Doctor Who and the Silurians
The first time I saw The Silurians I thought it was a terminal bore, but let's not get into that. I was wrong, pure and simple. Anyway, with its full title of Doctor Who and the Silurians, and a car with the licence plate Who 1, this is the sort of stuff that should bait fanboys.
Jon's Doctor shows signs of his later arrogance and bluster, though when physically attacked doesn't yet launch into Venusian Aikido. The episode in itself is mainly an establishing one, setting up the scene for the long haul, and what we know will be one of the most tragic endings in Who's history.
The scenes of the lone Silurian on the moorlands are what help elevate an averageish episode into a superior one. This is brilliantly combined with the revelation of Quinn colluding with the Silurians, though I almost docked a half-mark for the very silly scene where Pertwee draws a detailed Silurian in just two seconds…
It's slow, of course, and an episode too long as we shall later see. It's things like this that may make it seem boring to some, and certainly I was guilty of more than a few yawns on initial viewing. There's some great scenes in this one, though: The Doctor and Quinn, the Doctor and the Brigadier… all fantastic stuff.
It's odd how superfluous Liz is in this story, though I really like the Silurians and their voices. It's a shame that their third eye became a silly voice indicator in their return appearance, as their jittery body language and "bobbly-bobbly" voices work wonders here. And while their technology is just a board with fairground lights on it, the extremely subtle commentary on racism and the need for war makes The Silurians suddenly the most topical story of the series for 2003.
The Doctor and Liz debating test tubes is hardly likely to get a casual viewer's rocks off ("The addition of A37 in the presence of Z19") and the artificially-added dilemma of the disease seems fake. Yet it is quite graphically realised, despite a scene where Peter Miles overacts terribly and Mr.Boom Mike Shadow puts in a cameo. And for the Silurian disease you could now read ricin. Remember - the Silurians may be attacking the humans out of fear, but they've got their own motivations and aren't just black and white characters. Not only that, but the Doctor is striving for peace... shouldn't we be joining him?
At the start of this review I said The Silurians was an episode too long... again, I was wrong. I think this is probably the fourth time I've seen the story, and the way characters are allowed to build slowly and debate the various ethics of the story without it feeling crammed is exceptional.
Here we have a cracking last episode, where Jon's Tony Benn tries one last time to find peace with the young Silurian who has seized leadership by force. It is weird seeing him repairing machinery in a T-shirt and slacks like your Uncle Derrick, and it does lead to yet another pat resolution whereby he defeats the Silurians by "fusing control of the neutron flow". However, such deus et machina shenanigans are more than made up for by one of the dozen best story endings in Who history. Jon actually acts, letting plaintive anger and sorrow play over his face as the Brigadier destroys the Silurians. "But that's murder... they were intelligent alien beings..." Superb.
Even though only one single episode got a full five-star rating, I'm tempted to say this is far more than the sum of its parts and deserves such an overall score. It's certainly a superior Doctor Who story with political points to make that aren't overstated, and production is extremely good over the seven episodes. Exceptional.
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