Doctor Who Story Number 42 – Fury From the Deep

Written by Victor Pemberton
Directed by Hugh David

A natural gas mining project in the North Sea gets terrorized by a creature out of sailors’ legends.

“Everything in the sea is living, Jamie.”

Fury from the Deep is a story that I want to like.  Indeed, there are elements that I enjoy quite a bit, so I’ll start there.  Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill are extremely creepy in audio.  I have no idea how they were on screen, but they are silent, deadly, and seem malicious.  They remind me of the assassins from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.  They seem to be moving from one drilling rig to another, sabotaging them so that the weeds can gain access.  In the end, their identities are implied to be the first two workers converted by the weeds. And this is the other thing that I like, the idea of an ancient, yet all too terrestrial, evil buried away on our planet.  While digging for natural gas, one of the drilling rigs began to suck up an old variety of seaweed.  This weed was sentient and telepathic.  It thrived in the natural gas environment, but when it was brought into the pipes, it attacked, taking control of the minds of Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill.  The ultimate goal of the weed was to take over the British Isles and possibly the world.  In the end, sonic waves from Victoria’s screams defeated the creature.  The mind control, Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill, weed creatures rising out of sea foam, and Harris’s wife walking out into the ocean were all creepy elements of this story and they are the images that stick with me and really make me enjoy parts of it.

Unfortunately, the primary reason I feel this story fails is the pace.  It just seems to drag on to me.  I think there are some good characters and great imagery, but the story really takes its time.  In the beginning we have some great set-up and characterization, some good atmosphere, but in the middle I just want things to move along at a better pace.  The story even ends with one of the longer denouements of this era.  We see celebrations (so The Doctor does eat family meals on occasion), Robson returning to work, and an extended goodbye to Victoria.  The Doctor and Jamie even stick around one more night before leaving.  Sure, this is for Victoria’s benefit, but it is in stark contrast to the previous stories this season where they bolted back to The TARDIS before the monsters breathed their last or the dust from explosions settled.

Victoria, quite suddenly, decides to leave.  On the one hand, I understand her desire to have a bit of normalcy for a bit.  She had started to feel overwhelmed.  Okay, I get that and it is understandable, but why now?  What was it about the seaweed adventure that suddenly felt like too much?  Why not the Yeti in the sewers?  Why not being held captive by The Ice Warriors?  I understand that this was dictated more by Deborah Watling’s desire to leave than by story or character demands, but I wish the character had more of a developing arc, something that gave indication that she had changed in some way.  That wasn’t how television worked back then, and Pemberton did the best he could, but I guess I’ve just been spoiled by shows with good character development and had the luxury of plotting in advance.  I believed Rose’s departure as well as Martha’s.  Ian and Barbara’s departure worked.  Honestly, they probably had the best departure of companions thus far.  Regardless, Victoria is gone.  Probably not a bad thing as she wasn’t being written as much more than a female companion for the last few stories.  She was a good kid, though.  We shall see you again in Companion Chronicles.

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3 thoughts on “Doctor Who Story Number 42 – Fury From the Deep

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