Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Serial 42: Fury From The Deep

Doctor: Patrick Troughton (2nd Doctor)
Companions: Jamie, Victoria

Written by: Victor Pemberton
Directed by: Hugh David

Background & Significance: When you look at season five of Doctor Who, the famous, so called "Monster" season (so named because the season featured two Cybermen stories, two Yeti stories, an Ice Warrior story, and Troughton "blacking himself up" to look like a dark-skinned Spaniard) stands out for a number of reasons, most notably, perhaps, because the season itself largely doesn't exist. Of the 40 episodes in season five only 13 are still around, there's only one complete story, and only one other of the seven for which half of the story exists. Most of the stories have at least one episode to hint at what the story must have looked/felt like.

Except for this one. This one is missing in its entirety.

It's written by Victor Pemberton and directed by Hugh David. Pemberton briefly stepped in as script editor for "Tomb of the Cybermen" when they decided to try that little experiment and Hugh David was last and first seen in the previous season to help introduce Jamie in "The Highlanders", so it is something of a mystery as to how exactly it would have been done. There's very little that would hint at the way that these two people affected Doctor Who for this one installment of theirs, and that (like with all the missing episodes) is a shame, especially considering they never really returned after this. At least with someone like Douglas Camfield we can extrapolate based on his later work as to how well he might have directed something, but here.... we don't really have that luxury. Not exactly.

It's also the last story featuring Victoria Waterfield, bringing to a close the scares and dares of the season in a very palpable way and ending one of the most conceptually interesting companions in the history of the programme (in my honest opinion). But I'll talk about that in a bit.

All these things give "Fury From the Deep" something of a fetishized reputation. It's extremely well-regarded and considered a highlight of what is also considered an extremely strong and highlight-worthy season. Known for its scares and B-movie horror, the story actually happens to be seaweed and foam, of all things, inserting that as "its monster" while maintaining your typical "base under siege" story that is the formula for every story this season.

So let's get to it!


Part 1:

It’s hard to talk about first episodes in Classic Who.

After doing over a hundred of these posts, I find it difficult to say anything special about the first episode of a story that follows the same format as numerous others. Honestly, this is exactly the same sorta first episode as numerous other base under siege stories. You have The Doctor and his companions arriving on location to find a guy in charge and several others under him and there’s an encroaching threat that we don’t yet see but will very soon… The Doctor and his companions are considered untrustworthy and suspiscious… etc.

So really, there’s not a whole lot to this episode, but I will do my best.

The thing that strikes me most in watching this story this time is how much focus is placed on The Doctor and his companions and their relationships when it comes to their current situation. The Doctor and Jamie are constantly palling around, still as ever the perfect marriage of Doctor and Companion if ever I saw one… And then there’s Victoria, who’s left behind in the midst of all this. The Doctor says it’s to keep her safe, but… is it really?

I mean, sure. The Doctor does have Victoria’s best interests at heart, but isn’t being alone by herself the most dangerous thing? Not that she’s incompetent (she’s really not), but it does seem rather dangerous doesn’t it?

And sure enough, she is the victim of an attack by seaweed/foam at the end of this episode. It’s a fair cliffhanger, I think. It’s about as strong as you can expect one to be, given the circumstances, and it does put Victoria into the “oh mah gawd I’m a helpless, screaming companion” role that is, at the very least, eye rolly. But it does speak to something in the future that is interesting. And it’s not like Victoria WANTS to stay alone. She wants to go out and be with The Doctor, but he shifts her to the side and doesn’t treat her well.

It’s odd watching The Doctor behave this way. This is the guy who just earlier in the episode instigated a foam fight between the three of them (were but this episode existed).

That’s the thing about this story. Not only does the show feel like it’s (at times) running on autopilot (especially this episode) but so does The Doctor as well. That’s not to say Troughton is auto piloting (he isn’t, as far as I can tell) but The Doctor is here to do things and investigate (he says “I was curious” several times in this story) and it’s almost as if he knows that he’s in the middle of some unsafe situations right off the bat. In ways, I like that, but it also means that on the eve of Victoria’s departure (and sure he doesn’t know what’s going to happen) he isn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to Victoria or what she needs at the moment.

As far as other things this story does well, I think it does a good job of cross cutting between the different storylines going on. There’s The Doctor and what’s up with him and the things with Robson (and even Robson’s second in command has his own little things going on. Then there’s the stuff with Harris and his wife which doesn’t seem to cross over with anything at the moment (but which will soonish). There’s a saboteur in the base and the strange things going on with the other rigs and everything… And I like the way either Pemberton writes these elements or the way David cuts and paces them. It gives the illusion that things are happening fast while still giving them a slow, sprawling quality. It’s fairly well done. I just wish I could see it.

Part 2:

This story is something of a waiting game.

Watching this story for a second time (and being, quite frankly, bored by quite a bit of it the first), it’s easier to see now that Pemberton is fascinated by what is often called “the slow burn”. As with the first part, nothing much happens here (although there is some good stuff), and by the end of the episode we’re left on the notion that whatever is about to attack, or whatever is coming, or whatever these people are afraid of… it’s in the pipelines, and it’s waiting. Waiting for what? We’re not sure. That’s why it’s a cliffhanger.

Knowing, then, how this story lays out in terms of its structure, it’s clear that this is the end of the first part. We have definitive proof that something is coming (and dramatic ironically, we’re aware of much more than the folks in the base are: that this is definitely a thing) and now it’s just a waiting game to see what happens next.

That means that the vast majority of the rest of this is all based on tension and claustrophobia, which makes it extremely detrimental to the story that we can’t see it, but it’s a fair assumption based on where the story began. The sea is a dangerous place, and we know that this looming threat (the eponymous “Fury” I suppose) is “from [that] deep”, meaning that the ocean has a definite role to play in what’s going down right now.

I’m interested in that element, and I’m interested in the claustrophobia and isolation in this story. The sea cuts them off from the rigs and the rigs are cut off from the land. They can’t really leave this place (there’s nowhere to go) but they really shouldn’t be there either.

And that’s the biggest shame in this story not existing. It’s one thing to write a story that’s scary or based on tension, but it’s another thing entirely to see it. Tension is based on what we can see on the screen and how we perceived these cut and trimmed sequences as we go on. Sure, Doctor Who has never really been the most engagingly visual of shows (it has its moments), but when a director gets an opportunity to direct something that’s essentially horror or thriller based, it’s their opportunity to put a stamp on a story and be lauded for their fine fine work.

Hugh David is just such a director.

While this story doesn’t exist, there does exist almost a minute of clip that was excised and censored from the Australian broadcast because it was deemed “too scary” and thus the scene survived the mass junkings of the BBC archive. And oh what a clip it is. It’s stunningly terrifying to watch and it’s a phenomenal performance by Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill (that’s their characters) at being the insanely scary characters they happen to be. It’s breathtaking to watch and I’m kinda in love.

But it’s the most fascinating part because it tells you that Hugh David? He really knew what he was doing. In less than fifty four seconds he manages to scare the pants off of anyone watching, and (unless this scene was a total fluke, which I doubt it is) I’m led to assume that the rest of this story could carry the same.

That makes this story something of a triumph. There’s nothing ever quite so good as scary Doctor Who, and to know that David was directing a story so rich in paranoia and fear and claustrophobia makes me doubly sad that this story doesn’t exist because all we’re left with are telesnaps and extrapolation based on the sounds we hear. But those can’t ever do the justice David’s direction seems to demand, and we’re thus left wondering what it is that this story looked like and felt like…

Even within this dynamic of “nothing’s happening” we do get some good developments, specifically that involving Maggie in which she’s attacked by Oak and Quill.

And that gives rise to the notion that not only is this base under attack, but it’s already been infiltrated by characters who have unfettered access to all of the base’s internal working elements. It ratchets the tension up as well, knowing that these two seemingly comedic characters (one short and fat, the other tall and skinny….) could sneak up on you at any second and breathe death fumes in your face. It’s the sort of element this story needs, especially because it’s not going to move forward very quickly for the next several episodes.

So we’re left with that and some charmingly wonderful B-movie elements that I wish we could see. Watching Maggie go down after death breath is totally 50s B-movie and being attacked by vicious seaweed and foam is exactly the sorta thing that thrives in the monster movies that this story seems to emulate. And as such, this story does tend to work and really gets me in the “oh man so cool” way that B-movie plots and creatures only seem to be able to do.

That said, hearing a B-movie is not nearly as good as watching it unfold.

Part 3:

At every turn in this story so far, The Doctor and Co. have been behind the seaweed and its plan. That’s probably never more apparent than in episode three.

See, it’s in this part that The Doctor discovers just what this threat is. Turns out it’s sentient seaweed that’s growing on the gas harvested by this refinery, which puts it in direct conflict with someone like all the people who want Robson to take the facility offline because it’s never been shut down and needs to. That’s why the weeds take Robson and make him “one of us”, because he has exactly the same goals, and rather than split forces, the seaweed would do better to just have and control the person who’s helping it the most.

This seaweed, too, is a bit of a nasty business. Watching it, I’m still saddened that it doesn’t exist because these set pieces seem thrilling and exciting and all that stuff.

And again, I’m stuck by how insanely fantastically B-movie this whole thing turns out to be. We get some obligatory science, we get some probably psychedelic cross fadings and crazy camera shots. Based on David’s direction in the previous episode, such extrapolation is probably not that far off, and I love the fact that The Doctor’s experiments end up almost seriously injuring or killing Jamie and Victoria. The Doctor is tending to be a little reckless and unsympathetic in this.

That’s unfortunate, because it’s becoming clear that Victoria is wanting to leave. That leads to an extensive five minute sequence in this episode in which Victoria flashes back to all her previous adventures (every single last one) and remembers the peril she’s been put in.

And I like this. I’ll like this more as we go on, but I really like that they’re attempting to give Victoria things to do and reasons to leave before she does. It’s a big change from the Innes Lloyd years, in which Dodo, Ben, & Polly were chucked out of the TARDIS crew unceremoniously. But here it’s different. Pemberton and Sherwin really attempt to make the forthcoming departure of Victoria believable given the circumstances, and I think they do a good job of that in this, showing how after all this Victoria is still the cowering girl who can’t handle the situation thrust upon her.

The Doctor, of course, notices all of this.

I find I rather enjoy this choice. Does The Doctor realize that she’s setting herself up to depart? I don’t think so, or if he does, he’s being something of a dick about it. At every turn he’s always far more interested in whatever Jamie’s doing or what to do next about the weed. I understand that this whole situation is serious and dire, but there’s really honestly no excuse for it, especially given that Victoria is not really being very subtle about wanting to leave, or at least leaning in that direction, at all. In ways I like that. It’s a reminder that The Doctor is not human and can’t necessarily pick up on all of humanity’s particular intricacies and tendencies (this is, after all, still something of a younger man), but in others, it’s heartbreaking. Victoria being an orphan instantly turns The Doctor as very much her surrogate father (and Jamie, by proxy, her surrogate brother) and for a daughter to be so ignored by her father like this indicates only a broken, unhealthy relationship between the two of them.

In a lot of ways, that makes The Doctor like Victoria’s father in that he is now unaware of her, putting himself and his “job” before her.

Then again, The Doctor’s intense focus is not exactly unfounded.

This episode ends with a chilling, haunting image. Maggie (the wife) has been turned by the seaweed and is now possessed. So, too, has the seaweed possessed Robson, so now there’s two dangerous folk in this place unbeknownst to everyone else. But what we get from them is a final scene in which Maggie tells Robson to stay behind and then calmly walks into the water, into the waves, and seemingly drowns.

And this is also terrifying but for a completely different reason. It’s one thing for the seaweed to flail and wave, to sting and transport itself through foam, to hide in the pipes, to infiltrate this facility using maintenance workers.

But it’s another thing entirely to take over this woman so completely that it can make her drown herself and do it calmly. Compare what happens here to the possession in “The Christmas Invasion”, which had a lot about how “blood magic” was strong but could in no way make you kill yourself. This is far stronger, and far stronger than anyone could have anticipated. AND! On top of that? It kills one of the seemingly important allies it has. Suddenly we don’t know this seaweed as well as we’ve thought and we’re back to square one.

And this is all down to Pemberton, I think. The man is constantly surprising us and giving us a nice slow IV drip of information and scares to keep the tension and horror mounting in the face of all this. It’s extremely well done and this cliffhanger is still probably one of the chillingest I’ve ever seen in Doctor Who. It’s perfect, seemingly well shot (as far as we can tell) and the music by Dudley Simpson is truly remarkable.

Great stuff, and makes me can’t wait to see more.

Part 4:

So…. this episode and the last episode could be considered “filler”. Then again, they’re also necessary.

Horror movies are always best when they build to each successive set piece. If you give everything you’ve got in the first twenty minutes then you’ve got nowhere to go but down for the rest of the story. All the good ones do that, and this story doesn’t feel too different. Once again, we have a chilling set piece in which one of our main characters goes up against the weed and it seems to top the one that came before. And thank god for closed-minded Australian censors, who excised another little snippet of this to see.

Before this point in the story, the weed was moving in the background, taking careful, measured steps. A piece of seaweed in a briefcase, some possession, mole/undercover agents to do its bidding… But here we get something different.

Van Lutyen goes down into the impeller shaft. He’s betrayed by Oak and Quill (what a shock), and he is taken by the weeds in a moment of valor. And it’s high time for this to happen. The seaweed has enough influence that it can start out and out picking off its enemies one by one, and that in and of itself is rather frightening. It’s an exercise of its power in a way it hasn’t done before, and now that something’s happening we’re left with that.

It’s also revealing that here we are after four episodes of build-up we’re finally ready for the story to move forward. Everyone’s now on board with the fact that they’re all in danger and they’re all ready to start fighting against it. Now that Robson has lost his god damn mind, we get another obligatory person/bureaucrat who takes control of the situation, marching up and down that she knows what’s best for this station and to not believe The Doctor. But of course, everything everyone’s doing is too late. The rigs have already been taken over by the seaweed and foam and the world is about to end. As The Doctor says in this episode, “The Advance Guard has arrived” and now it’s time to go to war.

I’m sure this wouldn’t be so mediocre were it not for the fact that this episode doesn’t exist. Again, tension mounting would help here.

But within this buildup of tension we get Pemberton using the Doctor Who format to build on the isolation and claustrophobia of the station. The Doctor and everyone are helpless and blind, waiting for the weed to attack, so all they can get is a report from the field that the weed has taken over the rigs. Again, isolation, and utilizing the format such that it’s aware the show can’t actively show the helicopter (that’s later) or a rig that’s been taken over by seaweed and foam, so it tells us and we’re forced to rely on the image of the weed slowly taking over each rig one by one.

And this “telling” feeds the feeling of helplessness through isolation. That’s great stuff.

Finally, there’s some delightful Victoria in this episode. Hell, in this story. Victoria’s wiped out. She can’t handle it anymore and she pleads to The Doctor to help her. But he’s still not listening. And she talks to Jamie in some gorgeousness of scene, where she pleads with him for understanding of her situation. But Jamie doesn’t get it, and honestly I like that he doesn’t. Jamie is cut from the cloth of a die hard Companion. He goes out swinging, back-to-back with The Doctor until the bitter, bitter end.

But I think Victoria is intentionally not “Companion material”.

Clearly, she is not capable of handling the events of this story. They scare her. They get to her. Sure, there’s other stories, but she’s always reluctant to enter those situations and the first to cling to whoever’s near. That’s always been the biggest slam against Victoria’s character: that she screams too much and fills a role of “The Doctor’s screaming companion”. But that’s fine to me. Not everyone can be the brave brave one of the group. And I like that Victoria becomes entirely untraditional in that way. She didn’t ask for this. She was taken away, swept off into the stars despite not necessarily wanting to, and in a different way than everyone else. Sure, there’ve been companions thrown into Companionship (Barbara and Ian, Ben and Polly, Tegan…) but they adapted better than Victoria did. Victoria will only ever be the innocent daughter Troughton is tasked with protecting, the semi-surrogate-sister Jamie can’t help but care about very very deeply.

This is what makes Victoria unique, and it’s really why I like her. It’s a flavor that’s entirely unique to the TARDIS, because she’s isn’t whiny (Tegan), but nor does she leap into situations to make sure they get out alive. That makes her true to life (who wouldn’t get scared). Sure, it is somewhat like putting her up on a pedestal and whatever, but at the same time, I don’t think it was intended that way. She has her strong moments where she can be brave, but that’s not who she is. Maybe if The Doctor encouraged her more she could have that, but he doesn’t so she doesn’t and that…

Well that’s a shame, isn’t it?

Part 5:

Because this is Classic Who, stories can’t be just about the departure of any given character and the time for character moments that are not intertwined to the monster runaround plot normally get the short shrift.

That said, there’s a lot in this story that is thematically tied into the departure of Victoria. I know, I know. I’m harping on it a lot, but that’s the bit of this that’s the most interesting to me. It’s not that the seaweed and foam storyline isn’t interesting or exciting, but I’m shorted by the fact that I can’t see the images and I’m thusly struggling with things to say about them because it always seems to be the same thing over and over again.

What I will say about this episode is that I love the way everything starts paying off out of nowhere. The previous two episodes of build up explode in powerful character moments and set pieces. Suddenly The Doctor is able to figure out that they need oxygen to poison the weed. Suddenly the weed is setting off attacks left and right, stealing people and such like. Suddenly Robson’s escaped with Victoria and taken her back to the evil lair. Suddenly Jamie figures out about Oak and Quill and there’s a little scuffle between them. Suddenly Robson becomes the avatar for the weeds and becomes one of them, giving a figure head we’re allowed to target. All of these things happen and happen in such rapid fire succession that it feels exhilarating and exciting. The story’s done such a slow methodical build to get to this point that now that the action breaks out the story’s allowed to go crazy and get all exciting and dangerous.

But let’s try for something different. I always talk too much about the weed and the foam. Let’s talk about The Doctor.

The Doctor in this story has almost blanket ignored Victoria. He’s most more concerned or worried with everything else that’s going on. How a Companion feels is irrelevant because scared hits everyone differently. This is just a slight hiccup. And besides. MUCH like the vision of the show throughout the Classic era, in which the character almost always takes a back seat to whatever story is going on, it only makes sense for our ostensibly main character to step in and treat story first and characters second.

So it only makes sense, then, that the first time Victoria really and truly enters the story is the first time The Doctor really and truly starts to take notice of her.

It’s a sad statement, I think, but also an important lesson The Doctor needs to learn about human interaction. People don’t necessarily function in the way you expect them to. The Doctor, I believe, expects Victoria to be cool and fine with this situation. I mean, every other previous Companion (and she’s his tenth) was fine with the situation and teamworked to get the job done. But Victoria is different and The Doctor should know better than to just assume everything’s okay, especially when she keeps saying it’s incredibly not.

For Victoria, it’s an incredibly human thing. She hasn’t outright said that she wants to leave and leave in this story, but she’s STRONGLY hinting at it, and even doing the classic “No. Nevermind” that people can do when they don’t want to speak up about something.

And it’s telling that The Doctor and Jamie don’t notice these things. Jamie in particular can’t seem to fathom a world in which Victoria wouldn’t want to travel with The Doctor, especially when there’s nowhere to go and no way to get Victoria home, especially because she doesn’t really have one. Jamie’s always been a bit daft, and it’s remarkably telling to me that they write him in such a way that he’s not exactly on the up and up with this situation. He’s usually very well informed and intuitive about what’s up (or, about as intuitive as one can be), but here…. He’s about to get a cold slap of reality in the face.

Part 6:

One of the benefits of a story having a somewhat weaker middle (and honestly because this story doesn’t exist the middle does feel weaker and such) is it can make up for that “deficiency” by having a strong, exciting, satisfying ending.

In that, this story succeeds in spades. It’s a thrilling, exciting, cohesive ending from an action/character standpoint, and more than that you can’t really ask for. I mean, looking at it in this, there’s a delightful helicopter set piece starring Troughton learning a crash course in helicopter flying and the last-ditch, all-out assault by the seaweed and foam on the compound, and then the final moments featuring Victoria… And it moves quickly in the same way that the previous part did, only with a sense of tying all of the elements together rather than providing all the conflict and complications.

And really, I love that once again we have The Doctor solving the problems and saving the day by using his mind. Sure, what he does to the weed is perhaps cruel and such, but at the end of the day it needs to be done and fits in with the Troughton mantra of “they must be fought”.

At the end of the day, that’s really what matters, isn’t it? Different Doctors can get away with different things based on their personalities and experiences, despite the fact that what they’re doing should not work. Both Pertwee and Tom Baker get away with doing karate moves and physical combat, which I generally abhor Doctors doing. Likewise, Troughton can get away with fighting (and often killing) his enemies if for no other reason than because the Troughton era is so ensconced in good vs evil and how evil must be fought… There’s almost a moral imperative that allows such measures to be taken despite the fact that The Doctor should not behave so callously.

But really, for me, this story comes down all at the very end to the departure of Victoria.

There’s a series of weird decisions surrounding her decision to leave. The first is the fact that “everyone lives” in this story, which is something of a miraculous thing, especially considering we saw Van Lutyens sink into a seemingly bottomless thing of foam and Maggie (Harris’s wife) stalk off into the ocean and seemingly drown herself at the end of episode three and Robson was at the epicenter of the seaweed’s influence… You’d think that some of these people would have died as a result of their involvement in the dangers of this story, but really, not so much. But it’s weird that despite this absolutely fairy tale ending, it’s completely undercut by Victoria’s departure and this seemingly flawless victory seems to be a little bit pyrrhic.

That’s the effect Victoria has on people, I guess.

Victoria’s departure is… particularly affecting, more so than I think you would possibly believe. Having now seen all of the companion departures, I honestly stack Victoria’s as the strongest so far seen in the series, simply for the amount of weight it gives the character beat. It affects me in such a way that it… really makes me contemplate what it means to leave The Doctor, and that all comes from the way Victoria treats her departure. It’s not that she wants to leave. She actually doesn’t want to leave Jamie and The Doctor, but she knows it’s the right thing to do.

To add complications to the matter, she’s left in the care of Harris and Maggie, the married couple, making Victoria the surrogate daughter to their little budding family unit, thereby bringing Victoria full circle. She did have a father, but lost him. Now she gets parents back.

But the pain of losing Victoria is a palpable one. Despite the camaraderie between the two, I’ve always felt some form of romantic tension between her and Jamie in a way where he’s secretly in love with her and she’s secretly in love with him. Am I reading into this? Sure. And they probably would have confessed their love to each other if it HAD been the case, but assuming that they’re both silent on the subject (they don’t want to stand in each other’s way) their final moment in that courtyard becomes breathtakingly soul crushing and it still doesn't detract from the fact that it does feel like the two really are "breaking up".

It’s also interesting that we never actually see the last thing they say to each other. Like with Ian and Barbara’s departure, the final moment between companion and Doctor are left to the imagination, which is a choice I rather like.

And it’s telling that Jamie is the one who’s unable to move on. Jamie, as a character, is the one who cares too much, who loves too much. The Doctor has no deal moving on or whatever have you, or at least he does, but he’s mature enough to internalize it, and the biting anger that he gives when he says “I was fond of her too, Jamie” speaks wonders for what it is he’s feeling. No one likes this situation, but they’re dealing and coping simply because they’re all so… so stupid. Stupid boys going off together.

So as the TARDIS rises out of the sea we see Victoria watching them go and the way Watling chooses to play it just demolishes me. For some reason, I am aware that this is the last time Victoria is going to see either The Doctor or Jamie, and that’s the sorta thing that… anyone can relate to. It’s not like Jo, who goes off to better places. There’s no telling whether or not Victoria’s going to a better place. All we know is that somehow, some way she’s not going to be seeing them ever again. God. Horcrux me right in the face. That destroys me.

Such is life, I suppose, though. It’s just more palpable this time, especially because it’s not… it’s not what they want. It’s just not what they want.

Final Thoughts?: In the end, I see why this story is considered a classic and to a large extent, I agree.

Overall, it's a thrilling story with just about everything you could want in Doctor Who. It's got B-movie scares, action, adventure, romance(?), and strong character moments with deep emotional resonance.

It's also insanely unique. It's the only monster in this season to not reoccur and it's also possibly the most frightening. Possession is the same sort of deal that Hinchcliffe/Holmes would use during their tenure to bring out the scares and thrills and chills and it's used to marvelous, intense effect here. There's nothing quite so scary as Oak and Quill and there's nothing that's quite so haunting as Maggie walking herself into the ocean. The seaweed is also something that seems to be delightfully scary in the best sort of fun way: the kind that's intense but also tremendous tremendous fun.

It also gives us the incredibly excellent departure of Victoria. 

As a confession: I'm a big Victoria fan. Big time big time. I think she gets a bum rap. Sure, she does have the job of screaming a lot and being fairly damsely, but I also find her wonderful as a breath of fresh air for the show. She's the sort of companion only Patrick Troughton could/would have and she gives him a unique and wonderful feel and tone that no other Doctor seems to have. It feeds into The Troughton oeuvre of big fun scifi action/adventure throughout time and space, just getting into trouble and not having a care in the world.

Jamie, of course, is his stalwart: the 17th Century Scotsman who is just there to have an adventure despite his era. Zoe is the famous female companion, notable because she's from the 21st Century and she's a mathematician with a seemingly endlessly intricate and exciting brain.

And then there's Victoria, the Victorian Orphan. That as a character works for me. It gives Troughton's Doctor a sense of scope and history and really grounds his work in the "magic" that Doctor Who can so easily have if you just provide a little scope. Having this group in the TARDIS is something of a rare eccentricity, and really makes the show feel like it's sweeping and epic in scope, even though the show is only in its fifth season at this point.

But I'm sad to see her go. When I think of this story it's almost always only ever going to be about the finale (also the seaweed and the foam because it's the eponymous) and what happens to Victoria and how devastating the loss of a companion can truly be when you really get down to it. It makes me wonder what happens next. I wonder if she knew how to handle where she landed or if she had a happy life. I'm sure The Doctor knows, but as far as she knows and we know she never saw him or Jamie again, and that's... so sad. She loses her best friends in the whole wide world. And for what?

Typical, Doctor Who. Way to rip me apart.

Next Time!: 4th Doctor! Leela! A period setting! A Haunted [Light]House! Glowy green giants! A shipwreck! And a big ol' explosion! "Horror of Fang Rock"! Coming Next Tuesday!


  1. AMAZING website! Really, this has quickly become one of my favourite explorations of the classic series, and really compelled me on to do a rewatch of my own (although I worry that I may be too geeky if I've watched the entire classic series twice before I even turn 25...). I'm also a big Victoria fan, and couldn't agree more with your review of this serial. Thanks!

  2. Thank you very much! Good to know it's working for people like you!

  3. The story with the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver

  4. The story with the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver