Hello everyone! 🙂
Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!
On Easter Sunday this year, I saw the penultimate episode of Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ called ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. I had a fun time watching this Easter Special. The story has Jodie Whittaker back as the Thirteenth Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yaz and John Bishop as Dan.
At this point, I’m feeling rather sad that the Thirteenth Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’ is coming to an end. I know this era has had its ups and downs since it began in 2018, but for the most part, I’m glad to have experienced this particular era of ‘Doctor Who’, since Jodie is one of my favourite Doctors. 🙂
To think that only recently, I saw Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill together at the ‘London Comic Con Spring’ back in February 2022 and I’ve had photos with them. I’m lucky I was able to see and meet them in person before seeing ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ and the final Thirteenth Doctor TV story.
There’s still time to contemplate and reflect on what I’ve experienced with this certain era of ‘Doctor Who’, assessing what I’ve liked and disliked about it. Hopefully by the time I come to share my final thoughts on the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era, I’ll have more likes than dislikes about it. 😀
For now, let’s talk about what I thought of ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ as a ‘Doctor Who’ Easter Special overall. First of all, this is the second time that ‘Doctor Who’ has had an Easter Special in the TV series. The first time was ‘Planet of the Dead’ which had David Tennant and Michelle Ryan in it. 🙂
I’m sure a proper ‘Doctor Who’ Easter Special with proper Easter references would be on the cards at some point in the series. I know David Tennant’s Doctor ate an Easter Egg and said “Happy Easter!” to Lady Christina, but I would like an Easter Special featuring an evil robot Easter Bunny in it. 😀
Anyway, this particular Easter Special features the return of one of the Doctor’s oldest foes – the Sea Devils! It was great to see the Sea Devils back in ‘Doctor Who’. The first time they made a ‘Doctor Who’ appearance was in the 1972 story ‘The Sea Devils’ featuring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor. 🙂
They made a return in the Fifth Doctor story ‘Warriors of the Deep’ in 1984. They have made a return to the Big Finish audios in the new series ‘U.N.I.T.’ story ‘Assembled’. Perhaps one day, I should do my own Sea Devils story that features the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. That’d be exciting!
How do I sum up ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ overall? I found it very enjoyable. It’s certainly a pretty swashbuckling adventure, considering it’s set in 1807 China and it features pirates. Beforehand, I watched the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie on Disney+ to get the needed swashbuckling feel. 😀
With that said, I don’t think ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ is that great a ‘Doctor Who’ adventure to take home with. Now let make myself clear. It’s way better than ‘Warriors of the Deep’, but it’s not as good as the original ‘Sea Devils’ TV story with Jon Pertwee. I feel this episode should’ve been longer.
That’s the thing that annoys me about ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. It’s about 47 minutes long. That’s not usually the length a ‘Doctor Who’ special should be. Normally a Christmas or an Easter Special would be 60 minutes long. Why couldn’t this have been 60 minutes long to justify it being a special?
To further the point, ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ would have been great if it was a two-parter. If the Silurians were allowed to have a two-part comeback in ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’ in Matt Smith’s era of ‘Doctor Who’, why couldn’t ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ have the same treatment here?
Incidentally, Chris Chibnall reintroduced the Silurians in new series ‘Doctor Who’ when he wrote ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’ in Matt Smith’s era. Here he is reintroducing the Sea Devils in this Easter Special in Jodie Whittaker’s era. Chris Chibnall has a thing for Silurians and Sea Devils, doesn’t he?
Chris Chibnall co-wrote ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ with Ella Road. This is the first time I’ve come across Ella Road as a writer. I wonder if this story was first pitched to be in Series 13 before the season became ‘Flux’ and Chris decided to make ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ an Easter Special instead.
I mean that’s the impression I seem to be getting with this episode, especially with it being shorter compared to a standard 60-minute ‘Doctor Who’ special. It would make sense, considering Chris Chibnall’s initial plans for Series 13 could have been scuppered because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 😐
In terms of the Sea Devils and their design, the production team have kept to what the Sea Devils looked like in their 1972 appearance. I like and prefer this compared to the Silurians in ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’. Apparently, CGI augmentations were made for the Sea Devils’ expressions here.
I initially assumed those were animatronics in the Sea Devils’ headgear for the actors to wear, so it’s impressive the production team fooled me there. It also makes sense for the Sea Devils to look like as they are in this story, as this takes place before ‘The Sea Devils’ and ‘Warriors of the Deep’ in their timeline.
It’s a lot better than what their designs looked like in ‘Warriors of the Deep’, especially when the actor had wobbly heads to wear as the Sea Devils and they probably couldn’t see where they were going. The Sea Devils here also look like they’re wearing armour and not the string vests as in 1972.
My Dad has made fun of the Sea Devils over the years, especially when he viewed them in their 1972 appearance. He couldn’t take them seriously in this ‘Doctor Who’ special either, but I was able to enjoy the Sea Devils in this adventure, especially as their design looks match their 1972 appearance.
Mind you, there are a few things that bother me about the Sea Devils in this Easter Special. First of all, the Sea Devils don’t have the hissy voices they had in ‘The Sea Devils’ and ‘Warriors of the Deep’. I like those hissy voices! I really wish the production team kept to what they sounded like from 1972.
Secondly, despite having CGI augmentations to have facial expressions, after all the years, the Sea Devils don’t know how to move their mouths when they talk?! I know the Silurians in 2010 don’t match the ones in 1970 and 1984, but at least you could see them talking in their latest TV stories. 😐
Maybe it was difficult for the visual effects team to try and find a way to make the Sea Devils look convincing when they talked in their original designs or maybe the production team wanted the Sea Devils to stay true to their original designs as much as possible. But I feel there’s an issue with this. 😐
For one thing, the Sea Devils look silly when their mouths don’t move as they talk. I know the Sea Devils in their 1972 appearance had the same issue, but I can accept them for being like that in the 1972 story, since CGI in those days wasn’t sophisticated then. What excuse does this 2022 story have?
Thirdly, I feel the emotional dilemma that’s prevalent in the Silurian/Sea Devil stories is non-existent here. Usually, the Doctor would be the referee between the humans and the Silurians/Sea Devils when trying to make a deal between them so that they can co-exist peacefully on the planet Earth. 😐
There isn’t a moment in ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ where Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor gets to become the referee between humanity and Sea Devil-kind. This is another reason why I feel ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ should’ve been a two-parter instead of a one-parter, as the emotional dilemma would’ve been allowed.
I’m surprised Chris Chibnall didn’t put that into the story when he and Ella Road co-wrote it together. He put it in ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’, so why didn’t he put it in ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’? Even ‘Warriors of the Deep’ (much as I dislike it as a TV production) had that moral dilemma!
Jodie’s Doctor doesn’t give the Sea Devils much of a chance to be treated as equal to the humans. She’s willing to see the Sea Devils defeated in their plans and help the humans out. Although, it was good when Jodie’s Doctor became disappointed and angry that one of the humans killed a Sea Devil.
The Chief Sea Devil named Marsisuss is played by Craige Els, who previously played Karvanista in ‘Flux’. At least one Sea Devil has a name in this story. 🙂 The rest of the Sea Devils in this story are played by Jon Davey, Simon Carew, Chester Durrant, Richard Price, Mickey Lewis and Andrew Cross.
The story also features Crystal Yu as Madam Ching, who apparently was a Chinese pirate leader from 1801 to 1810 in the South China Sea. I didn’t know anything about Madam Ching before seeing this special and it’s intriguing that this special features an actual historical figure who is a Chinese pirate.
There’s also Marlow Chan-Reeves as Ying Ki, Arthur Lee as Ji-Hun, and David K.S. Tse as Ying Wai. There’s definitely a Chinese atmosphere throughout this episode, especially with the director Haolu Wang being Chinese herself. It’s also emphasised in the costume designs and the set designs of this story.
Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor herself gets the Chinese makeover in this special, especially when wearing a Chinese outfit compared to the usual Thirteenth Doctor outfit she wears. I like it when Jodie’s Doctor gets to wear new outfits in ‘Doctor Who’ compared to the standard costume that she wears.
And yes, Jodie Whittaker is excellent throughout as the Thirteenth Doctor in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. I liked it when she interacted with Yaz and Dan in this story and how she interacted with the Chinese supporting characters and the Sea Devils. Jodie continues to impress me in the series! 🙂
It was fun to see Jodie’s Doctor in a sword fight with a Sea Devil, echoing the sword fight between Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado in the 1972 story, I hope. 😀 Despite the issues I have with the Sea Devils, I liked it when Jodie’s Doctor told Yaz who the Sea Devils are and where they originated from.
John Bishop is equally good as Dan in the adventure. It was funny to see him in a pirate’s outfit, almost looking like Captain Hook from ‘Peter Pan’. 😀 I’m surprised Yaz got him to wear that outfit. 😀 The Doctor clearly disapproved. 😀 It was also interesting to see Dan have his own adventure in the story.
Dan gets separated from the Doctor and Yaz when he’s with Ying Ki and Madame Ching. In some respects, I wish that we had another season featuring Dan with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz, since he hasn’t much time to spend with them as friends since appearing in ‘Flux’ and ‘Eve of the Daleks’.
Maybe Big Finish can make up for that. I really hope so. I liked it when Dan phoned his love interest Nadia Albina as Diane at the story’s end and she phoned him back to answer his call. Hopefully Di has forgiven him following the events of ‘Flux’. Hopefully she’ll make a return in the Centenary Special. 🙂
And of course, we have Mandip Gill as Yaz. I liked it when Yaz commented about the Doctor being like ‘a kid sometimes’ when in the TARDIS. There’s also the ongoing story arc of Yaz having romantic feelings for the Thirteenth Doctor, as it was recently established in ‘Eve of the Daleks’. It has some development here.
There are hints of the Doctor knowing that Yaz has romantic feelings for her since ‘Eve of the Daleks’ by mentioning she’s taking her out on a ‘date’ at the bottom of the ocean. The Doctor also shares to Yaz that she once married (although she doesn’t mention River Song by name in this Easter Special).
I like how the possibility of Yaz and the Thirteenth Doctor being a couple isn’t done in an over-the-top manner. The two do talk about it, as the Doctor is reluctant to start a relationship with Yaz in fear of hurting her, which is understandable considering that we’re coming to the end of her tenure.
The Doctor wants to continue her friendship with Yaz as it is. I don’t know how this is going to be developed in the final episode of Jodie Whittaker’s era of ‘Doctor Who’, but I can imagine it’s going to be heartbreaking, considering the Doctor is expected to regenerate and become a new person. 😐
‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ has been an enjoyable Easter Special in the ‘Doctor Who’ series. I can’t call it a great episode, as I wish this was a two-parter and the moral dilemma between humans and Sea Devils was included. But this is a decent episode and not horrible by any means. It was nice to watch.
Also. Sea Devils wielding swords! That’s cool! 😀
I’m currently looking forward to the BBC Centenary Special of ‘Doctor Who’ next. It looks exciting from the trailer at the end of ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’, especially with featuring the Daleks, the Cybermen, Sacha Dhawan’s Master, Jacob Anderson’s Vinder and Jemma Redgrave’s Kate Stewart. 🙂
Have I forgotten anyone else? 😐
Hmm! I have mixed feelings here. Feelings of excitement and feelings of “I’m getting a feeling my theory in ‘Into the Death-Space’ is coming true.” So, for now, I’ll sum them up with “ACE!!!” followed by “Oh rabbits!” 😀
Stay tuned for the BBC Centenary Special of ‘Doctor Who’ by Chris Chibnall in late 2022!
Thanks for reading!
Bye for now!