Doctor Who and The Silurians Part 1

Story by Malcolm Hulke; Directed by Timothy Combe

Am I back to the episodic format? Maybe. We shall see how long it entertains me.

Doctor Who and The Silurians is off to a great start. Sure, the dinosaur in the caves looks a bit cheap, but director Timothy Combe covers for it well enough. What I find great so far is the tension. The setting is an atomic research center built in caves in Wenley Moor. This underground facility is attempting to convert atomic energy directly into electricity. However, after three months of power shortages and personnel issues, UNIT is sent to investigate. I find it a bit odd that UNIT, which has the extraterrestrial as its mandate, would investigate the viability of an atomic program, but one must justify one’s funding somehow.

Source: Doctor Who and The Silurians DVD screen capture. Copyright 1970 by British Broadcasting Corporation.

The troubling aspect about this crisis is put well by the Brigadier; he puts the technical failures over the personnel problems. The Doctor quickly intuits that the key to the mystery lies with the human side of the project. Workers have been experiencing psychotic episodes. When investigating one worker, a survivor from an accident in one of the caves, The Doctor finds a broken mind that is compelled to draw figures on the sick bay wall. Later, The Doctor and Liz figure out that all the workers who experienced the psychotic breakdown had worked in the cyclotron chamber.

So, a great start. It is also fun to see The Doctor forced to be subordinate to The Brigadier. UNIT is still a military organization, and that means there is a chain of command, a structure that must be obeyed. The Doctor needs more evidence than a man drawing on a wall. The Brigadier is right. He has to rein The Doctor in a bit. This is the sacrifice The Doctor has made to continue his own work to fix the TARDIS. He is out of his comfort zone. This creates a wonderful dynamic.

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