Doctor Who Review – “Phantoms of the Deep”

Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Mary Tamm as Romana, John Leeson as K-9 and Alice “The Borg Queen” Kirge…

Chris Swanson

Contributor

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Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Mary Tamm as Romana, John Leeson as K-9 and Alice “The Borg Queen” Kirge as a submarine captain. What could possibly go wrong?

As you gathered from that set up, I wasn’t overly impressed with this story. It starts with the Doctor and company arriving in the Marianas Trench. No sooner have they figured out where and when (the 2040s) they are, when the TARDIS is picked up by a submarine and brought inside.

Turns out the sub is a special deep sea exploration vessel that my mind kept wanting to call SeaQuest. As they probe around under the water, they spot a group of intelligent squid who try to warn them away. Does the sub crew say, “Hey, great idea. These squid can’t have an agenda against us. Let’s make for the surface?” No, of course they don’t. Soon they find themselves going deeper and encountering a World War II submarine with a crew member still alive. Then it all goes a bit pear shaped.

It’s hard to say where this story went wrong for me. Part one was really excellent, and did a good job of “feeling” like a Fourth Doctor TV story. It was also entertaining to have K9 able to actually be in the story and do something for a change.

But once part two started up, it just failed to live up to the potential of part one. I still don’t feel that I fully understand what exactly was going on at the end. It’s possible that I would benefit from hearing it again, but I don’t know. To an extent it just all felt rather rushed. I feel this is a story that had enough content it could have made for a good three-, or even four-part, story.

That said, the acting was all aces as usual. Alice Kirge even made for a decent guest star, and thank goodness Big Finish had enough restraint not to cast her as a Cyberleader. I certainly would have. But I guess that’s one of the twenty-seven reasons I don’t work for Big Finish.

NEXT TIME: Daleks. Do you really need anything else? Just…daleks.