4 out of 5
Directed by: Timothy Combe
Not every piece of the story ends up feeling all that necessary or important, but thankfully this is more of a case of there possibly needing to be more episodes to flesh that issue out, rather than sifting through 3 or 4 parts of filler.
Of course, there’s surely a leaner version of Doctor Who and the Silurians – in which Doc Pertwee, Liz (Caroline John) and the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) are called to a nuclear research station to investigate frequent power outages – as there’s definitely time spent on power struggles between the Brigadier and the lead scientist, and playing out the mystery of the outages, with both of these extensions then requiring the more action-packed later episodes to get rather compressed compressed – but our strong core cast and some smart ideas around which the serial is focused help to keep it interesting and fun along the way.
The Silurians – an ancient race which has been co-inhabiting the planet – turn out to be the source of troubles, and they’re having their own power struggles as, firstly, the non-Doctor and non-Liz humans have to come around to believing in their existence, and then, secondly, to listen to the Doc’s protestations to try talking to them before going in guns blazing. While the lizardy creatures don’t look so hot in the fully lit laboratory sets – no one’s even trying to blend that rubber mask into the body suit – they look pretty cool when in the shade of gloss of their caves, and Malcolm Hulke’s script rather impressively gives key Silurians actual personalities, and a sense of society, which is a big part of what kicks the episode up some extra notches in quality. Furthermore, the conflict that is mirrored on both sides – Silurians and humans, fussing over what to do with one another – is connected to an epilogue that confirms the sense of linearity and intelligence that has been better packaged, in comparison to earlier episodes, in Pertwee’s premiere episode and the last Troughton serial that preceded it.