Thursday, November 17, 2016
Fury From The Deep
After listening to this again I'd put Fury From The Deep high on my list of Doctor Who Missing Stories I'd like to see recovered. On audio - and for this story, I couldn't find a reconstruction - this is a massively atmospheric story. I suppose that apt for a story that ends up revolving around sound.
The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria have arrived on an English beach via one of the TARDIS's more dramatic landings. They wonder around for a bit, get shot & interrogated by Robson (Victor Maddern) and talked to more politely by Harris (Roy Spencer) and it turns out that something is wrong in the world of North Sea Gas.
Indeed this story is a combination of Base Under Seige and a particularly weird episode of The Office. Robson struts around shouting at Harris, Van Lutyens (John Abineri) and the Chief Engineer (Hubert Rees) about how he learned everything he needed to know about gas rigs by working on them, not with all this nonsensical education and theory. He's basically the personification of the 'University of Life' type. He'd almost certainly fit into the modern world with its disapproval of facts; His disapproval of Van Lutyens is such that he'd almost certainly be a UKIP man. But I digress.
It turns out that - despite Robson's denials - that there is something in the pipes. Waiting. Van Lutyens gets a fantastic line about this delivered to perfection by the mighty John Abineri.
Victor Pemberton wrote a pretty impressive base(s) under siege story here but once again the material is raised to another level by the performances. I waxed lyrical about Troughton in the last blog so I won't dwell on his performance too much here except to say it is brilliant. Again. Frazer Hines to continues to do a superb job as Jamie.
It's funny that the cliche of the Doctor Who companion is the young woman and that when people - non-fans mainly - make lists great companions they are almost entirely woman but actually one of the great Doctor Who companions of all time is Jamie McCrimmon. It also illustrates to me that New Doctor Who has given up on male companions because they've decided the default TARDIS team is The Doctor plus young woman. I'm sure it is easier to write. But have we missed out on other Jamie McCrimmon's accordingly? I don't want this to sound like a whinging white man's lament for a lost world. I'm not that sort of person. I just don't think Doctor Who should ever slip into 'only x works' thinking. Its capacity to change and to play around with the format is what has kept Doctor Who alive so long.
But I digress. Again.
The guest stars in Fury From The Deep are all up to snuff too. I've mentioned John Abineri already but Victor Maddern does an excellent job as Robson falls apart. He's clearly something of a pain in the arse as a boss normally but here he's pushed to breaking point, paranoid and then taken over by a seaweed creature. So, it is no surprise he gets a little shouty. Roy Spencer as Harris and Jane Murphy as Margaret - his wife - do a nice job being a normal couple in an abnormal situation. It's the nearest Doctor Who has come to being a soap opera at this point.
Perhaps the best performance though is Margaret John as Megan Jones. Unusually for the 60s, Jones is a female character with real authority and her scene with Victor Maddern when she tries to talk Robson out of the control of the weed creature is great. She tries tenderness and then switches to a harsher 'pull yourself together' approach. It's nicely played by both of them but John gives Jones* real authority.
It would be remiss not to mention Mr. Quill (Bill Burridge) and Mr. Oak (John Gill) a creepy pair of heavy breathers who spend most of the story being unpleasant and devious. They're memorable enough in the little clip that survives and on audio that it makes you even more annoyed that this story doesn't exist on video. There is the worrying possibility that it might turn out to be a disappointment if the foaminess overwhelms the creepiness but I'd be happy to have a chance to make that decision.
Oh. Foam seems to be a big thing in the Troughton era. We saw it in The Web of Fear. Is there a foam agenda?
So, what do I conclude from all this nonsense? Well, if you haven't 'watched' Fury From The Deep then you should. It's a fine, creepy story with excellent performances all around.
You know what. I was about to finish this blog without mentioning that it is Victoria Waterfield's last story and she goes out on a screaming high. Victoria's just had enough of turning up at places where everything is horrible and people die. It's understandable. Since she first met the Doctor back in The Evil of the Daleks (during which her father was killed) it's been a festival of death and she can't take it anymore. It's quite a realistic reason to leave.
There's a lovely scene between her and Jamie in the final episode as Jamie tries to persuade her to stay. And it just confirms my headcanon that there was more to their relationship than just 'friends'. Jamie is incredibly upset at the end and throws something of a mild strop. It's the Doctor's slightly hurt response that caps the story in a lovely way.
Give it a listen. Watch the remaining clips. Find a reconstruction.
"It's down there. In the darkness. In the pipeline. Waiting..."
*That sentence got ugly. Sorry.