check on his wife, who was not with them. The Doctor and his companions, having survived the seaweed attack, returned to the refinery, where the Doctor explained they faced a parasitic seaweed capable of self defense. Maggie and Robson were both on the beach. She advised him to obey before walking into the sea.

    Harris, who had joined the search he’d ordered, found Robson and was told him he would soon see his wife again. With both gone, no action at the refinery could be authorized as the heartbeat sound began again. Oak and Quill enabled Van Ludyens to inspect the impeller at the base of the shaft he descend alone before his terrified screams prompted vain attempts to bring him back up. Victoria had complained earlier about the constant strain her adventures aboard the TARDIS caused. The Doctor and Jamie exacerbated this strain by descending the shaft over her objections to find van Ludyens’ nonfunctional flashlight. When Megan Jones, Robson’s boss, and her assistant, Perkins, arrived, Harris described the situation and revealed Robson was not well. Curious, she sent helicopters to investigate the rigs, which were covered with foam. Harris left Victoria at the top of the impeller shaft with Oak and Quill. At the mercy of the seaweed below, the Doctor and Jamie gave up on help from above and climbed a ladder to the safety of the deserted impeller room. They immediately separated to search for Victoria. Harris agreed with the Doctor as he reminded the refinery crew the seaweed was a telepathic parasite capable of taking over human minds and it was forming a colony. Megan Jones rejected Perkins’ suggestion to evacuate and bomb the rigs, where the weed surrounded everyone and was taking over. Meanwhile, Jamie found Victoria before seaweed burst into the refinery.

    The Doctor reasoned the seaweed controlled not only Robson, Van Ludyens, and Maggie, but perhaps technicians who would have first encountered it. He also determined pure oxygen would be toxic to the seaweed’s human minions. He advised against destroying the rigs because doing so would spread out the seaweed and make it harder to attack. Megan Jones decided to talk to Robson, who said he couldn’t fight the seaweed and, after being left to rest, overpowered his guard to move off. Victoria worried the Doctor would devise a plan to defeat the seaweed too slowly as he warned Megan Jones it would attack the refinery to control gas distribution. She decided to attack the seaweed with oxygen preemptively. Jamie went after Oak and Quill, as they tried to slip away and caught one, hitting him while Victoria screamed. When the seaweed foam attacked, bursting from the pipeline, everyone realized the oxygen cylinders were all empty. Robson drove Victoria away and flew her to the control rig, the nerve center of the seaweed colony, in a helicopter. The refinery crew located Robson and Victoria, bringing the Doctor and Jamie’s vain search to an end. Unable to persuade Robson to turn back and unwilling to turn themselves over to the seaweed, the Doctor and Jamie followed Robson in a second helicopter, over Megan Jones’ objections. They landed on the control rig and searched cautiously, weary of Victoria’s cries for help. Robson moved toward them as they discovered a foam filled room.

    Robson indicated the seaweed wanted the Doctor as Jamie slipped off to find Victoria. Retreating, the Doctor drew Robson into the corridor, where Victoria screamed at her captor, who retreated. The waiting helicopter didn’t see the TARDIS trio as they fled, but the Doctor, with guidance from their original pilot, used the helicopter Robson had flown to take his companions on a harrowing flight to the refinery. Megan Jones ordered oxygen airlifted there, but refused Harris’ advice to evacuate. The Doctor explained he needed half an hour to build something to boost the recorded sound of Victoria screaming, which he intended to broadcast along the pipeline. He also provided hand held sonic guns to defend the refinery against man sized weed creatures which attacked with the foamy seaweed. Victoria couldn’t generate the required scream without that provocation, prompting the Doctor to hurry to retaliate at the crucial moment. After his counterattack destroyed the seaweed nerve center, the refinery required only minor repairs. Victoria decided to stay behind with Harris and Maggie and the Doctor decided he and Jamie would stay overnight in case she changed her mind. They all said goodbye in the morning, when the TARDIS departed with just the Doctor and Jamie.

    None of the episodes from Victor Permberton’s serial exist in full, but scenes cut from the Australian broadcast remain to give us the story’s flavor. Frazier Hines, who played Jamie, narrated the soundtrack, available from BBC audio on CD. Fourth Doctor Tom Baker did likewise on a previously released cassette tape. Pemberton also novelized the story for Target books and Patrick Troughton’s son, David, read it as an audiobook. The soundtrack has also been used by Loose Canon to reconstruct the story using telesnaps. “Fury From the Deep” used the drilling rigs at sea to expand the typical base under siege story told during this season, in which several monsters debuted, including this story’s seaweed parasite. Becaue it used both Cybermen and Yeti twice and introduced Ice Warriors, DOCTOR WHO’s fifth season became known as the monster season. The seaweed monster in this serial was incredibly creepy, using telepathic, mind control powers to enslave refinery employees and execute a cunning, sophisticated plan to menace that establishment and do who knows what afterwards. It had also been on Earth so long the Doctor found a reference to it in centuries-old, nautical lore.

    Pemberton did more than provide the Doctor with a fantastic foe in “Fury From the Deep”. The serial is a solid, structured narrative creating tension as the telltale throbbing heartbeat in the pipeline became audible to character after character. This building tension was punctuated with the seaweed’s minions’ ability to emit toxic gas that hissed ominously from their open mouths, accompanied by the throbbing heartbeat sound, as victims collapsed helplessly. The story also focused on Victoria. Her touching departure was foreshadowed when the seaweed attack in the firs episode unnerved her, triggering recollections of her harrowing adventures with the Doctor and Jamie. We saw her scream make the seaweed retreat repeatedly before the story’s climax, in which the Doctor magnified its power as a weapon. This means of attack was also cleverly foreshadowed with the sonic screwdriver, operation of which the Doctor described as, “all done with sound waves.” The script perhaps foreshadowed DOCTOR WHO more broadly by describing the Doctor’s device as ‘wand-like.” Serendipity? Our main characters operate well within the story structure, too. Victoria was attacked, captured, and rescued while worrying and providing the weapon that saved everyone, her terrified scream. Jamie instinctively supported both her and the Doctor, engaging the weed’s minions physically. The Doctor, typically accompanied by Jamie, was characteristically curious, about the pipeline, the sound inside it, and the seaweed he took back to the TARDIS to test scientifically. He was also clever, musing about the solution to the crisis in an offhand comment half way through the story. For the climax, he also quickly built a machine to execute his plan to save the day. As the hero, he also surprised everyone by piloting the helicopter, albeit not brilliantly. Overall, Pemberton’s well constructed tale is a gripping example of late 1960s DOCTOR WHO. One would hope more of it will someday become available for fans to enjoy.

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