Doctor Who Legend of the Sea Devils
Review by Paul Bowler.
Gets set for a swashbuckling adventure with Legend of the Sea Devils, written by show-runner Chris Chibnall and playwright Ella Road, and directed by newcomer Haolu Wang. The Sea Devils make their long awaited return in the modern era just in time for the penultimate story of the 13th Doctor’s era.This blockbusting Doctor Who Easter Special is an action packed adventure set on the high-seas in 19th century China. Its also something of a celebrity historical as the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her travelling companions Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) encounter a historically real-life character – the fearsome Pirate Queen Madam Ching (Crystal Yu)! However, the TARDIS teams visit to the 19th century quickly goes awry when a small costal village comes under threat from the Pirate Queen and the deep-sea menace of the Sea Devils she’s inadvertently unleashed on the world.
From the moment we learn the TARDIS has been sent off course to China there is an almost palpable sense of excitement in the air. Jodie Whittaker is quite simply marvellous in her role here as the 13th Doctor in this episode, and her bright and breezy incarnation sails through the dramatic beats of the story with ease as she confronts her old foes – the Sea Devils. I really like the dynamic between this TARDIS team, Mandip Gill really comes into her own in this story too, and John Bishop is a pure delight as Dan. The growing closeness between the Doctor and Yaz which became apparent in Eve of the Daleks (2022) is another narrative thread that has been carried over into Legend of the Sea Devils as well. This episode sees some major costume changes for the Time Lord and her companions, the Doctor’s costume get a slight revamp with a striking oriental style top, Yaz has a beautiful double wrap-around skirt and best of all Dan gets to dress up as a pirate!
Along with the regular cast the episode also features Crystal Yu as the legendary Pirate Queen Madame Ching. Yu gives a great performance as the tough-as-nails Pirate Queen, who is searching for a lost treasure. Madame Ching’s quest soon finds her encountering the Doctor and crossing swords with the Sea Devils alongside the Time Lord as the amphibians return from the ocean depths. The cast also includes Arthur Lee as Ji-Hun and Marlow Chan-Reeves as Ying Ki who each play key roles in the swash buckling shenanigans of Legend of the Sea Devils.
It has been 50 years since the Doctor first encountered the aquatic Sea Devils. Chris Chibnall and co-writer Ella Road have crafted a really fun and exciting return for them here. Many fans, myself included, have long hoped these classic monsters who first appeared in 1972’s The Sea Devils, the 3rd Doctor story written by Malcolm Hulke, would return at some point, and I’m happy to say they’ve certainly done them justice with Legend of the Sea Devils. These new look Sea Devils may have swapped their string vests for the garb of buccaneer Pirates, but they’ve still retained their iconic look and distinctive whispery voices.
The Sea Devils chief Marsissus is played by Craige Els (Karvanista in Doctor Who Flux), he’s brilliant as Marsissus, especially during his confrontations with the Doctor, and the seafaring Pirate action when the Sea Devils strike provide many spectacular sights to behold as this story unfolds!
Legend of the Sea Devils not only provides a fantastic showcase for the 13th Doctor and her friends, it’s also a triumph for the production team who have clearly gone all out to make this episode really special. The fact Legend of the Sea Devils was also filmed under COVID restrictions makes what’s been achieved all the more impressive. Everything from the fishing village to the massive galleon ship sets, exquisite costume designs, period detail, along with the terrific new Pirate Sea Devils, stunning visual effects and Haolu Wang’s stylish direction all combine to make Legend of the Sea Devils a throughly enjoyable and thrilling adventure.
This Easter Special works incredible well as a standalone adventure, with giant sea monsters, pirate ships, the oceans, sword-fights and an ancient coastal village! Its nice to see the main cast in one last regular adventure before the inevitable tumultuous machinations of a regeneration story, before Jodie Whittaker bows out with end of the 13th Doctor’s era in the Doctor Who BBC centenary Special that will air in the autumn of 2022.
Check out the first look at Doctor Who’s feature-length Centenary special!
About The Author
Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook