Legend Of The Sea Devils May Reinvent A Lame Franchise Monster
With pirate action on the high seas and a coastal location, “Legend of the Sea Devils” could finally fulfill the potential of a much-maligned ’80s monster.
Doctor WhoThe next special in “Legend of the Devils of the Sea” may reimagine one of the franchise’s dumbest monsters. Jodie Whittaker’s penultimate story will see the Doctor, Yaz and Dan attempt to protect a coastal Chinese village from the pirate queen Madame Ching and the ancient sea demons she has awakened. Ching Shih was a real person, and his appearance continues the Chris Chibnall-era emphasis on historical characters and situations that are rarely presented to mainstream Western audiences.
The biggest draw for longtime fans is, of course, the long-awaited return of the Sea Devils to the series. Although they only made two appearances in the classical era, in 1972 and 1984 respectively, the image of these prehistoric amphibians emerging from the sea became one of the defining cultural memories of the 1970s. Doctor Who. After the series ’20and anniversary in 1983, John Nathan-Turner relied on goodwill and nostalgia for the show’s past by bringing back the Sea Devils and their cousins the Silurians to take on Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor. It was an inauspicious return for these iconic creatures, and even worse, introduced one of Doctor Whoare the most notoriously evil monsters.
“Warriors of the Deep” has the dubious honor of being the story that introduced the Myrka to Doctor Who. In theory, the Myrka is a terrifying species of genetically modified dinosaur that is used by the Silurians in times of war. On screen, it looked like two men in green horse suits. With its high-seas pirate adventure and coastal location, “Legend of the Sea Devils” might finally realize the potential of this much-maligned monster.
Doctor Who“Flux” proved that visual effects have finally caught up with the series’ ambitions. For example, the latest episode “The Vanquishers” featured dramatic scenes of Dalek, Cybermen, and Sontaran ships burning in space. Likewise, Sontaran’s updated designs have stayed true to the original ’70s look, while making them fit for the era of prestige high-definition television. The new Sea Devils also stay true to the iconic design. With this pedigree, the series could finally end up with a terrifying and menacing Myrka.
Spin-off media have regularly attempted to portray the Myrka as a real threat. Most notably in the Ninth Doctor section of “The Lost Dimension” comic event. In it, a Myrka attacks a ship commanded by the Doctor’s Silurian friend Madame Vastra, stranding them on a desert island. With “Legend of the Sea Devils” being a swashbuckling pirate adventure, it’s perfect for the appearance of a terrifying sea monster. Photos from filming locations suggest that the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan emerge from a shipwreck. Maybe their ship was destroyed by a Myrka?
With Chris Chibnall stepping down as showrunner, it wouldn’t be impossible for him to revitalize this much-maligned monster. Steven Moffat, for example, brought back the original Mondasian Cybermen from “The Tenth Planet” as a treat for Peter Capaldi. Russell T. Davies cast the obscure 1960s monster Macra in the third season episode “Gridlock” for fun. The BBC’s centenary necessitated the production of an additional special, so it’s entirely possible ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ will be a bonus Chris Chibnall Doctor Who script. As such, he’ll probably have more fun with it, doing things he’s always wanted to do, as a lifelong fan. So it would be a fun and unexpected parting gift for Doctor Who public if he rehabilitated the Myrka from its embarrassing place in the canon.
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