Written by Victor Pemberton
Directed by Hugh David
There’s loads of freaky shit in the deep sea. Check this fucker out for instance, or this poor bastard. Or read up on exactly angler fish produce their young. Seriously, all crazy awesome. And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It costs rather a lot to go pokin’ about down there, and when you do its pretty dark, so you can only a tiny area. Nobody really has any idea what kind of awesome creatures could be lurking at the seabed. Granted, there’s not much sunlight down there, but there are entire eco-systems powered entirely by geothermal activity, so there really could be anything*.
Even less was known about the more hardcore aquatic life back in 1968 when Fury from the Deep was written, so I was pretty excited to see (hear) what Victor Pemberton had come up with as an antagonist for the Doctor in this story. So imagine how I felt when I discovered that the villain in this story was seaweed.
Yeah, so its scarry seaweed, it can sting you and everything, sort of like underwater stinging nettles, but you can’t make soup out of them. Yeah, that really had me on the edge of my seat. What would happen if the Doctor touched one of them? He might get a nasty rash! for about half an hour, anyway, then it’d get better.
Much better and more infuriating as an antagonist was Victor Maddern as Robson. Pemberton was clearly a bit ahead of the curve when it came to realising that many people working in the extraction of fossil fuels are cunts. Refreshingly though, Robson does actually have a good side, and even though we don’t get to see it much in the story when he’s under a fair amount of stress, it does pop up in the end and you can just about see why he got to the position he is. He is, in fact, one of the better written television characters around, and I feed that he gives a sadly underrated performance.
This story does have one outstanding feature though, it introduces the sonic screwdriver and, for once, the Doctor only actually uses it to unscrew things. Pretty soon he’d be using it to cut through concrete, and eventually it’d turn into an all purpose wand like device of infinite power, but thankfully here it’s only actually used for its stated purpose.
I know I said that I wasn’t looking forward to Victoria leaving the show. That was before. She may have been a bit useless for most of her time as the Doctor’s companion, but in this story she just becomes downright whiney. All she does if fucking moan. All the way through. If the writers were trying to make sure that people didn’t mind her leaving then they did a good job of it.
The Doctor, of course, didn’t really need another companion, he had Jamie after all. The creators of the show, though, liked to have at least one pretty woman in the TARDIS for their demographics. Jamie may be in a skirt** and have longish hair, but he’s not going to fool all those dads watching. The main problem with Victoria was that she was basically only their to fulfil that role, and was never given anything to do other than look pretty and scream. Would the next companion get to do more? Find out next time in Wheel in Space.
*Okay, probably just fish, crustaceans and a few mollusks and echinoderms, but I’m not ruling out a pan dimensional cyborg fish-monkey army just yet.
**I don’t care what anyone says, kilts are skirts. A specific type of skirt, yes, but a skirt nonetheless. And I say that as a kilt wearing man.