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)