Aired 16 March – 20 April 1968
‘Fury from the Deep’ is perhaps the most stereotypical of the base-under-siege format so prominent in this season of Troughton stories. Although it starts rather painfully slowly and doesn’t initially offer anything new or exciting, those willing to stick it out to the end will be treated to a tale that progressively improves and turns into a decent if unremarkable affair.
Perhaps the biggest detriment to ‘Fury from the Deep’ is that the script never bothers with characterization and never affords its characters and degree of personality. This perhaps most notable with Robson, the requisite antagonistic base leader, who is interested in nothing more than berating and blasting others and maintaining the gas flow record. The script allows Victor Maddern no opportunity to make the role his own, and his uncompromising viewpoint robs the story of any potential drama that a more well-rounded character would allow. Unfortunately the second-in command Harris and his wife Maggie are equally one-dimensional and flat, and though some of the secondary characters such as Van Lutyens do explore their own character issues, the overall appearance is that this is a group of people completely stalled in mediocrity and the status quo.
The lack of an interesting backdrop puts extra pressure on the monster to be successful, and the seaweed monsters are certainly intriguing and dangerous if not ultimately memorable. The corresponding increase of seaweed creatures to the decrease of base personnel is a tried and trusted technique, but it works exceedingly well here. The mystery of the seaweed also allows for some truly fantastic scenes between the TARDIS crewmembers as they explore and attempt to discover the truth, even making a return to the rarely-seen TARDIS laboratory. And whether due to the actual seaweed menace or not, ‘Fury from the Deep’ gives amazing insight into the character of Victoria for the first time in a long while. Bombarded by so many harrowing experiences with monster after monster, she has begun to feel the effects of such a dangerous lifestyle and knows that there is no chance of the Doctor changing his ways. She quite rightly chooses to depart the TARDIS at story’s end, and she is treated a very emotional departure scene as the Doctor and Jamie for once choose to stay in a peaceful setting to discuss much deeper sentiments, the first time this level of depth has been attempted with a companion leaving.
Once the plot picks up, and even despite characters’ continued and unreasonable insistence on their own means, ‘Fury of the Deep’ offers a tense and suspenseful tale that affords Troughton to display both his dramatic and comedic prowess. This culminates in a very effective confrontation with the seaweed, and the subversion of expectations with Victoria screaming is undoubtedly a highlight. But while the final three episodes are a definite improvement over the slow and predictable first three, the overall release is rather formulaic and straightforward, a very unfortunate step back from the series of strong stories that preceded it. The seaweed creature is intriguing and the TARDIS crew as always are a joy, but without the emotional impact of Victoria’s departure, ‘Fury from the Deep’ is a strictly average affair overall.