Saturday, February 13, 2010

6L4 - Warriors of the Deep 4

Let it be said that Margaret Thatcher was responsible for killing off Doctor Who. Thatcher's decision to call a snap election in June 1983 forced John Nathan-Turner to make a decision: scrap the production of Warriors of the Deep in order to make way for the BBC election coverage that would take up much of the production resources at the BBC studios, or move the recording dates up by two weeks and finish production before the election. Nathan-Turner, not at all keen to lose his intended big splash of an opener to Season 21, chose the latter option.

As a result of this decision, none of those involved in the production were given as much time as they needed to prepare before the story went into the studios. It shows. The actors inside the Sea Devil costumes stumble about, heads askew because the costume department hadn't had time to fit them properly. When you see the Myrka flop around and wave his flippers without actually moving anywhere, you're not just watching two actors perform in a costume akin to a pantomime horse, you're watching two actors in the midst of rehearsal on how to move in a giant green pantomime horse. Speaking of rehearsal, there is a scene where Janet Fielding as Tegan and Tara Ward as Preston think they are in a rehearsal, when in fact the cameras were rolling to record a final version of the scene. Warriors of the Deep was intended to duplicate the success of Earthshock by bringing back an old enemy in a bold, daring action romp, but completely fails in the attempt.

As with any faulty production, blame must be laid at the feet of the director, as he is ultimately in charge of the entire debacle. Despite all the problems that were supposedly out of his control, Pennant Roberts must take this one on the chin. In the past, other stories that fought the odds to get made pulled through relatively well, particularly The Invasion of Time. Warriors of the Deep is an example of a story where almost everything went wrong. A better directorial effort might have at least salvaged something from this mess.

The only decent aspect of this story is The Doctor's struggle to try and negotiate a peaceful settlement between the Silurians/Sea Devils and the humans, just as he tried in the past, but this time with spectacularly bad results. Everybody dies in this story except for Bulic. The story's most poignant moments occur at the very end, and almost make you forget all the troubles that preceded them, as The Doctor, bruised and battered, stands amidst a sea of dead humans, Silurians, and Sea Devils, having fought so hard to achieve a peace, yet succeeded only in stopping the fighting. All he can say is echoed by everyone who was watching:

"There should have been another way."


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