Doctor Who: FURY FROM THE DEEP (Animated) Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Doctor Who: FURY FROM THE DEEP (Animated) Review

Tony’s not really feeling the fury.

Doctor Who is a show with a gaping wound in the heart of its early history.

The Missing Episodes.

In fairness, it’s by no means unique in that – plenty of shows in the 1960s were lost, seemingly forever, as a result of the policy in the BBC at the time of taping over previously broadcast tapes, to save money.

Don’t hit ’em. There was no way even to imagine a world in which people would want to pay for home copies of weekly serials. There was little perceived value in keeping endless hard copy libraries of tape, degenerating in cans on shelves.

So…that was a decision.

The thing is, as fragments, episodes, and even whole stories have been recovered over time, the hope of seeing some of the Sixties stories again has been kept alive, like the agony of hope in the breast of a lover.

Joyfully, the existence of audio for most stories has at least given us a good-ish flavour of how they went. But a curious thing has happened with the Missing Stories.

Because the audio exists, along with shooting scripts, from which novelizations have been written, stories that were subject to 1960s Doctor Who budgets have lived in our minds for decades. Populated by characters described in audio narratives or on the page, they’ve lived fleshed out by the CGI budgets of our minds.

That means the disagreeable truth is that in all probability, the versions in our heads are actually better than the versions that were rendered into being on those 1960s eggbox budgets.

The full-on animation of stories has helped with that. Sometimes, it has felt like the ultimate versions of those stories have now been released and enjoyed. When The Power of The Daleks was released, there was lots about it that was absolutely spot on, though the way characters moved from A-B left a lot to be desired, and broke the concentration more often than was ideal.

When The Macra Terror was released, it felt absolutely like the ultimate version of the crustacean classic had finally come to light. Why? Because while the bones of the story are great in any version, the monsters themselves looked more than a little absurd on that Sixties budget.

Not in the animated version, they don’t. In the animated version, they look big and implacable and scary, moving through the shadows and delivering many a shock reveal.

When The Power of The Daleks got a subsequent make-over, the animation enhanced and everything polished within an inch of its life, it too felt like probably a better version than was realised on TV, and closer to the pulsing, terrifying essay on power, weaponry and the tools of extremism that it had always been in our heads.

Then there’s Fury From The Deep.

Fury From The Deep is an odd one. There are only a handful of clips of it in existence, rather than any number of episodes.

But those clips, such as they are, have seared it into the creep-centres of the brains of fandom for years.

In particular, a slow, grainy, shot of an anaemic but likeable character named Maggie Harris takes forever to let the horror sink in as she walks, seemingly calmy to what feels like it must be her death in the sea. The soundtrack is nothing but the lapping of waves for an agonising length of time before the episode credits begin to roll, and it leaves you with the sense that this is Doctor Who pushing the envelope of acceptability, even in an era that had only a handful of second-hand qualms about scaring the living daylights out of its young audience and sending them scurrying behind the sofa. They let that image of seeming suicide sink into the minds of the young viewers for a week before catching up with the story.

Then there’s the moment that everybody remembers about Fury From The Deep – the creepily plausible home invasion of Mr Oak (the chubbily avuncular John Gill) and Mr Quill (the correspondingly gaunt and bloodshot Bill Burridge), and their gassing of Maggie Harris. Likewise, even today, you might struggle to get that scene past a taste filter in terms of ‘scaring the kids.’

A couple of other snippets exist too. The very opening scene, with the Tardis’ chaotic journey across the sky to land in the sea is one. While not scary, it does make you wonder how on earth they pulled that off in the Sixties – model work, undoubtedly, but it’s damn good model work.

And there’s a scene from later in the story, with the Doctor and Jamie seemingly fighting the foam which causes so many problems in Fury From The Deep. As in the likes of The Seeds Of Death, it looks like they’re fighting a huge amount of Fairy liquid – and there’s a very good reason for that. It’s an area, unlike the other clips, which exposes the potential weakness of Fury From The Deep on a Sixties budget, and an area where the animation could repair some damage and shine as the ultimate version of the story.

The new animated version is…not the ultimate version of the story.

It does some good work, certainly, but in other ways, it drastically undersells the potential terror of the piece, and leaves you with a somewhat anaemic version of the story.

That initial, fantastic model work, with the Tardis careering across the sky, for instance? It seems a decision was taken that it would be too tricky to replicate that in an animated version, so what you get is a ramrod-straight Tardis descent through a single plane. It’s like it’s being lowered very gently to the ground by a careful crane.

Unimportant? Maybe. But it sets the tone to Disappointment.

It’s a tone that sadly runs throughout much of the animated Fury From The Deep.

The Maggie Harris scene, walking into the sea, feels somehow anaemic in the clarity of animation, the long wait for the credits to roll inspiring impatience more readily than the stomach-churning complicity in death of the original.

And – perhaps the greatest crime in the piece – Mr Quill has been cutesied up.

Now, it’s true that Oak and Quill seemed originally to be modelled on the likes of Laurel And Hardy or Abbott and Costello, the chubby and avuncular Oak and the lean, gaunt Quill almost making you want to laugh until they did their thing and became utterly terrifying.

They never become utterly terrifying in this version.

They just become a different kind of comic.

Chuckles From The Deep does not have quite the same ring to it, and the Scooby Doo vibe you’re left with here is almost entirely ineffective at bringing either the terror or the fury.

So – is it a dead loss, then?

No, not really. The foam in the animated version loses that sense of The Froth Of Death and moves more like a porridge, which adds a muscularity to its movement that makes it better than the original.

And the seaweed itself moves with a 2020 conviction, rather than a 1960s budget. It seems to seethe with discontent and malevolence – which is especially effective when it emerges out of people’s shirt cuffs, like joyful, evil strings controlling helpless meat-puppets. In essence then, the natural threat in the animated Fury From The Deep is accentuated and enhanced, while the human threat is more or less entirely negated.

The pacing of the piece is exposed in the animated version in a way that has always been relatively well concealed in previous versions too, so beware of characters filling the screen and then saying nothing for surprising seconds. That’s a thing that was an issue with the original animated Power of The Daleks – seemingly fixed in the updated version. Here, it makes Fury seem slower than your mind will have convinced you it is.

It’s also one of the most…Pertwee of Troughton stories not to feature the prototype UNIT. Danger out at sea, a commercial, power-based operation under threat, a six-parter that could probably have been cut down to four episodes. A high-speed car chase, followed by a helicopter chase. There’s an Easter egg that you absolutely won’t fail to spot, which pays tribute to the Pertwee era and which underscores the sense of the UNIT period, almost as if to say ‘Look, this is where and when we are.’ Needless to say, it’s an invention from whole cloth, and while it’s quite cute in and of itself, it adds to the sense that what we have here is not so much an ultimate Fury From The Deep as a cutesy, fan-servicing version, winking at the audience with a hell of a lot of hindsight, changing things whether or not they’re necessarily for the good of the overall effect.

Bottom line, you can come to the animated Fury From The Deep with one of two sets of expectations.

You can look at the updated Power of The Daleks and The Macra Terror and go in expecting an ultimate version of a long-missing story. Do that and you’ll have your heart well and truly broken by this version.

Or you can go in expecting…just an animated version of the story that’s been in your head all these years. Go in with that mindset and you can still get some good things from the animated version. First use of the sonic screwdriver – check. Victoria Waterfield, living increasingly on her nerves, but given a moment of supreme glory before saying a long, considered goodbye to the Doctor and Jamie - check. The odd joy of the Second Doctor getting his ‘kid in a candy store’ on behind the controls of a helicopter. The improvement in the consistency of the foam and the creepy nastiness of the weed, especially when used together in writhing, frothing masses. There are, as we said, good things about the animation here.

There are also some very classy extras – Surviving Fury From The Deep is a special pleasure worth catching.

But ultimately, this animated version of Fury From The Deep feels either rushed or created with insufficient determination to meet the hyped-up needs of its audience. There are good elements here, absolutely. But a handful of interesting elements cannot really outweigh the weaknesses in the animation. Weaknesses that are made blatant and laid bare by the inclusion of the surviving clips on this release, so you can see what could – and arguably, what should – have been.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad