Fury From the Deep

This story is not known to exist in its original format
(6 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes)
in its entirety.
CD Audio
(Doctor Who Story No. 42, starring Patrick Troughton)
  • written by Victor Pemberton
  • directed by Hugh David
  • produced by Peter Bryant
  • music by Dudley Simpson
  • 6 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Jamie discovers the properties of the sonic screwdriver as the Doctor investigates a mysterious pulsing sound in a pipe on a seaside natural gas rig, before he and his companions are accused of tampering by the rig's crew. Have their recent emergencies been caused by some form of marine life getting into the machinery? Will the rig's commander Robson be able to maintain his perfect gas flow record? What has happened to the oddly-behaving crews of similar rigs in the area? As the number of horrific events increases, Victoria reluctantly faces a life-changing decision....

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.


This story is perhaps the most stereotypical of all of season five's monster-threat base-defense formula-written adventures. The formula is good enough to produce another winner in the end, but it is not initially the most interesting by any means.


The TARDIS lands, the three travellers find something mildly interesting to investigate, the base-members suspect the newcomers of causing their troubles until proven otherwise, the monster-threat then takes over the plot. Ho-hum, it's been scripted much more enticingly before, and since. Technically speaking, this is the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver. Its entrance is not particularly grand or memorable, and if you've been reading some of the novelisations, Terrance Dicks has retro-actively slipped it into previous stories as well.

Characterizations are particularly bland this time around. No attempt is made to really introduce the time travellers, or to demonstrate the TARDIS properly - the fan's funny bone is aimed for once again, and the results look positively silly this time with the police box dangling down towards the sea on a string like a thirsty spider climbing down on his own web-tether. Much too far out of materialization-character for the time-machine.

Of the guest characters, Robson is scripted as perhaps the most one-dimensional of antagonistic base-leaders. Where Clent of "The Ice Warriors" (story no. 39) would explore his own issues, Robson merely blasts others down and pushes single-mindedly to maintain his gas-flow record. You'd think his safety-record would be of comparable importance as well. At any rate, despite whatever talents touted actor Victor Maddern brought to the role, his character is not at all interesting, and by the middle of episode three, his pig-headed attitude has used up every last shred of dramatic potential that his character has. We have only the weed to thank for saving us from more of this.

Second-in-command Harris and his wife Maggie are equally bland. Harris at least is polite enough to be given dialogue that actually works during the introduction of the base personnel to the Doctor and his friends, but Harris goes wife-happy in a very single-minded way soon after, incapable of balancing his character with the other concerns he is responsible for. Maggie, when not totally, sleepily spaced-out, is such a perfect typical house-wife that one must wonder if she has any character at all. This lot is just begging for something nasty to barge in to give their lives a stir - which is not a healthy way to write quality science fiction. It all too easily breeds an attitude in fans that beastliness is the only source of excitement in life, or at least, in a good sci-fi story.

We get some better characters in Megan Jones, Hubert Rees' Chief Engineer, and especially Van Lutyens, whom John Abineri brought to life with a little help from a passable Dutch accent. Van Lutyens is the one with the ability to get hot under the collar, and yet still pull back, notice his own character issues, make progress, and allow the plot to move forward.

The story's main monster is a lot of weed and foam, but that's only half of the troubles at the sea base. Also on hand are the Laurel and Hardy of horror, turning innocent situations into horrific ones like the clowns of "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" (story no. 155) or any other good candy-horror villains. As the numbers of the base-personnel decrease, the number of weed-creatures increases - an excellent tactic for monster-story scripts. Growing threats are much more suspenseful.

Although painfully run-of-the-mill at first, "Fury From the Deep" gains momentum by the third episode, when things really start happening. Tensions among the rig crews come to a boil and lead somewhere, while the Doctor and his friends have many great scenes confronting and investigating the weed and its mysteries, not least of which includes a return to the well-equipped laboratories inside the TARDIS. An excellent logical move too often overlooked by other Who writers. Also of note is the very emotional story element of Victoria's growing discomfort with the Doctor and Jamie's lifestyle. The guest characters may not be able to look at their own issues objectively, but through Victoria the "Fury From the Deep" story manages to confront its own issue of "formulaic-ness", and that of the monster-season, objectively on its own. Terrific stuff. Victoria hits the nail on the head, and drives the point further home with each episode. With continuity links being so tight between stories all through the season, no room has been left for off-screen stories of the Doctor taking his friends to more enlightening, peaceful places. Too much steady terror for Victoria's taste, and with no end in sight, it has taken its toll.

Musically speaking, Dudley Simpson turns out a mostly electronic organ-sounding score, very much in the style of his season eight work. A few phrases of Victoria's theme are slipped in, remaining practically unnoticeable unless you really listen for them. This is not anywhere near as high-profile as Victoria's theme should be in this story, what with so much screen time being given to develop her character in preparation for her exit. "The Ice Warriors" gave us much more with less cause. The Quill and Oak duo have a theme of their own, a combination of nursery rhyme and suspenseful styles which works all right even if the choice of instruments and sounds is a bit on the cheesy side. There are also some exceptionally good bits during the investigation of the base of the Impeller shaft in episode four. The bulk of the music is a bit on the lacklustre side however, and perhaps thankfully is used rather minimally. Thus the errors of "The Underwater Menace" (story no. 32) and "The Macra Terror" (story no. 34) are sidestepped, while Simpson's material is put together with a greater degree of care.
Music by Dudley Simpson
"Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill"
is available on:
Audio CD -
Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop - Volume 1: The Early Years 1963-1969

Find out more here.

Episodes four and five continue to work well, with many effective, suspenseful story-beats typical of a good horror/terror story. Kudos must go to episode six's structure, where a clue-revealing rescue is followed by a hair-raising helicopter ride showcasing the humorous side of Troughton's Doctor, before the final satisfying confrontation with the weed is played out. Harris and Megan Jones both prove most unreasonably single-minded and obstructive, which at this late point in the story only goes to show how poor a character environment we have been provided for the adventure. Harris argues too strongly against a plan that could save the wife he fawned over so much earlier on, which really strains credulity, and doesn't make for a great scene either. They may teach that conflict is the essence of a good script in screen-writing class, but the same unreasonable line of bullheadedness heard over and over just becomes irritating. Better devices for allowing the Doctor to explain his plan could have been used. If that isn't enough, the old cliché about female companions spending all their time screaming is exploiting in this story, then neatly turned on its head in the end. Sonic inventiveness is the order of the day.

After packing in all of that, the main plot resolves itself quickly, wisely leaving plenty of screen-time to confront the other, equally interesting sub-plot concerning Victoria's departure. The hero's formulaic quick-exit is put to the side in a manner that makes one sit up and take notice. The Doctor and Jamie actually stay an extra day in a peaceful, friendly, monster-less setting, as deeper feelings amongst the travellers are explored. Victoria thus gets the most emotionally wrenching exit of any Doctor Who character yet, with the sole exception of William Hartnell's Doctor.

Yet another unexpected distinction for this story is that it can be included in that small elite group of Doctor Who stories in which no one dies. A horror/terror story with no deaths? Yes, believe it, here it is! What better way to elevate the fear of the unknown than by removing any evidence of what actually happens to the weed's victims throughout the story? ....until the relief at the very end, of course. Even the prime weed creature itself only retreats and shrinks at the end. Death just isn't on the menu today. Nice touch.


"Fury From the Deep" is a bit of an oddball among classics, wallowing dangerously deep in formula and cliché until collapsing in on itself and succeeding as a sort of spoof that is dramatic instead of humorous. If you can stay interested past the all-too-predictable opening, it is very worthwhile indeed.


This story is not known to exist in its original format (6 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes) in its entirety.
Doctor Who: Lost in Time - Patrick Troughton
2 DVD discs

(also included in Lost in Time Boxed Sets)

Coverage on Fury From the Deep includes:
More details & buying options for "Lost in Time" DVD's


Audio CD - Doctor Who - Fury From the Deep.

This audio CD set features the complete audio tracks of all 6 television episodes of this story, narrated by actor Frazer Hines (who also played Jamie McCrimmon) to help listeners follow what used to be visual aspects of the story. This version is playable in any normal audio CD player.



Audio Cassette - Fury From the Deep (2 tapes).

This earlier release of the audio from the television episodes features actor Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) reading narration produced by early 1980's script editor Eric Saward.


Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


LYRATEK.COM


Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Wheel in Space"



Home Page Site Map Star Trek Sliders Doctor Who Patrick Troughton Era Episode Guide Catalogue