Mar. 3rd, 2019

purplecat: Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor (Who:Five)
Warriors of the Deep is an oddly schizophrenic Doctor Who story remembered chiefly for one disastrous special effect and its closing line: "There should have been another way". Which in a way simply highlights its tendency to lurch from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Well, sublime may be stretching things a little, the nuts and bolts of the narrative have all the ingredients necessary for a gripping base under siege style tale, and some of the production looks competent to good. It is well documented that studio filming on the story was drastically curtailed due the announcement of a General Election and the Myrka monster is the most obvious casualty of this. Before it appeared I was hoping it was going to prove not quite as bad as fan memory would have it.

"Oh look!" said Tame Layman within seconds of its appearance. "It's a pantomime Myrka."

So, yes, the Myrka is that bad. It's impossible to know, as I believe the puppeteers inside it have claimed, that if they had had a little rehearsal time it would have looked much better. Certainly as a static costume there isn't much wrong with it. It's just every time the dratted thing moves it looks deeply ridiculous.

However the rest of the sets and the costumes are pretty decent, if a little 1980s. Tame Layman even commented on the effectiveness of the white scaffolding like frameworks for creating levels in the sets, though he also laughed at the bubble wrap bed sheets.

It's not documented that the script was written in a hurry, though writer Johnny Byrne (so Wikipedia tells me) complained about Saward's rewrites - including increasing the body count (so much, so Eric Saward). However it feels like a script in need of another draft. A major sub-plot revolves around the human antagonists gaining mind control over the base's sync-operator Maddox - only for them to use it entirely to get him to trash stuff, rather than actually operate the base's missiles which, presumably was the reason why he, as the only person with access to the system, was targeted. Meanwhile the Silurians and Sea Devils slowing invade the base. It was quite nice to have a base-under-siege story that didn't involve endless capture and re-capture of the base instead focusing on the invaders' remorseless advance. I'm sure this was, in part, a side-effect of only needing to fill four episodes where Troughton base-under-siege tales generally had to fill six or more. On the other hand the Myrka as well as being a terrible costume seemed to have little purpose. The Sea Devils were clearly far more effective at taking the place over than the Myrka.

It's a shame in lots of ways. I think Warriors of the Deep could have been a solid, gripping story that would been held in high regard. It's let down by a script that has all the right elements but hasn't quite assembled them together neatly enough and, well, by one truly appalling special effect.

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