Whilst we still cross our fingers and hope that more missing episodes will be discovered, animation remains the best way of recreating these adventures. ‘Fury from the Deep‘ is the latest and perhaps one of the best releases yet.
Positioned during Season 5 of Doctor Who ‘Fury from the Deep‘ is a return to the ‘base under siege’ storyline which epitomised the monster era of Patrick Troughton‘s tenure as the Doctor. The proliferation of gas supplying households in the UK made for an obvious subject to be twisted through Doctor Who’s sci-fi and horror blender. Sea rigs also made for an interesting subject, particularly to try and film but more of that in the special features. Unlike other stories, the Doctor and his companions have arrived after the creature has established itself. Mr Oak and Mr Quill, for instance, have already been taken over. Now the time and space travellers have to lead the fight against it.
The story by Victor Pemberton is also full of interesting characters. From the abrasive Robson to the academic Harris and all those that surround them fill the episodes. Conflict makes for good drama hence the various characters butting heads throughout. However you prefer to enjoy these missing adventures you are sure to be catered for. The animation is provided in monochrome or colour. If you enjoy telesnap reconstructions which are closer to the actual episode transmissions then those are available too. Whichever way you decide to watch ‘Fury from the Deep‘, you’re likely to be fully engrossed in a terrific story.
‘Fury from the Deep‘ must’ve been a tricky story to animate. There is plenty of action and movement for the characters plus foam and seaweed. Even the TARDIS materialisation isn’t as simple as in most stories. There is an element of creative licence taken but as we lack the vast majority of the visuals there is little harm in that. For example, the creepy movement of the seaweed protruding from sleeves is particularly effective but unlikely to have been present in the sixties. Similarly, some nice establishing shots convey the scale of the refinery are unlikely to have been seen in 1968. The helicopter escape seen in the final episode was also far less dramatic in reality and originally played for comedy. This version works far better.
Animation is provided by Big Finish Creative Limited in association with Digitoonz Media & Entertainment and Thaumaturgy. Doctor Who alumni Gary Russell is credited as producer and director alongside Luke Marcatli but more of that later. They, along with their substantial team, have produced a superb Doctor Who adventure. It just so happens to be an animated one. The weed creature also looks far more impressive than the 16mm behind the scenes footage suggests, if a little too humanoid, and the crew is more diverse. Victoria and Robson in the helicopter being reversed is however a very minor gripe. Recreation of the scene where Mr Oak and Mr Quill attack Mrs Harris is equally effective in animation. Another scene which has been well-realised is the conclusion of the final episode.
This story is notable for seeing the departure of Victoria Waterfield. There is a lovely scene where Victoria struggles with the realities of travel in the TARDIS. Unlike Leela’s sudden departure in ‘The Invasion of Time‘ which occurs out of the blue, earlier scenes foreshadow her farewell. This material is beautifully handled by the sorely missed Deborah Watling, even if we only have the audio. When the moment finally arrives to leave it is heart-wrenchingly poignant.
Nothing happens suddenly. Victoria has time to consider things allowing for another scene between Victoria and Jamie. Given the room to breathe, these final few minutes allow for sad looks and emotion to be conveyed not just in words but in expressions. It’s a shame we don’t have the real footage because Watling and Frazer Hines are clearly acting their socks off in their final scene together. The best compliment I can pay is that the moment is not lost in the animated version and remains deeply emotional.
‘Fury from the Deep‘ offers a gripping story, strong characters and a wonderfully ethereal soundtrack from Dudley Simpson. Mark Ayres has performed a terrific job restoring the audio to accompany the animated visuals. Those visuals are incredibly impressive. The story remains dramatic and thoroughly engaging. Unlike other six-parters which have a tendency to drag a little, Fury does not. Those who remember it recall an absolute classic. Now, through animation, the rest of the Whoniverse can appreciate how truly excellent ‘Fury from the Deep‘ really is. As for the animation this may just be the very best one yet!
The Cruel Sea – Surviving Fury from the Deep
Perhaps one of the most anticipated documentaries since ‘Our Sarah Jane‘ on the Season 14 box set has been ‘The Cruel Sea – Surviving Fury from the Deep‘ by Chris Chapman. This brand new feature is shot at the same location as the exterior work for ‘Fury from the Deep‘. Frazer Hines is reunited with Michael Briant who was production assistant on the story. Together with assistant floor manager Margot Hayhoe, helicopter pilot Mike Smith, June Murphy (Maggie Harris) and Brian Cullingford (Perkins) they tell a very thorough tale of the production. Other individuals such as writer Victor Pemberton, director Hugh David and Deborah Watling (Victoria) are also present through archive material.
An extensive shoot was undertaken to Red Sands sea fort and the footage is absolutely stunning so credit has to go to Chris Chapman and his crew. There are some wonderful stories shared and these animated releases allow for them to be told. I’m sure there are just as many stories to be told about the filming at Red Sands too. The Cruel Sea is a wonderful documentary.
Surviving clips, film trims and behind the scenes footage all offer a tantalising glimpse of what the episodes would’ve been like. It is pleasing to see how useful that existing footage, plus the telesnaps, proved to be to the animators with Gary Russell and Luke Marcatli, plus others, discuss ‘Animating Fury from the Deep‘. The final result speaks for itself and the amount of work which has gone into it is incredible. This feature gives an insight into the complexities involved in the production. From the global coordination to the various layers required for each set, it makes for a fascinating feature.
Also included is the 1966 audio drama ‘The Slide‘. This 7 part serial starring future Master Roger Delgado and Maurice Denham (The Twin Dilemma) has significant similarities to ‘Fury from the Deep‘, not much of a coincidence as they were written by the same author. It exists as an interesting companion piece and with Doctor Who fans likely used to listening to sci-fi on audio it is an opportunity to enjoy more storytelling from the genre. There are of course audio commentaries, info text and a photo gallery.
These three discs are packed full of content. You can enjoy the story in multiple ways, see brief glimpses from the televised episodes and learn about the original production. The animated story is close to perfection and it is easy to conclude that this DVD/Blu Ray is flawless as well.
Doctor Who: Fury from the Deep
The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Victoria and Jamie to the Kent coast of England, where the ESGO complex is drawing up natural gas under the North Sea via a huge network of pipes linked to their off-shore rigs.
But the Doctor is convinced he can hear something in the pipes, a heartbeat, something… alive? Others at the complex have heard it too, and one by one contact with the rigs is being lost. But Chief Robson will have none of it, and work will continue. And so it does… until sentient, aggressive seaweed begins attacking the base and taking over the personnel one by one, creating a spearhead from which is will launch its attack and enslave the entire human race…
Can the Doctor discover a way to stop the weed advancing? Or does the only real chance of success lie with Victoria and if it does, can a way be found to utilise that without harming one of the Doctor’s very best friends…