DW: Fury From The Deep Review

It’s time for our next animated missing story, and this time it’s another “all parts were previously missing” story. I remember watching the Fury From The Deep recon in parts a good while ago and thinking it was probably really good, but man there was a lot of talking, and when you’re just “watching” photo stills that can get old quick. Does the addition of animation bring the story too proper life? Let’s find out!

Synopsis:

The TARDIS lands on the surface of the sea, just off the east coast of England. The time travellers use a rubber dinghy to get ashore, where they are shot with tranquilliser darts and taken prisoner by security guards as they have arrived in the restricted area of the Euro Sea Gas refinery.

At the refinery base, run by a man named Robson, the Doctor learns that there have been a number of unexplained problems with the pressure in the feed pipes from the offshore drilling rigs and a strange sound is reverberating through the pipeline…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

It’s a shame I don’t have the old “Cast of Characters” section on my reviews any more, as this would’ve been perfect!

If you like your Doctor Who to be slow burners with the main drama coming from how the human characters react then Fury From The Deep is for you! There are no actual creatures sieging the base until Episode 6, the other five are just seaweed and foam so it’s all about paranoia and mind control. Robson (Victor Maddern) is the leader on-site as the gas lines start to mysteriously slow down, but his decades-old reputation means he refuses to shut down the pipes for ANYTHING, even when they start to lose contact with several off-shore rigs. Lead scientist Harris (Roy Spencer) is stressed not just because of being ignored when he shows how dangerous ignoring all the signs is but because his wife Maggie (Jane Murphy) being ill. This illness is due to her touching a piece of the killer seaweed and slowly being brought under its mind control, as The Doctor and co soon find out.

Throw in Dutch expert (as in a Dutch person who is an expert in gas mining, not someone who is an expert of Dutch people) Van Lutyens being on Robson’s case when things are looking grim and rightfully getting annoyed when his very real concerns are being hand-waved due to this man’s insistence that he must be right and you have some good interactions from the main guest cast to carry the first half of the tale. Hell, The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria aren’t even imprisoned for very long in this story, the people on the base are very quick to understand he knows what he’s going on about, which is refreshing.

Things start to pick up as the seaweed starts controlling Robson and takes over all the rigs. There’s the infamous scene of creepy weed henchmen Mr. Oak (John Gill) and Mr. Quill (Bill Burridge) breathing deadly toxic gas out of their mouths to knock out Maggie, Jamie trying to escape a kitchen filling with foam via the skylight, and a thrilling final episode that sees The Doctor and Jamie travel over to a rig in a helicopter, rescue Victoria from a fully seaweeded Robson and then flying the chopper back while large tendrils of killer seaweed try to drag them to the ocean. Now I believe in the original, understandably, it was just The Doctor flying in a helicopter without giant sea weed strands, but it’s one of those animated version additions that are harmless. Rather embarrassingly, Victoria’s girly screams turn out to be the weakness in the weed, so The Doctor creates a device to direct a recording of her scream at the new walking sea weed monsters that arrive and eventually to destroy the core of the killer plant, saving everyone because Victoria is a bit of a wimp.

It’s the real Mr. Quill! This short clip from the actual story is still freaky as hell. It’s mostly his eyes…

Speaking of Victoria, she is one of the key plot points of this story due to her departure. At the start she mentions off-hand that they always seem to land in dangerous places, and this fact only becomes more obvious as she gets trapped in a room with foam and seaweed-related terror, and later when The Doctor and Jamie vanish down a pipeline where someone had pretty much definitely been taken by the killer weed and she ends up knocked out by Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill. She has a word with The Doctor on the end of her bed about it, and by the end of the story she decides to stay behind with Mr. and Mrs. Harris.  There is a really nice scene between Jamie and Victoria the night before she leaves, including Jamie kissing her softly on the forehead, and then the two travellers leave her on the beach, with Jamie in a strop and The Doctor remarking “I’ll miss her too, you know!”. Comparing this departure to Ben and Polly in the previously-covered animated story “The Faceless Ones” is like night and day, this is sweetly done rather than quickly done in a hurry.

As for the animated version? Pretty impressive! Given a lot of the story is standing around and talking they have thankfully greatly improved both facial and head movements as well as walking and running animations. The opening scene on the beach, which not only includes the first ever use of the Sonic Screwdriver (*gasp!*) but has The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria mess about, laughing and throwing foam at each other was great, a well animated version of Patrick Troughton’s head rearing back in laughter was a welcome sight. Given its entirely missing I went ahead and watched the full 16:9 colour version, and a great night in it was!

The Bad:

It’s the animated Mr. Quill! Plus some killer seaweed, the unlikely enemy of the story…

While I really enjoyed the story’s slow build this time round (again, the recon didn’t appeal back in the day) it is safe to say that if you’re looking for a fast paced base under siege story with lots of monsters breaking down doors and killing people you’ll be disappointed. In fact this is one of those super-rare stories where nobody actually dies, so whether this is bad or good with depend entirely on how you set your expectations and what kind of story you normally like, especially at six episodes long. It also features Victoria possibly at her most screamy and weak, which is a shame, but those were the main characteristics of the character, so if you were watching these stories in order you’d be used to that by now…

I will mention one thing that annoyed me about the animated version: in the a hut with a guard posted at it you can see a wanted poster for Delgado’s Master, that’s a fun little Easter egg, but an A3 sized poster mysteriously stuck in the background of a pumping facility constantly taking your eyes off the animated characters because it’s so obvious is NOT so fun. Not only “why would it be there so deep into the facility and be so big?” but why would the animators put such an attention-grabbing thing in clear eye-view for so many scenes throughout the whole story. Rather annoying!

The Continuity:

“I think I hear… hollow metal.” “ARGGGHHHH!!!!” “Oh for heaven’s sake!”

Obviously Victoria leaving is a big deal and she does mention a few old foes off-hand, but this story is never really called back to, the killer seaweed doesn’t ever even get mentioned again let alone reappear, as far as I can remember.

The Sixth Doctor lost story audio drama “Power Play” features The Doctor meeting up with an older Victoria, whose life on Earth’s future (from her perspective) led to her getting involved in nuclear power protests…

Overall Thoughts:

That’s some good cartoon Troughton, right there! More please!

Fury From The Deep is a good example of slow tension building and focusing on character’s behaviour over plain old monster invasions. That might not be to everyone’s tastes, but at least the animated version makes it far easier and fun to digest than the old photo recon (again, in my opinion anyway). This is another case of a lost Troughton story being brought to life again, making it feel like I’ve properly experienced the story. I’m glad I have as well because it was a good watch with a touching send off to an often overlooked companion. Highly recommended, if you’re in the right mood!

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