C062 The Sea Devils


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A Master and Commander, an Officer and a Gentleman, and Tonnes of Seamen. Behold the aquatic cousins of the Silurians!



Doc and Jo are off to visit The Master, who (like a less maniacal Richard Branson) has his own island. Imprisoned there indefinitely, and with unfettered access to sabres, robes and moustache wax — not to mention the most lax prison warden ever — The Master has got it in his brain to team up with yet another non-human civilisation.

This time he has partnered with the Sea Devils, aquatic cousins of the Silurians (or Eocenes, as is rectified in this serial), to defeat mankind and reclaim this blue marble in the name of reptiles wearing chainmail everywhere. Wonder if it’s going to backfire on him.

Here's what we think

Ponken

@ponken

2.6

Nikulele

@nikulele

2.4

Here's what you think

10 Responses to “C062 The Sea Devils”

  1. Peter Zunitch

    Honestly I’m not sure why this story gets such a bad rap. It certainly suffers from pacing issues, but any classic who fan should walk away more than satisfied. A heavily nautical Who show is rather rare, and I enjoyed the fresh approach with a unique enemy.

    The Sea Devils themselves look great, save the restricted mouth movement, and I much prefer this version to the slow moving ones in Peter Davison’s era. As a race they are well realized, and portrayed with a strong culture, society and technology. It’s a plot hole though that they can’t fix the most important machine to their existence on their own, and they do tend to flounder around a bit during the action scenes. I can imagine there was more than one actor tripping and bumping about during production.

    After seeing the Master at the naval base, there’s a good stretch that seems to drag on forever, and the writing makes everyone look dumb for not seeing the obvious. Removing much of this could have really picked up the pace.

    While the entire cast puts in a solid performance, only JP really stands out. Even Roger Delgado, while flawless, has less of an impact this time around. Honorable mention however goes to the Sea Devil leader who at times actually somehow manages to emote in that hard shell of a costume.

    I admit I’m biased towards this episode, but that’s only because, well… I just like it, that’s all. Thus in my book it earns a, “Sorry my dingy and motorcycle are gone, but I do have a tricycle you could rent”, 3.2

    Reply
  2. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    I think Peter Zunitch was onto something when he said any Doctor Who story that has a castle in it tends to be rather good.

    One thing this story plays well with is the suspense. The Sea Devils melt through doors, attack sea forts, and are menacing throughout the story. Similar to how their land cousins the Silurians were done, you don’t get a good look at them until later in the story. I think that’s the way to go instead of having them be revealed in the cliffhanger of part one. Mystery is good.

    We’re halfway into the third Doctor’s era and The Sea Devils reaches an apex in ambition and quality. This could almost be the quintessential Pertwee story, but for the absence of UNIT. In their place we have the Royal Navy – the odd bit of scratchy archive film, but lots of fresh footage shot in and around naval facilities in the Solent. Lengthy negotiations with the Ministry of Defence paid dividends. “If we’d had to pay, it would have cost us thousands of pounds, but in fact it cost us nothing,” said producer Barry Letts. “It was good propaganda for the Navy.”

    The Sea Devils is one of those rare stories that get everything exactly right. Forget Jaws. It was this 1970s Doctor Who classic that gave British kids the shudders during their seaside holidays. Like “Doctor Who and the Silurians” before it, I shall also give “The Sea Devils” a 4.0/5.

    Reply
  3. Arthur Fuxake

    I’d like to just start by explaining that I chose the name “Arthur Fuxake” because that’s what I mutter to myself sometimes when I watch this programme. I’m talking about those dreadful moments of classic Who that we just love to hate (and that make this great show so wonderfully unique). My “Arthur Fuxake” moment for this serial therefore has to be the appalling background music, even though I understand it has since become something of a cult favourite among soundtrack collectors.

    As for the serial itself, I thought it was great, and a fitting sequel to the earlier Pertwee adventure featuring the Silurians. I especially enjoyed Delgado’s performance in this, as the Master was indeed on tip-top form and at his charmingly sinister best throughout. The Doctor, Jo and all the supporting cast were also excellent and I found the Colonel Freemason character particularly entertaining. I was however interested to note that although all the prison staff were trained to resist hypnotism, the Colonel himself was unable to resist the powers of gentle persuasion.

    All-in-all, a thoroughly gripping and well-paced yarn for a six-parter. It falls away slightly towards the end, but an enjoyable example of traditional Doctor Who nevertheless. A rampant smattering of humour, irony and sarcasm throughout, as well as open-plan Citroëns, CCTVs that look like air vents, The Clangers, and turtle-headed Sea-Devils in string vests that run like girls. What more could you possibly ask for?…

    My score for this has to be a 4.15 (recurring)

    Reply
    • Arthur Fuxake

      Congratulations on another great podcast, guys. Hugely enjoyable, as always!

      I agree that the curious CCTV screen effect looks more like a venetian blind than it does an air vent and that it has indeed been used before, as you rightly mentioned in this week’s podcast. I’m not exactly sure if it has been used in other sci-fi of this era, but the instance you may have been referring to could possibly be the scene in which the alien commander communicates with the Doctor in one of the later episodes from “The Ambassadors of Mars”.

      PS: I will admit to being one of those people who searched for the Vicky upskirt shots on your site, but only because I first heard you guys mention it in one of your previous shows… er… or something… :-D

      Reply
  4. After apparently contemplating executing the recently captured Master, the authorities instead decide that the next best thing is to entrust him to a gullible duffer and some moustachioed Gendarmes. And it’s a good thing they did, because otherwise we wouldn’t have The Sea Devils. It’s a fantastic story.
    Thanks mainly to the involvement of the Navy, but also to some well-chosen stock footage, excellent model work, plenty of location filming and the (mostly) great sets, this story looks terrific. It’s also incredibly charming, with nice moments such as the Master watching the Clangers or everyone bribing the ferryman. And Jo gets to be badass here, knocking out guards, rescuing the Doctor and piloting a freaking Hovercraft.

    The guest cast is also great. Trenchard came across as rather noble at the end, although still an idiot, while Walker was hilarious as the story’s most villainous character. Captain Hart makes for a good Brigadier substitute (making Blythe this episode’s Benson). Although since he manages to kill more monsters with one burst of a machine gun than UNIT managed in two years, perhaps they should be headhunting him to replace the Brigadier.

    The negatives? The music is best described as interesting. The Sea Devil base looks a bit lacklustre. And the Doctor again makes several questionable decisions, particularly: why tell someone to watch a master hypnotist closely? Isn’t that exactly what you shouldn’t do?

    And finally, I love that at all times the Master carries a rubber mask of himself. He clearly now expects all his schemes to fail, so he’s beyond well prepared to make a getaway.

    I’ll give it 4.4

    Reply
  5. Kyle Rath | @sinistersprspy

    Greetings, Old Chaps! Do you enjoy incidental music that sounds like a synthesizer dry humping an accordian? How about fish people in fish net clothing? Maybe some Venusian Akido with a dash of incomprehensibly placed fencing sabers?

    Well you’re in luck! On this silky smooth Delgado Moustache ride that explores the depths of governmental bureaucracy, The Doctor and Jo hang out with the Navy, plumb the upside down with the Whisper Fish 5000 Sonic Silurian Band (sorry – that should be Eocenes) and Euros Holmes, I mean the Master tries to sort out his FINAL PROBLEM with the help of Mr. Grumble Bum from The Rock. He eventually says fuck it and runs off in a slow moving hovercraft, which is clearly beyond the scope of the Royal Navy, or Air Force, or anything with more than 15 horse power to catch.

    My jockularity aside, this serial is not bad, showing just how crappy it can be when you are trying to be diplomatic and end up eradicating part of a unique species. Jo is imminently resourceful, and we get a bit more backstory to the Doctor/Master relationship.

    First times: “Reverse the polarity of Neutron Flow”. Used twice. Here and in the 5 Doctors. ONLY.

    This is one of those stories that shows just how good of a man the Doctor is, and why we don’t deserve him.

    3.5/5 for the number of trips back and forth between the base and the Naval yard, the off putting music, and the fact the Silurians/Sea Devils/Eocenes got fucked over again

    Reply
  6. Tracey | @yecartniatnuof

    Review:
    Hovercraft escape AND a jet ski chase?!?!

    Rating: This is the future baby!

    Reply
  7. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    The last of three ships sank mysteriously before the Doctor and Jo visited the island where the Master was imprisoned. All was not as it appeared, not even on the high tech screen from which Trenchard, the warden. could watch the Master from his office. He mentioned the sunken ships before his visitors saw his prisoner. Curious, the Doctor asked questions on the island and learned a lifeboat with a scorched hull was recovered from one shipwreck. Examining it at a naval base, he determined it had been attacked from underwater. After Jo joined him, they went to a sea fort in the center of the shipwreck sites, and found a dead maintenance man before being marooned as their boat was destroyed. Looking for a radio, they found a delirious man talking about sea devils. After the Doctor and Jo sedated him, a sea devil attacked. The Doctor turned the tables on the creature, chasing it after fighting it off. The sea devil escaped before the Doctor used a transistor radio as a microphone to contact a helicopter the naval base commander, Captain Hart, sent searching for him and Jo. At the base, the Doctor advised keeping sea lanes clear to enable him to negotiate with the sea devils. Trenchard, who arrived suddenly to discuss golf, was working with the disguised Master, whom Jo spotted after he stole stores and attacked a seaman. Since the phones were dead, the Doctor told Jo to go call UNIT and get Trenchard replaced. The warden, though, somehow used the same phone to order Jo detained.

    Returning to the island, the Doctor discovered the Master had learned about the sea devils from the Time Lords and planned to revive them so they would wipe out humanity. The Master attacked, prompting a duel with swords, after which he accused the Doctor of trying to kill him. Trenchard arrested the Doctor, but Jo eluded capture. Meanwhile, Hart’s secretary persuaded him to check on Trenchard because she worried about the Doctor and Jo. The warden put his friend off while a sub Hart sent patrolling, was attacked and boarded underwater. The Master, Trenchard, and guards chased the Doctor and Jo, who had rescued him, to a beach, where they were caught between a labeled mine field and sea devils the Master summoned from the sea with a machine he’d built. The sonic screwdriver enabled the Doctor and Jo to cross the mine field and make the pursuing sea devil retreat. The Master explained he told Trenchard they were fighting spies because the patriot would never have believed the truth. Trenchard tried to contact Hart, who was busy looking for the captured sub. The Master summoned sea devils to retrieve him from the island and wipe out his jailers, including Trenchard. The Doctor, Jo, and Hart confirmed the Master’s rescue and Hart’s people tracked the sea devils to the sea fort. There, the Doctor persuaded Hart to let him use navy equipment to examine the sea bed. After descending, he disappeared.

    A Ministry man arrived at the naval base to coordinate an attack on the sea devils and eat breakfast. Meanwhile, the Doctor outlined the creature’s history and proposed releasing the sub as a sign of good faith to enable peace negotiations. The Master objected, claiming mankind was weak. Their attack began, supporting the Doctor’s contention mankind was strong. The sea devils ordered the Doctor killed as they prepared a counterattack, sending bodies and debris to the water’s surface to make the navy believe their attack succeeded. The Master persuaded them to delay their counterattack and raid the base so he could steal parts for their faulty hibernation unit. Meanwhile, the Doctor escaped; disarmed his escort; and freed the sub’s crew. They blasted through a force field to get away. Back at the base, the Doctor persuaded Hart to let him return to the sea devils as the Ministry man proposed a nuclear strike and ordered lunch.

    Sea devils captured the base, despite the Doctor’s heroics. The Master showed the Doctor his preliminary plans for a machine to pinpoint and revive sea devils around the world. Meanwhile, Jo escaped with help from Hart while the Ministry man worriedly went to pieces. The Doctor told her to free the navy men when while the machine, for which he immediately proposed improvements upon seeing the plans, put out a high pitched noise that disoriented the sea devils before a firefight started. The Master fled with the machine, prompting hot pursuit. Sea devils caught both the Master and the Doctor, returning to their base, where the machine was hooked up and the Time Lords were imprisoned. As the Ministry man prepared his nuclear strike, the Doctor told the Master he had set the machine to overload the sea devils’ power and recommended they both escape. Once they did, the navy rescued them seconds before the sea devils’ base blew up, enabling the Master to escape from his rescuers. The nuclear attack was never launched.

    “The Sea Devils” was a sequel which naturally reviewed familiar plot points from writer Malcolm Hulke’s earlier, similar story,“Doctor Who and the Silurians.” Only the title character from the original reappeared. If fact, it was the second sequel to take place during the Doctor’s exile on 20th Cenctury Earth, which severely limited the show’s storytelling scope. Both of Hulke’s stories featured bureaucrats with undisputed authority. In “The Silurians” this man’s name was appropriately, and ironically, Masters. He had nothing to do with the Doctor’s nemesis, who returned in “The Sea Devils” without using a variation of his name as an alias. His inclusion enabled the newer story to be more than a rehash of the original, resuming the Master’s duel with the Doctor. Throughout the previous season, the Master joined forces with dangerous aliens he badly underestimated and got into trouble from which the Doctor’s efforts extracted him while saving the day. Earlier stories also established the Master stole information from the Time Lords and “The Sea Devils” revisited this plot point. At the same time, the Doctor’s familiar role had multiple facets including the Master’s adversary and UNIT’s scientific adviser.

    In the serial with the Silurians, he brought an unbelievable, true tale about the discovery of an ancient, intelligent race on Earth to the Brigadier and his UNIT superiors, prompting the question of how humanity might respond. Would we wipe them out or try to coexist peacefully? History repeated itself in “The Sea Devils,” where the Doctor worked with the British navy. Their involvement necessitated mostly location shooting and likely enabled the serial to be made at all. Producer Barry Letts considered filming parts of his Silurian story in real caves, but elected to have studio sets built instead that looked great. Jo also looked great crawling through vents and climbing ladders in white trousers. She was active in this serial and frequently made herself useful to he Doctor. Both used their UNIT affiliation to visit the Master and the same association kept the Doctor from being clapped in irons after arriving at a top secret naval base to examine the scorched lifeboat. He told a guard at the prison Jo carried his credentials, making the idea Captain Hart took him seriously ridiculous. Despite some oddities, this serial was ambitious and imaginative as it tightened and elevated familiar, intersecting story lines into an enjoyable, thought provoking narrative.

    Reply
  8. I really like this serial. And I’m sorry I’m another one on the great sound design bandwagon. Don’t joke too soon though, the Dalek trumpet arse quip might come back to haunt you in a future story. Another favourite of mine. I may need help.

    Reply
    • Haha thanks David! We’ll promise to give the sound/music another chance in the mutants. And you don’t need help, we might though. Thanks for listening, Nik

      Reply

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