Legend of the Sea Devils

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    Craig @craig

    Legend of the Sea Devils

    In a swashbuckling adventure set in the 19th century, the Doctor, Yaz and Dan come face to fin with one of the Doctor’s oldest adversaries, the Sea Devils. Why has legendary (and real-life) Chinese pirate queen Madam Ching come searching for a lost treasure? What terrifying forces lurk beneath the oceans?

    This is written by Chibnall and Ella Road. Road is a British screenwriter, playwright and actor. She is best known for her stage-play The Phlebotomist, a work of science-fiction exploring questions around genetic ethics. In 2019 The Phlebotomist received an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

    It’s directd by Haolu Wang, a Chinese writer-director based in the UK. Her work supposedly explores the psychological and emotional landscapes of humans in crisis, often blurring the line between reality and imagination.

    So all that sounds promising.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    OK, on the one hand, I really liked it. It was a swashbuckling adventure, that looked really great, and all the actors worked. On the other hand, (and I tend to think of this as a Chibnall issue) why does everyone, but mainly the Doctor, have to be constantly explaining what has either happened, or is about to happen? The last time I saw the Sea Devils was with the Pertwee Doctor, and he didn’t have to tell me what had happened…it just happened!

    In terms of the love life of the companions (and the implications for the final special), the scene with Yaz was fine (although I don’t know how she is going to cope with the loss of the Doctor) but it was optimistic that Dan made contact with Diane again.

    Was it strangely silly that the Sea Devils had developed technology to have flying 18th century ships? Well probably, but it did look cool!

    But you have to watch the teaser for the final Jodie special at the end of the episode, with the return of…???

    toinfinityandbepond @toinfinityandbepond

    Is Chibbers really going to pull the old “Regenerate your gays” trope?

    retiring who fan @obkenob

    Was looking forward to this one, and in fairness, found the suggested discussion re relationship ie “I fancy you to” and Dear Doctor becomes gay, quite convincing , nice  acting . Nothing against gay, I have gay friends.  And largely as far as I can tell, the vast majority of gays are kind and thoughtful , and very nice people. However  WTF has this to do with this sort of fantasy fiction.  Yet another   BBC lecture for us,  Look gays are normal, Look gays are every where.  And therefor must be included.  In everthing?….I am fed up to the back teeth , with listening to and watching this totally abnormal obsession with sexuality, in pretty much every episode, that’s been shown since Jodie came on board. Fed up > REtired FAn. Ken.

    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    Is it me or is this another case of Chibbers almost giving us a good episode then missing the mark.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Has everyone deserted the site? Where is @jimthefish ? Where is @bluesqueakpip ?


    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Apologies, fellow veteran. Just haven’t got around to watching it yet (like much of the rest of the population if the viewing figures are to be believed). Such is the ennui of the Chibs era. Plan to watch later today/early tomoz and will post my thoughts soonest.

    Have seen the Next Time trailer though and have to say that the big ‘reveal’ has left me feeling rather ‘meh’. Neither were particular favourites of mine (and this was very much my era) but this is probably a convo to be continued in Spoilers…

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    OK, so I’ve finally got around to watching it and, um, let’s just say I didn’t love it. Flux might have had its problems but I ultimately found it a pretty enjoyable step up from the rest of Chibs’s run but we were here right back to the bad old days of s11. It felt like all of Chib’s worst foibles were on display. The supporting characters were beyond two-dimensional and the fact that they were real, historical figures was somehow supposed to make up for that. The narrative pacing was halting and illogical and as with the worst of Chibs’s oeuvre felt more like a sequence of Big, Cool Things Happening with the bare minimum of connective tissue to join them together. And Jodie was back to bordering on non-Doctorly behaviour in a) rather nonchalantly leaving Dan to his own devices and b) being rather sanguine about letting Ying Wai sacrifice himself at the end. And Dan was criminally wasted, reduced to such blundering ineffectuality that for a moment I thought that Graham was back.

    But there were compensations. As ever, it looked gorgeous and the Sea Devils looked great. (With these, the Sontarans and the Cybermen his era has done really well in modern reimagining of BG monsters, tho the less said about the Daleks the better). And the Thasmin stuff was nicely handled. (Side note, I don’t see how this is any more ‘lecturing’ or ‘political’ than the Rose, Amy or River relationships with the Doctor. And I like the relaxed and enlightened attitude to sexuality with which it portrays the Doc. My only problem is that once again we got a character telling us (rather than showing us) how great and exceptional Yaz is. I haven’t really seen much evidence of Yaz’s specialness at all. To me, she’s always been the ‘at least she’s not quite as boring as Graham or Ryan’ one. Bill had more ‘hero’ moments in one series than Yaz has had in three.

    As for the Next Time trailer, it looks kinda promising. I hope it ties up the whole Timeless Child thing in a neat bow though. The faces that Chibs seems to be bringing back are interesting and if we’re seeing these in the trailer, I wonder if he’s got others up his sleeve. But personally, neither has been a particular favourite of mine and there are a great many other BG figures I’d rather see before them.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @jimthefish Yeah, I can see where you are coming from, and it was a slight episode. But, for me, it was still a fun (albeit) slight episode. Regarding the Doctor telling Yaz how great she was, this was someone trying to break bad news to someone she cared for. Should she have said that on a sliding scale of truly great figures from human history that she had met that Yaz was way down the list? Of course not. The Doctor was trying to break the news to Yaz with some consideration.

    My main criticism off the show was that it was so slight, even if fun. In the original series  it was the type of episode that Troughton or Pertwee would have done between one week and the next. But in the Chibnall years (the long, long, slow years), it was all we were offered after a 6 month wait.

    So…November until the finale, and then a full year (!!) until RTD re-invents it.

    Before I sign off, a shout-out to the brilliant emperor @craig, for keeping the site going as enthusiasm has declined.

    But I know there are people out there who are still waiting for the opportunity to see the episode (yes, I too, remember living in  Australia), and it will be great to hear from all of you.


    nerys @nerys

    I’m with @jimthefish. For me this was an underwhelming episode. It carried the “flash and action, but thin on substance” story style that has plagued much of Chris Chibnall’s run on Doctor Who.

    And the CGI? Don’t get me started. I felt like we were back in the Tennant era, which had its share of dodgy special effects.

    This was a disappointing relapse after what I felt was a marvelous return to form with “Eve of the Daleks” (which hubby and I plan to rewatch tonight).

    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    Hmmm that was the word I was looking for when I posted my initial response to the episode “underwhelming” Chibbers seems to have epitomised that feeling in the main.


    nerys @nerys

    I should add that not all of the CGI and special effects looked awful. The Sea Devils and the huge sea serpent all looked great. But it was the background scene images, specifically especially those showing the ship in the harbor, that looked so amateurish they took me out of the moment. My husband was walking by and laughed at one. Not a good sign.

    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    I think the main problem with these specials there seems to be no link between them. The New year special appeared to be a fairly good start , but The Legend of the Sea Devils has been a bit of a “meh” episode themeticly. At least with Tennants  final year of specials there was the Timelord Victorious theme. Chibbers had a perfect theme he could have carried through from the end of Flux with what I am calling the Spirit of Time telling the Doctor her time was ending and he could have explored this which in part it looked like he was doing. To be honest I think it would have been better if the baton had been passed back to RTD for Jodies final/regeneration episode because in part I  have a feeling that Chibbers has in part been purposely steering the Who franchise to its demise.

    nerys @nerys

    @devilishrobby To be honest I think it would have been better if the baton had been passed back to RTD for Jodies final/regeneration episode because in part I have a feeling that Chibbers has in part been purposely steering the Who franchise to its demise.

    Interesting, I never contemplated that it could be deliberate. I’ve always felt he just wasn’t up to the task … and perhaps no one would have been, following in Steven Moffat’s footsteps. Chibnall had this one Big Idea (the Timeless Child) and built an entire season around it, with the aim of rewriting the Doctor’s origin story. While I commend him for at least having the idea, the execution of it (especially having the Master tell the Doctor about it, rather than showing us) robbed it of its emotional intensity. There was no payback for the audience in that revelation.

    The Flux was another Big Idea, but at least it offered us a more customary story arc, not one that tried to rewrite Doctor Who history. The sad thing is that last season seemed to be building up rather nicely … only to fall flat in the finale.

    Then we got the delightful “Eve of the Daleks” New Year’s Eve special, and I felt hope that at least Jodie’s departure was being handled with care. That episode made me care what happened to the characters. It was tightly written with wit and all the elements I’ve come to expect from Doctor Who. (I wonder if having the episode set in one location made a difference.) Even the fact that it fell back to using the old, reliable Daleks did not detract. They were just menacing enough to create suspense … yet they were funny.

    And then we got this episode, which had little offer in the way of convincing character development. Yes, we got the Doctor’s “sorry, Yasmin” speech, but somehow it just didn’t carry the emotional weight I have felt between the Doctor and other companions whose emotions got the better of them.

    Reading the synopsis by @craig up top, you’d think “Legend of the Sea Devils” couldn’t miss. Yet it did.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @devilishrobby, @nerys, An interesting thought, but I can’t really cast Chibnall as quite that Machiavellian.  As I watched the shows slowly (ever so slowly) turn up months apart I felt that there might have been a more promising three years of stories if COVID had not reared its ugly head. So, on the one hand, Chibnall was unlucky. But on the other hand, I always felt that his ideas were undercooked. His first season seemed to only have the idea of not using traditional monsters. That’s really not much of a unifying theme to set his tenure apart (and he realised he had to abandon that anyway. Rather, we had a soap opera theme of “the fam”, which, if I am honest, I hated. Then there was “the timeless child”. But he really did not make much of it. It seemed to be more hints that a carefully constructed narrative arc (compare it to how Moffat used Amy’s story in his first season). And when the Timeless Child trope did not really go anywhere, he cooks up the Flux. And frankly, that didn’t really go anywhere. And with his last year he has no theme, just Daleks and Sea Devils. Ultimately, I think I would compare the Chibnall years to the John Nathan Turner years. They had both become a sad parody of the glory days of Who. Now we have to wait till November 2023 to see if the show can recapture some of the wonder with the return of RTD.


    winston @winston

    @blenkinsopthebrave     That is such a long time to wait!  I almost feel a sense of panic when I think of it. I wish they could speed it up, I am not getting any younger. Why does it take soooooo long?

    Oops, even I hear the whine.

    I can seriously say, thank the Tardis for all the episodes of old and new Who that are neatly stored on DVDs and my computer because they will have to keep me happy while I wait. Did I mention I hate waiting?

    I am currently waiting to watch Legend of the Sea Devils and I will comment then,

    Stay safe.

    nerys @nerys

    @blenkinsopthebrave Very well put. I agree with your analysis of Chibnall’s run. Given the problems Covid created, why not go small, with small casts playing intimate stories set in singular locations? Instead, we got these grand ideas, often with lots of CGI and seemingly wide-ranging locations (many of which were sets), but little in the way of making me care what happened. Lots of telling me, but little showing me why I should care. Your comparison of this with how Moffat wrote Amy’s story in Matt Smith’s first season is revealing. I never stopped caring about what happened with Amy and the Doctor. But sadly, I stopped caring, for the most part, about this Doctor and her “fam” (yeah, not really a fan, either).

    That’s not true for all of Chibnall’s episodes. “Eve of the Daleks” is one outstanding exception. Why couldn’t they all have been like that? I don’t think Covid gets all the blame here.

    @winston I don’t have the hardware, but I do have the option of Crave.TV in my on-demand streaming service, which has all of the post-gap Doctor Who episodes. Now, if only I can find the time to view them!

    janetteB @janetteb

    @blenkinsopthebrave  I think that sums up the problems quite well. I wanted to like this Doctor and the companions but they never really were fully there as characters. Graeme became annoying, and the Doctor always seemed too dependent upon the companions to really fly on his/her own. There was as @nerys points out, too much “telling”, not enough showing. Even my favourite episodes from series 11 and 12 were mediocre to good. Via Diadati for instance, which is perhaps my favourite and the one set in Norway which I really enjoyed up until the end with the frog and the dubious explanation. (It might just be because it is set in Norway that I like that one so much.)

    There were some good episodes in series 11. I liked the set up of the Timeless child story line though I have not watched the final of that, mostly because I was rather upset by the destruction of Gallifrey. I felt that trampled on the lore established my Moffat who restored Gallifrey with RTD’s blessing.  I doubt that Chibnell asked RTD and Moffat how they felt about him destroying Gallifrey again. I don’t mind if the stories are not fantastic, I don’t mind if the showrunner introduces new concepts like the Timeless child, provided it is well done, but I do object to the showrunner ignoring what had previously been written and destroying potential for future showruners. (which is why Moffat persuaded RTD to let Jenni live.) I might be wrong but I thought that Gallifrey was still about albiet not in a healthy state at the end of the universe.

    Whew. that was a bit of a rant. Sorry..

    I agree that it would have been nice for RTD to have written some stories for Whitaker and Yaz. (or even better a Moffat penned story because I feel that both actors deserved better scripts.)



    nerys @nerys

    @janetteb There were some good episodes in series 11. I liked the set up of the Timeless child story line though I have not watched the final of that, mostly because I was rather upset by the destruction of Gallifrey. I felt that trampled on the lore established my Moffat who restored Gallifrey with RTD’s blessing.

    There’s still some part of me that wonders (hopes) that maybe the Master was gaslighting the Doctor over that. Was it ever established that this actually happened? I think it was … but that shows you how poor my memory of these past few seasons is. Nothing stands out in my mind enough to make me remember it. That happened plenty of times during the RTD and Moffat eras, but it’s more the details I lose. I remember the broad strokes. With Chibnall’s era, I barely remember that.

    The Chibnall episodes I like most are those set in historical periods, like “Rosa” and “Demons of the Punjab” (which was an especially good Yaz episode from Season 11), and then “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror” from Season 12.

    Season 13 seemed to be building up nicely, right on up through the “Village of the Angels” episode. Yes, it was a sort of “greatest hits” package, but I still felt forward momentum, like we were headed toward a true climax. And then the last two episodes dispelled that notion. We got smoke and mirrors, not a satisfying resolution to the mystery I thought was unfolding.

    Chibnall has showed enough moments of possibility that I kept hoping, only to be disappointed in the long run. I wish I didn’t feel that way … but I do. So I look forward to RTD’s return!

    Whisht @whisht

    Hi all,
    Bad me – I wrote this and dithered and then a new Doctor was announced.
    That’ll learn me! 😀

    … anyway, this is what I wrote a few days ago that has nothing to do with the great new casting…

    Lots of new people since last i was here which is really great.
    Sorry I’ve been missing for a while.
    I’ll probably do a bit of name checking but its great to hear new voices/ opinions.
    (and forgive me for posting dumb music on another thread)

    [deep breath]
    {wish this episode was as good}

    I really didn’t like this episode.
    ah well.
    I can only repeat @blenkinsopthebrave ‘s dislike of Chibnall’s habit of characters explaining things.
    Though I personally find it useful as I don’t follow *why* the character has done something or somethig has happened in his episodes.

    @jimthefish ‘s comments I also agree with in terms of flimsy support characters, non-Doctorly behaviour/ethics (she fights with a sword?? not a spoon??!??) and how with the character of Yaz we’ve been told she’s amazingyet unlike Bill we’ve not seen her BE amazing(at least not enough).

    I couldn’t figure out why the Sea Devil was doing what it was… just … ‘because’? Just “we want to take over/ we hate land lubbers”? oh well, ok.

    Pirate – her motivation was more than just beinga pirate (yay!) but at the end, she was softened into … what? Surrogate mum*? and no mention of her kids as being released with help of this treasure?

    Maybe the idle sifting of baubles and gold was the whole “the real treasure is people” but… ah well.
    *that lad quickly forgave her it seems.

    My last gripe was that what I think was meant to be a rolling ‘as if on water’ camera actually felt I was in the middle of an earthquake. It juddered it didn’t roll.

    18 months is a long time to wait, but I’m not sure I’d bother watching another series of this.


    ah well, over to the Music Thread…

    winston @winston

    I finally got to watch this episode and I have to admit that  I fell asleep watching an episode for the first time, ever. I just lost interest and dozed off for a few minutes. I did wake up and watch what I missed but other than a few scenes it was hum drum.

    The interaction between Dan and Yaz  was amusing and the sea monster was cool and there was some swashbuckling and funny banter mixed up with a bunch of stuff. I am hoping that a second viewing while I am wide awake will help but right now all I can say about it is “Meh”.

    The most exciting part was the preview of the next episode.

    Stay sane

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    Oh dear, no sooner have we got a good pair of companions than we make them look like idiots – Dan for dressing like a pantomime pirate and Yaz for encouraging him. This is a let-down after Eve of the Daleks.

    And it’s Legend of the Black Spot again I’m afraid. Dr Who really should learn not to do 19th-century pirate stories. The pirate ship looks as unconvincing as the chatty Sea Devil.

    So Dan just casually wanders off with some random dude obsessed with revenge (though I’ve seen more emotion from a Dalek) to swim out and board a pirate ship. And the Doctor and Yaz wander off in the opposite direction. Is it just me or is the writing getting a bit loose? And the purpose of the Doctor’s excursion is to find information on some treasure to bargain with Madame Ching the Pirate Queen for – what? This is getting completely unscrewed.

    How Madam Ching managed to sail her ship single-handed while tying Dan and Revenge Dude up and dangling them from a convenient yardarm is – not explained.

    And it seems Yaz has caught the Doctor’s annoying habit of explaining at length what we can perfectly well see for ourselves, because they’re both at it now. But I had to cheer at “No ship, Sherlock.”

    The Doctor and Yaz and anyone else they swept along with them seemed to be able to jump from ship to ship with casual abandon.

    There was an awful lot of jargon (as always with this Doctor), and much of the technicalities appeared to be ad hoc and didn’t make a lot of sense. The Sea Devils were pretty naff monsters. Also spectacularly useless in a sword fight. And Dan killing four Sea Devils in a row – that surprised me. The Doctor would surely have nagged him for that.

    The – relationship – between Yaz and the Doctor was quite well handled, I thought.

    I thought the actress who played Madame Ching was good, she deserved better lines.

    Overall, the script could have used a lot of tightening up – too many loose ends and improbabilities. As a standalone episode there should have been time to fix some of that before shooting.


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    The above were my impressions scribbled down watching the ep. Reading through the comments it seems I was roughly in line with the general consensus. I didn’t hate the ep, it didn’t annoy me like, say, Kill the Moon or… well, actually, KTM is the only Moff ep that I actively disliked, possibly because I was invested in the characters. With this crew my expectations are lower. So maybe this ep rates around In The Forest of the Night level.

    That said, the cast were all fine, I thought Yaz and the Doctor acted their relationship stuff well, when they weren’t being sabotaged by explain-the-plot-itis. Which was contagious because Madam Ching and the Sea Devil had spasms of explaining the bleeding obvious too. The actors – Dan and Madam Ching, even Revenge Dude – were sympathetic characters I could have got to like if the script had been a little less disjointed.

    And while I’m whingeing, the Doctor could have done with a bit less of obvious made-up-on-the-spot technobabble. Every alien gadget or strange phenomenon, the Doctor knows instantly what it’s called and how it works. Jargon we’ve never heard before and know that, mercifully, we never will again. Kinetic hyper-curve, exo-toxic poisoning, orbital electron stripping – none of these actually mean anything.

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