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The three stories below are the first fruits of my new Lovefilm subscription. Apparently realising I'd been immersed in the Pertwee era anyway of late, they started me off with Beneath the Surface boxed set: two Pertwee stories and a Davison one, all about the related races of the Silurians and the Sea Devils.


Third Doctor: The Silurians
We begin in 1970, with yet another Political Pertwee Story, this time exploring issues of immigration and imperialism. It's the very beginning of the Earth-bound UNIT era, with the Brigadier in full flow but no sign yet of Benton or Yates as established characters (though I know Benton had appeared two years earlier in The Invasion). The TARDIS is noticeable only by her absence, but that being the case, I see better now why Bessie was introduced - she fulfils the same role of something eccentric and anachronistic which marks the Doctor out as unusual, and also gives him something to fix.

The story is generally strong, tackling serious issues with admirable gravitas, developing the character of a nearly-new Doctor very nicely, and serving up some great secondary characters. I found the scenes of plague spreading through central London genuinely poignant, and enjoyed the portrayal of the Doctor trying desperately to broker a peace, only to be frustrated by the hasty xenophobia of both humans and Silurians. Both Geoffrey Palmer as a self-important government minister and Peter Miles (aka Nyder from Genesis) as the increasingly impatient director of the nuclear research centre are plausibly motivated, and inspire sympathy in spite of their basic unpleasantness. There is also a real sense of personality amongst the Silurians, causing tensions to emerge between them as some incline towards peace and others disagree (though the one who ousts their original leader and takes over has a very silly voice). For all this, though, I would have welcomed some occasional relief from the Great Seriousness of Events in the way of small touches of humour here and there.

In fact, Liz Shaw (whom I'm encountering here for the first time ever) appears particularly affected by the Seriousness bug. She's is certainly intelligent, independent and competent - she works out, for instance, that Quinn is lying about his movements by checking the route he claims to have followed on a map, and she also identifies the correct combination of drugs to cure the plague which the Silurians have unleashed on humankind. But there is very little personal warmth about her interactions with the Doctor - or indeed anybody. Their relationship is entirely matter-of-fact, and their conversation revolves around nuclear power and antibiotics rather than personality or humour. This is, in fact, an important insight for me into what I really like in a companion: intelligence and independence are certainly important, but my favourite companions tend to have a sense of fun and a capacity to care as well.

On the face of it, Liz is portrayed as a self-aware feminist. When the Doctor and the Brigadier prepare to go down into the caves and find out what has been killing people, she protests against their order that she should remain behind by exclaiming, "Haven't you ever heard of female emancipation?" But when the Doctor says that 'this time', the Brigadier is right and she should stay, she capitulates - something which I suspect that Sarah Jane, and even Jo Grant, wouldn't do (or at least they would only pretend to!). The story also fails the Bechdel test miserably, since there are only two other female characters in it (a technician at the research centre, and a farmer's wife), and Liz never engages in direct one-to-one conversation with either of them.

And there's another issue, too. I haven't seen the episode where she is introduced, so I don't know exactly what we're told on screen about her credentials. But I've no reason to doubt the Wikipedia article about her when it lists her full name as 'Dr. Elizabeth Shaw', and says that she has been recruited from the University of Cambridge. And yet she is consistently called 'Miss Shaw' by absolutely everyone on the show, including the Doctor. I'm not going to get too worked up about this, since the programme was made in 1970 after all - though it's certainly a flaw in a show which generally tended to lead the way on positive portrayals of under-privileged groups. But I can't help thinking that if Doctor Who had shown Dr. Shaw's academic credentials being acknowledged and respected back in 1970, perhaps female academics wouldn't still be facing modern instances of the same problem now.

In summary: a good story, with plenty of interesting ideas and characterisation. But Liz Shaw is something of a disappointment, as is the portrayal of women generally, and matters would be greatly improved by inserting a little humour and personal warmth into the relationship between Liz and the Doctor.


Third Doctor: The Sea Devils
Two years later, it transpires that the Silurians had marine cousins, and now they are emerging from an undersea base and threatening to take over the world, too! This story is by same writer as The Silurians, and revisits many of the same debates: especially when the Doctor again tries to negotiate a peace between the human and reptilian sides. This time, though, the Master is inserted into the plot, soaking up some of the role of the power-hungry scientist, Quinn, from the previous story, and also removing the need for dissension amongst the Sea Devils themselves, as he is there to persuade them not to go along with the Doctor's plans for peace instead.

The plot is good and pacey, with action sequences that actually felt quite exciting this time (contra Planet of the Spiders), including a Master / Doctor swordfight, and a great cliff-hanger in which the Doctor and Jo abseil down an actual cliff face, only to find themselves trapped between the Master, some hostile soldiers, some Sea Devils and a minefield. What was clearly some very generous cooperation on the part of the Royal Navy seems to have helped a great deal, too, so that the story benefits from a very 'wide-open' feeling in terms of sets and locations, as well as the presence of absolutely dozens of naval personnel as extras. I felt that this was capitalised on by some particularly strong camerawork in the form of interesting angles and close-ups, too.

Meanwhile, the strong characterisation demonstrated in Hulke's earlier story is again apparent, especially via the greedy and lazy, but essentially moralistic Colonel Trenchard, whose personality flaws allow the Master to manipulate him to his advantage. The Master himself is very compelling, too - his circumstances at the beginning of the story (imprisoned in a fortress) allow room to show his as resigned and penitent, as well as courteous and genteel, and then to flip all this on its head as his Evil Schemes emerge over the course of the story. And my main complaint about The Silurians - its Terrible Seriousness - is very nicely addressed here by dozens of lightly humourous scenes: the Master watching The Clangers and believing that they are real, the Doctor's transmitter blowing up in his hands just after he's said it was 'a remarkably efficient piece of work', their verbal banter as they conduct their swordfight, the Doctor's sarcastic barbs when he is taken prisoner, and so on. I haven't quite watched enough of the Pertwee era yet to know whether this is symptomatic of a general development in the tone of the scripts over the course of his time as the Doctor, but I'm beginning to suspect that it is - and to approve heartily.

And then of course there's Jo. This story was in fact my first ever introduction to Jo - not this time round, but when I was about fifteen and it got repeated on the BBC. I liked her at the time, but more recently came to fear that this was because I had been less feminist-aware then than I am now, and hence had overlooked brainlessness on her part, and patronising dismissal on the part of the Doctor. Then I saw The Claws of Axos, and felt that this suspicion had been confirmed.

Coming back to this story, though, I wonder if I've given my fifteen-year-old self too little credit. I mean, don't get me wrong - she certainly isn't a feminist icon, and it's pretty clear who is the dominant party in the relationship between her and the Doctor. But all the same, she is actually very likeable here: and not just because of her darling false eyelashes and cream-and-purple flared suit! For one thing, she has a real sweetness and warmth which Liz Shaw completely lacked in The Silurians. She's ready to tease and joke with the Doctor - for example when he's trying to turn a radio receiver into a transmitter when they are stranded in a sea-fort. She also genuinely likes the Doctor, being concerned for his safety when he goes down under the sea in an observation capsule to look for Sea Devils. His gentle reassurance suggests that he likes her, too - something which was far from clear in The Claws of Axos.

That fondness for the Doctor also gives her the motivation to be pretty adventurous when necessary. She rescues the Doctor from prison when he is captured by Colonel Trenchard, evading capture, climbing through windows and helping to overpower the Doctor's guard in the process. Later on, when she, the Brigadier and a blustering Parliamentary Private Secretary are captured by the Sea Devils, she clambers heroically through an air-vent while Mr. PPS just stand there wibbling nervously about it. She also actively challenges him soon afterwards when he orders a nuclear attack against the Sea Devils which she knows will endanger both the Doctor and, by invalidating his peace negotiations, the Earth. (Side-note: would a Parliamentary Private Secretary really have authority to give such an order anyway? Wouldn't a Minister with higher status need to be there in person?)

Actually, the contrast between the brave and plucky Jo and the aforementioned self-satisfied yet cowardly PPS rather suggests that (as with Liz Shaw) Malcolm Hulke is at least attempting to insert a feminist element into his story. Similar intentions can be detected behind a couple of scenes in which the PPS very patronisingly orders a female naval officer named Blythe around, assuming that her role is to fetch his tea and take his coat. Her mutinous looks make it very clear where our sympathies are supposed to lie as an audience to this, and it is all part of establishing the PPS as an unlikeable character. But for all that, the story is again a crashing failure from a Bechdel test perspective - and for much the same reasons as the last.

New Who Watch saw resonances between the scene where the Doctor and Jo are miming instructions to each other through his prison window and the famous Donna / Doctor mime scene in Partners in Crime (though I still think that's a reference to Martha in 42, too), and also suddenly felt all Midnight-ish when the submariners were trapped at the bottom of the sea, and Something started banging on the outside of their ship. Perhaps more significant than those minor resonances, though, was the resolution of the cliff-hanger scene I mentioned above, in which Three and Jo set off through the minefield, and he used his sonic screwdriver to detect and remotely activate the mines. This is much more like Ten's handy-magic-wand style screwdriver than anything I can recall Four doing with it, and I can't help wonder if it was a formative influence on the way the New Who production team are now using it.

Overall: much on a par with The Silurians, but for me I think the insertion of the Master, the lighter dialogue and the warmer companion make this one slightly preferable - even if we've lost a small degree of poignancy in the process.


Fifth Doctor: Warriors of the Deep
Finally, a full twelve years later, both Silurians and Sea Devils resurface, to face off against the Fifth Doctor in the year 2084. I might have enjoyed this story more if I'd taken the same approach to it as I did The Monster of Peladon - i.e. watch it first, without the influence of its predecessors. As it was, though, it looked terribly weak compared to the other two.

The Silurians and Sea Devils themselves are kind of indicative of the problem. Their costumes have been updated, but, paradoxically, this actually manages to make them look far less 'realistic'. In the two Pertwee stories, each Silurian and Sea Devil costume looked different, while the Silurians in particular also had their own distinct personalities. Here, though, they all look and behave identically - and in the context, this seems to mean extremely woodenly. They stand there stiffly, speaking in monotonous and overly formal language about Battles and Outcomes and Destruction, and showing absolutely none of the personality or emotion of their predecessors. And the Sea Devils, who are supposed to be at home in a marine environment, never even get wet, but have swapped their charmingly-alien green net dresses for padded armour. In short, they are to all intents and purposes not organic creatures at all, but functionally and effectively Cybermen.

The human characters are not terribly much better. When they are introduced in the first episode, their establishing dialogue is sufficiently subtle that they may as well be wearing big badges saying 'Scheming Villain', 'Psychologically Unstable Outsider' and 'Hard-Edged Commander' - and it's not even worth talking about subtleties like the Bechdel test. The studio-bound nature of the story also compares pretty badly to both The Silurians and The Sea Devils - especially the latter. As for the plot, it is interesting on paper. Humanity is divided into two power-blocs, who are busy squabbling between themselves, while the Silurians and Sea Devils by contrast cooperate with one another, and indeed plan to destroy mankind by exploiting their disunity, and sparking off a full-scale war between the two opposing sides. This could have made for some quite powerful contemporary relevance, but it is never really explored in any depth. In fact, this script lacks both the serious weight of The Silurians and the light banter of The Sea Devils. The only humour seems to be unintentional - e.g. when Ingrid Pitt attempts karate on a giant green pantomime horse.

For all that, I found Peter Davison quite compelling at the centre of the story. He gets some good opportunities to fire up with anger at narrow-minded and self-serving humans, but also to show his ingenuity, and his concern for Tegan in particular. At the end, he finds himself in a very similar situation to Pertwee's Doctor, witnessing the deaths of the Silurians and Sea Devils because neither they nor the humans would accept a truce. His reaction is slightly different - Pertwee gave us resigned despair, like a man who knows he shouldn't have expected any better, but had allowed himself to hope all the same, while Davison gives us a darker anger - 'There should have been another way'. I think I like Pertwee's approach better, but (insofar as I'm able to judge) Davison's seems to suit the way the character of the Doctor has developed in the intervening time very well.

Meanwhile this story was my first ever (that I can remember) introduction to Turlough. I don't really know anything else about him (other than the bald facts gleaned from his Wikipedia entry), but on the basis of this story, I think I'm going to like him. He seemed well-rounded and complex, very much with his own independent agenda, but ready to show a fierce and hot-headed loyalty to the Doctor when he is in danger. I look forward to getting to know him better.

Finally, as for The Caves of Androzani, it transpired on watching this story that I had seen it as a child, and I was at last able to pin down some more of the weirdly-disjointed memories I have of childhood Who as coming from this story. Once again, the specifics of what I remember from it tell me quite a lot about what I was watching Who for at the age of seven and a half. The scenes I remembered were:
  • During the first episode, the Doctor telling his companions "When I say run, run. Run!" as the sea-base personnel discover them in the reactor room. (I did not, of course, know at the time that this was really a Pat Troughton line).
  • The cliff-hanger to the same episode, in which the Doctor appears to drown in the reactor tank.
  • The resolution to that cliff-hanger, in which it turns out that he was OK after all, and managed to breathe some bubbles from an underwater pipe and get out of the tank through a circular air-lock.
  • His reunion with Tegan after this, in which she says "Doctor, I thought you were dead!", and he replies "Yes, so did I for a moment."
  • The Doctor's grimaces in episode four when he is hooked up to the sync machine which allows him to stop the sea-base from initiating a missile attack.
Meanwhile, what I don't remember in the slightest is anything to do with the plot, the Silurians and Sea Devils, the secondary human characters, or indeed Tegan and Turlough beyond their role as generic companions. What this tells me is that my seven-year-old self was entirely fixated on the character of the Doctor, paying almost no attention whatsoever to companions or other characters; was profoundly affected by cliff-hangers (as also in The Caves of Androzani); didn't really bother trying to follow plots beyond the level of OMG TEH DOCTOR IZ IN DANJUR!; and liked clever / paradoxical dialogue. And all that's worth knowing about, because of course seven-year-old kids have always featured strongly in the programme's target demographic. I may not think this particular story is amongst Who's greatest televised adventures as an adult, but it very clearly worked for me as a child.

Final analysis: a pretty poor showing next to the previous two stories, but Five acquits himself well, I'm intrigued by Turlough, and I'm pleased to have finally pinned down some more floating scraps of childhood memories.

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Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Aug. 26th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, so I saw in your write-up! Lucky you. :-)
rosaguestlist
Aug. 26th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
"But there is very little personal warmth about her interactions with the Doctor - or indeed anybody... This is, in fact, an important insight for me into what I really like in a companion: intelligence and independence are certainly important, but my favourite companions tend to have a sense of fun and a capacity to care as well.. "

Hmm, I suppose that I don't really expect companions to be likeable and I sometimes tend to prefer them when they're not. As I recall, the most enjoyable thing about Spearhead From Space is Liz's rather acerbic comments to the Doctor and Brigadier. By the same token, I'm really quite surprised to hear you saying you like Turlough, as he very often both treacherous and cowardly (Warriors is later I suppose and he had become a little more heroic by then).

- K
strange_complex
Aug. 26th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, you're right - Turlough doesn't fit my ideal 'independent but warm' model. But he struck me as interesting, and good value in plot terms. I do also like companions whose relationship with the Doctor is a little tense or antagonistic - as for example Romana I when she first appears. I guess I would choose a more warm-hearted companion over an antagonistic one, but in practice enjoy the variety between them.

As for Liz, I've only seen the one story with her so far, of course, but the real problem I have with her is that I'm just not seeing very much personality of any kind yet - warm, acerbic or otherwise.
huskyteer
Aug. 27th, 2008 09:40 am (UTC)
She's very likeable in 'Inferno', to my mind, and genuinely concerned about the Doctor.
rosaguestlist
Aug. 27th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Well, Inferno is notable for two reasons - firstly, that she has to take over without the Doctor in one world and secondly, the parallel version of her in the other. Inferno seems more and more striking after time for showing characters like Liz and the Brigadier in such a nasty light - whereas most (if not all) of the characters in the parallel earth Cyberman story were shown as better than their actual selves.

- K
steer
Aug. 26th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to get too worked up about this, since the programme was made in 1970 after all - though it's certainly a flaw in a show which generally tended to lead the way on positive portrayals of under-privileged groups.

Apparently during screenings of the Star Trek pilot in 1964 the audience reaction was very bad to Majel Barret in the role of first officer. The reaction from female viewers of the pilot was "who does she think she is"? This is quoted from memory from the intro to the episode on a video I have. I guess a US audience would be more conservative in that way than a UK audience but still... Pertwee is occasionally very patronising and occasionally the scripts allow him to get away with it.

What I really liked was those victorian sea forts in the Sea Devils (that is the right episode isn't it?). They're amazing things. Apparently some still inhabited too.
strange_complex
Aug. 26th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, they are indeed in The Sea Devils, and I agree, That story really benefits from a good range of interesting sets and props (for values of 'props' which include large boats!).
steer
Aug. 26th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
swisstone
Aug. 26th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
Two points of information.

1) The Silurians comes from the first Pertwee season, where a deliberately more adult tone was being taken that in the Troughton years, part of the general revamp of the show. But neither producer Barry Letts nor writer Terrance Dicks much cared for that (it had been the idea of Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant, who promptly got moved onto Paul Temple before they could put their vision of Who into full effect. So by the time of The Sea Devils, they'd reverted to a much more family-friendly approach. hence the Seriousness of the first story, and the greater warmth of the second.

2) Jon Pertwee did not care for the character of Liz Shaw, who was too close to being the Doctor's intellectual equal (reading between the lines, he didn't much get on with Caroline John). Hence the lack of warmth. And Liz has some decent material to work with in Spearhead from Space, but rapidly drops back into Companion mode, another factor in John not feeling too unhappy when she was dropped from the show.
strange_complex
Aug. 26th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Righty-ho - all much as I suspected.

On 1), it's good to see that Seriousness was considered important, but in the end The Sea Devils is closer to what I'm personally look for from a Who story. Things can go too far the other way, though! (But I suspect from our discussions of the Tom Baker era that you and I disagree to some extent over where that point comes).

On 2), I see from your comment and Kharin's (under the guise of rosaguestlist) above that I should suspend full judgement of Liz until I've seen Spearhead from Space. I also think it's fundamentally a good thing that the programme was trying to create an intellectual female companion character at all, even if it didn't really work out. But I doubt she's ever going to become one of my favourites.
big_daz
Aug. 26th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
I remember watching the Sea Devils as a youngster- don't remember much about the plot, just the Sea Devils themselves. I suspect I must have caught the story when it was repeated as I was only 3 when it was originally shown.

The two Pertwee stories hold up well though, and I think they did a good job recolourising "Doctor Who and the Silurians" too.

If you watch them, you'll notice that the S7 stories are completely different to what went before (more adult themed) and also have a different in feel to what came after. I have Spearhead from Space and the partially recolourised Ambassadors of Death on BBC VHS and Inferno taped off the telly, BTW.

Warriors of the Deep promised so much (teenage fanboy Daz c1984= squee at the prospect of the Silurian/ Sea Devils' return) but was made of fail. It was badly made, the main culprit being that is was overlit, thus removing any atmosphere that it might have had. The Myrka is about as crap a Who monster as you can get too -it was operated by the two fellas who played Dobbin the pantomime horse in Rentaghost, which says it all.
strange_complex
Aug. 26th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
I think they did a good job recolourising "Doctor Who and the Silurians" too

Yes, they certainly did! I didn't even realise they'd had to until I watched the documentary about it on the DVD (although I had thought the print was a bit fuzzy).

Alas, I'm not really in a position to appreciate the difference between season 7 and the ones either side of it at the moment, as I haven't seen any of season 6, and the only story I've seen from season 8 is Claws of Axos. This is the sort of thing you lose by not watching things sequentially. :-( But I've already picked up on it just from The Silurians, so will continue to look out for it as I fill in the rest of the stories around it.
ladyguinevere83
Aug. 26th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
SciFi Channel ran a Doctor Who weekend of 'classic' series episodes this weeken, and as I had nothing else to do, I watched a lot of it... including Warriors of the Deep. I hadn't seen the earlier episodes on them (or at least, not in the last ten years), and of all the episodes I watched, that was one that interested me less than most. I don't know what it was; it just didn't grab me. Though I agree that the Doctor acquitted himself well.

Caves of Adrozani was another one that was on. I had wanted to see that for a while, and I did enjoy that more, though without knowing that was her purpose, I could easily spot that Peri was added for supposed sex appeal.

Edited at 2008-08-26 08:45 pm (UTC)
strange_complex
Aug. 26th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, I watched a few of those myself! In fact, my next write-up will be of Earthshock, which they showed on Sunday.
internetsdairy
Aug. 26th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Sea Devils has some of the mentalist incidental music ever heard on TV, doesn't it? The radiophonic album it was on used to be 50% of my tape collection.

strange_complex
Aug. 26th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, it does! Though The Silurians is close behind, with a sort of Whovian swanee-kazoo effort.

I'm forced to ask now about the other 50%... ;-)
internetsdairy
Aug. 27th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
Complete Madness.
xipuloxx
Aug. 26th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
I find the music in "The Sea Devils" just unbearable, that in "The Silurians" is also poor, but at least tolerable. I also think "The Sea Devils" lost too much of the moral amiguity of the earlier story; in neither it nor "Warriors of the Deep" are we given any real reason (other than the Doctor's say so) to consider these reptilian creatures as anything other than just another monster.

And yes, poor "Warriors". Not a bad idea really, but hopelessly badly done. According to the doco on the DVD there were severe time problems, and a lot of things (more than usual) had to just be left because they had to get on with making the damn thing. I don't think anyone was very happy with the end result. But I love Turlough; a really unusual companion, who worked well with Davison's Doctor.

Your comments about Liz Shaw are interesting. I, too, thought it was a bit odd that she was always referred to as "Miss" even though she had a doctorate (actually multiple doctorates, I think). I suspect that it may have had something to do with the fact that calling her "Doctor" might have been thought to be too confusing for the kiddies. Later, of course, they played with that idea with Harry Sullivan: "Look, I'm the doctor." Tom: "No, you are a doctor. I am the Doctor. The definite article, you might say!" But yes, the fact that it didn't seem to be a problem referring to Harry as "Doctor Sullivan" does seem to indicate that a certain sexism might have been in play. Bah. Still, at least they were making an effort not to have a screaming girlie; unfortunately, that was what Jo all too often was (not all the time though, or she'd have been Mel unbearable.

As for Bessie, I'd only ever really thought of her as part and parcel of the Pertwee era -- comes from readin the Target novelisations as a kid y'see -- but I think your suggestion for why she was introduced is probably right. Sorry for referring to a car as "she" by the way, it's something I never do in real life, but since Bessie has a name and is invariably referred to as "she" it feels weird to call her "it". That's another kind of sexism though, don't you think?

Anyway, yes, season 7 was a lot more adult and serious; though I'd never thought of "The Silurians" as humourless, I can see where you're coming from. They toned that down gradually; a pretty good mix in season 8 (e.g. "The Sea Devils"), but getting too silly by season 10 I feel (e.g. The Three Doctors, in which the Brigadier is portrayed as a complete chump. Come to think of it, there are hints of that already in season 8, in "The Daemons" in particular.) Season 11, though disliked by many Pertwee fans, is an improvement IMO; I loved "The Time Warrior" and "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", and have never understood why "The Monster of Peladon" is so unpopular, though I do think "Curse" is better.

Having said that, I heartily recommend both "Spearhead from Space" and "Inferno" from season 7; two of my absolute favourite Pertwees.

strange_complex
Aug. 27th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
in neither it nor "Warriors of the Deep" are we given any real reason (other than the Doctor's say so) to consider these reptilian creatures as anything other than just another monster.

Yes, good point. I guess it's a consequence of introducing the Master into the story. In The Silurians, they are the main villains, so we get several scenes with them in their base, and find out about their motivations and their reactions to the discovery that there are over-grown apes running around on their planet. But in The Sea Devils, those scenes all go to the Master instead. So you're right - they come across as a lot less complex.

Sorry for referring to a car as "she"... That's another kind of sexism though, don't you think?

Yes, I suppose it is - although I did the same with the TARDIS in my own write-up! I guess it does carry the slightly distasteful implication that any vehicle referred to in that way is a vessel to be filled with and put at the service of men, and that that is an inherently female quality. But I'm also aware that it has its roots in Roman culture, when any inanimate objects or concepts (e.g. virtues, places and indeed ships) that were personified were always represented in female form. Again, probably because they were viewed as subject to and existing for the pleasure of men - but then again they were also being venerated in the process. So, in short, maybe it's not ideal as as regular thing. But when it comes to vehicles like Bessie or the TARDIS with a real 'personality' of their own, I kinda like it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to building up a fuller picture of the Pertwee era, so I can see properly how different seasons in it compare to each other.
huskyteer
Aug. 27th, 2008 09:39 am (UTC)
Sea Devils is a great favourite of mine - it was the Third Doctor story chosen when the BBC ran a story from each Doctor many years ago, and thus the first time I saw Pertwee on the screen having fallen for him through the Target books. I particularly remember the spooky incidental music.

Note that in the last series the Master was shown watching Teletubbies!
strange_complex
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:10 am (UTC)
Yes, that's when I first saw it, too. I reckon it must have been around 1991/2.
weepingcross
Aug. 27th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
I remember the novelisations of The Silurians & The Sea Devils as being particularly good, as I suppose might only be expected considering Malcolm Hulke wrote them. But I can't remember how accurately they reflected the serials. In The Sea Devils Col. Trenchard finally does something brave in an attempt to atone for being duped by the Master, and (I think) attacks the Sea Devils, but forgets to take off the safety catch on his revolver. The Doctor notices this when his body is found, and secretly turns the catch so that nobody will know. Very poignant - as you can see I remember it after twenty years or more - but is it in the programme?
strange_complex
Aug. 27th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm pretty sure that happens in the onscreen version, too. There's certainly something going on with Pertwee picking up and examining / adjusting Trenchard's gun after his death, anyway, although I don't think I had quite picked up on what it was supposed to imply until I read your explanation.
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