Wednesday 5 October 2011

317 The Sea Devils: Episode Six

EPISODE: The Sea Devils: Episode Six
TRANSMITTED: 01 April 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: 625 video

The Doctor, Jo, Hart and the naval base personnel are all captured by the Sea Devils. The Master wants the Doctor's help reviving the Sea Devils. Jo stages an escape through a small ventilation shaft. The Doctor starts to build a device the Master has designed, altering the plans to his own specification. Jo finds the room the Doctor is being kept in and the Doctor gives her instructions. He activates the machine incapacitating the Sea Devils allowing Jo to free Hart, while the cowardly Walker hides, and they both escape to sea in a hovercraft. The Master wants the Doctor taken back to the Sea Devil base with him & the machine. Jo & Hart return with a naval assault team which retakes the base. The Doctor is freed and the Master taken prisoner, but he uses his hypnotic powers to escape. He steels a powerboat but is pursued by the Doctor in another landing on a beach where the Doctor is taken prisoner by Sea Devils. The Sea Devils intend to wipe mankind out and retake Earth. The machine is activated to awaken the hibernating Sea Devils. Both the Master & the Doctor are imprisoned but the Doctor tells his foes that he has reversed the polarity on the neutron flow turning it into an explosive device that will destroy the base. He proposes they escape together which they do using the escape equipment taken off the submarine. They are rescued by hovercraft just as the base is destroyed beneath them, but the Master collapses as soon as he's aboard. Arriving on shore the Doctor is reunited with Jo, but the Master has staged his collapse and escapes in the hovercraft.

The sum total of this episode is a big scrap and the Doctor being devious twice. Beyond that there's not a lot to it dramatically. Even the Doctor decides he's not onto a winner with negotiating with the Sea Devils and blows their base sky high. Some parts of the story are really rather good and quite clever but the end feels a little bit of a let down almost promoting the idea that brute force and blowing things up solve everything.

At this point we're half way through the Third Doctor/Pertwee era. There were 25 episodes in each of the first two seasons and this is the fourteenth of this season making a total of 64. There's 12 more to come this season and then two seasons of 26 episodes. We're also halfway through Jo's tenure as companion: this is her 39th episode and there's 38 more to come. So how does the third Doctor celebrate? By saying, for the only time during his five year tenure, his catch phrase: "I've reversed the polarity of the neutron flow!" The Doctor reverses the polarity of many things and does lots of things to the neutron flow but here's the only time during the five years Pertwee was the Doctor that he uses the full phrase, though it later makes an encore appearance in the five Doctors. Pertwee, and subsequently in his absence Terrance Dicks, tells a story where Pertwee found he could sing it, and thus memorise it, to the tune of the Sailor's Hornpipe and encouraged Dicks to use it more often. Since this is it's only appearance you can tell that this, like so many of Pertwee's stories, appears to have grown in the telling.

We have one new cast member to mention here: John Caesar as C.P.O. Myers who I assume frees the Doctor and holds the Master prisoner. He was in The Romans as 2nd Man in the Market, The Daleks' Master Plan (uncredited) as an Egyptian Soldier, The Ark as a Monoid, The Macra Terror as a Guard and will return in Invasion of the Dinosaurs as an R/T Soldier.

Malcolm Hulke novelised the Sea Devils in 1974 as well as documenting the making of the story in the original version of The Making of Doctor Who which he wrote with Terrance Dicks. This book contains the first mention of the Brigadier's first name which we're still, four years after he first appeared, yet to hear on television. This is the first publication to really look behind the scenes at the show and contains the first story guide as well. Several years later Dicks would substantially revise the guide centring it around the production of the fourth Doctor's first story, the Dicks penned Robot.

The Sea Devils is one of the most repeated Pertwee stories being reshown as a 90-minute compilation on 27th December 1972 which was repeated on 27 May 1974 as an Unscheduled repeat of compilation, replacing a cricket match. A little dig through Cricinfo's 1974 archive reveals that England weren't playing that day so it must have been a first class game either in the county championship or involving the Indian tourists. The program was eventually repeated episodically as the third Doctor's initial entry into the 1992 repeat season. Of the Pertwee stories Spearhead from Space, The Dæmons, The Sea Devils & The Green Death have each been repeated three times by the BBC while The Silurians, Day of the Daleks, The Curse of Peladon, The Three Doctors, Carnival of Monsters, Planet of the Daleks & Planet of the Spiders have been repeated once. The overall winner of the repeat game has had four return appearances and we'll be seeing that in a little while....

The Sea Devils was released in a double video pack in 1995. It was released on DVD on 14 Jan 2008 as part of Doctor Who - Beneath the Surface with it's predecessor The Silurians and their joint sequel Warriors of the Deep.

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