‘Fury from the Deep’ does nothing to change the pattern of base-under-siege by monster stories, however it is an excellent version of this formula. The only issue is now it has become so predictable! A base near the sea, some time in the future, providing essential gas and energy for Britain, threaten by strange seaweed and a seaweed monster. Variety is the spice of life, but not for the Doctor Who team at this time it would seem.
|The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive on the beach.|
Having said that, despite the fact that only a couple of clips survive from this tale, it is a great story. It’s well paced, and fills the six episodes well. It’s full of helicopters and location work, the base, the rig, it looks pretty well produced and certainly is one of the most exciting six parters they made. As an individual story it hold up very well for the period, and it’s as an individual story, not as part of season five, filled with ‘cloned’ story-lines, that I will look at this story.
The opening sequences are rather different - with the TARDIS landing on water and the Doctor and his companions rowing a boat to shore. It would be nice to see how well that was done. And the story does differ a little with its monster being mostly unseen, and not one that's easy to communicate with. We see the villain of the piece - a monster made of seaweed, rarely through the story and usually covered in foam. It doesn't really speak or make demands either for the most part.
|The Doctor listens to a pipe. What's in there I wonder?|
Every base needs an enigmatic, if not outright bonkers leader. Look at ‘The Tenth Planet’ or ‘The Ice Warriors’. Carry On actor Victor Maddern steps into the role in ‘Fury from the Deep’ playing Robson, taken over by the seaweed. He is certainly a mad character once the seaweed has control of him. John Albeneri provides the voice of reason in Van Hutchens, with a very strange accent that sounds East European, despite the fact that he was playing a Dutch character!
|Roy Spencer (left) and Victor Maddern.|
There are a lot of characters in this story, Margaret Johns plays Megan Jones, a character almost superfluous to the plot who arrives in episode four and very quickly trusts the Doctor. Perhaps she is functional as she arrives at the disappearance of Van Hutchens. It’s an interesting authority figure actually, as to this point there have been very few female authority figures in Doctor Who. Meanwhile Roy Spencer plays Frank Harris, the second in command with differences to Robson. Fine performances all round from a pretty big cast.
The regulars are all in fine form, but this is Victoria’s story. Deborah Watling does get a good send off it’s fair to say. Throughout the story she indicates that she’s had enough of travelling with the Doctor and never feeling safe. In the end she stays on Earth, and the Harris’s (Frank and his wife) agree to look after her. It’s is Victoria’s scream though that the seaweed can’t stand, and in the end it is her scream that kills the seaweed monster and saves the day. That’s a nice way to go out and a nod to the character – Victoria did scream a LOT! What is nice is that in the end those taken over by the seaweed are returned to normal rather than killed off – a bit of a rarity for Doctor Who at this time.
|Finale scene - this is as good a look as we get at the seaweed monster.|
It’s a sad farewell, and nicely handled after the last few – Ben, Polly and Dodo – were bungled I think it’s fair to say. Anyone who’s been around for more than three adventures needs a decent send off. Jamie (Frazer Hines) seems quite upset about it, and I suspect it must have been difficult for Frazer Hines to see Deborah go.
Patrick Troughton is, as always, in fine form too throughout the story. The sets are pretty good, despite the strange light-bulb decoration around some doorways which looks very game show. Maybe that’s how they built the set – from left-over bits of a game show that had been taken off the air? The seaweed creature is realised very well, and they certainly had a LOT of foam in the studio, especially in the episode six finale.
It’s a great story, even if formulaic, and would be a great one to find should more episodes turn up one day. One of the best.