TV Review – ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

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!

Tim. 🙂

4 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Timelord 007

    I don’t buy the Doctor/Yaz relationship it feels forced & tagged on in the last minute i just prefer platonic Doctor/Companion relationships & focus more on the plot & adventure.

    This was ok i wouldn’t say it was a classic & i agree this needed to be longer in length & the Sea Devils not lip syncing was weird but i was entertained & Jodie always good as the Doctor but this felt like a episode that was abandoned from the original series 13 than a Easter Special.

    Be interesting see final episode with Ace, Tegan & UNIT returning for Jodie’s swansong.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘Legend on the Sea Devils’.

      Re: the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz relationship. I agree it’s not great, but I’m glad it’s not done in an over-the-top manner and that the Doctor turns Yaz down because of the dangers of their adventures together. I prefer a romantic relationship between companions like Nyssa and Billy and Amy and Rory rather than a Doctor-companion relationship. It’d been done with the Tenth Doctor and Rose, so I don’t see the need for it to be brought up again with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz. We know it’s going to end in tragedy for the Doctor and Yaz, so why bother?

      Yeah, it was disappointing with the Sea Devils not lip-synching and their voices not matching to what we know of them in ‘The Sea Devils’ and ‘Warriors of the Deep’. I enjoyed this adventure however, despite it not being long enough. I think a two-part adventure would’ve been better. It does feel like an abandoned Series 13 episode instead of an Easter Special, doesn’t it? Incidentally, I wondered if that sea creature used by the Sea Devils was the Myrka. I don’t think it is though.

      I’m looking forward to seeing the final Thirteenth Doctor adventure on TV, especially with Ace and Tegan in it. Not sure if their appearances will tie to stories like ‘At Childhood’s End’ and ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ though. Somehow I doubt it. We’ll have to wait and see.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  2. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    I enjoyed ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. It’s not amazing looking back on it, but there were lots of good things to take away from it.

    I suppose it was rather weird that the Sea Devils didn’t move their mouths when talking. Despite that, I enjoyed seeing them here. I didn’t realise that Craige Els played the main one. I feel as though Dan had some of the best moments especially when he went up against the Sea Devils and at the end. I haven’t really minded the Doctor/Yaz relationship so far, although your arguments against it are sound. I’m still planning on reviewing ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’, although I’m not sure whether to re-watch it on iPlayer, or wait until it is released on Blu-Ray with ‘Eve of the Daleks’.

    I might as well briefly talk about the Centenary special. It’s nice that Vinder, Kate Stewart and the Master are coming back. I definitely found it a nice surprise to see Sophie and Janet in the trailer, especially in Janet’s case since she hasn’t done any acting since the mid-80s. I believe the last thing she did was the Seventh Doctor audition tapes. I can’t really argue with your viewpoint that your ‘Into the Death-Space’ theory is coming true. Although, I have heard arguments that Tegan’s fate in ‘The Gathering’ is pretty depressing. I’m pleased you and Timelord007 still like the Thirteenth Doctor era, despite the flaws with this story, unlike some people. Speaking of which, have you ever been directly berated for simply liking the Thirteenth Doctor era?

    I hope to share my thoughts on ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ tomorrow morning. My thoughts on ‘The Five Doctors’ should be shared soon afterwards, then I can re-watch ‘Warriors of the Deep’.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. I’m pleased you enjoyed the episode. It isn’t great, but it was decently entertaining. I’d forgotten Craige Els was playing one of the Sea Devils in this special. I didn’t realise he was the chief one. 😀 The character moments with Dan are great. I hope he gets to reunite with Diane in the next episode. So far, the Thirteenth Doctor/Yaz relationship hasn’t been too bad for me, but again, I don’t think it’s going to end happily ever after, knowing that Jodie Whittaker will change into a new person by the end of her swansong. I’ve already pre-ordered my Blu-ray copy of ‘Eve of the Daleks’ and ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ on Amazon. I look forward to your review on the Easter Special when you get a chance to review it.

      I’m not sure what’s going to happen when Ace and Tegan return in terms of where they stand regarding continuity. It seems, according to the trailer, that the events of ‘The Gathering’ and ‘At Childhood’s End’ never happened for Ace and Tegan, as each of them claim they haven’t seen the Doctor in 4 or 3 decades. Maybe an explanation will be given for why Ace and Tegan can’t remember those events. Perhaps it’s connected to the multiverse situation in the fifth episode of ‘Flux’. Somehow I doubt it and I’m not sure enough time will be given to explain the continiuity aspects of Ace and Tegan’s place in the episode, considering the focus of the episode will also be on the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, Vinder and Kate Stewart as well as Yaz, Dan and the Doctor. I’m saddened Nyssa isn’t in the episode, or maybe she will be in the episode and it’s going to be left as a surprise. 😀

      I’ve never been directly berated for simply liking the Thirteenth Doctor era. I did share my thoughts on the first five episodes of Series 11 to some friends on Facebook and they seemed quick to judge Jodie Whittaker and her era rather harshly without considering my feelings on the matter. I felt hurt and decided not to share any more reviews on episodes of Jodie Whittaker’s era, since I wanted to focus on the rest of Series 11 and enjoy the episodes without anyone colouring my thoughts beforehand.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’, ‘The Five Doctors’ and ‘Warriors of the Deep’ soon.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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