Monday, 18 April 2022

Doctor Who - Legend Of The Sea Devils

Pirate Ship Devils

Doctor Who -
Legend Of The Sea Devils

Airdate: 17th April 2022

Warning: Spoilers looping back into spoilers.

Okay, so, I may have got prematurely excited for a new spurt of good writing on Doctor Who after the brilliant New Years special Eve Of The Daleks (reviewed by me here) as, yeah, this episode wasn’t that great in many ways. But, it has to be said, the return of Sea Devils was not as badly handled as it was in their second appearance against the Fifth Doctor in Warriors Of The Deep (reviewed by me here). Although, yeah, not nearly as iconic an appearance as their first dance with the Third Doctor in the original story The Sea Devils (reviewed here), it might also be noted.

Doctor Who - Legend Of The Sea Devils gives us the returning triumvirate of Jodie Whitaker as The 13th Doctor (depending on how you count them, with the added complication of The War Doctor and various other manifestations), Mandip Gill as Yas and John Bishop as Dan. And it’s set in a couple of time zones in a sea faring adventure with a real, historical pirate queen (kind of) and various anachronistic shipboard instruments or overlooked details such as, you know, the fact that a cannon has a bit of recoil when fired.

It also suffers a little in the writing, I thought. The story was the usual, ‘think of a jam and then spout scientifiction gobbledy gook to enable a gadget to save the world’ kind of thing... which is getting a bit tired. And some of the dialogue was bad too. The stuff with Yas and The Doctor trying to come to terms with their recent, much rushed burgeoning romance was okay (but, you know, could have done with a longer playing out of that rather than start it off two episodes before Jodie leaves the show) and those were definitely the best moments in it. However, a load of the rest of the dialogue sounded like characters were trying too hard to say something big, surprising or funny to transition into the next scene with and, yeah, it kinda ended up sounding a little stilted and child-like in its performance (much like the dialogue in Pierce Brosnan’s last James Bond movie Die Another Day). It was a bit much and left me kind of cold, which is a shame.

However, I’m going to temper all that with... the show looked pretty good. Especially when it came to getting the Sea Devils right.  I mean, they’ve streamlined them a bit and they were nowhere near as good at creating a sinister presence in the episode but, they were a darn site better than their truly, comically bad re-designs from the Peter Davison era, at an rate. Yeah, I missed the Pertwee era’s string vests but, at least the costumers added a kind of echo to that in the texture of their new clothing for this one.

The mucic was okay too although, since Silva Screen now seem to have totally stopped releasing proper CDs of the scores, I’ve kind of lost all interest in that aspect of the show. I think they’re alienating a certain section of their audience by cutting off the supply chain there.

Overall, like I said, Doctor Who - Legend Of The Sea Devils wasn’t terrible but it could have been a lot better. I didn’t mind it but, unlike the New Years Eve story, it will be forgotten quickly, I suspect. So, we have one more Jodie episode to come this autumn (although I’d be surprised if she didn’t return for a guest spot in the November 2023 episode). And it looks like it’s pitting her against... the Daleks, the Cybermen and The Master again so... yeah, not the most inspiring of challenges, I suspect. 

However, there is one aspect of the Coming Soon trailer at the end of that episode which certainly, already, has fans talking... and that’s a bit of T & A action which everyone seems excited about. By that I mean, the return of Janet Fielding’s Tegan (Fourth & Fifth Doctor companion) and Sophie Aldred’s Ace (companion to the Seventh Doctor). It will be nice to see them in action again, for sure but, I think it kinda says something that we’ve just had an episode featuring the return of the Sea Devils and all people are talking about is the trailer for the next show. Perhaps the reveal on the casting decision was a bit too soon (although, hopefully, there will be some other surprises in store for us in the episode itself). My only other complaint, seeing that they’ve stripped it down again from 13 episodes to two or three specials (again, depending on how you count them) is that the episode was only 50 mins long, like a regular episode. Since when did ‘specials’ stop being feature length?

Anyway, it was entertaining enough and, as always, it’s nice to see Jodie as The Doctor and still, I insist, doing very well in the role despite the scripts she’s working with. So I do hope she returns for the sixty year anniversary episode next year. Also hoping all in our house are safe and well enough to watch that one when it comes on.... but that’s another story.

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