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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Some of the best Doctor Who's ever released at last!!!March 1 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I have been a huge fan of the original Doctor Who series since I was a boy. My local PBS station used to run Doctor Who on Saturday night, and it was a highlight of my boyhood weekends. As a boy, the episodes being released in this set were among my favorites because I loved sea monsters and the Silurians and Sea Devils were great looking creatures.
As an adult, I now have a special appreciation for the unique nature of the Silurians and Sea Devils in the history of Doctor Who creatures. Most of the antagonists that the Doctor encounters in the series are evil aliens and monsters bent on destruction and conquest. But the Silurians and Sea Devils aren't. Instead, they were the original inhabitants of the Earth during pre-historic times, and they want their planet back from the "ape-descended primitives" who now occupy it, i.e. humans. If you see it from their point of view, they just want their home back. The Doctor does see it, and several times seeks to negotiate a peace between them and humanity, pointing out that both species can share the planet since the reptilian Silurians can live in environments that humans avoid.
In "the Silurians", the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) makes his first attempt at negotiated settlement between humanity and the Silurians. But he is thwarted by closed minded individuals among both the Silurians and Humans. In many ways, the humans look more evil than the Silurians in this storyline, although some of the Silurians do take monstrous steps to try to wipe out humanity. In the end, human fear takes advantage of the Doctor's success in countering the destructive plans of the rogue Silurians. The Doctor finds himself disgusted by humanity and even by the actions of his friend, the Brigadier. By the way, for fans of the Brigadier, this story represents some of Nicholas Courtney's best work on the series.
In "the Sea Devils," a cousin species of the Silurians begins to pop up off the coast of Britain and strike out against the humans who once again have invaded their territory. Once again, the Doctor (Pertwee) attempts a negotiated settlement. But this time his plans are thwarted by the Master, who wishes to use the Sea Devils and their superior technology to conquer humanity.
Fast forward in time a decade to the years of Peter Davidson as the Doctor. The Silurians and Sea Devils, together, return in a future Earth time period for the magnificent Doctor Who story "Warriors of the Deep." This time, the Silurians and Sea Devils will not hear the Doctor's entreaties for a negotiated settlement with humanity. Their previous experience with humans has taught them that the human race can not be trusted. They decide they have no alternative but to wipe out humanity once and for all in order to reclaim the world they once called home.
To do so, they assault and take over an undersea missile base to start a nuclear war that will destroy the "ape-primitives" with their own weapons. The Doctor is forced to make a choice-either destroy the Silurians and Sea Devils or let them slaughter all of humanity? In the Doctor's own simple, yet heartbreakingly spoken words, "there should have been another way." This compelling story gives Peter Davidson a chance to shine as a dramatic actor, with the Doctor not sure who he is more angry with-the Silurians or the humans. Especially since in a sub-story, human agents from a rival power have also infiltraited the sea base and unleash murder and treachery even amongst the Silurian and Sea Devil onslaught.
I am so pleased that these stories that span two Doctors and two decades are being released as a set. The stories of the Doctor's encounters with the Silurians and Sea Devils I think will become all the more compelling when taken as a whole. If the DVD quality is as good as the other Doctor Who releases have been so far, especially in terms of the commentaries and special features, this set will be a must have for Doctor Who fans.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
"These creatures aren't just animals, they're an alien life form, as intelligent as we are."June 21 2008
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Doctor Who can be a pretty deep show sometimes. And that goes for the three stories in this aptly named box-set both in the usual figurative sense and quite literally as well. That is, the unifying element in "Doctor Who and the Silurians" (1970), "The Sea Devils" (1972), and "Warriors of the Deep" (1984) is one of the most creatively imaginative set of antagonists the show has seen in its long history, and they antagonize from the depths of the earth and sea. The eponymous Silurians, that is, along with their equally eponymous semi-aquatic branch, the Sea Devils--a highly advanced and civilized race of reptilians that evolved on Earth long before we did, went into suspended animation underground and undersea to weather what they predicted to be a global catastrophe, and then overslept a bit until the technological advances of the mammalian hominids who evolved in their absence awoke them again. All three times they seek to retake the planet that once was theirs, each time the Doctor tries to broker a peaceful compromise between the two feuding sets of Earthlings, and each time mutual suspicion, xenophobia, and itchy trigger fingers prevail over the Doctor's voice of reason and compromise. Each story too invokes this complicated moral dilemma with cold war allegorical overtones within the confines of a thoroughly enjoyable science fiction thriller.
Each also has its own particularities too, of course. "Doctor Who and the Silurians" gets the whole concept going and is the strongest of the three storywise. Only the second story of the third Doctor's tenure (as expertly played by Jon Pertwee), it also starts establishing several key motifs of that era, including the Earthbound Doctor's characteristically eccentric vintage car. "The Sea Devils" takes the concept two years later and jazzes it up with more action and greater scale while complicating matters with the presence of the Doctor's Time Lord nemesis, the Master, who seeks to foment strife and discord quite as much as the Doctor seeks to defuse it. All of this has the slight drawback of simplifying the story to a slight degree, but the overall result is a delightfully quintessential sample of the Pertwee era. "Warriors of the Deep" attempts more than a decade later to update the concept and develop it further--a valiant attempt that due to a few errors of judgment as well as circumstances beyond anyone's control ends up falling far short. This is definitely the weakest link of the three, but it has some redeeming qualities (the model work and set design for the Silurian submarine and Sea Devil hibernation chamber are superb, for instance) and in any case it's one of those the fans love to hate, which is a distinction of sorts anyway.
Extras are never the deal-breaker with me (I consider them indeed extra), but the ones on these discs deserve special mention. The "Silurians" includes "What Lies Beneath", a highly informative and interesting look at the social history underlying the story as well as an examination of the manner in which it met the expectations of its time and addressed issues of immediate concern, considerably deepening the contemporary viewer's appreciation of this classic in the process. There is also an intriguing behind-the-scenes take on the extremely experimental music featured in the two Pertwee stories--Doctor Who was pioneering the real future sound of London, playing with bizarre soundscapes and electronic harmonies way ahead of its time. For its part, "Warriors" includes "The Depths" wherein everybody from the writer and the key actors onwards has a good time ripping on this poor beleaguered tale--most extras include nothing but hype and hyperbole, only the Doctor Who crew has the guts to reflect at length on their own fumbles and have a good laugh doing so.
In any case, this is overall a fine DVD set of classic Doctor Who storylines scattered in time but highlighting one of the show's more inventive concepts together with its later permutations. And for the obsessive-compulsive fans such as myself, each of the three stories is in a separate, self-contained case so that they can be taken out of the box and placed in chronological order with one's other Doctor Who DVDs if one so chooses. Getting them together as a set is still the more convenient and frugal option, of course, unless one has a particular interest in only one of the three. In that case, they can be purchased singly as well: 1. Doctor Who and the Silurians (Episode 52) 2. Doctor Who - The Sea Devils (Episode 62) 3. Doctor Who: Warriors of the Deep (Story # 131)
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Brought down by WarriorsApril 17 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
This would be a perfect DVD boxset were it not for the awful Warriors of the Deep. Although my favourite Who stories are mostly on the comedy side of things, I do like the dramatic ones as well, and Silurians highlights everything good about Pertwee's first season.
The Silurians- 5 stars The Sea Devils- 4 stars Warriors of the Deep- 1 star.
On average is 3.33 stars, hence the rating. The Silurians feels like you've been through a war, roughly three hour epic of a species that came here on the earth first, and now want to claim the earth for themselves. Unlike later stories like Curse of Fenric where they basically hit you over the head with what they want you to believe, this one is more up for debate, and you can basically think what you want to think. And people credit Spearhead with the most iconic Pertwee image of mannequin's coming to life, but the image of people dying from the Silurian virus all over London sticks even more in my mind. It's a disease that is seemingly unstoppable...
The Sea Devils is a good escapist adventure, but it gets knocked down a star for basically being a remake of the same adventure. It's done well, with the Doctor-Master rivalry making for some good moments, and again, it's a good epic that sticks in your mind, but it feels a bit too much like a retread to give it 5 stars.
Warriors of the Deep is just plain annoying. It's one thing to not judge Doctor Who by it's budget limitations, but it's another when the character of the monster is really brought down. The slowed-down speech of the Silurians and the Sea Devils alone grate on the nerves. It takes forever to get into the story, the first episode feeling more like two hours rather than twenty five minutes. Tegan and Turlough may as well be any other companion, and the storyline. Not to mention trying to make the Fifth Doctor way too moralistic with him condenming the human base for trying to destroy the Silurians and Sea Devils (when they've destroyed half their crew) It worked in Silurians and Sea Devils because you could genuinely believe there was a chance to share the earth, but not in this atmosphere. The only thing that serial got right was the classic line "There should've been another way." Too right.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The aliens were here firstJuly 7 2008
Jason A. Miller
- Published on Amazon.com
Several times on the bonus material for "Doctor Who and the Silurians", then-script editor Terrance Dicks explains the origins for that story's eponymous villain. With the Doctor exiled to Earth and the TARDIS disabled, Dicks was told by one of his writers that the show was now limited to just two story types: alien invasion, and mad scientist. Realizing he was painted into a corner, Dicks decided to invert the scenario by commissioning an alien invasion from a species that was already on Earth before man rose to prominence.
Thus was born the Silurians, the memorable (and mis-named) villains that recurred on "Doctor Who" enough times to fill out their own box set. The opening story, from 1970, is the longest and most intriguing: a team of scientists in the caves under Derbyshire inadvertently awaken a hibernating reptilian species that had been asleep for tens of millions of years. First in secret and then in the open, the Silurians attack not only the scientists but then all of mankind. From a low-key opening episode, the stakes escalate until the world is threatened by an Ebola-type virus in part six.
"Silurians" was Malcolm Hulke's first solo contribution to the series (he'd previously co-authored two Second Doctor episodes) and he became a mainstay of the Third Doctor's run on the show. DVD extra features are strong: the deepest audio commentary booth to date (seven show contributors rotate in and out) provides tons of insights; guest actor Geoffrey Palmer narrates a terrific documentary that compares the relatively gentle pace of the 1970 serial to today's more condensed and frenetic adventures. This choice of narrator is brilliant, to coin a phrase: not only did Palmer guest-star in a recent new "Who" episode, but his son also directed four episodes last season.
The second story, "The Sea Devils", is Hulke's sequel to the earlier story, featuring the inadvertent revival of a marine cousin to the Silurians. This is a far more action packed episode: the Doctor and the Master have a lengthy swordfight in episode two, and the cooperation of the Royal Navy leads to several land and sea combat sequences in the closing installments. There's a submarine subplot, and two comedy sequences that have since been duplicated in new "Who": the Master captivated by a children's television programme, and the Doctor and Jo staging a lengthy mime sequence through a plate-glass window.
The "Sea Devils" bonus features are highlighted by an unusual commentary booth: Dicks, producer Barry Letts, and show director Michael Briant exchange the usual compliments and potshots, but this time they're joined by Andrew Cartmel, the show-runner for "Doctor Who"'s final three seasons. Cartmel's run was characterized by tight internal continuity and very little navel-gazing into the series' past: to have him discuss a story nearly 20 years before his time gives fascinating insight into the type of "Who" he later chose to produce.
The final DVD, "Warriors of the Deep", comes from much later in series history (it opens the Fifth Doctor's final season in 1984) and has aged the least gracefully of the three stories. This time, there's no debate on whether or not the Silurians and Sea Devils can co-exist with the human upstarts, they're just out on a highly effective seek-and-destroy mission. There's hardly a smile to be had in 90 minutes, and the only survivor among the large guest cast does so impliedly and offscreen. Ingrid Pitt, the queen of horror flicks, has a thankless small role which doesn't allow her to exchange so much as a word of dialogue with the Doctor; her exit from the show was later derided by writer Johnny Byrne on an Internet newsgroup as "the mother of all drop-kicks".
The extras for "Warriors" are perhaps harsher than they need to be. Everyone involved in production -- director, writer, actors, visual effects designer -- shows up to get their kicks in. "Warriors" was one of my first stories as a young fan in 1984 and I'm sorry to see the story hasn't matched my memories; however, having everyone involved throw stones at it 25 years later is perhaps a bit much.
On the whole, though, the box-set features the entire Silurians/Sea Devils running story, with two classic Doctors and a boatload of moral dilemmas. Even if the best material comes at the beginning of the set, it's still a fascinating release.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Beneath the Surface is a value well above the cost.March 13 2010
Ralph J. Fitcher
- Published on Amazon.com
Beneath the surface consists of 3 story's two from the Jon Pertwee era, and one from the Peter Davison era. The first is a 7 episode story, the second a 6 episode story, and the 3rd a standard 4 episode story. usually for a 7 episode story you would pay $20 or so dollars. This whole set is available for $40 - $20, depending on who you buy from on Amazon and if you are willing to buy used. Just price each story individually, you will see what I mean. By the way, Amazon has the best prices on this set, and believe me I have checked over and over, as I had lost my first copy (I bought elsewhere and paid a lot more) and started looking for a replacement copy at much less than I paid for the first. This is a huge value in the world of Doctor Who. All three stories are wonderfully done. And the second even involve's The Master (John Delgado who tragically lost his life in an auto accident.) All three stories involve 2 types of underground/sea creatures the first are reptiles called "Siluarians" The second are sea creatures whose names I forget. The Silaurians are much more fun. JMHO :-) The third story combines both undersea/ground creatures united in the future against mankind, in which The Doctor must stop them to save the planet yet again. Anyway, if you like classic Doctor Who, you will love this, it has everything, comedy, action, and even the Brigadear.