OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 609
STORY NUMBER: 132
TRANSMITTED: Thursday 05 January 1984
WRITER: Johnny Byrne
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Eric Saward
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Beneath the Surface (The Silurians / The Sea Devils / Warriors of the Deep)
The Doctor is attempting to show Tegan some of her future history but when they materialise in Earth Orbit in 2084 they find themselves attacked by a Sentinel space station. At the same time on the sea floor, Sea Base 4 tracks a craft on the seabed and when the probe sent to dispatch it is destroyed, both incidents trigger a test run for missile firing during which missile operator Maddox collapses. He is taken to the sickbay where the base's doctor, Solow, gets her commander, Vorshak, to release the vital duplicate program discs so she can help Maddox. Solow & second in command Nilson are enemy agents who intend to use Maddox to immobilise the base's weapons. The craft is revealed to be piloted by three Silurians who arrive at an underground base to revive some of their Sea Devil cousins. Evading the Sentinel space station the Tardis materialises on the seabase for repairs but the Tardis crew are soon found and pursued by the base's guards during which the Doctor falls from a gantry into a water tank and is assumed drowned.
That's not a bad first episode at all taking rising international tensions and the threat of Nuclear War, ever present themes in the early 80s, and marrying them to the return of two of the Third Doctor's most successfully monsters. Both have had a redesign, although we don't see the Sea Devils clearly here. The Silurians redesign involves something of a re-arrangement of the head and the addition of armoured bodies but I can live with the idea that they're a slightly different species of Silurian to what we saw previously. I like the clean bright base set but the writer apparently intentioned it to be a dirty rusting type affair.
No the element of the production I have a problem with is Sentinel Six. I knew it was a Star Wars X-Wing fighter model kit from the moment I first saw it in the Radio Times Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special, with the nose chopped off and what looks like the tops of batteries stuck all over it. The production subtitles for the story try to tell you this but unfortunately identify the base's probe, destroyed off-screen by the Silurians' unseen Myrka, as the ship built from an X-Wing kit.
Oooh, the Hexachromite Gas found in the chemical store that's lethal to Marine and Reptile life. I wonder what that'll get used for. Hang the sword on the wall.....
For the Fifth Doctor/Peter Davison's first season (19) episodes were shown on Monday/Tuesday nights. Then for the next (20) episodes were (generally) shown on Tuesday & Wednesday meaning I missed nearly all the even numbered episodes as I was at cubs on Wednesday night. This year (season 21) episodes move to Thursday & Friday meaning I'd get to see them ..... but as we shall see circumstances result in me missing one crucial episode shown on a different night.