‘Release the Myrka!’ I remember watching this episode as a kid and being really excited about the Myrka. I can still access the thrill of seeing it smashing through the airlock door, head glimpsed through the torn metal. Obviously now, after years of hearing it be the butt of jokes, I can also see it’s a clumsily finished and ridiculous pantomime dinosaur. However, maybe I’m over-generous because of fond childhood memories, but I don’t think it’s any less credible than Erato, the Mara or the Skarasen. It definitely did the job for this kid.
I would add that this was made for kids not cynical adults, but I’m not entirely convinced under Saward’s stewardship that’s true. The Doctor is suddenly written as a hard man. ‘You’ll live,’ he sneers at an unconscious guard (whose uniform he then steals). Later, he holds the bridge at gunpoint: ‘Well gentlemen, it seems we have a problem,’ he announces, butchly. But then he throws away his gun as a gesture of goodwill, and with it apparently most of his authority. Minutes later, he’s sitting despondently as the military take control. And I don’t like the fact that, once again, strangers wander into the TARDIS and it’s used to prove the Doctor’s credentials because he hasn’t got the wit to do it himself.
This is good in parts. The scenes of the Doctor swimming through the base are impressive, the Sea Devil army is a neat touch, and Tegan and Turlough get a couple of moments each. Turlough’s started to develop a slightly heroic streak and is concerned about Tegan – it’s barely much to work with, but Strickson seizes on it. There’s a sense that this is essentially the last half of Earthshock (all the freighter traitor and Beryl peril bits) crammed into twice the number of episodes, and the dialogue again verges on the unspeakable: ‘We welcome the revival of our blood-related comrades’ surely has to be a dig at the way politicians speak.
Next episode: Warriors of the Deep – Part Three