Recap: Doctor Who S9 E3 "The Sea Devils"
"So... ... Sea Devil. ... ...h-how's that going for you?"
The Doctor: If Horatio Nelson had been in charge of this operation, I hardly think that he would have waited for official instructions.
Captain Hart: Yes... a pretty impulsive fellow. If one can believe the history books.
The Doctor: History books? Captain Hart, Horatio Nelson was a personal friend of mine.
The Doctor and Jo go and visit the Master in his high-security offshore prison and find out that ships have been disappearing at sea. The Doctor investigates, and finds that the sinkings appear to centre around an abandoned sea fort. Heading out there, they encounter what one sailor calls a "Sea Devil" — apparently an amphibious breed of "Silurian" (see "The Silurians
"). In fact, the Doctor hangs a lampshade on
an error in the previous serial by pointing out that the discoverer got the name wrong — the creatures are from the Eocene period, not the Silurian.
It turns out that the Master has got his prison governor under control. The latter is procuring parts so that the renegade Time Lord can build a machine to revive the Sea Devils from hibernation. Jo sneaks around to rescue the Doctor, and the Doctor engages the Master in an awesome fencing battle, disarmes him, holds him at swordpoint and munches down on the Master's lunch before tossing him back his sword simply because he's having too much damned fun.
Using cars, boats, stock footage of a helicopter, a close-up toy submarine and one giant actual ship, the Doctor tries to establish contact with the creatures. He goes down in a diving bell to try and negotiate with the Sea Devils, but politicians have got involved now and a depth-charge attack soon disrupts to negotiations. In the confusion, the Doctor frees a captured British submarine and heads back to the surface.
The Sea Devils attack and capture the nearby naval base and with it the Doctor, who is taken to the Master and forced to help him finish the machine. But the Doctor sabotages it, and the two Time Lords get away on jet skis. The Sea Devils are all killed in the explosion, but the Master makes his escape in a hovercraft.
- Action Girl: Jo Grant is one in this episode. She rescues the Doctor, incapacitates a guard and pilots a hovercraft.
- Adorkable: The Master, of all people, has a brief moment of this when he watches a children's puppet show (and confuses the puppets for aliens).
- Word of God has it though that the Master knew it was a children's show and was making a joke and his reaction was annoyance at Trenchard taking it seriously. Regardless, he was clearly watching The Clangers and whistling along just because he felt like it.
- Author Appeal: More like Actor Appeal, really: Jon Pertwee was, according to accounts, in seventh heaven during the filming of this serial, as a number of vehicle sequences were written in expressly for his benefit, including a jet-ski chase.
- And mortified Roger Delgado - who was deathly afraid of the sea, but did his stunts anyway like trooper.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Jo climbs into the ventilation shaft and onto the roof after the Sea Devils have chucked her, Captain Hart and the Personal Parliamentary Secretary in a room.
- Bittersweet Ending: The world is saved but the Sea Devils, who weren't bad, just misled, are destroyed and the Master, who caused all this, escapes.
- The Brigadier: Not, for once, the Brigadier, but Captain Hart.
- Crystal Clear Picture: The Clangers: the picture is inserted via yellowscreen (yellow was the preferred matte color for BBC Chromakey work in the '70s).
- Death Equals Redemption: Redemption from being an Unwitting Pawn (and all-round dumbass) rather than being evil, but Trenchard spends his last moments buying some time for his guards to escape and making a futile attempt to keep the Sea Devils away from the Master.
- Enemy Eats Your Lunch: During the fencing fight, the Doctor disarms the Master, steals his sandwich at swordpoint and eats it.
- Fake Shemp: In the jetski chase, the Master is played by a stunt double, which is why he tries to keep his face hidden.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: The Doctor, Jo and The Master share a couple of jokes and chat amiably for a few minutes when The Doctor and Jo first arrive.
- Hazardous Water: The Sea Devils make every attempt to turn the North Sea into this.
- Humans Are Warriors: The Doctor tells the Sea Devils that attacking the humans would be a bad idea because of this.
- For the Evulz: Why is the Master working with the Sea Devils? So he can get rid of the Doctor's favorite species. That's all the reward he needs.
- I Did What I Had to Do: The Doctor at the end.
- Idiot Ball: The Master forces the Doctor to help him fix a gadget. And genuinely expected that to go just fine. To be fair, the Master thought he could threaten the Doctor's companions as leverage, but as soon as they were safe and sound, his plan backfired entirely.
- Right at the very end, the script punts the ball squarely in the Doctor and the Navy's direction, and they catch it. This one happens to be a fastball and nobody really saw it coming because of how unbelievable the Karma Houdini trick the Master pulled was. The Navy has the Master under guard, with The Doctor watching, on a relatively small hovercraft. Somehow, even among all those sailors and one Time Lord, in a confined space, The Master is able to a) hypnotize a sailor into playing dead, b) slap a perfect mask of his face onto the poor schlub, and c) swap clothes with him. And then, he's able to make off with the hovercraft, because the Navy decided not to have at least two people mind it. (Though admittedly that last bit might have also been the master using hypnotism on getting said two people out.)
- Jedi Mind Trick: You can almost hear "these aren't the droids you're looking for" as The Master hypnotizes a CPO set to guard him in the last episode.
- Karma Houdini: The Master
- Kingpin in His Gym: Played for laughs when the Master, locked up in a sea fortress, exercises on a rowing machine. It doesn't seem to be working, though — the Doctor remarks that the Master has put on weight!
- Latex Perfection: The Master pulls one of these, along with another faked death, to escape at the end of the episode.
- Lima Syndrome: Colonel Trenchard falls under the Master's influence without even needing to be hypnotised.
- The Master
- Mistook the Dominant Lifeform: The Master mistakes The Clangers for actual aliens. (an Alternate Character Interpretation, supported by watching the Master's reactions carefully, suggests that he knew full well that The Clangers was a TV show, but was toying with Trenchard by playing dumb.)
- As an ALTERNATE Alternate Character Interpretation, the Master knew it was a children's show and was briefly amused by it: he's smiling and whistling along as he watches. Trenchard enters and catches him, and the Master has to pretend not to understand what he's watching in order to save face. His "Oh~" when he's informed that they're just puppets is said in that sort of false, semi-interested tone you use when someone tells you something you already know but you're being polite. He casually crosses the room to switch the TV off, and then out of Trenchard's view grimaces in exasperation at having to turn off a program he was enjoying.
- Noodle Incident: The Doctor lets on that he was a close personal friend of Admiral Lord Nelson.
- Obvious Stunt Double: In the scene where the Doctor and Jo arrive at the sea fort, Jo is clearly not being played by Katy Manning (in fact, the stunt double is a man, stunt regular Stuart Fell).
- Office Golf: Colonel Trenchard seems to be fond of this. The Doctor has a go, too, but he does it blindfolded.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: That little nuclear sub? A modified toy from Woolworth's.
- . .. that was apparently so convincing looking that it got the production team in trouble with the Navy, as they were concerned that top secret designs were just leaked on national television!
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The Bofors gun firing in the last episode, and many of the rifles throughout, don't seem to have their sounds adjusted, and were recorded as they'd naturally sound, making for a less-than-dramatic effect for those unaccustomed to how guns actually sound when fired.
- Refuge in Audacity: Averted. When trying to rent the launch from the quaymaster, The Doctor mentions that his leg was injured in The Crimea. The quaymaster doesn't buy it. Then he tries Gallipoli. Still no luck. Finally he tries El Alamein, by which time he gives up and says "It really doesn't matter, does it?"
- Reverse Polarity: The Doctor sabotages the Master's machine by "reversing the polarity of the neutron flow". This is the only time the Third Doctor utters the whole phrase instead of just parts of it.
Doctor: Before you reactivated it, I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow.
Master: Do you know who I am?
- Which might explain why his guards all wear cloaks and badges, and drive about in quirky white cars.
- Sword Fight: Consisting of the Doctor disarming the Master, holding him at swordpoint as the Doctor munches down on the Master's lunch and then tossing the Master back his sword simply because he's having too much damned fun.
- Villains Out Shopping: The Master whistles along to the Clangers.
It seems to be a rather interesting extraterrestrial life form.
- Why Does it Have to be Water?: According to the crew, Roger Delgado was not happy at all about having to float in the ocean for the rescue scene (while fear is stretching it a bit, the crew recalled him being extremely uncomfortable around water). For the skiboat chase, they had to have Jon Pertwee chase a stunt double, as Delgado flat-out refused to shoot the sequence.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: While the Master never outright says this to Trenchard, the trope is demonstrated in him not warning Trenchard about the impending Sea Devil attack, nor even reacting upon seeing his dead body.
- You Look Familiar:
- June Murphy (Maggie Harris in "Fury From The Deep") returns as Third Officer Jane Blythe.
- Donald Sumpter (Enrico Casali in "The Wheel in Space") plays Commander Ridgeway.
- Of course, both of these serials had episodes lost to the BBC's tape-junking policy, and neither have been reconstructed or otherwise seen re-release, so this trope doesn't apply for anyone who hadn't seen their initial broadcast way back when.