Season 7@50. It may be seven episodes long but there is no fat on this story so much so that a lot if packed into this final one. The Doctor’s captivity in the Silurian base after he was taken from the lab is short lived, pretty soon he’s back with the reptilians though as they employ a fall back plan- destroying the Van Allen belt. I had to smile at how easily and simply this actual real life bit of science is explained knowing its equivalent in the modern series would be a good two minute lecture from the Doctor all about it. You do wonder though why the Silurians didn’t just go with this plan in the first place as they must have known what was inside the research centre. Perhaps there had been arguments for months between Old and Young Silurian on this particular topic.
Considering what’s gone before some may see this episode’s climax as somewhat underwhelming. A rather crowded nuclear reactor set plays host to some explosions and ultimately the Doctor on his back jiggling wires. He does something to the neutron flow though definitely doesn’t reverse it. Of course this is more for the younger viewers; the real meat of things comes along afterwards.
This is one of my favourite stories for the Brigadier whom Malcolm Hulke writes as a full character rather than a generic soldier. We’ve seen his clipped efficiency and his resourcefulness and neither writer nor actor allows him to become too cuddly. So his decision at the end is in keeping with his profession and our experience of him to date. The conclusion brings a spark of something quite interesting which ultimately would not be pursued. The Brigadier here is a much more pragmatic, tougher character than the eyebrow raising foil he later became (enjoyable though that was). He tricks the Doctor and blows up the caves sealing the Silurians in again, a decision that puts him into direct moral conflict with the Time Lord. Yet from his point of view it is a sound military solution. Because of how television was made back then there is no follow up or even reference to this act in the following story which is a shame in a way though you can also see why having constant arguments might alienate the viewers. Nonetheless it is still a strong, satisfying ending for an era where stories often started strongly but ended unconvincingly.
Once again those third eyes come in useful; this week we see that not only can they burn through rock and steel without making enough noise to disturb the Doctor, they can also put the missing material back again with no more than a scorch mark. You can see why subsequent stories featuring either Silurians or their cousins dispensed with the eye altogether. Nonetheless the Silurian have proved a very `alien` species, more so than a lot of actual aliens who would follow. Peter Halliday’s contrasting voice work creates a character for each of the three principal reptiles (yes we have another gleeful “I am the leader now!”) declaration from Young Silurian which the costumer wearers further show by way of their movement. Together with some atmospheric lighting and hints of green colouring in the walls of their base they are one of the best realised Seventies creatures. Interesting how having rather ruthlessly grabbed the reins of power Young Silurian takes the responsibility with it electing to stay behind when the other re-hibernate knowing he’ll die.
`The Silurians` has to be one of the best 70s Doctor Who stories , a perfect balance between the serious minded direction Derrick Sherwin would no doubt have taken the series in had he stayed and the more basic, monster packed dynamics of Barry Letts that was to follow after this season.
The Silurians are amongst us!
There is a group called Silurian! They describe themselves as a “dynamic acoustic duo” whose music is a mix of “rock, Britpop, country, folk, rhythm and blues”. They are not called Okdel and Morka btw!
Check out their website
There is also a Silurian Press Club which is an organisation founded in 1924 and comprised of “distinguished veteran journalist” dedicated to “excellence and journalistic integrity”
Their site is here
A Morris troupe called Silurian Border Morris based in Wales!
One of the creatures in the ITV sci-fi show Primeval was called a Silurian Scorpion!
The group Floating Points have a piece of music called Silurian Blue!