Editor’s Note: On this Day…..is a look back at all things Who, past and present.
Warriors of the Deep: Part 2
Broadcast on January 6th, 1984 @ 6.40pm (7.5m viewers)
BBC1’s Friday night entertainment for January 6th, 1984 began with the second episode of the first serial of a new Doctor Who season, Part 1 having been broadcast the day before. Producer John Nathan-Turner was at the height of his confidence, having pulled off a successful 20th anniversary special, the Doctor Who Celebration at Longleat had exceeded all attendance expectations and successfully bringing back the Cybermen and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. In fact, the 20th season also saw returns for Omega, the Black and White Guardians and the Master. It was, therefore, no surprise that the opening of the 21st season sees another rummage into the programme’s history, and this time, it is two monsters last seen over a decade ago which are selected for a return.
The Silurians and their aquatic cousins, nicknamed ‘Sea Devils’ by a delirious crew member, provide an enticing inclusion to the opener of the new season. When the Cybermen reappeared for ‘Earthshock’ in 1982 they had been given a fresh new look which retained their traditional style. The Silurians and ‘Sea Devils’ would also get a redesign with new masks and suits, with both creatures very impressively realised and looking immaculate when favourably lit in the Silurian’s battle cruiser. A newly design Silurian mask retains a vague resemblance to the originals but the central third eye is now merely used as a tool to show the audience which one is speaking as with the Daleks.
Part 2 also sees the ‘Sea Devils’ being revived, waking from their slumber, so we can get a full appreciation for their samurai-style armour which is far more impressive than their previously worn string vests. Sauvix, the only speaking Sea Devil, also retains the whispering speech tones featured in their original appearance and his eyelids opening and closing is a small touch that makes the creature all the more realistic. However, it is when they reach the Sea Base where they suffer from harsh lighting. Similarly, the Myrka, one of the most ridiculed creatures to feature in the show’s history, looks intriguing when glimpsed through the collapsing bulkhead doors but once it stumbles through is largely unconvincing and non-threatening. Sadly the impact of the cliffhanger is then reduced with the hope for the next installment centered on the ability of the Doctor (Peter Davison) and Tegan (Janet Fielding) to get through a locked door.
Prior to this the episode starts with an impressive stunt, from the previous cliffhanger, and Turlough’s damning verdict that the Doctor has drowned. Fortunately, it quickly transpires that that is not the case with some very nice underwater photography. The story moves forward effectively, with the Silurian’s preparing their attack on the Sea Base, the Solow and Nilson conspiracy subplot, the TARDIS crew being captured and then preparing to fight off the impending attack. The model work in the episode is very impressive, with nice shots of the Silurian battle cruiser and the Sea Base in the murky ocean depths. However, it is that strong, overly bright lighting on the Sea Base itself which is jarring, breaking the illusion that they are at the bottom of the ocean.
Sadly, behind the camera all was not well on the story’s production, thrown into chaos because studio recordings were brought forward, meaning the Myrka in particular did not have enough time to be prepared for filming. However, with the exception of that creature’s inability to manoeuvre convincingly, this episode comes across as a solid production with detailed sets, unique costumes and impressive monsters, all one could ask of Doctor Who.
Turlough is captured. The Doctor quietly infiltrates the bridge in a rescue attempt and then clutching a weapon a standoff begins. However, to gain the Commander’s trust he hands over his weapon. It is such a simple act but very typical of this particular Time Lord, unaccustomed to carrying weapons. Immediately, the Doctor proves he is no threat and then demonstrates his knowledge concerning the Silurians, proving that his best weapon is indeed his intelligence.
Watch a clip from the episode below as the Doctor warns Vorshak not to fire on the Silurian battle cruiser.
Also first broadcast On This Day…
- The Enemy of the World: Episode 3 (1968)
- The Three Doctors : Episode 2 (1973)
- The Power of Kroll : Part 3 (1979)