the Little Red Reviewer

Doctor Who and the Sea Devils by Malcolm Hulke

Posted on: January 22, 2014

Sea DevilsDoctor Who and the Sea Devils by Malcolm Hulke

published in 1974

where I got it: purchased used

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Having recently watched the Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords episodes without much context, I wanted to learn more about The Doctor’s relationship with The Master (Yes, I’m one of those annoying newb fans who discovered the show in the 2000s).  While thinking on that, I came across the novelization of The Sea Devils story arc. “The Master” was on the back cover, so of course the book had to come home with me!

It’s funny, being a “new” Doctor Who fan.  I don’t have any visual context for the classic story arcs. From the descriptions and illustrations in the book, I can figure out that this was during Jon Pertwee’s time, but having never watched or heard him, I don’t hear his voice or see his mannerisms while reading. But you know what? that was okay. Being able to regenerate, the Doctor is fluid, able to wear different faces and speak with different voices.  Also, reading this and not watching it, I was able to fill in the special effects with my imagination, and not worry about not-so-hot tv special effects!

anyway, onto the story!

After the events of Doctor Who and the Demons,  The Master has been imprisoned in an island chateau. A  beautiful prison built for one, he faces a sentence of life imprisonment, and of course his jailors have no idea that what a “lifetime” means for the Master.  Nearby is an oil rig and a small Naval base, and fishing boats have recently gone mysteriously missing.  The Doctor and Jo Grant arrive, to both investigate the missing boats, and to check up on the Master, to make sure he hasn’t tried to hypnotize anyone working at the chateau.  Which is pretty much exactly what’s happened. The Master has already convinced the governor of the luxurious prison, the weak willed  Colonel Trenchard  to help him make contact with the underwater creatures, to the point where Trenchard helps him steal parts from a nearby Naval Base.

The Doctor too, is interested in the Sea Devils.  Very quickly he figures out they are an ancient humanoid amphibian race of Earth, who went into hibernation when they learned a rogue planetoid was on a collision course with Earth.  The rogue planetoid never hit us, but got sucked into our orbit, becoming the Moon. Because it never “went away”, the Sea Devils were never triggered to come out of hibernation. However, the vibrations from the oil rig have awakened them.  The Sea Devils once ruled the Earth, and they still see humans as upstart monkeys.  Upstart monkeys who should be eradicated so the Earth can again become the realm of the amphibians.  The Sea Devils are genetically related to the Sulirians, and like the Silurians, their weaponry is more advanced than ours.

Much of the story revolves around evasion and creative misdirection because the Doctor doesn’t want to advertise his true identity. The Master’s plan is to awaken the Sea Devils and help them destroy humanity, but he’s got to convince Trenchard and The Doctor that everything he does is harmless and benign.  Trenchard suspects The Master is up to something, but doesn’t have the mental bravery to come clean to his superiors about what he knows.  The Doctor needs to convince the local Naval Base that using heavy weaponry against the Sea Devils (who have already killed a handful of sailors) is a terrible idea, but he hasn’t got any hard evidence, so he has to get creative.  Someone is just going to have to go out to that oil rig and see what the heck is going on.   Visits are even made to the Sea Devils underground lair in an attempt at peace negotiations.

The story ends with The Doctor sabotaging the machinery The Master is working on, causing an explosion that destroys the underground lair of the Sea Devils. The Master escapes, and The Doctor is left bereft that he has allowed for the deaths of so many innocent creatures.

You know how some Doctor Who stories give you shivers? Some make your jaw drop with some revelation?  Yeah, this wasn’t one of them.    It felt, to me, almost like a filler story.  It was fun and satisfying to read, but probably not one that i’ll read again.

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7 Responses to "Doctor Who and the Sea Devils by Malcolm Hulke"

Ah well, they can’t all be great I suppose! The Pertwee era was very Master-heavy because Pertwee and Delgado were such close friends and they worked so well on screen together. Incidentally, Pertwee decided to call time on his period in the TARDIS after Delgado was killed in a motorcycle accident.

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I had no idea of any of that! Especially about about Delgado being killed in a motorcycle accident. :( all the things I miss from joining the Whovian party so late.

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Actually, it wasn’t a motorcycle. He was in a car along with several others in Turkey when the driver lost control and it went over a ravine. He was filming at the time and the project was abandoned because of the tragedy.

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You should definitely watch the Jon Pertwee episodes. Of course they are of their era in special effects but the stories are mostly good and occasionally great, my favourite? Inferno..

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Oh man, this story! I actually bought this on DVD because I wanted to use the Sea Devils for a Tenth Doctor fan comic that didn’t get off the ground. I love it to death; yes, it’s dudes in rubber suits and the submarine is floating in an aquarium but it’s as tense and smart as any big-budget classical war movie. Also, Pertwee is AMAZING: he’s basically “What if James Bond was a Victorian dandy?”

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