You have to admire the sheer ambition behind Legend of the Sea Devils. Fusing the swashbuckling pirate adventure with the Jules Verne-inspired maritime science fiction genre would have been a risky undertaking at any time in Doctor Who’s history, but with production severely limited by pandemic restrictions it was never going to be easy to make Jodie Whittaker’s penultimate story a classic.
The undeniable star of the show is the meticulously detailed and varied costumes. Visually, Legend of the Sea Devils is up there with the best in that respect, but the cracks do show up in the enforced overuse of CGI. The script, a rather dull, run-of-the-mill affair despite the potential of the supporting characters, could have been salvaged by some creative direction, but both suffer from a series of awkwardly disjointed and jarring edits in post-production.
Writers Ella Road and Chris Chibnall may have been keen to let the characters carry the story, but the audience aren’t given enough to care about them. Instead, we are left with a series of those formulaic Chris Chibnall two-hander interludes we’ve come to expect.
It may be Doctor Who at its most simplistic, and for once everyone, including the Doctor, is very open about their motivations and actions, but we are still left with plenty of questions, some down to those poor editing choices, others to shortcuts in the script.
10. Where And When Was The TARDIS Supposed To Land?
The Doctor, not for the first time, has piloted the TARDIS to the wrong place and time. At first it’s not clear where they were supposed to be going. Dan’s pirate costume suggests the Doctor expected to be at sea rather than on the beach, but his outfit is deliberately out of place. Yaz just wants to have a laugh at his expense.
When the Sea Devils start attacking the village, Yaz says, "We’re never going to get that beach holiday, are we?", but that wasn’t what they were supposed to be doing anyway. Her point is that even when they arrive accidentally on a beach, they still can’t have a break.
Meeting Madame Ching, who conveniently introduces herself with all three names she is known by, they find out that she is looking for the lost treasure of the Flor De La Mar. It later transpires that the Doctor’s original plan was to find out what happened to the ship when it disappeared off the coast of Sumatra 274 years earlier in 1511. Quite why the TARDIS didn’t land on the ship in the first place isn’t clear, but presumably it has used the keystone to trace its location.