Doctor Who (Classic): S05E06 “Fury from the Deep”

Season 5
Directed by Hugh David
Written by Victor Pemberton

After a nice run of a combined three missing episodes over the past three serials, we move back further into the realm of the missing. “Fury from the Deep” is missing all six episodes (though a few alternate takes in the final episode exist) which makes it both the only completely missing serial of Season 5 (“The Abominable Snowmen” and next week’s “The Wheel in Space come close) and more thankfully the last one. In fact, we only have three more serial missing episodes to go in the aforementioned “The Wheel in Space” (4 of 6 missing), “The Invasion” (2 of 8) and “The Space Pirates” (5 of 6). This is cause for celebration as I have said many times before that these episodes are harder to watch and harder to judge for their merits while also being intimidating to those interested in trying to watch the series.

But now we must say goodbye to Victoria Waterfield. Debuting in the season finale of last season’s final “The Evil of the Daleks”, Victoria’s run on the show may not have been super long, but she was also the best third team member to The Doctor and Jamie. Portrayed by Deborah Watling (who passed away earlier this year), she grew more and more confident as the series pressed on and had a great chemistry with Jamie.
“Fury from the Deep” skips past the cliffhanger of “The Web of Fear” to the TARDIS materializing over the ocean which I think proves more than anything that the places they appear aren’t random. Otherwise, they’d be landing on the water far more often and I’m pretty sure this is the first time that has happened. They row to shore and discover a gas pipeline covered in seaweed. They hear something thumping inside it and we get our first sight of the sonic screwdriver which The Doctor uses to open a troublesome screw in the control panel for it.

Fury from the Deep Sonic.JPG

The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria are all shot by a group that believes them to be saboteurs which all things considered is probably the logical conclusion. The Doctor however insists that they try and shut off the pipe but the leader refuses the opinion of what he still assumed had to have been someone messing with it. The truth is though, it seems that the Doctor is only the latest to go up against him and try and warn him about things but he continually refuses out of pride despite it regularly losing pressure. Things escalate as a call to one of the rigs yields a garbled line and a crewman suspiciously repeating in a low voice that “everything is under control” and assuring them that nothing needs to be checked out before the connection fades.

As anyone who’s seen something sci-fi before can quickly realize, that is not only the most suspicious or fate tempting phrase imaginable and only an idiot would discount it which thankfully the station seems to have as the head of the base is incredibly stubborn and refuses to believe there is anything in the pipes no matter what is said. It eventually becomes clear the head of the station is adamant on protecting it for more than just his foolish pride though who knows how much of this was before he was turned and infected and how much after since he really does seem to be any results focused manager seeking the approval of the company. This of course means it is time for another “base under siege” story with the base being a series of stations for producing natural gas.

Some seaweed gets into the place and is capable of stinging (stinging the visiting wife of one of the workers) as well as glowing and pulsating making it clear that the seaweed isn’t a sin that something is off, it is what is off. When the seaweed stings you, it makes you ill and it starts to grow over your body at the point, frequently necessitating the use of gloves. It is also capable of spewing a toxic gas (which they generate by feeding off the very natural gas the station is producing) which is able to knock people out. The seaweed has been taking over the brains of key people (a fact which is treated as a reveal long after I figured everyone knew that) and is plotting to flooding the world (or at least enough to take out the British Isles) and more imminently forming one massive colony. They are literally in this case the stuff of legends.

A creepy figure in a gas mask (well not “The Empty Child” levels of creepy) locks Victoria in a room after opening a bunch of oxygen cannisters as we are treated to our second instance of threatening foam this season after “The Web of Fear” with foam pouring into the locked room. I’m not sure we are ever given a reason for why the seaweed (and the creature it forms) produces all this dangerous foam but who cares, it’s an effective creeping terror. I really like watching The Doctor actually doing science and chemistry to figure things out. His curiosity (as opposed to the stubbornness of the First Doctor and The Doctor in “The Enemy of the World”) is a defining part of Troughton’s character and one of my favorite things about him.

Throughout the serial, Victoria starts to show some doubts out of constantly being in fear, the constant threats of danger, and having no idea where they will head next. For once though (though I expect this is a product of having enough warning of her departure), these doubts are shown to grow throughout instead of being rushed towards the end or mentioned once early and forgotten about. Granted that just turns he into the shrieking female character this show too often retreats to, but the serial does have one nifty way of making this relevant to the actual plot. Much like myself, the seaweed can be defeated by loud noises and The Doctor sets out to take them out at the nerve center by blasting noise down the pipes. They use Victoria’s scream on loop as that loud noise is enough to drive it back (making it remarkably similar to the ending of Buffy’s “Hush”) while tying in the fear that has been overwhelming her this episode and making it plot relevant aside from just giving her an excuse to leave.

Victoria decides to stay behind and is adopted by two of the people there and the most remarkable thing about it isn’t The Doctor being alright with her going. In fact, not especially caring about companions leaving has been kind of his thing to this point. Instead, it was nice to see The Doctor give her a day to think it over instead of just blasting off straight away when she decides to leave and even recognizing well beforehand that she was having doubts. Jamie doesn’t take it well as he’s grown too attached to her and doesn’t want to see her go, but The Doctor is there to talk sense into him. She’s entitled to her decision and he respects it. Well and truly gone are the days of forcing Barbara and Ian to travel with him, now traveling with him is a choice and that it’s perfectly understandable that some don’t want to live this dangerous life.

The serial could have really benefited from being extant as it really leans into the horror elements but then again, I don’t think that would have stopped the bath time fun of the encroaching suds or made them very scary (as seem by the outtakes in Episode 6). Ratings really don’t matter (I feel like I have to repeat this more than I should), but in this case, it’s held back mostly by lack of footage from being something even better. Still, I rather enjoyed the serial and the horror elements and it’s a fitting farewell for Victoria.

Grade: B-

Stray Observations
– This is the first serial title to not start with “The” since “Mission to the Unknown” at the beginning of Season 3 (or “Galaxy 4” if you are looking for a proper serial and not just a glorified episode) and the first serial overall since they officially started using overall and not just individual episode titles.
– The director of this serial, Hugh David, also directed the fourth season serial, “The Highlanders”, and was actually offered the role of the First Doctor which he declined.
– History has deprived us of what was surely an epic seafoam fight as the Second Doctor is not afraid to get a bit silly.
– We get another tease of why each serial seems to be set on Earth lately courtesy of Victoria.
– There’s a nice moment of humor as the guys try to escape through a metal grille well off the ground while Victoria just picks a lock with a hairpin behind their backs.
– I love that heartbeat like thumping that goes throughout the serial and it’s perfect for maintaining the horror elements minus the footage.
– This week also marks the two year anniversary of when I started these reviews.  Who would have thought I’d only be this far…
– This Week in Cliffhangers: The Doctor and Jamie fly off in the Tardis, down a companion for now.

Next Up: Doctor Who finds its replacement for Victoria and encounters and old foe in the fifth season finale, “The Wheel in Space” on December 18th. You’ll also note a change in the schedule below as I will be following it up with the two non-canon Doctor Who film adaptations. I had no intention of covering them (only seen the first and it wasn’t any good) and probably should have at a time more relevant to their release), but the fact that they are on Amazon (well one only in the Rifftrax version), that the fifth season will be all wrapped up, and the next two Mondays will be Christmas and New Year’s means that I’m going to take the chance to take the time when it will mostly be empty on the site to give them a look.

December 25th – Doctor Who and the Daleks
January 1st – Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.
January 15th – “The Dominators” (We will finally be caught up with where I left off to start this feature with this one)
January 29th – “The Mind Robber”