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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Here's what we think

Ponken

@ponken

3.1

Here's what you think

3 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!

    Reply

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