The Underwater Menace

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032 – The Underwater Menace
Doctor Who serial
Underwater Menace.jpg
The Doctor, Jamie and Ben in disguise in the market of the lost city of Atlantis
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Geoffrey Orme
Director Julia Smith
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code GG
Series Season 4
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 2 episodes (1 and 4)
Date started 14 January 1967
Date ended 4 February 1967
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Highlanders The Moonbase

The Underwater Menace is the half-missing fifth serial of the fourth season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 14 January 1967 to 4 February 1967. The story constitutes Jamie McCrimmon's first journey with the Doctor as a travelling companion. Only two of the four episodes are held in the BBC archives; two remain missing. Episode 2 is the earliest surviving episode to feature both Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor and Frazer Hines as companion Jamie McCrimmon.

Plot[edit]

The Doctor and his companions are captured when they arrive on a deserted volcanic island by the survivors of Atlantis. Their high priest, Lolem decides to sacrifice them to the great god Amdo. They are saved just in time by Professor Zaroff, a renegade scientist from the surface world who has devised the technology the Atlanteans use to refine their food. Zaroff has a plan to raise Atlantis from the sea and aims to do it with the help of the Doctor and his companions. Polly is taken by Damon for conversion-surgery into a Fish Person, while Ben and Jamie are taken to work in a mine. When the Doctor finds out Zaroff's plans for Polly, he cuts off the power, which gives her time to escape from Damon with the help of a servant girl named Ara. Zaroff tells the Doctor that he plans to drain the sea so Atlantis could come back to the surface. The Doctor immediately realizes this will destroy Earth and escapes to find a solution and look for his companions. Meanwhile in the mine, Ben and Jamie leave with two shipwrecked sailors, Sean and Jacko, in search of an escape route. This leads them to Polly's hiding place, the temple of Amdo. The Doctor finds a priest named Ramo along the way and tells him Zaroff's plans. Ramo takes the Doctor to Thous, King of Atlantis, to convince him of the danger they're in. Thous does not believe the Doctor, and takes Zaroff's side. The Doctor and the priest are taken to be sacrificed to Lolem at the temple of Amdo. They are then saved by Polly faking the voice of the statue of Amdo and giving them a chance to escape. Although this convinces Lolem, Zaroff remains suspicious and is determined to find them. The Doctor decides to cause a revolution and comes up with a plan to kidnap Zaroff and convince the Fish People to create a food-shortage. This succeeds with the help of the Doctor's companions, Sean and Jacko, and the priest Ramo. They take Zaroff to the temple of Amdo where Ramo and Polly are left as his guards. Zaroff then fakes a seizure, stabs Ramo, and takes Polly as a hostage. Ramo survives and goes to warn the Doctor, which gives Jamie, Sean, and Jacko the chance to rescue Polly. Zaroff is able to escape and goes straight to Thous. Thous begins to worry about the strike amongst the Fish People and realizes Zaroff is mad. He immediately orders him to stop his plans, but this angers Zaroff, who kills Thous and his royal protectors. With Zaroff out of sight, the Doctor finds Thous bleeding but alive and takes him to the temple of Amdo for safety. He makes a plan that could stop Zaroff's plans which consists of sinking Atlantis even further so the reactor and Zaroff's laboratory could be destroyed. The Doctor and Ben cause a radiation leak to put their plan in action while Sean and Jacko go and warn the Atlantians to get to higher level. The walls of Atlantis start to crumble but Polly and Jamie are able to find a way out to the surface of the island that ends up working for them. When the Doctor and Ben find Zaroff, he is determined to not let anything stop him, even the flooding. They are able to trick Zaroff and lock him out of his laboratory just in time but he won't give up which results in his death by drowning. The Doctor and Ben make their way towards the surface of the island where they reunite with Jamie and Polly. Knowing many will have survived the crisis, the Doctor and his companions flee in the TARDIS.

Production[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
Archive
"Episode 1" 14 January 1967 (1967-01-14) 24:18 8.3 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode 2" 21 January 1967 (1967-01-21) 25:00 7.5 16mm t/r
"Episode 3" 28 January 1967 (1967-01-28) 24:09 7.1 16mm t/r
"Episode 4" 4 February 1967 (1967-02-04) 23:20 7.0 Only stills and/or fragments exist
[1][2][3]

Working titles for this story include Under the Sea, Atlanta and The Fish People.[4] The history of this script is particularly troubled. After its commission, it was dropped from the production schedule, partly because of concerns that it would require a higher budget than was available. A new script by William Emms, "The Imps", was commissioned to replace it; Emms, however, subsequently fell ill. When it was realized that it was unlikely that Emms would be able to complete changes to the script, which was due to begin shooting in a month, the original script, now titled "The Underwater Menace", was brought back into the schedule. A further complication arose because Frazer Hines was brought on as a regular member of the cast barely a month before the serial was due to start production, and his character, Jamie, had to be worked into the script. Because of all of these problems, the individual episodes were recorded just a week before they were due to be broadcast. Recordings took place at Riverside studios in Hammersmith.[5]

In December 2011, the BBC announced that Episode 2, previously missing, had been discovered among material bought by former TV engineer Terry Burnett with only cuts from Australian censors missing. The missing frames are still held by the National Archives of Australia, and once re-incorporated make the episode complete for the first time since the master tape was wiped in the 1970s.[6][7]

Actor Patrick Troughton was reputedly particularly unhappy about the production. He is reported to have described the show as having "ridiculous costumes and make-up of the fish people". Producer Innes Lloyd appeared to concur, admitting "it did look like something from a '50s American 'B' movie".[8]

Cast notes[edit]

Colin Jeavons later appeared in the Doctor Who spin-off pilot K-9 and Company. Noel Johnson later played Sir Charles Grover in Invasion of the Dinosaurs. Peter Stephens had previously appeared in The Celestial Toymaker.

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

The Underwater Menace
Doctor Who The Underwater Menace.jpg
Author Nigel Robinson
Cover artist Alister Pearson
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
129
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
21 July 1988
ISBN 0-426-20326-7

A novelisation of this serial, written by Nigel Robinson, was published by Target Books in February 1988.

Home media[edit]

As with all missing episodes, off-air recordings of the soundtrack exist due to contemporary fan efforts. In February 2005, these were released on CD, accompanied by linking narration from Anneke Wills.[9] Episode three was released on VHS in 1998, along with the documentary "The Missing Years". They were later included on the Lost in Time DVD set; several brief surviving film clips were also included.

Episode 2, which was found in December 2011, was initially prepared for release on DVD in 2014.[10] After an extended period of uncertainty, the BBC confirmed a release date of 26 October 2015.[11] The two surviving episodes are supplemented by reconstructions of the missing two episodes, using restored audio and stills from the production.[12]

Reception[edit]

David Howe and Stephen Walker were unimpressed by the episode, stating that despite reasonable dialogue, effective sets and effects it was otherwise "very difficult to find anything good to say about this story, which is undoubtedly the weakest of the second Doctor's era, if not of the sixties as a whole."[13]

Reviewing the DVD release for Starburst, Paul Mount said the serial was "tacky, cheap and unsubtle" but partially redeemed by "a sterling performance from Patrick Troughton, rising way above often lamentable material".[14]

Ian McArdell received the story more positively in a review for Cultbox, praising Troughton's "wonderfully charismatic" performance and Joseph Furst's "genuinely scary" Zaroff. He did note however that the Fish People's costumes were "frankly bizarre" and "their floating ballet sequence from Episode 3, though ambitious, fails to achieve. "[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "The Underwater Menace". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  2. ^ "The Underwater Menace". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (10 May 2006). "The Underwater Menace". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  4. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/photonovels/underwater_menace/intro.shtml
  5. ^ http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2011-12-11/doctor-who-two-long-lost-episodes-uncovered
  6. ^ "Missing Episodes Recovered!". BBC. 11 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  7. ^ Plunkett, John (12 December 2011). "'Lost' Doctor Who episodes from 1960s returned to BBC". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Missing Doctor Who episodes discovered". BBC News. 12 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Doctor Who: The Underwater Menace (TV soundtrack)". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  10. ^ Foster, Chuck (3 May 2012). "DVD Update: Summer Schedule". Doctor Who News Page. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Underwater Menace to be released on DVD". Doctor Who News. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  12. ^ http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/doctor-who/news/a672044/doctor-who-fans-can-complete-their-collection-as-underwater-menace-hits-dvd/
  13. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/underwatermenace/detail.shtml
  14. ^ http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/dvd-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews/13443-doctor-who-the-underwater-menace
  15. ^ http://www.cultbox.co.uk/reviews/dvd-a-blu-ray/doctor-who-dvd-review-the-underwater-menace

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]