Friday 30 September 2011

312 The Sea Devils: Episode One

EPISODE: The Sea Devils: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: 26 February 1972
WRITER: Malcolm Hulke
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Beneath the Surface (The Silurians / The Sea Devils / Warriors of the Deep)
Episode Format: 525 video RSC

The story opens with a ship radioing that they are attacked and then being cut off..... The Doctor & Jo go to see Master in prison, he's being held in a former castle on an island. Colonol Trenchard, the prison's governor, tells them of ships sinking and demonstrates the anti hypnotic blocks placed on the guards to prevent the Master from controlling them. The Master claims that prison has reformed him but still won't tell the Doctor where his Tardis is. The Doctor admits to Jo that he & the Master were once friends and even went to school together. The Master thinks that The Doctor was more interested in the vanishing ships than him and is angry when Trenchard says he mentioned it. The Doctor visits the local naval base and examines one of the damaged boats before he's apprehended by the Navy and taken to see Captain Hart. Jo is looking for the Doctor while the Master watches the Clangers on television, joking with Trenchard that he thinks they are interesting extraterrestrial life forms. Trenchard has brought the Master some naval charts that he uses to plot the boat attacks finding that there's an old see fort that Captain Hart is using for sonar testing in the middle of the attack sites. The two man maintenance crew aboard are feeling uneasy. The Doctor tells Captain Hart that he thinks the boat was deliberately attacked when Jo Grant arrives with the passes to vouch for his identity. The Sea Fort is attacked and one of the crew is killed with the other encountering a creature. The Doctor takes his borrowed boat to visit the Sea Fort. While inside their boat is destroyed. As they seek a radio to use they are stalked by the creature we saw earlier and realise something is coming towards them.....

Welcome to Doctor Who's big sequel story. Indirectly this is a follow up to three previous stories, although one of them isn't obvious yet and another is more a case of a behind the scenes connection. Obviously this is the continuation of the Master's story and since the Dæmons he's been tried and imprisoned. From the dialogue it would seem this is the first time the Doctor's been to see him and although he claims to be reformed even in this episode you see he's up to no good and has the gullible prison governor under his thumb. At this stage we know nothing about the monster, but that has a connection to a previous story as we'll see later.

The story is also effectively a Mind of Evil sequel: there the crew were assisted by the Army. Here they sought out the help of the Navy, in which both producer Barry Letts and star Jon Pertwee (and indeed his predecessor Patrick Troughton) had served. The Navy were only too pleased to be involved and after the show was broadcast waved the fee for the rights to some of their training footage that the BBC incorporated into the finished serial because they felt their exposure in the show was so positive.

Three cast members only appear in this episode: Royston Tickner plays Robbins, the boatman who takes the Doctor & Jo to the island, was Steinberger P. Green in The Daleks' Master Plan while Neil Seiler is the Navy Radio Operator who'll reappear as Commander Stewart in Death to the Daleks. Brian Justice is Castle Guard Wilson who the Master tries to hypnotise, was an uncredited Guerilla in Day of the Daleks and returns as Yates' Guard in The Green Death. Both The Green Death & Death to the Daleks were directed by Michael Briant who is in charge here and as we'll see he's quite fond of "doing a Camfield" by reusing actors in other stories!

The episode of The Clangers the Master is watching is The Rock Collector. Years later, in the new Doctor Who series, John Simms' Master would pay homage to this scene by watching an episode of In The Night Garden. The Clangers is probably the earliest thing I can remember watching on TV and can be found on 2 separate DVDs for Series 1 & Series 2.

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