Monday 25 April 2022

Warriors of the Deep

50 years ago, the Sea Devils first emerged from the murky depths to battle the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee).

The fan-favourite marine monsters, not seen since Warriors of the Deep, are back in Jodie Whittaker's penultimate special.

Nick Smith, our resident US-based Whovian, goes on an Easter egg hunt beneath the waves.

Guest post by Nick Smith

The Sea Devils are back in a light, breathlessly concocted new Doctor Who adventure that balances imaginative ideas with classic Who tropes – a monster who wants to rule the world, brave companions, faux-exotic locations and a dash of historical fact.

When the Sea Devils first emerged 50 years ago they were eerie, lurking in the shadows of a sea fort or attacking Naval vessels. They glistened with seaweed creepiness and had strange, lamp-like weapons. The Sea Devils of today have flashing blades and high intelligence but they do not scare like their 1970s brethren.

They are different from the average Doctor Who antagonist because of their intriguing origins, courtesy of original scriptwriter Malcolm Hulke. If you have ants in your kitchen, what do you do? Call the exterminator. They’re not sentient enough for you to care about them. If you fall asleep and wake up to find your house full of the beggars, you freak out. No parlay. You kill ‘em and clear ‘em.

To the Sea Devils, we are ants. After putting themselves in suspended animation and then oversleeping for millions of years, the Sea Devils wake up to find their oceans peppered with ships and salty sailors. They love a good scrap, so they attack us from below.

In Legend of the Sea Devils, the creatures are bullies, too – or at least Marsissus is. He’s the only one we get to know; the others are mere background cyphers. Like the British colonists of old, Marsissus seeks to impose his will on the world and exterminate the pests around him.

As the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) once said during the classic era, you can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies. Marsissus has a nefarious plot but he’s not visually threatening, mysterious or scary. His quality is moderate at most.

Without a formidable foe, Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor comes across as a comedic adventuress. So the emphasis is on fun rather than a threat, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

While some Doctor Who specials can be watched any time of year and there was no Easter-centric theme to this episode, it does seem specifically designed for families full of chocolate, sleepy after church sermons, relaxing together. As such, it’s the kind of holiday spectacle that Doctor Who does so well.

Have you seen Legend of the Sea Devils? Let me know in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated for spam. Stay on topic and do not embed links. Keep it family-friendly.

Thank you.