‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
What Lies Beneath? – Silurians
Silurians and Sea Devils!
These ‘Doctor Who’ monsters fascinated me and I was looking forward to finding out more about them in this DVD box-set. I had the ‘Beneath the Surface’ DVD box set for my birthday in May 2008.
These three adventures are spread out across two eras of the show’s history. The first two stories are with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and third story is with Peter Davison’s Doctor. I’m sure you’ll find this DVD box set worth having the entertained. I enjoyed all three adventures in each of their own ways.
‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ is a seven-part story by Malcolm Hulk on a 2-disc DVD. Disc 1 contains Episodes 1-4 whilst Disc 2 contains Episodes 5-7. The story features Jon Pertwee’s Doctor; Liz Shaw; the Brigadier and U.N.I.T.
This story is set at a scientific research centre built into a network of caves in Wenley Moor. Power losses and mental breakdowns occur and U.N.I.T. investigates. Both the Doctor and Liz Shaw discover a connection as the Silurian race is reviving after sleeping in hibernation for billions of years.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ signed by director Timothy Combe, who I met at the ‘Pandorica 2014’ convention in Bristol, September 2014. I told Tim that my name was Tim and he claimed to be my namesake, which I found funny. It was a pleasure to meet and chat to him.
I chatted to Timothy Combe about the story, as I mentioned that it had kept my interest all the way through, even at seven episodes, and I wasn’t bored by it. We also chatted about good the cast was in the story, including the likes of Peter Miles; Fulton MacKay; Peter Halliday and Geoffrey Palmer.
This is Barry Letts’ first story as producer during the early 1970s of Jon Pertwee’s era. Although Jon Pertwee started with ‘Spearhead from Space’, this is where it really begins for the Third Doctor era. Malcolm Hulke was commissioned by Barry Letts and script-editor Terrance Dicks to write this story.
Malcolm Hulke was a friend and mentor of Terrance Dicks. Malcolm pointed out that there were only two types of story for the earthbound series of ‘Doctor Who’ – ‘alien invaders’ and ‘mad scientist’. Terrance was keen to prove Malcolm wrong and came up with the story of ‘aliens’ on Earth already.
I found it interesting when watching this story to think that there were aliens (or in this case reptilian creatures) that lived on the Earth before humans took over. The concepts are sometimes baffling and hard to believe at times, but it makes for good storytelling on how Silurians and human interact.
Malcolm Hulke delivers a story of socio-political themes that reflects on the atmosphere of 1970. This story raises questions about morality; social equality and how science can affect our lives. Malcolm addresses fear of scientists and politicians and how the military makes unpopular decisions.
I enjoyed Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. Jon’s Doctor has come to terms with his exile on Earth. He has to bear the Brigadier’s military manner, but finds comfort in spending time with Liz as they both share a scientific interest and are good friends. The Doctor is a referee between the humans and Silurians.
Bessie also makes her first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. Bessie is the Third Doctor’s trusty yellow roadster car that he travels about in to get from place to place on Earth. I like the scenes when the Doctor and Liz drive in Bessie, even though it turns out the car has an illegal licence plate of ‘WHO1’.
It was great to watch lovely Caroline John as Liz Shaw. Liz is the scientist attached to U.N.I.T. who gets to help the Doctor in solving the mystery of what’s going on with the research centre and the caves. She helps the Doctor to find a cure for this deadly disease planted on humans by the Silurians.
Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier is brilliant. Seeing the Brigadier’s scenes with the Doctor are truly magical and mesmerising. They’re two friends with different points of view. The Brigadier is sceptical of the Doctor’s theories as it’s like a double-act of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson between them.
Peter Miles guest stars as Dr Lawrence, the head of the scientific research centre. Peter would later play Nyder in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ with Tom Baker. Lawrence is pretty big-headed. He gets annoyed when U.N.I.T. comes to investigate and goes berserk when he gets the Silurians’ disease.
Fulton MacKay guest stars as Dr Quinn. I’ve seen Fulton in some episodes of ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’. Dr Quinn is the leading scientist at the scientific research centre. Quinn discovers the Silurians and for his own selfish reasons wants to gain their scientific knowledge. He soon dies for it.
Geoffrey Palmer guest stars as Masters, the permanent under-secretary. I was pleased to see Geoffrey in this as he was in a ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode called ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’. Masters comes to inspect the situation regarding the scientific research centre’s power losses, but he gets infected with the Silurian disease.
The supporting cast also includes Thomasine Heiner as Miss Dawson; Norman Jones as Major Baker (who has appeared in ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ and would later appear in ‘The Masque of Mandragora’); and Paul Darrow (who would play Tekker in ‘Timelash’) as U.N.I.T. Captain Hawkins.
I found the Silurians in ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ impressive. They do seem to be primitive in costume design, but I prefer their designs in this compared to other stories. All the voices for the Silurians are provided by Peter Halliday (who was Packer and voiced the Cybermen in ‘The Invasion’).
I liked the different varying characters of the Silurians in the story, as the Doctor manages to gain trust with the Older Silurian, whilst the Young Silurian is determined to destroy all humans. I liked the red eye at the top of their heads as the Silurians use it a weapon and sometimes to open a door.
I found the story’s music by Carey Blyton a little disconcerting. Some of it works really well, but sometimes the music sounds silly and comical. The scene that I couldn’t take seriously was when the Silurians walk in and attack the Doctor instantly with their red eye. Even Jon’s comical look spoiled it.
The story ends with the Brigadier blowing up the Silurian base. When the Doctor realises what’s happened, he’s shocked and upset. To him, it’s murder of an alien species. But the Brigadier’s actions are justified as he did it to save his men. Who’s right and who’s wrong? The Doctor or the Brigadier.
The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a commentary on the first four episodes with Timothy Combe; Barry Letts; Terrance Dicks; Caroline John; Nicholas Courtney; Peter Miles and Geoffrey Palmer. There’s also an isolated music score option by Carey Blyton and an info-text commentary option to enjoy.
There’s a special documentary called ‘What Lies Beneath’. This looks into the socio-political climate surrounding the Silurians story at the time during the 1970s and features interviews with cast and crew. There’s also a trailer for ‘The Ambassadors of Death’ at the end of Episode 7 of ‘The Silurians’.
On Disc 2, the commentary continues on Episodes 5 to 7. There’s also the continuing isolated music score option and the info-text commentary option. There’s a making-of documentary story called ‘Going Underground’ and the ‘Now and Then’ featurette that looks at the locations of ‘The Silurians’.
There’s ‘Musical Scales’, a documentary that looks into the music experimentation of 1970s ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Colour Silurian Overlay’, a featurette that looks into how the colourisation of ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ was made. There’s also a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF and a photo gallery of the story.
There’s also a coming soon trailer for ‘The Time Meddler’ with William Hartnell, Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves.
I really enjoyed ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’. It’s an interesting story that kept me captivated all the way through. It’s a pretty moralistic story with political and social themes reflecting the 1970s. I also enjoyed watching the Doctor; Liz and the Brigadier and the superb direction by Timothy Combe.
‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ rating – 9/10
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