The Silurians (aka Doctor Who and the Silurians)

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Writer: Malcolm Hulke

Director: Timothy Combe

Producer: Barry Letts

No of Episodes: 7

Season: 7, ep 2 (5-11)

Companions: Dr. Liz Shaw (Caroline John), Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)

Summary: An experimental nuclear power research center has been experiencing power drains and UNIT is called in to investigate.  The Doctor explores the caves near the center and discovers that they are home to the Silurians, a race of lizard-like people who hid in the caves when the moon was brought into Earth’s orbit.  The Silurians feel that they are threatened by the humans, but the Doctor attempts to negotiate with them. However, one of the Silurians decides to use a chemical that proved toxic to apes back in prehistoric times, and discovers that it is just as toxic on humans. The toxin creates a plague all over London, complicating the Doctor’s attempts to negotiate.

Review: Each of the first three Doctors introduced recurring alien races. Hartnell’s introduced the Daleks and the Cybermen. The Second Doctor introduced the Ice Warriors. The Third Doctor introduced the Silurians. What is most interesting about the Silurians is that unlike the others I mentioned, the Silurians do not wish to conquer the humans. They really only wish to be left alone and only retaliate because they feel threatened. I do feel that the current era of the show does a much better job with the Silurians than Classic Who. The costumes look less silly and more lizard-like.

This episode is the best example of how the Brigadier serves as a heroic foil for the Doctor. While the Doctor prefers diplomacy, Lethbridge-Stewart prefers direct action. I thought it was great that the story did not end happily, but with a bittersweet ending that would continue to have impact on the Brigadier and the Doctor’s relationship for a good part of the Pertwee era.

Liz Shaw is also well done here. She is a big help to the Doctor from the beginning. In fact, I believe this is one of her best stories.

If you’re interested in finding out how the Silurians started out in Doctor Who, I would suggest watching this story.  It does have some pacing issues, but it’s not a bad story.

Overall Review: 7/10

Continuity: The Silurians appeared in two more stories in Classic Who before the series was cancelled. They returned to the show in the Eleventh Doctor’s era, in the two parter: “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood”. This story also marks the first appearance of the Third Doctor’s yellow automobile Bessie. At the end of the episode, it is said that the Silurians would not resurface until 50 years later, which is why their return in modern Who takes place in 2020.

Trivia: This is the only story in the history of the show that actually has “Doctor Who” in its title, not counting the adaptations published by Target books. Previously, an episode of the Hartnell serial The Chase broke the taboo when it was titled “The Death of Doctor Who”. This was an error caused because most of the scripts were titled Doctor Who and the and that part of the title was not removed. Barry Letts and Script Editor Terrance Dicks make cameos as rail passengers, while Production Assistant Trevor Ray makes a cameo as a ticket collector struck down by the plague.

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