Whenever I hear the word “Silurians”, I can’t help but hear it in Jon Pertwee’s posh lispy voice. It’s been a long time since they or their Sea Devil cousins appeared in Doctor Who, in two fairly poor serials, and now they’ve teamed up for round three.
Although the rubber suits are better, the story sadly isn’t. A group of surviving Silurians has awoken an army of hibernating Sea Devils and plans to attack an underwater base and use it to push the Earth into a nuclear war, wiping out the “primitive” ape life and reclaiming the surface for their own kind. As ever, this comes down to a clash of opposing sides, Silurians versus humans, and, despite the Doctor’s reservations, always results in one side snuffing it. I just don’t think the Silurians and the Sea Devils are interesting foes. There could be a good story to tell, but this is just your typical monsters/aliens attack story.
It’s not even particularly well done. Yes, the costumes are a lot better (particularly the Sea Devils – their military armour is a massive improvement over their awful chain mail), but there’s still that very cheesy “man in a rubber suit” effect that dates it so badly. The Myrka is even worse. Ambitious though it may be to have a giant quadrupedal lizard roaming the halls of a sea base, it just looks so bad; it’s like an oversized pantomime horse. The shootouts are cramped and badly staged, the laser effects weak and ineffective, and when Dr. Solow fights the Myrka, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry – she does some sort of judo kick slash interpretive dance in front of it, before it zaps her. It’s so hilariously bad, in fact, that I’m going to link to a clip of it.
On the plus side, the actual sets are well made, with a clean white aesthetic and one room even features a pool! Some of the miniature model work is nice, but you don’t see much of it. The computer stuff is in a dated 8-bit retro style, but the concept of a human/computer interface is at least nicely sci-fi-y, although it amounts to nothing in the end.
As for the Doctor, I think he’s developed an edgier personality, or the writers just wanted an excuse for him to have more fights. He gut-elbows and face-kicks a couple of the security guards before threatening to blow up their reactor “to keep them busy”. Granted, it’s arguably self defence, but it’s a bit more vicious than his usual routine, and let’s ignore the fact that he’s just infiltrated a secure military facility and shouldn’t be there anyway. I blame the new haircut.