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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who – Beneath The Surface (The Silurians/The Sea Devils/Warriors of the Deep; BBC DVD Set or Singles)

Doctor Who – Beneath The Surface (The Silurians/The Sea Devils/Warriors of the Deep; BBC DVD Set or Singles)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: A+     Episodes: A



BBC Video continues its steady release of classic Doctor Who episodes on DVD with three favorites the 1970’s and 1980’s eras of the show.  Readers interested in learning more about previous releases in this series should see our earlier reviews.  This trio of releases features two different incarnations of the Doctor spread across the span of rough eighty stories worth of continuity, with each one focusing on the machinations of a sinister reptilian race.


Story no. 52 entitled Doctor Who and the Silurians finds the Doctor (played by John Pertwee) marooned on Earth and working for UNIT.  He soon runs afoul of the sinister Silurians while investigating power outages at a subterranean research center.  Although this story represents only Pertwee’s second as the Doctor, he inhabits the role with an ease and grace befitting any who’ve played it.  Indeed, this story may be considered the one where Pertwee “becomes” the Doctor.  And a wonderful story it is, casting the recently awakened Silurians as villains, but leaving some gray areas.  The Silurians struggle to re-take an Earth they once controlled before the rise of mankind, and they are opposed by the Doctor, protector of a human race ignorant of the creatures’ onetime dominance.  One of the ongoing themes of every incarnation of Doctor Who lies in the tension created when one must make difficult choices, and that situation drives the action here.  A wonderful supporting cast helps usher this tremendous story to its tragic conclusion.


Story no. 62 finds John Pertwee stuck-in and comfortable in his role as the Doctor, and quite possibly at the height of his powers.  The Sea Devils again casts the Doctor squarely between humanity and a race of reptilians bent on their destruction.  However, this time, one of the Doctor’s greatest foes, fellow Time Lord the Master (played brilliantly by Roger Delgado) stands behind the scenes orchestrating all of the mischief.  Pertwee and Delgado play beautifully off of each other in several memorable scenes, including a sword duel where both show considerable skill and stamina.  Despite the outward appearance of age, Pertwee’s Doctor possesses a remarkable vitality and an ability to explode into action that even the modern Doctors of today might envy.  Katy Manning provides solid support in the role of Jo Grant, and The Sea Devils delivers plenty of action, although not as much pathos as the Silurians.


Story no. 131 (Warriors of the Deep) features Peter Davison as the Doctor, and brings us into the years between 1982-84.  In this intriguing tale the Doctor must referee between two alien races, none other than the aforementioned Silurians and Sea Devils.  This time the year is 2084, but the battleground is still Earth, and the human race stands to be the biggest loser if the Doctor cannot find a solution to the crisis.  Davison and company shine in this story despite weaker characterization and plot elements that at times transform the previously complex reptilian races into little more than cardboard cutout monsters.  Although not up to the standards of the previous episodes that feature these races, Warriors of the Deep will still provide madcap entertainment to Who fans looking to fill out their collections.


All of these discs provide solid extras, including commentaries, interviews, optional enhanced effects, documentaries, and more. As discussed in previous discs reviewed on this site, picture and sound on these discs are not good.  Owing to what BBC has to work with in terms of restorable prints, this dilemma is understandable.  Until the release of some comprehensive series of boxed sets that sequentially collects the entire series in several neat packages, these discs provide a wonderful means to experience the classic Doctor Who stories.



-   Scott R. Pyle


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