‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ (TV)

‘LEGEND OF THE SEA DEVILS’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Sea Devils with the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, Dan and Madam Ching

Honestly, I wouldn’t have heard of Nathan Evans and his ‘Wellerman’ sea shanty if it wasn’t for the above YouTube video. I had to include the YouTube video at the beginning of my review for this story!

On Easter Sunday in 2022, I saw the penultimate episode of the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era of ‘Doctor Who’ called ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. I had quite a fun time watching this Easter Special. 😀

The story has Jodie Whittaker back as the Thirteenth Doctor, Mandip Gill back as Yaz and John Bishop back as Dan. It’s a shame that there aren’t any more seasons to look forward to with this TARDIS trio. 😦

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 started in 2018. Even I’m willing to admit that.

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. I mean that sincerely, despite what other people have said about her. 🙂

To think that only recently, I saw Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill together at the ‘London Comic Con Spring’ back in February 2022. I’ve had photos with them and Blu-ray covers signed by 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. I’m hopeful another opportunity like that will happen again someday.

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. It’s nice to have that time to reflect on the era.

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 on it. It’s a summary I’m looking forward to do once the final episode comes.

For now, let’s talk about what I thought of ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ as a ‘Doctor Who’ Easter Special overall. First, this is the second time ‘Doctor Who’ has had an Easter Special for the TV series.

The first time was ‘Planet of the Dead’ which had David Tennant and Michelle Ryan in it. Whilst that episode may not be highly regarded by fans, I still have fond memories of watching it back in 2009. 🙂

I’m sure a proper ‘Doctor Who’ Easter Special with proper Easter references would be on the cards at some point in the series. Unlike the Christmas Specials, Easter hasn’t been prominent in the show.

I know David Tennant’s Doctor ate an Easter Egg and he said “Happy Easter!” to Lady Christina, but I would like an Easter Special featuring an evil robot Easter Bunny in it. That would be pretty awesome!

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’ and I was pretty excited to see them. 🙂

The first time they made a ‘Doctor Who’ appearance was in the 1972 story ‘The Sea Devils’ featuring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor. In many respects, ‘The Sea Devils’ was a sequel to ‘The Silurians’. 🙂

The Sea Devils made a return in the Fifth Doctor story ‘Warriors of the Deep’ in 1984. They have also returned in the Big Finish audio universe, particularly in the new series ‘U.N.I.T.’ story ‘Assembled’. 🙂

Perhaps one day, I should do my own Sea Devils story featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. That’d be exciting! I would have to think up a proper setting as well as a solid plot in order to tell it. 🙂

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 takes place in 1807 China and it features pirates in the story.

Beforehand, I watched the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie on Disney+ to get the needed swashbuckling feel. After watching ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’, I saw the rest of the ‘Pirates’ movies. 😀

Despite enjoying it, I don’t think ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ is a great ‘Doctor Who’ adventure to take home with. Let make myself very clear about this. I found it a lot better than ‘Warriors of the Deep’.

But it’s not as good as the original ‘Sea Devils’ TV story with Jon Pertwee. With the original story, it’s an epic six-part story with each episode being 25 minutes long. I feel ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ should’ve been longer.

That’s the thing that annoys me about this Easter Special. It’s about 47 minutes long. That’s not usually the length a ‘Doctor Who’ special should be. I was surprised by how quick this episode went by.

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? It would’ve made more sense in it being 60 minutes, right?

To further the point, ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ would have been great if it was a two-parter. I think the special was demanding to be a two-parter, considering so much stuff was being crammed into it.

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. It’s arguably one of his best ‘Doctor Who’ stories.

Here, he’s reintroducing the Sea Devils in this Easter Special in Jodie Whittaker’s era. Chris Chibnall seems to have a thing for writing Silurians and Sea Devils in ‘Doctor Who’ as a TV show, 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 is the first and only time she’ll contribute to the show. 😐

I also wonder if ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ was first pitched to be in Series 13 until the season became ‘Flux’. Chris then decided to make ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ into 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 feels like a standard Series 13 episode. 😐

It would make sense, considering Chris Chibnall’s initial plans for Series 13 could have been scuppered because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Would Series 13 have been longer than five episodes?

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’m amazed they haven’t upgraded the Sea Devils as monsters.

I like and prefer the Sea Devils’ original 1972 look compared to the Silurians’ look in ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’. Apparently, CGI augmentations were made for the Sea Devils’ expressions here.

Initially, I assumed those were animatronics in the Sea Devils’ headgear for the actors to wear. It’s impressive the production team fooled me there. The Sea Devils seem to be life-like rather than CGI.

It also makes sense for the Sea Devils to look like as they are in this story. ‘Legends of the Sea Devils’ appears to take place before ‘The Sea Devils’ and ‘Warriors of the Deep’ in the Silurians and the Sea Devils’ timeline.

It’s a lot better than what their designs looked like in ‘Warriors of the Deep’, especially as the actors had wobbly heads to wear as the Sea Devils and they probably couldn’t see where they were going.

The Sea Devils in ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ also look like they’re wearing armour and not the string vests as in 1972. This is a lot better and makes them far more formidable as warriors than in ‘Warriors’.

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, which is a shame. 😀

Despite that, I was able to enjoy the Sea Devils in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure, especially when their design looks matched their 1972 appearance. I wish that we could have seen more of the Sea Devils.

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. It would provide the nostalgia feeling I had for the Sea Devils when watching them in their first story.

Secondly, despite having CGI augmentations to have facial expressions, after all the years, the Sea Devils can’t lip-synch when their mouths move as they talk?! This is just incredibly baffling for me! 😐

I know the Silurians in the two-part 2010 story and Madame Vastra don’t match the Silurians from 1970 and 1984, but at least you can see them move their mouths as they talk in their latest 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. It would be a big challenge to balance it all out.

Or perhaps the production team wanted the Sea Devils to stay true to their original designs as much as possible. Understandably, it would be a fair argument. Mind you, I feel there is an issue with that.

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 1972.

CGI in those days wasn’t so sophisticated as it is now. What excuse does the 2022 story have? In a world where ‘Doctor Who’ monsters are meant to be convincing, the Sea Devils shouldn’t appear limited.

The third issue I have with the Sea Devils in this story is that the emotional dilemma that’s prevalent in previous Silurian/Sea Devil ‘Doctor Who’ stories is non-existent. At least, that’s how I feel about it.

Usually, the Doctor would be the referee between the humans and the Silurians/Sea Devils when both sides are trying to make a deal with each other so 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. It’s astonishing this aspect isn’t found in the story.

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. It would have been more engaging. 🙂

I’m surprised Chris Chibnall didn’t put this into the story when he and Ella Road co-wrote it together. He put it in ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’, so why did he not put it in ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’? 😐

Even ‘Warriors of the Deep’ (much as I dislike it as a TV production) had a moral dilemma addressed! It’s just quite a pity Johnny Byrne’s story in that was overcome with problems in the production process.

Jodie’s Doctor doesn’t give the Sea Devils much of a chance to be treated as equal to the humans. She seems quite willing to let the Sea Devils be defeated in their agenda while helping humanity out.

Mind you, it was good when Jodie’s Doctor became disappointed and angry that one of the humans killed a Sea Devil. At least Jodie’s moral compass hasn’t entirely gone away from watching this story.

The Chief Sea Devil named Marsisuss is played by Craige Els, who previously played Karvanista in ‘Flux’. Quite a different role for him to play here. 😀 At least one Sea Devil has a name in this story. 🙂

The rest of the Sea Devils featured in this story are played by Jon Davey, Simon Carew, Chester Durrant, Richard Price, Mickey Lewis and Andrew Cross. I wonder what their names were in this tale.

Incidentally, I forgot Craige Els was playing one of the Sea Devils in this special and I didn’t realise he was the chief one. 😀 I should have guessed considering I noticed his name in the credits beforehand.

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 think she was in the third ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie. 😀

I didn’t know anything about Madam Ching before seeing this special and it’s intriguing that this special has an actual historical figure who is a Chinese pirate. Very intriguing to be introduced to her.

There’s also Marlow Chan-Reeves as Ying Ki, Arthur Lee as Ji-Hun and David K.S. Tse as Ying Wai. There’s clearly a Chinese atmosphere featured throughout this story, especially in an Easter Special!

This is also the case when the episode’s director Haolu Wang happens to be Chinese herself. This is also emphasised in the costume designs and the set designs featured throughout this Easter Special.

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor herself gets the Chinese makeover in this Easter Special, especially when she’s wearing a Chinese outfit compared to the usual Thirteenth Doctor outfit she dons in the show.

I like it when Jodie’s Doctor gets to wear new outfits in ‘Doctor Who’ compared to the standard costume that she wears. Another time like this happened before in the two-part story called ‘Spyfall’. 🙂

And yes, Jodie Whittaker is excellent throughout as the Thirteenth Doctor in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. I greatly enjoyed it when Jodie’s Doctor was interacting with Yaz and Dan in this TV story.

I also enjoyed how she interacted with the Chinese supporting characters and the Sea Devils themselves. Jodie continues to impress me in the series, balancing the humour and drama really well!

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. At least, I hope it’s echoing that whilst watching it.

Usually, we don’t see the Thirteenth Doctor in combat much, but it was fun to see the acrobatic moves Jodie made in fighting the Chief Sea Devil with a sword and sliding down the sides of a ship. 🙂

It was also good to see Yaz and Dan show off their fighting skills against Sea Devils aboard a ship, particularly Yaz when she fights with a sword. The Chinese guest characters are good in a fight too. 🙂

Despite the issues I have with the Sea Devils in this ‘Doctor Who’ story, I liked it when Jodie’s Doctor told Yaz about the Sea Devils in terms of who they are and that they originated from the Earth itself.

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. 😀 At least Dan was able to use Captain Hook’s hook to defend himself against a Sea Devil. It was also so fascinating to see Dan have his own adventure in the story.

Dan is separated from the Doctor and Yaz when he’s with Ying Ki and Madame Ching. The character moments with Dan are great and I enjoyed the occasional one-liners John Bishop gets to say as Dan.

Again, I wish that we had another ‘Doctor Who’ season featuring Dan with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz, as he hasn’t had that 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, which is nice. 🙂

Hopefully, Di has forgiven him following the events of ‘Flux’. I hope that Dan will get to reunite with Di and that she’ll make a return appearance in the Centenary Special. Let’s see what will happen. 🙂

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. It’s intriguing that Yaz made that observation about her. 🙂

Yaz as a character has developed significantly since Graham and Ryan left the TARDIS. I always enjoyed her in Series 11 and 12, but Series 13 onwards is where she gets to enhance her character. 🙂

There’s also the ongoing story arc of Yaz having romantic feelings for the Thirteenth Doctor. This was recently established in ‘Eve of the Daleks’. In ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’, there is some development.

There are hints of the Doctor knowing that Yaz has romantic feelings for her since ‘Eve of the Daleks’. It’s established when she mentions taking her out on a ‘date’ at the bottom of the ocean. 😐

It was fascinating to see Yaz’s reaction to that once she mentions it. There’s a glimmer of hope in Yaz’s eyes in the Doctor knowing before she becomes disappointed when the Doctor becomes distracted.

The Doctor also shares to Yaz that she was once married, although she doesn’t mention River Song by name in the Easter Special. I’m surprised the Doctor didn’t bring this up before during their travels. 😀

I like how the possibility of Yaz and the Thirteenth Doctor being a couple isn’t done in an over-the-top manner. They both talk about it, and the Doctor seems reluctant to start a relationship with Yaz.

This in fear of hurting her, which is understandable, considering that we’re coming to the end of Jodie’s tenure. It’s also demonstrated through the Tenth Doctor’s past romances with characters. 😐

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’, since this is left open-ended.

But I imagine it’s going to be heartbreaking, considering the Doctor is expected to regenerate and become a new person. There’s no knowing whether Yaz and Dan will continue beyond Jodie’s era. 😐

I agree, the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz’s somewhat romantic relationship isn’t great. But again, I’m glad it’s not over-the-top and the Doctor is turning Yaz down because of the adventures they have. 🙂

I prefer romantic relationships between companions like my Nyssa and Billy set-up as well as Amy and Rory. Not a Doctor-companion relationship. It had been done already with the Tenth Doctor and Rose. 😐

I don’t see the need of a Doctor-companion romantic relationship to be brought up again with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz. We know it’s going to end in tragedy for them both, so why bother here?

I stress, the Thirteenth Doctor/Yaz romantic relationship isn’t too bad. I just don’t think it’s going to end happily ever after, since I know Jodie will change into a new person by the end of her tenure. 😐

‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ has been an enjoyable Easter Special in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. I can’t call it a great episode. I wish this was a two-parter instead of one episode forming the Easter Special.

The moral dilemma between the humans and the Sea Devils also appears absent in the special. Despite that, this is a decent episode to watch and not horrible by any means. It’s very nice to watch.

Also, the Sea Devils wielding swords? That’s cool! 😀 Incidentally, I wondered if the Sea Devils’ sea creature in the Easter Special was the Myrka. I don’t think it is though, since it’s never called by name.

The DVD/Blu-ray special features for ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ are as follows. There are two behind-the-scenes featurettes on ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ featuring cast and crew interviews, including ‘The Sea Devils Return’ and ‘Becoming Pirates’. There’s also an audio commentary on ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ with Crystal Yu, Craige Els and director Haolu Wang.

It’s been nice to check out ‘Eve of the Daleks’ and ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ on Blu-ray. They’re not great ‘Doctor Who’ episodes, but they’re pretty decent enough. ‘Eve of the Daleks’ is more special-like compared to ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’, since it felt like an abandoned Series 13 episode.

Despite that, the performances of the cast are very good throughout each of the two specials. Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop excel as the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz and Dan and I’m feeling sad that the Thirteenth Doctor era is gradually coming to an end, since I’ve enjoyed the era overall. 🙂

Going off on a tangent, 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. 😦

I felt hurt and decided not to share any more reviews on episodes of Jodie Whittaker’s era via Facebook, since I wanted to focus on the rest of Series 11 and enjoy the episodes without anyone colouring my thoughts beforehand. It’s just as well I did that, as I’ve enjoyed Jodie’s era more after that.

Whilst we’re here, let’s talk about the upcoming BBC Centenary Special of ‘Doctor Who’ for a bit. Check out this ‘coming soon’ trailer from the end of ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’!

At this time, I’m looking forward to seeing the BBC Centenary Special of ‘Doctor Who’. It looks pretty exciting from the trailer, especially with the return of many characters, includng 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 about this. Feelings of excitement and feelings of “I’m getting a feeling my theory in ‘Into the Death-Space’ is coming true.” I’ll start my feelings by saying “ACE!” and “Oh rabbits!” I’m looking forward to seeing Sophie Aldred as Ace and Janet Fielding as Tegan in the Thirteenth Doctor’s final TV adventure!

I’m not sure if their appearances will tie-in to other stories like ‘At Childhood’s End’ and ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’. I’m not sure what’s going to happen when Ace and Tegan make their return in terms of where they stand regarding continuity. According to the trailer, the continuity standpoints do seem pretty evident.

It seems the events of ‘The Gathering’ and ‘At Childhood’s End’ never happened for Ace and Tegan. Each of them claim in the trailer that they haven’t seen the Doctor in three or four decades. Perhaps an explanation will be provided for why Ace and Tegan can’t remember the aforementioned stories.

Maybe 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 Ace and Tegan’s continuity in the episode. The story would also have to focus on the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, Vinder and Kate Stewart. 🙂

There’s also Yaz, Dan and the Thirteenth Doctor, as their fates will soon become unveiled. I’m saddened that Nyssa doesn’t seem to be in the BBC Centenary Special of ‘Doctor Who’. Maybe she will appear in the episode and it’s going to be left as a surprise. We’ll have to wait and see on this. 😀

‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ rating – 7/10


The previous story

For the Thirteenth Doctor was

  • ‘Hydra’s Gate’ (Comic)

For Yaz was

  • ‘Hydra’s Gate’ (Comic)

For Dan was

  • ‘Hydra’s Gate’ (Comic)
The next story

For the Thirteenth Doctor is

  • ‘Redacted’ (Audio)

For Yaz is

  • ‘Fear of the Future’ (Comic)

For Dan is

  • ‘Fear of the Future’ (Comic)
Return to The Thirteenth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Yaz’s Timeline
Return to Dan’s Timeline
Return to The Doctors’ Timelines Index
Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index
Return to Doctor Who Timelines
Return to Doctor Who
Return to Sci-Fi

2 thoughts on “‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    I enjoyed this one more than Eve of the Daleks although it did need an additional 20 minutes to flesh out the characters & plot a bit more, it seemed very crammed for 50 minutes.

    Well acted, like the sea devils’ look, action was good it just needed to be longer that’s all.

    A excellent written review Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. Interesting you enjoyed this one more than ‘Eve of the Daleks’. Yes, it needed to be longer in order to flesh out the plot and the characters more. I’ve heard the BBC Centenary Special is going to be 90 minutes, which I hope will be very satisfying, especially for Jodie’s swansong. Glad you enjoyed the acting, the action and the Sea Devils in this Easter Special.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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