Doctor Who – Beneath The Surface

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  • All threeic battles with the Silurians and the Sea Devils! Doctor Who and the Silurians Exiled to Earth and now working for UNIT as their scientific advisor, the Doctor is summoned to an underground research center at Wenley Moor to investigate a series of inexplicable power losses. Initially suspecting sabotage, he soon discovers that the nearby cave system conceals a colony of an ancient race ca

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All three classic battles with the Silurians and the Sea Devils! Doctor Who and the Silurians Exiled to Earth and now working for UNIT as their scientific advisor, the Doctor is summoned to an underground research center at Wenley Moor to investigate a series of inexplicable power losses. Initially suspecting sabotage, he soon discovers that the nearby cave system conceals a colony of an ancient race called the Silurians. Awaking from a hibernation which has lasted millions… More >>

Doctor Who – Beneath The Surface

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5 Comments
  1. These were not my favourite stories from the Doctor Who series, the Silurians and Sea Devils are the typical low budget hokey nemisis to Doctor’s 3 and 5, but I’m still glad to add them to my dvd collection. Can’t wait for the coming story arcs in August involving Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as the Doctor and Leela, and hopefully they’ll come out with the 13 part “Trial of a Timelord” starring the notorious Colin Baker as Doctor #6 in the coming years.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  2. As if I didn’t already have enough cool things I want to waste my money on, the BBC has recently released some great collections of classic Doctor Who episodes. This particular set includes three serials – Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Sea Devils, and Warriors of the Deep – the first two featuring Jon Pertwee, and the last starring Peter Davison. Newly remastered for DVD, and with some special features, photo galleries and promotional trailers, these are classic episodes that will appeal to almost any Doctor Who fan out there.

    The common theme here, of course, are the prehistoric reptilian races – the Silurians and the Sea Devils. While perhaps not as well known as, say, the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans or Ice Warriors, these two monsters are still iconic enough to be known by most fans of the series. The first serial, Doctor Who and the Silurians from 1970, marks their first appearance, when UNIT asks the Doctor and Liz to investigate a series of power failures at a secret nuclear facility. They quickly find out that a race of intelligent reptiles are awakening from hibernation and wish to reclaim the earth from ‘primitive apes’. Can the Doctor negotiate a peaceful solution? Of particular note, this is the first time that Doctor Who and the Silurians has been released in full color glory.

    The next serial, also starring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, finds the Doctor and Jo paying a visit to the Master (played by Roger Delgado, with all the evil charm he gave that role) on an isolated prison island. But little do they know that the Master has tricked his warden into becoming a willing pawn in his game, or that he is building a device to communicate with a race of recently awakened marine reptiles. When the Doctor starts investigating some missing ships, he uncovers the Sea Devils, and recognizing their relations to the Silurians he encountered earlier, once again tries to sue for peace, even as the Navy begins launching an attack. Can the Doctor avert disaster?

    Finally, coming full circle, the next disc is ‘Warriors of the Deep,’ a 1984 serial with Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor. Set in a future earth where two powers stand on the brink of nuclear war, the Silurians and Sea Devils have formed an alliance to once again try and take over the earth. Their plan? Take over an undersea military base and launch an attack, causing the humans to wipe each other out. As always, the Doctor and his companions (Tegan and Turlough) show up at just the right time, and get captured on suspicion of being saboteurs. Just to complicate things, there really ARE saboteurs in the base, working for the unnamed rival superpower, but even they don’t know of the impending Silurian-Sea Devil threat. Once again, the Doctor argues against bloodshed. Can he stop a war which would annihilate all three species?

    All in all, this is a great boxed set for any Doctor Who fan. It includes all of the Silurian and Sea Devil episodes, collected together for the first time, along with a bunch of special features any true fan would love to see. Especially if they are a fan of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. It also showcases the Doctor’s personality, always standing for the path of least bloodshed and trying to negotiate with alien races. I recommend this, along with some of the other classic Doctor Who episodes now on disc, for any sci-fi fans out there. Especially if you enjoy the new series; you owe it to yourself to watch the originals as well. Very good stuff!
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. BENEATH THE SURFACE is one box-set that contains three stories — three distinct takes on a simple, basic premise. The idea behind all of them is that a race of reptiles evolved into a superior intelligence on Earth, long before the dawn of man. Forced into a state of advanced hibernation millions of years ago, these beings have awoken in the present day and are shocked and outraged by the presence of humans all over the planet they perceive to belong to them.

    The story begins in the Jon Pertwee era with a script that the production team originally conceived of as a reaction against the Doctor’s exile being dominated entirely by extraterrestrial invasion and mad scientist stories. Malcolm Hulke’s script for DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS does a great job of portraying the Silurians as intelligent creatures who view humanity as nothing more than a nuisance. Humans who survive encounters with the monsters living in the caves are driven mad with primeval fear. The Doctor must work as a neutral third party to prevent a war that would have large casualties on both sides, a theme that repeats itself throughout the three stories.

    The second serial is THE SEA DEVILS. Produced two years after the previous story, the sequel concerns the underwater cousins to the Silurians. Ships are going missing, and with help from the Doctor’s foe, the Master, the Sea Devils are gathering their strength. This story tones down the horror aspects but adds a very successful action/adventure flavor. The inclusion of Roger Delgado’s Master is always a welcome bonus.

    The third of the trilogy is far and away the weakest entry. Twelve years later, the Doctor Who production team presents us with WARRIORS OF THE DEEP which attempts to recreate the moral quandaries that existed in the originals, but totally fails to deliver any depth. In the story, the two sets of Earth Reptiles join forces to recapture the Earth, yet the plot misses the heart of the past serials. Bad production values and painfully static battle sequences leave us with a story that lacks everything that made the two earlier entries great.

    As with previous Doctor Who DVD releases, the extras are extremely comprehensive. Each story has a making-of documentary which details both the script writing processes and the physical production. Each story has two commentaries (an audio featuring a mixture of cast and crew, and a textual, production notes commentary), which in all cases are a fine balance of informational and entertaining.

    As a fan, I had a great time. First, I watched the stories (for the first time in a long time). Then I watched the documentaries. Then I rewatched the episodes with the commentaries enabled. This was a lot of fun. With three different types of storytelling here, there should be something for every fan.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. We get 2 gems from the Pertwee era and one of the Davison era’s weakest. The Silurians really set the stage for the 70s in Doctor Who. A monster story like this from the 60s would have had the monsters be evil and the Doctor eagerly destroying them. Malcolm Hulke often had no real bad guys in his stories, just groups in conflict with different points of view. The Doctor tries to make the peace between Silurians and humans but is thwarted by distrusting members of both sides. A very progressive view fitting into the Doctor’s late 60s/early 70s setting. The part with the Silurian disease spreading thru the populace was the most frightening. The Silurians are a bit disappointing as monsters but are wisely kept in shadow in the first half. 7 parts are at least one too many, be ready for slow going by today’s standards. The ending is amazing, how often does the Doctor lose?

    The Sea Devils goes over the same ground but in a more light hearted vein. Barry Letts had softened the show in the 2 years since the Silurians so when the Doctor meets their cousins here, not as hesitiant or preachy. The Master adds a lot to the story as does the British Navy. If it wasn’t for freebies like the Navy’s OK for use of their ships & bases, so many Doctor Who episodes would be all cheap looking studio work. Pretty much an action romp and a fun ride.

    Warriros of the Deep is the turkey here. The epitome of bad Doctor Who. I think it’s not so bad, the script has lots of promise. They were just too ambitious and very rushed on the job. I like Davison as the Doctor and think he’s underrated. The Silurians and Sea Devils come off much weaker here and different from their eariler appearences. The sea base is overly lit and has no atmosphere, the Myrka creature is laughable and on screen too long, the battle scenes have no sense of drama or danger, the Doctor conveniently finds anti-reptile gas, everyone but our regulars die off by the end. They did better later in this season with Resurrection of the Daleks. Here, the closing line says it all…”there should have been another way.”

    Overall, a good purchae for hard core Doctor Who fans, even WOTD is worth it for extras and audio commentaries from the cast about how bad it all was.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  5. Several times on the bonus material for “Doctor Who and the Silurians”, then-script editor Terrance Dicks explains the origins for that story’s eponymous villain. With the Doctor exiled to Earth and the TARDIS disabled, Dicks was told by one of his writers that the show was now limited to just two story types: alien invasion, and mad scientist. Realizing he was painted into a corner, Dicks decided to invert the scenario by commissioning an alien invasion from a species that was already on Earth before man rose to prominence.

    Thus was born the Silurians, the memorable (and mis-named) villains that recurred on “Doctor Who” enough times to fill out their own box set. The opening story, from 1970, is the longest and most intriguing: a team of scientists in the caves under Derbyshire inadvertently awaken a hibernating reptilian species that had been asleep for tens of millions of years. First in secret and then in the open, the Silurians attack not only the scientists but then all of mankind. From a low-key opening episode, the stakes escalate until the world is threatened by an Ebola-type virus in part six.

    “Silurians” was Malcolm Hulke’s first solo contribution to the series (he’d previously co-authored two Second Doctor episodes) and he became a mainstay of the Third Doctor’s run on the show. DVD extra features are strong: the deepest audio commentary booth to date (seven show contributors rotate in and out) provides tons of insights; guest actor Geoffrey Palmer narrates a terrific documentary that compares the relatively gentle pace of the 1970 serial to today’s more condensed and frenetic adventures. This choice of narrator is brilliant, to coin a phrase: not only did Palmer guest-star in a recent new “Who” episode, but his son also directed four episodes last season.

    The second story, “The Sea Devils”, is Hulke’s sequel to the earlier story, featuring the inadvertent revival of a marine cousin to the Silurians. This is a far more action packed episode: the Doctor and the Master have a lengthy swordfight in episode two, and the cooperation of the Royal Navy leads to several land and sea combat sequences in the closing installments. There’s a submarine subplot, and two comedy sequences that have since been duplicated in new “Who”: the Master captivated by a children’s television programme, and the Doctor and Jo staging a lengthy mime sequence through a plate-glass window.

    The “Sea Devils” bonus features are highlighted by an unusual commentary booth: Dicks, producer Barry Letts, and show director Michael Briant exchange the usual compliments and potshots, but this time they’re joined by Andrew Cartmel, the show-runner for “Doctor Who”‘s final three seasons. Cartmel’s run was characterized by tight internal continuity and very little navel-gazing into the series’ past: to have him discuss a story nearly 20 years before his time gives fascinating insight into the type of “Who” he later chose to produce.

    The final DVD, “Warriors of the Deep”, comes from much later in series history (it opens the Fifth Doctor’s final season in 1984) and has aged the least gracefully of the three stories. This time, there’s no debate on whether or not the Silurians and Sea Devils can co-exist with the human upstarts, they’re just out on a highly effective seek-and-destroy mission. There’s hardly a smile to be had in 90 minutes, and the only survivor among the large guest cast does so impliedly and offscreen. Ingrid Pitt, the queen of horror flicks, has a thankless small role which doesn’t allow her to exchange so much as a word of dialogue with the Doctor; her exit from the show was later derided by writer Johnny Byrne on an Internet newsgroup as “the mother of all drop-kicks”.

    The extras for “Warriors” are perhaps harsher than they need to be. Everyone involved in production — director, writer, actors, visual effects designer — shows up to get their kicks in. “Warriors” was one of my first stories as a young fan in 1984 and I’m sorry to see the story hasn’t matched my memories; however, having everyone involved throw stones at it 25 years later is perhaps a bit much.

    On the whole, though, the box-set features the entire Silurians/Sea Devils running story, with two classic Doctors and a boatload of moral dilemmas. Even if the best material comes at the beginning of the set, it’s still a fascinating release.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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