Rounding out a trilogy for the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Mel, ‘The Silurian Candidate’ acts serves as a sequel to 1983’s futuristic sea base-under-siege story ‘Warriors of the Deep’. It also grants the returned Mel an opportunity to see the Doctor’s more manipulative nature, a tendency he developed after her departure in ‘Dragonfire’.
Set in 2085, the world still remains on a nuclear knife edge, with opposing Western and Eastern blocs. Broadening the situation we saw on television, we are introduced to the key figures, the Western Bloc’s Chairman Bart Falco, a boorish Australian, and the restrained Eastern Bloc Director Shen.
Also in the mix is Professor Ruth Drexler (Fiona Sheehan), a space scientist is on the trail of revelatory secrets which she believes offer hope for the whole planet. Add to this the Doctor, busy pursuing his own secretive agenda, much to the annoyance of his companions, and beneath the surface, a Silurian plot is coming to fruition.
Matthew J Elliot’s story is one of two parts; initially it is an action-filled exploration, complete with dinosaurs and robots, while later it morphs into a tense political stand-off which riffs on the film its title nods at. As ever, the Silurians are not presented as monsters, but rather the rightful owners of the Earth who have woken to find their home overrun by the plague of humanity.
Elliot creates a hilarious character in Falco, an arms dealer brought to power on a wave of protectionist public support who is both unprepared and unsuited to high office. Falco is brought to life vividly by Nicholas Asbury, and with a running gag about his hair, it is not difficult to fathom what inspired him.
As well as the political caricature, the script is peppered with plenty of humour as we have come to expect from Elliot, who penned both ‘Zaltys’ and ‘Maker of Demons’; there is an amusing reference to the TARDIS door being left open during ‘Warriors of the Deep’, as well as a clever moment which spins the traditional “Doctor Who?’ gag in a most unexpected fashion. We also thought the robotic Karlas (all played by Caitlin Thorburn) were a great invention with their deadpan and literal responses.
Among the main cast, Mel is emotionally put through the wringer and we adored the scene where she insists on staying behind as company for a dying man, rather than chasing on with the Doctor and Ace – the latter becoming increasingly distrustful of the Time Lord’s agenda. It is interesting to see the dynamics between the three TARDIS travellers develop and we cannot help but wonder if Mel and this more devious Doctor are on the first steps of a collision course.
In addition to era-perfect sound effects, monster man Nick Briggs does a superb job of recreating authentic 1970’s Silurian voices, and there are some interesting notes on this in the CD Extras. As well as both of the Silurian males, Briggs also provides the voice of Falco’s dubious sounding French right hand man too.
‘Warriors of the Deep’ might not have the best reputation, with terribly misjudged lighting and a panto-horse monster, but this sequel goes a long way to redeeming the story’s setup, as well as being a highly entertaining story in its own right.