The Doctor and Evelyn land on the Galapagos Islands during
the 19th century, coincident with a visit by a young natural
philosopher called Charles Darwin. But these islands are also
host to prehistoric creatures who could pose a deadly threat
to all human life...
must confess to being a huge fan of the Silurians, fascinating
"monsters" who actually have a greater claim to the Earth
than we humans do, so it was extremely unlikely that I could
have failed to enjoy this particular adventure.
said that, I won't settle for any old rubbish just because
it has Silurians in it. As a case in point, I have no great
love for the 1984 serial Warriors of the Deep, a story
that was bogged down by woeful production values and sluggish
direction. Further disappointment arose from the fact that
the Silurians inexplicably lost the use of their third eye,
which had been such a formidable weapon in 1970's Doctor
Who and the Silurians but which was reduced to functioning
as a Dalek-style voice indicator.
was therefore most gratified to hear the third eye back in
action, sounding just as it did back in 1970. Similarly, the
reptiles' voices are a fair approximation of the guttural
1970 types, as opposed to the 1984 "Pinky and Perky" varieties,
although a hint of the latter version remains, especially
in the tones of the female Silurian, Sh'vak (Helen Goldwyn).
The voice modulation has difficulty with some of the "s" sounds,
however, leading to the unintentionally funny line: "You shaved
in all, the production owes far more to the original Malcolm
Hulke Silurians serial, and to Hulke's novelisation
of it (witness Bloodtide's prehistoric prologue), than
to Warriors of the Deep. The only element inspired
by the latter serial is the Myrka creature, which definitely
benefits from being heard rather than seen. It's a bit unfortunate
that the Silurians repeat their tactic of releasing a plague
against humanity, but then it might have seemed strange if
they hadn't tried.
it's not only Silurian stories that have been ransacked by
writer Jonathan Morris. For instance, the homing device that
is used to control the Myrka is a blatant steal from Terror
of the Zygons, while a renegade Silurian called Tulok
(Daniel Hogarth) treats us at one point to his version of
Davros's "with that knowledge..." line from Genesis of
the Daleks. Other familiar-sounding elements echo Castrovalva
and even the lizard-like Visitors from the 1980s American
his credit, Morris has built upon these familiar foundations
to deliver a profound revelation about the ancient relationship
between the Silurians and our ape ancestors. He also establishes
the reptile's era as being far closer to the present day than
has been previously suggested, at mere hundreds of thousands
of years ago. The historical setting also allows for some
elegant dramatic symmetry between the condemnation of Tulok
by his fellow Silurians and the sentencing of a human prisoner,
and between Tulok's ostracism for allegedly tampering with
nature and the furore that Darwin's theory of evolution would
cause within Victorian society.
Darwin is Miles Richardson, who can also be heard playing
Braxiatel in Big Finish's latest Bernice Summerfield CD, The
Extinction Event. In total contrast to the authoritative
Brax, Richardson emphasises the young naturalist's hesitancy
about developing his radical theory, a process in which he
is all but prompted by Evelyn (Maggie Stables).
is not the most original work ever to have evolved from Doctor
Who's television ancestry, but if you like Silurians then
this double CD is the natural selection.