I blogged about the first part of this adventure four months ago, although I rather got off the subject onto praising the Loose Cannon reconstructions, and you can see that post here. Since I'm obviously going to keep returning to it at long spaces of time, I have given Fury from the Deep its own label to enable people to find the posts. Now watch me grind to a halt on this one!
This Who adventure perfectly demonstrates a major motivation behind my writing this blog from the beginning: to make me delve deeper into what is going on in my favourite TV programmes so as not to watch them passively. This adventure is probably one of the most visually iconic of the early ones - the scene on the beach, the sea forts, the iconic appearance of Mr Oak and Mr Quill, and the famous first appearance of the sonic screwdriver.
It made me reflect further on the way the doctor enters different worlds and situations, does his thing and leaves. I'm not going to beat about the bush about this - we the viewers are very clearly intended to want to go off in the TARDIS, and the worlds he visits are not usually ones you would want to stay in. Even, or particularly, our own! The particular world he enters here is one which is notoriously a nightmare - the enclosed world of a setting where you go for work reasons and often can't leave for weeks or months - cruise ships, submarines, oil platforms and so on. The events of the show take place in a clearly dysfunctional team in the workplace, and I'm sorry to say that Robson is clearly unsuited to this sort of situation - he is arrogant and stubborn, ignoring the more sensible advice of other people around him. Unfortunately, exactly the kind of person who often ends up in those roles!
The experience of 2020 probably makes this show very different to view now than at any time in the past, since we had never had the experience of being forced to stay in and confronted with an invisible, lethal enemy. An enemy that some people insist doesn't exist! As an introvert myself I was honestly quite surprised at how difficult lockdown was for some people - exactly the kind of enclosed world you would get in the rig in this show.
There is another cultural reference in this adventure, to HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos - in fact visiting this refinery is not unlike a visit to Innsmouth, where people have this strange fish-, like look and the tentacles get into everything. In fact Oak and Quill very much have the Innsmouth look themselves. While this connection is often commented on, I haven't seen anywhere whether this adventure was deliberately, or even consciously, made to be Lovecraftian. Right down to the querying of what is actually happening and the strange sea creatures which are denied by people like Robson! This connection is made very obvious by the illustration on the BBC DVD box.
I see I didn't have any criticism of this show on watching the first episode, but now I think that this could have been much more snappy as a four partner, instead of six. A lot of time is spent on discussing and arguing, which comes across as all too much.
The ultimate question asked in this episode is who you can trust and have confidence in, and what you should do if you don't have confidence in the person in charge. It's a tricky one - beside the obvious fact that Robson is an ass!