Fury From The Deep

Doctor WhoThe TARDIS deposits the Doctor, Victoria and Jamie near a North Sea natural gas refinery, whose pipelines radiate a disturbing, heartbeat-like sound. When refinery personnel find the Doctor trying to diagnose the problem, the head of the refinery operation assumes that the Doctor is trying to sabotage their operation. But once they’re at the refinery itself, the time travelers quickly learn that something is dangerously amiss. Drilling rigs at sea have dropped out of communication, samples of strange seaweed enshrouded in a pulsating foam have been found, and those who have come in contact with the seaweed have never been the same again. The Doctor offers his help, but when it is refused it puts he and his companions in even greater risk. When the Doctor encounters the seaweed, it takes time for him to realize that one of his companions has the best defense against it.

Order this story on audio CDwritten by Victor Pemberton
directed by Hugh David
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Victor Maddern (Robson), Roy Spencer (Harris), Graham Leaman (Price), Peter Ducrom (Guard), June Murphy (Maggie Harris), John Garvin (Carney), Hubert Rees (Chief Engineer), John Abierni (Van Lutyens), Richard Mayes (Baxter), Bill Burridge (Quill), John Gill (Oak), Margaret John (Megan Jones), Brian Cullingford (Perkins)

Note: The master tapes of this episode were destroyed by the BBC in the early 1970’s, and no video copies exist.

Broadcast from March 16 through April 20, 1968

Notes: Writer Victor Pemberton penned another Doctor Who adventure with a menace spawned from the sea, The Pescatons, the first commercially-released audio-only Doctor Who story, starring Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. This story marked the first-ever appearance of the sonic screwdriver in Doctor Who, and the Doctor prophetically points out that it’ll “work on anything”. This is the final story to feature Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield, though the character would return in the fan-made film Downtime in the 1990s.

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: As effective as it was, Fury From The Deep is very much a typical Troughton-era Doctor Who story: a confined, isolated setting, a tense crew (complete with a leader who’s cracking under the pressure of command and endangering everyone in the process), and a monster that gradually thins the ranks of the besieged. “Ten Little Indians” style. While the fifth season is generally regarded as one of the original series’ high points, most of its stories clung tightly to that basic formula. By the time we get to Fury, a sense of “been there, done that” has set in. Fortunately, Fury is one of the better examples of that basic paint-by-numbers plotline.

Where Fury succeeds is in pure atmosphere. What little footage survives shows two things this story had going for it: the rapid surge of foam (what we mere non-time-traveling mortals would call “soap suds”) heralding the arrival of the seaweed, and the darkly comic duo of Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill, who are very creepy indeed. One of composer Dudley Simpson‘s earliest collaborations with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop can be heard here in a piece of music which serves as a theme for Oak and Quill, which helps to make their appearances that much creepier. Sadly, there’s not much more footage than that to go by, leaving us – as with many Troughton-era stories – with the audio.

In audio form, Fury From The Deep has been issued twice, with very different presentations. It was released on cassette in 1993, with Tom Baker narrating the story in character – i.e. the fourth Doctor looking back on the second Doctor’s adventure – and again more recently with Fraser “Jamie” Hines serving as an impartial third-party narrator. While the 1993 cassette release is undoubtedly lower quality – the sound recordings of the original episodes being not only edited down but left untouched, with very poor sound quality and points at which you can tell that you’ve switched to an even more inferior copy of the source material – there’s something refreshing about hearing the story from the Doctor’s perspective, even if it means hearing gems like Baker describing Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill as “a psychotic Laurel & Hardy”. On the other hand, the narration script for the Baker edition is completely bizarre in terms of what it chooses to describe and what it doesn’t. Still, it’s an interesting and enjoyable peek into what might have been for the missing stories in audio form.