Doctor Who and The Silurians Wrap-Up

Source: Doctor Who and The Silurians DVD screen capture. Copyright 1970 by The BBC

I mentioned in the previous post that unless something changed, a violent solution was the only real option for preventing a larger war. Well, something changed. I didn’t expect The Doctor to completely turn the situation around, but in an excellent bit of plotting, Malcolm Hulke wrote an effective resolution. The Doctor successfully tricked The Silurians back in to hibernation. Again, I’m impressed with the resolution.

This brings us to the ending, the point at which Hulke wants us to sit back and ask the difficult questions. Now that The Silurians are back in hibernation, The Doctor wants to study their technology and reanimate them one-by-one to negotiate a peace. The Brigadier, possibly acting on orders, possibly acting on his own, destroys the base and The Silurians with it. On the one hand, The Silurians were no longer a threat and humanity had much to gain from their technology. A peace was certainly possible, just with different leadership negotiating. On the other hand, the situation had grown extremely bad. A plague was just narrowly averted; The Van Allen Belt was almost destroyed, which would have killed all the humans on the planet; UNIT lost a great deal of men due to attacks by the younger, vengeful Silurian. There is no guarantee a peace could be negotiated, and should one Silurian refuse, then what? Imprison it and move on to another? Kill it? I suppose the best option is to try. If there is one Silurian community, there are sure to be others. If a peace can be achieved with this first group, it would go a long way to achieving peace with future groups. I love that this story asks some hard questions.

Having watched this story and its Matt Smith recreation, I have to say that I prefer the depth of character and pace of this story. Sure, it is probably a bit too long, but the length gave us the opportunity to explore some excellent characters, so it didn’t feel like a waste. If all seven (or six) part stories could be this good, I would be quite happy. Plus, I feel this story dealt with the conflict between humans and Silurians with more earnestness. It is certainly an idea worth exploration. Honestly, I would love to see another Silurian story where the peace talks are actually progressing. I think it would be fun to see Earth being shared by the two peoples. If we can have Doctor Who stories where the universe is rebooted or a giant Cyberman walks through Victorian London, then why can’t we create a near-future Earth where the planet is shared by Silurians and humans?

Highlights

  • The lead cast is excellent. The tension between The Doctor and The Brigadier really develops their relationship and, with proper work, could create a moral tug-of-war that would challenge and sharpen both characters. UNIT could be a great force of peace and protection under these two leaders. Liz Shaw works wonderfully as a scientist, as someone who sparks The Doctor’s intellectual side.
  • The support cast was excellent as well. Quinn was a great antagonist and his death was sudden and surprising. Dr. Lawrence was good as the no-nonsense facility director who slowly descended into madness due to constant setbacks, frustrations, and illness. And, of course, Geoffrey Palmer is always good, no matter what role he is in.
  • Great, thought-provoking plot with a fascinating concept.

Lowlights

  • Okay, I must admit, I did not like the music. It wasn’t all bad, admittedly. There were some good pieces here, but it often seemed that the music didn’t match the tone of the scene. And did I hear kazoo*? Okay, let’s just admit that this was the most distracting element of the music. It can be incredibly difficult to make a kazoo work in soundtracks. Points for creativity and experimentation, even if it didn’t really work.
  • Those poor actors in The Silurian costumes. It must have been difficult knowing how to portray speaking. My neck would ache just watching them.

Final Verdict: This is a great story. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I’m looking forward to the next story.

*Note: With further research, I have learned it wasn’t a kazoo, but a crumhorn. Similar sounds, oddly enough. Again, I’m all for experimentation, especially finding unusual or archaic instruments to create new, uncommon sounds, but they have to fit what is happening on screen.

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6 thoughts on “Doctor Who and The Silurians Wrap-Up

    • This is true. I like that The Doctor found a Silurian ally early in the story, but after this ally’s death, everything sorta went downhill. Each side was understandable, even if the actions they took were not.

  1. Malcolm Hulke wrote a book called ‘The Making of Doctor Who’, which was inspired by a book he had read called ‘The Making of Star Trek’, so he was passingly familiar, at least, with Star Trek.

    The resolution in ‘The Silurians’, of having a runaway nuclear reactor about to explode, was lifted from several episodes in which Captain Kirk had used a similar ploy. I fondly remember the ‘exploding starship Enterprise ploy’, which was used to resolve the episodes ‘Corbomite Maneuver’ (1966) and ‘The Deadly Years’ (1967), for example.

    Mac Hulke really wanted to wrap-up the plot so that the Silurian threat no longer existed, so he adopted a ‘Stingray’ solution. In the Gerry Anderson series, alien races from under the sea were routinely blown up to prevent plot complications in future episodes; and this is the solution which the Brigadter decides on – a Troy Tempest solution.

    I liked the fact that the script editor, Terry Dicks, had the Doctor continuing to complain about the fate of the Silurians in the next serial, ‘Ambassadors of Death’, which Mac Hulke didn’t write. And he and Mac then collaborated on a sequel, ‘The Sea Devils, in 1972, having previously collaborated on ‘The War Games’ for Pat Troughton.

    Mac went on to become a popular writer on the show in the Barry Letts years, regularly contributing stories, including ‘Colony in Space’ in 1971 and ‘Frontier in Space’ in 1973.

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