The fresh new look for Doctor Who dissolves away again as it returns to the studio sets for this disappointing seven part serial. I was looking forward to the introduction of another ‘villain’ I recognise, but unfortunately The Silurians was terribly dull.
All time and space antics are forgotten about here, as the Doctor is now a full-time UNIT employee, and the threat conveniently comes to England again. There’s not even a glimpse of the Tardis this time; the story plays out more like an episode of the X-Files, with Mulder (The Doctor) trying to convince a skeptical Scully (Liz) about the existence of aliens living underground beneath this new nuclear power facility.
They’re not really aliens, though, as they’ve been living under the ground for hundreds of millions of years, and now awaken to find they are no longer the dominant intelligent lifeform on the planet. The Doctor spends most of his time trying to strike a deal with their reasonable leader, who is later killed by a more aggressive Silurian, and a back-and-forth show of force occurs between the Silurians and the UNIT soldiers. Naturally, one of the facility personnel is secretly working with the Silurians in exchange for knowledge and power, and he predictably dies.
The plot is flabby and leaves things unexplained. The Silurians have a huge dinosaur that they control… but where did that come from and what happens to it when they all go back into hibernation? It’s never mentioned again. What was the deal with the people being paralysed by fear at the sight of these creatures, but later on able to see each other and talk normally? What was that all about with the particle accelerator room giving people headaches? Was that related to the fear thing?
There were some good bits. When the creatures are unseen, they’re more effective. There are some first-person shots of the injured Silurian running around outdoors that work quite well. It’s only when you see them in full that they just look like blokes in suits. (Video recording under studio lights do not do these costumes any favours, they look silly.) Most of the banter between the Doctor and Liz is good fun, and I could happily watch him mixing chemicals and looking at slides under a microscope for hours. I also like the Doctor’s new car, with number plate “Who1”. Also the ending is kind of bleak, with the military deciding to just blow the Silurian base up, killing them all, despite them being no threat anymore. The Doctor is not going to be happy with the Brigadier after this, I’m sure.
Other than that, I didn’t really like this one at all. It was too long, not very interesting and it looked cheap. As this was originally a monochromatic print that was combined with the colour from a poor quality NTSC broadcast, the result is very patchy and inconsistent. Sadly, inconsistent colour is going to be a problem for a little while yet. Hopefully, boring stories won’t be.