197-202. Fury from the Deep

The penultimate adventure from Patrick Troughton’s second season as Doctor Who no longer exists in the BBC archives, and so I’ve been watching the episodes thanks to the telesnap reconstruction by Loose Cannon.  Fury from the Deep features the second Doctor alongside Jamie and Victoria, and was to see Victoria depart the TARDIS crew.

As a water-themed story, I wasn’t expecting an awful lot from this one (the last water-themed adventure I watched, The Underwater Menace didn’t exactly do justice to the theme).

The story itself has a bit in common with the later The Seeds of Death, only using seaweed and the pipeline in place of Ice Warriors and the Trans-Mat.  That said, however, I found myself strangely engrossed in the story.  Six-parters are often difficult to keep the energy up, but this one sailed along quite nicely.

The story begins with a “shock opening” (not uncommon at this time), with the TARDIS materialising overhead and crash-landing in the water, requiring the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria to row to shore in life vests.

They discover a gas pipeline, and the Doctor’s curiosity leads them into trouble.

We then have the fairly familiar “base under siege” adventure that, despite what others may say, works surprisingly well in this era.  The Doctor has to work out the connection between the proliferation of the foam and the seaweed, and what it actually wants before it destroys them all, using the pipeline to take over the world.

We have a nicely realised giant seaweed creature to act as the monster threat later in the story.  And the pipeline facility is run by an increasingly erratic and domineering leader who mistrusts and distrusts in equal measure.

Later in the adventure we get an excellent helicopter/North Sea rigs action sequence, with the Doctor trying to pilot the craft to rescue Victoria.

Throughout the story (from about the midpoint), we keep getting little scenes with Victoria showing her displeasure at always winding up in situations of fear and peril.  This is fed through the remaining episodes, until she tells the Doctor that she can’t go on with them any more.

The Doctor decides to stay an extra day to give Victoria the chance to decide for sure what she wants to do, whilst effectively forbidding Jamie from trying to change her mind.

This gives us a very nice and poignant end to the adventure. People often point to Susan leaving, or Jo Grant leaving, as being great moments of Doctor Who, but this is very much up there with those.  In many ways, it’s much better than either of those two because Victoria is given time to consider her decision.

There’s no abrupt slamming of the TARDIS doors of the Doctor making the decision for Susan, and there’s no mournful driving off into the sunset with no farewell.  It’s a proper leaving moment, of characters doing what they feel is right even if they don’t actually want to do it.

It’s an emotional scene played with nice subtlety, and is something modern TV could learn an awful lot from.

When watching this scene, it made me think that this was the first proper leaving scene the series had given us for some considerable time, and would be the only one until Jo Grant many years later.  I believe it’s also the only one of the second Doctor’s period.

I think about other companion departures around this time, and I think of Dodo disappearing without a trace.  Ben & Polly have effectively long since left before an inserted leaving scene which doesn’t really work.  And, later, Jamie & Zoe would leave with their memories wiped.  Later still, Liz Shaw vanished without a trace between seasons.

That saddens me quite a bit because when Doctor Who does leaving scenes like the one here with Victoria, it’s really very effective.  Susan went off to marry David. Jo would go off and married the Professor before hiking up the Amazon.  Yet here is Victoria, still very much a girl, reluctantly deciding that her best option is to stay with unfamiliar people in a strange land and a strange time.

This could very well be the best leaving moment of the entire history of Doctor Who.  Such a shame that this story is lost.

One that I would recommend.