Another monster storyline, which are becoming very prevalent in this series! I’m also noting a lot of research or science facility locations, often with power-hungry or corruptible leaders, and people infiltrating them or working undercover. Common themes here. I’m not complaining just yet, I prefer these types of stories.
This one sees sentient seaweed creatures spreading across a network of natural gas rigs on the north sea by travelling through the pipes and spreading foam and poisonous gas everywhere. The gas controls the workers and the workers spread more of the seaweed around to infect other people.
They really tried to scare the pants off you back then. The pulsating heartbeat noises from the pipes are just as effective today – the creature (what I could make out of it from the images and surviving clips) was obscured enough by all the foam to remain scarily hidden. And the possessed people… oh my. If I was eight years old watching that clip of the wide-eyed ‘Mr. Quill’, bellowing out gas from his open mouth, face contorted in terror, I’d probably have had nightmares. Who needs CGI monsters when you have that?
Victoria screams a lot in this story, which for once actually turns out quite useful, as the sound of her scream apparently kills the seaweed creatures. They amplify her scream and send it through the pipework in order to kill the nerve centre and it works! It’s an abrupt solution – it’s previously mentioned that they’re also weak against pure oxygen, and it looked like a plan was being put into place for that, but it never went anywhere. It’s possible the ending was shortened, lengthened or rewritten entirely, but I don’t know. It just seemed a bit abrupt to me.
Notable in this story is the first ever appearance of the sonic screwdriver! Unbelievably, it was actually used to remove a screw (using soundwaves)! It’s also the first time I’ve seen the Tardis physically ‘land’ anywhere – it literally descends from the sky and hovers over the sea, then leaves again the same way (instead of dematerialising first).
Also notable is the first time a companion has remarked on how often they seem to arrive in England – Jamie mentions it shortly after they arrive on the shore. Another nod to the series tropes is when Victoria complains about how they always get into one spot of danger after another and never seem to land anywhere peaceful. It’s true enough – the Tardis must have some sort of “Adventure Detector” that guides it!
This final point actually pushes Victoria to the brink. Deciding she cannot take anymore ‘excitement’, she elects to end her adventures and remain behind. The final episode winds down a little earlier than normal as the Doctor and Jamie say goodbye to her.
This six-part serial was made up of all six reconstructions, again incorporating clips of the scary footage that was cut out from the overseas broadcasts.