Warriors of the Deep

Warriors of the Deep
Warriors of the Deep.jpg
Season: 21
Episode: 1
Vital statistics
Air date 5 - 13 January 1984
Written by Johnny Byrne
Directed by Pennant Roberts
Episode guide
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The Five Doctors The Awakening

Warriors on the Cheap is (shit) the Season 21 premiere serial for the show formerly known as Mr. Hartnell's Power Hour. Despite what /who/ and most critics say, this episode is an undervalued gem. It is the butterface grill you took home on a Saturday night of hard drinking, in that you wake up the next morning beside her thinking "why the fuck was I with her?" and then she starts talking about fucking astrophysics or something awesome and you're like "marry me." Then she leaves you for your friend. Sigh. Why live?

I'm not kidding, I even skipped this episode in fear of how bad it sounded, but soon I had no more Fivey :( Then I watched it and oh man I came rainbows.

Episode is great, it's tops. It's gooooood. Instead of my normal summarizing bullshit I'm actually just gonna talk, spoiler free, about what the episode does well, what it does poorly, and thus create a picture in your mind as to why it's overlooked.

What Warriors of the Deep Does Well

Firstly, it amazes me how The Caves of Androzani is considered the best episode of Doctor Why, and yet Warriors is considered one of the worst. From a purely plot standpoint, it's almost the same, with enough differences to keep it interesting: you've got some Silurians trying to take over a human Sea Bass (I MEAN BASE, FUCK) to destroy humanity. Nevermind the Russell T. Davies shit, it essentially puts the Doctor and friends (Airport and Turpentine at this point) in the middle of an all out political and survivalist struggle with the Doctor's only real motivation being to save everyone.

Okay, spoiler - everyone but his companions and himself die. Even the fish persons (I refuse to call them people, they don't deserve to be people, fucking scum of the Earth).

The sheer balancing act that Fivey has to deal with, from the beginning where he has to convince the base to act calmly so as not to attract attention, to the denouement with the Doctor essentially doing the thing Footface does in Cold Blood - trying to create a truce between the two Earth-fairing races - to that last, 10 minute scene where everything blows up in his face despite his best efforts (I mean, he even risks death by putting his head in a machine designed only for humans to put their heads in - it's important, okay?). It's a great plot and one that flows logically and worked out to a satisfying conclusion. It's a great finale and one of my favorite in all of the show.

Plus, Turlight Starbright actually does something useful this time, and Tegan is proven to have superhuman strength.

What Warriors of the Deep Does Horribly

Production values. To be completely honest, all of the complaints for Warriors are aesthetic - the actors had little time to rehearse, so some of the acting is choppy (though really not that much worse from most of the Davison era), the suits also had to be made quickly and thus the Myrka and the Silurians look like poop, and.. umm.... there's this one scene where the woman lad karates the Myrka and dies.... and... well. okay, it's pretty bad. You've seen the webm I'm sure.

The only other valid complaint I can see being made towards this story is the fact that it's "another fucking base under attack." Sure, that doesn't sound original (because it's not), but the sequence of events works better here. None of it feels superfluous or padded out; everything follows logically from what came before.

Final Thoughts

Jesus Christ go watch it you fucking pleb. Don't go in with the highest of expectations, but don't go in thinking it's shit either because framing.

Warriors Of The Deep Counterpoint

No one hates Doctor Who more than fans of the show, and some of them can be real assholes about it.  For a sterling example, look no further than this alternate take on Warriors Of The Deep!  This supplemental material graciously leaves intact and does not fuck with the original wiki entry.  While it may boil your blood, its charming points are however all quite valid, pellucidly expressed, and worthy of the serious consideration you’d extend to any other content on this illustrious wiki.

Oh god, it’s Warriors of the Derp, the first regrettable story of the even more regrettable 21st season, a story that literally sealed the fate of the most regrettable science-fiction series ever, Doctor Wholesome.  “Warriors Of The Deep doomed Doctor Who - wait, what?!” you may cry, but you goddamned heard me and I dare you to prove otherwise (pro tip: you can’t).

An old saying goes "success has many parents, but failure is an orphan," and Warriors has a pretty tangled and dysfunctional parentage -  turns out lots of people bumped uglies to create this illegitimate baby - so let’s make some tests and see who this bastard’s DNA came from.


Conceivable Parent(s):  Margaret Thatcher

Arguments For: Ice-Cold Maggie T threw a surprise election party that delayed the production of Warriors while the jabbering idiot-balloons used the programme’s seventeen square feet of BBC stage to outgas their brains from their heads on telly. Thatcher’s theft resulted in a terribly rushed production (more on this later) where some scenes were shot without any fucking rehearsal, others with literally only one take and even a rehearsal shot or two kept in the can instead of reshot. The Iron Lady really sucked the fun out of the UK back in her day and Doctor Whooshy was just another unintended victim.  Mind you, this doesn’t let the other parents of Warriors Of The Deep off the fishhook.

Genetic Evidence: Very high (if accidental) complicity in the story’s premature birth. Reaction to Thatcher would also continue to ruin the show well into the Seventh Doctor's run as well.

Conceivable Parent(s): Johnny Byrne (scriptwriter) and Eric Saward (script editor)

Arguments For: Johnny Brine complained that his unwieldy script got poorly doctored (ha ha) to include extra deaths and a crazy kung-fu kick (more on this later), so it really it wasn’t his fault at all you guys, see?  Eerie Saward made sure to mock Warriors on a DVD commentary because there’s no way he’s going to let you pin it on him either.  But doesn’t it seem kind of strange to imagine that Byrne turned in a fucking fantastic script that got, I dunno, somehow ruined after leaving Sewerd's desk and before it reached our telly?  Bad stories don’t just appear out of nowhere like an STD on a toilet seat, so maybe a look at other works these guys have done can tell us who’s eyes and who’s nose (ha!) Warriors inherited.

Johnny B-Boy also wrote some Space:1999 (a reliably awful programme), but in his defense he also wrote some of the pleasant All Creatures Great And Small, so all we can say for sure is that Byrnz was already used to writing Davison with his arm deep in a cow’s anus (if you’ve never seen All Creatures, I’m not even kidding about that). Byrnie also wrote Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall, which is worth mentioning because Hitler is always inherently funny and opens up jokes like Doctor Who: My Part In His Downfall, right? Anyway, the deepest lore claims that his original script had to be edited for continuity errors (some of which were even removed!) which leaves a scarlet letter on his virtue. And that leads us to the script editor who’s supposed to fix that sort of crap.

Errin Seaward’s case would seem to be more open and shut, having been script editor on Doctor Who during a period when when the programme only seemed to deliver a tolerable story by sheer random chance.  There’s also evidence he bent over for Ian Levine’s sweaty, fannish desires while editing this story; it was a dark time.  To his credit though, S’awkward did ragequit later after arguing with JNT, so he’s not completely indefensible.

Genetic Evidence: Warriors bears the lovechild DNA of the worst sloppy impulses of two people; based on what we see on screen, Bryne’s script couldn’t have ever been all that great and S’ward failed to edit it into something stronger.  We might have overlooked the rotten production values (more on these later), like everyone does for every decent black and white episode of Doctor Who, if Brine or Squidward had made a better go of things.

Conceivable Parent(s): JNT And His Technicolor Dream Crew

Arguments For: Nearly everyone of the production crew dropped their slippery timey-wimey balls due to the rushed production.  For example, Johnny “Flame” Byrne accused the set design and lighting people of screwing up his underwater base, "I was very specific in my description of the base — rusting, leaking, virtually forgotten by all except those on board — the atmosphere and look was something like Alien, with the Myrka essentially a lurking deadly presence waiting to reveal itself." Ha!  Not what happened.  After losing two weeks of production time, the crew began cutting corners like a drunk driving around in GTA; with no time to lovingly dribble rust-colored paint down everything and camera test some dim lighting, they just made the place look like a fucking Apple Store and lit it like a news desk.

And what about Brynn’s precious Myrka? The costume-makers who were used to “acceptably” turning in shit like a visible zipper on a Silurian costume also muffed the extra mile when they stitched that Myrka up as a two-man pantomime sea-monster that almost deserves its own paternity test entry.  The silly thing was only about an hour old when filming started and still smelled of the wet paint that rubbed off on the sets and other costumes.  The two poor guys inside (more on them in a second) had no rehearsal time with the outfit and one said wearing it was like “sniffing glue”, which hey might sum up Warriors Of The Deep rather well, except you might expect sniffing glue to be a lot more fun.  But you know what’s even more embarrassing than having a poorly made pantomime sea-monster costume in your story? The two guys inside it, William Perrie and John Asquith (who were never credited on screen nor in that tattle-tale rag Radio Times) were known for playing an actual goddamn pantomime horse on the children's sitcom Rentaghost.  Wow.  The overly defensive Johnny Byrne (obviously ignorant of the “Giant Rat Problem” of BBC prop design) also raised his hand to grass on the costume department, "Nowhere did I describe it [the Myrka] as a four-legged beast on loan from Panto-Horses-Are-Us."  The age of Doctor Who monsters made from tea trolleys had probably ended about a decade previously, in Classic Who terms, and just wasn’t adapted to survive in the post-Star Wars (and post-Empire Strikes Back and post-Return Of The Jedi) world.

Just about the only bright(ish) spot in the Warriors Of Da Depp production crew was Matt Irvine who made some pretty decent models.  He’s the guy who literally wrote the book on Doctor Who special effects, “Doctor Who Special Effects.”

Genetic Evidence:  Aggravated midwifery; this production crew was already turning out subpar material, so it really comes as no surprise that they choked more than usual when facing a tight deadline.

Conceivable Parent: Peter “Blondie” Davison

Arguments For: Hell no! Davinos was a goddamned saint for having stuck it out this long (more on this in a second). He was practically mister “lay back and think of England” for his three years under JNT.

Genetic Evidence: Fuck you for even suggesting such a thing.

The Fall Out

Doctor Fivey and Tegan (role model for the “unlikable complaining companion” soon to be perfected by Peri) both announced their departures while this four-parter ebbed through the airwaves, so JNT and Saward began crafting the fiasco that would become known as season 22.  Peter “Harley” Davison’s choice may have been based on Trap Noughtron’s “three season curse,” but he also said that The Caves Of Androzani made him regret leaving, so even if just baseless speculation on my part, this story couldn’t have fucking helped. Can you blame Divingson though?  If you started a new job and the first year was a bit rough, the second worse, and you came back to start the third and got hit with this, you’d be ready to ditch too, giving everyone the finger on your way the fuck out.  

Former BBC controller Michael Grade swore a blood oath to cancel Doctor Whooze after watching Warriors Of The Derp, which he accomplished five years later after holding JNT’s head under water for like a whole damn week, like what happened to Tom Baker in The Deadly Assassin, if Mary Whitehouse is to be believed. This of course was just a dick move on Grade’s part, who should have felt compelled instead to fucking fix the show, not toss it onto the garage heap of history (easy examples: really trying to find someone to replace JNT, boosting the programme’s budget, not scheduling it opposite fucking Coronation Street, etc., the list is a long one). I was going to suggest the golden horse’s ass award given him by some fans for cancelling the programme (which still hangs in his office), should have gone to JNT instead, but when I think about it now… nah, Grade earned it.  And Warriors Of The Deep is probably branded on that horse’s ass.

What, Another Failure?

It’s a small quibble, but not one goddamned real live animal was used during the making of this story.  What the hell, right?  

Stray Thoughts

  • It’s a base undersea that’s also a base under siege, ha ha, get it?  Thank you, I’m rather proud of that one.  I don’t actually think they were capable of such a meta joke at the time though.
  • It’s the needless villain pairing nobody asked for!
  • Turlough, probably the first companion to ever get such a thing, had his character arc wrapped up like four stories ago, why’s he still hanging about, really?

Part One introduces us to the Sea Devils after just one minute fifty-nine seconds, including intro credits, without any explanation of who or what they are, their motivations, etc; also, the bad editing strikes quite early never really lets up.  The Sea Devils look like jowly Grumpy Cats.  Some guy mispronounces the word “demise,” rhyming it with the name “Denise.” The command “all teams to battle stations” on the underwater base means one lady returns to her desk. The captain hands over a disk, literally saying “if this should fall into enemy hands…” so you know what’s going to happen later. The Sea Devils wake up some Silurians by pressing on their nads or something, which might explain why the reptiles later wade around with a wide-legged stance, sore nads!  But again with no explanation of who they are.  Cliffhanger ending: the Doctor gets knocked into a pool of reportedly very cold water and sinks.

Part Two shows us a guard barely beating against a locked door (maybe this was one of those rehearsal shots they ended up using). Some guards walk by a guy in his underwear lying on the floor and don’t see him. Listening to the electronic monotone Sea Devils and the whispery Silurians talking to each other gets old quickly. The Doctor forgot to lock the Tardis door. The Sea Devils get very near to an old yet still-dank meme by commanding “release the Myrka!”  Turns out the sea-base psychologist is an evil spy - the enemy who shouldn't get that disk but was in fact handed it back when the captain warned it shouldn't fall into enemy hands!  The Myrka is pushing in through some foam rubber airlock doors; I’ve seen more tensile strength from a bouncy castle.  Some other soldiers at another airlock look on in disbelief at some terribly unexciting pyrotechnics.  Tegan pulls a Harrison Ford when a foam rubber door falls on her leg and then they can’t lift it off her. The Doctor (who didn’t drown, no) says “brave heart, Tegan for the cliffhanger.

Part Three has a lot of padding of the Sea Devils and Silurians moving veeeeery sloooooowly. The guy who got beaten up by Turlough is put on guard instead of, oh I don’t know, being laughed at or fired or something.  The Myrka has a big butt, but when you watch the haunches shift as it walks, you’ll realize that’s the best part of the costume.  The Silurians have a shoot-out with some guards from about four paces away.  The Silurians bringing out the cutting device look like they’re about to pee on the door and the “ultraviolet converter” (wtf?) is apparently that big radar-dish thing last seen in Warrior’s Gate I think.  Yes, that martial arts kick Solow gives the Myrka is so awful, how tragic for her!: she survived a concentration camp in WWII, the script she and her husband submitted for Doctor Who was rejected and now she’s only remembered for making one of the worst action sequences ever on Doctor Who!  The Sea Devils and the Silurians nod a lot. Tegan can’t look. The Doctor tells the bad guy that if he fires, “every Sea Devil in the area will come running,” as if they can run. Still, they do manage to capture the Doctor and Tegan for the cliffhanger.

Beyond the greatest prop ever built, the Sea Devil's manipulator.

Part Four - ah, the old air duct escape. Using his hand to activate the test firing sequence, the base captain makes the control panel bend in like a cheap prop. Never use Silurians to guard prisoners, or one will slip out of the main door into the room unnoticed. The Sea Devils’ manipulator is a prop of rare splendor.  After seeing a cheap Silurian mask collapse under its own gooey shoddiness, the Doctor channels Twelve for a second. Hacking a computer just needs more power apparently, has anyone told Anonymous about this yet? As if to insult Bryne and his set complaints, the set lights go dim when the missiles are about to launch.  The base captain holds out his hand before he’s forced to. Ah, the old countdown to destruction on a computer screen bit. The Doctor fails.


It may sound funny to say so after all that, but you know what?  Warriors Of The Deep isn’t actually really any worse than the rest of season 21 (if you don’t count the GOAT The Caves Of Androzani; more about that in a moment) and it nicely manages to bookend and foreshadow the end of Davison’s Doctor later that year in Caves.  The only worse-than-usual bits of Warriors are the Myrka costume and the rushed shooting schedule that spoilt a few other aspects. But wasn’t that the real bloody problem?! The production team was already so fucking lazy that the extra fuck-ups are barely noticeable background noise. In fact, Caves comes along later this season and pretty much nails it where Warriors fails it most. No one gives a rat’s ass about the cheesy armadillo monster costume in Caves, because Caves wasn’t a nothing goddamn story with boring goddamn characters in it. Sharaz Jek and his war against the company led by Trau Morgus and the mercenaries working for him to their own ends were fucking interesting if ridiculous characters embedded inside a compelling story, m8; Warriors just gave us some generic base crew dudes and a psychologist spy (defining character traits: silly hair and shifty eyes) rotely playing at some barely-there cold war parallels, then tossed in some some talking fish’n’lizard guys who… I dunno, attack because “fans” or something?  Caves even upped the ante on the “feckless Doctor” angle that Warriors squandered over a foam rubber door, “what have you been eating?” and how the Doctor and friends never really faced any threat from that evil psychologist.

Something this story lacked even if it was shown on screen: brain energy.

Warriors’ plot and story suffer a terminal case of “who gives a fuck” syndrome exactly in the way that Caves didn’t, so it’s no wonder people focus on the Myrka’s awfulness, there’s nothing else to fucking talking about!  And Jesus Christ does the Doctor’s last line sum it all up: "There should have been another way."