There’s a curious, slow, sinking feeling of incompleteness to Legend of the Sea Devils that is hard to put one’s finger on.
With a running time of 47 minutes, it is much more in line with a ‘regular’ episode of Doctor Who than a ‘special’ as we have improbably come to expect of a holiday outing. It’s also a curiously ‘vacant’ story in terms of supporting cast. That’s down to the pestilence of the current moment, but Doctor Who stories have always had this as a creative constraint, and quite often been able to successfully route around this. In this case the absence it rather more keenly felt. Eve of the Daleks made this work, but a few lines of exposition in Legend of the Sea Devils only point to that vacancy. Then again Legend of the Sea Devils feels curiously incomplete and cobbled together–underrunning and only padded out to a fit length by all of the ‘relationship-crossplay’ which, while necessary, does tend to bring all of the other storytelling to an abrupt halt.
The cobbling also was seen in the story plotting, where in a couple of instances meant things happened only because they ‘had’ to happen, such as the giant-leap the Sea Devil took to get on its ship, or the Sea Devils emerging out of a transmat-induced fog. Cool, in it’s own way, but at odds with their history, and not the sort of expansion of their known qualities that were not only useful but enhancing. Village of the Angels accomplished this, but Legend of the Sea Devils did not. Shame really.
When the 1-minute ‘next time’ trailer generates nuch more buzz than the 45+minute that preceded it, there’s an issue–albeit an amiable one. The Sea Devils conceptually deserve better. Let’s hope it won’t be another 38 years before someone tries again. Images and caps for Legend of the Sea Devils are now online.