The Sea Devils

The Sea Devils
The Sea Devils.jpg
Season: 9
Episode: 3
Vital statistics
Air date 26 February - 1 April 1972
Written by Malcolm Hulke
Directed by Michael Briant
Episode guide
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The Curse of Peladon The Mutants

The C Word is the underwater level of Season 9 of the famous British TV series Doctor Who and the Silurians, featuring the Third Doctor as Doctor Who, Jo Grant as And The and the Sea Devils as themselves.


The Mattress sits on his mattress in his prison watching the Clangers. The Doctor and Jo go visit him. Along the way, they discover that ships have been disappearing, so they go investigate at a Navy base run by Jack Harkness's ex-partner John Hart, although for some reason he looks totally different and doesn't have a time wristlojackomator. In fact he's basically just the Navy version of the Brig. Anyway, they run into a retread of the plot of Doctor Who and the Silurians.

Since we're dealing with Navy Brig and His Navy Pals instead of UNIT, instead of coal miners accidentally digging up Silurians, underwater oil miners accidentally dug up underwater Silurians. And, like every underwater level, it's frustratingly slow. And at first, it looks like the whole thing really is going to turn into a tedious rehash of the previous story.

But if you want that tedious rehash, you have to wait for Warriors of the Deep, because this time, the Mattress comes back. And for once, he doesn't have a ridiculously over-complicated and self-contradictory plan, he's mostly just making it up as he goes along. This makes him seem a lot more capable and dangerous.

From here on out, the story builds bigger and bigger, from the Mattress trying to subvert both humans and Sea Devils behind the scenes while the Doctor is trying to make peace to swordfights and hovercraft chases to a nuclear war between humans and Sea Devils with the Doctor racing against time to salvage anything at all.

In the last episode, it does mostly turn back into Silurians again, but a nice twist at the end changes things up: the Doctor has to blow up the Sea Devils instead of letting the Brig do it so he can blame it on the stupid humans.


If you hate Pertwee, you'll probably hate this. If not, it's one of the most comfy stories of his era.

Not as subtle or as tragic as Silurians, but a lot more fun. Sort of the Aliens to its predecessor's Alien. It threatens to go over the top and instead become the Moonraker to its predecessor's When James Bond Was Good, but it never quite goes that far.

Adding the Mattress makes even the inevitable capture-and-escape bits better. Delgado rocks here, the UNIT substitute idea works, Jo actually gets to be useful, the radiophonic soundtrack is totally unique, and the Sea Devils are almost as unique for classic Who monsters in being able to actually run in their rubber suits.

The Eocene Retcon

Doctor Who had been getting letters from angry geology and paleontology teachers about all the mistakes they made with the Silurians. Since Doctor Who is supposed to be educational, Hulke and Letts felt back about misleading the kids, so they decided to fix it by having the scientists argue and then explain that the Silurians are really from the Eocene, 40M years ago, instead of the Silurian, 440M years ago.

So, does that fix the problems? Some of them, yes. But still, 40M years ago, dinosaurs were extinct, while apes didn't exist yet. And the retcon, coming out of the mouths of scientists talking science, misleads the younger generation far more authoritatively than before.

Bravo, Hulke.

Also, this is the one where we learn that they hibernated because they were afeared of the Moon coming to smash into the planet. But, to be fair, in the 70s, Hulke didn't know that the Moon was an Egg.