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032 – The Underwater Menace
Doctor Who serial
The Underwater Menace.jpg
The Second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon and Ben in disguise in the city of Atlantis
Cast
Guest stars
Production
Writer Geoffrey Orme
Director Julia Smith
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Production code GG
Series Season 4
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 3 episodes (1, 2, and 4)
Originally broadcast January 14–February 4, 1967
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Highlanders The Moonbase

The Underwater Menace is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from January 14, 1967 to February 4, 1967. The story constitutes Jamie McCrimmon's first journey with the Doctor as a traveling companion.

Contents

Plot

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Synopsis

The TARDIS lands on a seemingly deserted volcanic island. The 2nd Doctor, Ben ,Polly and new recruit Jamie are captured and taken in a lift down a very deep shaft that leads well below the seabed.

They are prisoners of the survivors of Atlantis. Their High Priest, Lolem, declares they are to be sacrificed to the great god Amdo, as they are about to be fed to a pool of sharks Professor Zaroff arrives. He is a renegade scientist who devised the technology from which the plankton food the Atlantians live on has been refined. The Doctor succeeds in persuading the Professor to hire him for his scientific staff. They are all in the lost city of Atlantis - but Zaroff has a plan to raise it from the sea.

Jamie and Ben are sent to work in a mine, while Polly is marked out by scientist Damon for conversion through surgery into a Fish Person, one of a band of genetically and surgically altered amphibians that farm the plankton for the city.

The Doctor interrupts the electricity supply, thereby postponing the conversion operation. Damon blames Zaroff. Zaroff is obsessed with raising Atlantis from the sea, planning to drain the sea away into the Earth’s core as a means to restore the land mass to the surface. This will generate vast amounts of steam which will crack the Earth’s core and destroy the planet. Zaroff tells the Doctor that this is his ultimate aim! Polly is freed by a servant girl named Ara, and the Doctor escapes from the laboratory.

Ben and Jamie have been placed to work in a mine where they meet two ship wrecked sailors similarly confined, Sean and Jacko. All four escape using a secret mine shaft which emerges in the temple of Amdo – were Polly is hiding. Ara protects them, providing food and hiding them from the guards.

The Doctor meets a priest named Ramo who is resistant to the influence of Zaroff on the Atlantean court, he warns him that Zaroff really means to destroy Atlantis. Ramo smuggles the Doctor before Thous, King of Atlantis, so that he can voice his warning. The King believes in Zaroff and hands the Doctor and Ramo over to him as prisoners.

The Doctor and Ramo are taken for execution at the Temple of Amdo where Lolem is given the opportunity to make another sacrifice. However, a ruse by Polly and the others convinces the priests that a statue of Amdo has found voice. The Doctor and Ramo are spirited away into a secret room behind the statue while Lolem believes his god has swallowed the offering. When Lolem reports this miracle at court Zaroff denounces it, insulting Amdo and sowing seeds of doubt in the mind of King Thous.

The Doctor decides to cause a revolution by creating a food shortage. He realises the plankton-based food will not last long before perishing, so decides to cause its farmers to stop supply. Sean and Jacko are sent to persuade the Fish People to revolt. They succeed in causing a production strike relatively easily.

The Doctor and his friends head off to tackle Zaroff himself. The Doctor disguises himself as a gypsy soothsayer at the Atlantean market and helps trigger a ruse to separate Zaroff from his guards. Zaroff is captured by the Doctor’s party and taken to the secret room behind the statue, where the crazed man boasts his plan is unstoppable. Having faked a seizure, Zaroff manages to get hold of a trident and stabs Ramo, who has been left to guard him. Ramo survives, but is badly wounded, while Zaroff escapes. The megalomaniac has found his loyal guards and returns to the royal court mob handed, where he confronts Thous. The King is aggrieved by the strike among the Fish People and has lost his faith in Zaroff to raise Atlantis from the sea. Zaroff responds by shooting Thous, while his guards take on the royal protectors in pitched combat. In Zaroff’s own words, “Nothing in the world can stop me now.”

With Zaroff gone, the Doctor finds Thouss bleeding but alive in the throne room and has him taken to the secret chamber for safety. He then determines to flood the lower portion of Atlantis so that the reactor and Zaroff’s laboratory are destroyed. Sean and Jacko are told to alert the Atlantean populace to flee to the higher levels, while the Doctor and Ben head to the generator station to put the plan in motion. Once there they cut through cables to render the reactor unstable. All over the lower portions of Atlantis the sea walls start to perish. Jamie and Polly are caught in the flow but succeed in swimming to safety. Sean, Jacko, Thous and a pentinent Damon are also fleeing the lower reaches of the city, though Lolem is missing, presumed dead.

Zaroff has now become totally mad, obsessed with his scheme to destroy the Earth. Ben and the Doctor confront him and, with the city in ruins, his guards and technicians all flee. With the water level in Zaroff’s lab rising, Ben succeeds in trapping the madman behind a grille to prevent him reaching the detonation controls. Zaroff drowns while the Doctor and Ben flee, unable to help him.

After a long slog they make it to the surface and are there reunited with Jamie and Polly. Knowing that some of the Atlanteans, including Thous, Sean and Jacko, will have survived, the quartet return to the TARDIS and the Doctor operates the controls. They are only just taking off, however, when an external force seizes the craft hurls them uncontrollably around the console room.

Continuity

The Doctor signs a note to Professor Zaroff as "Dr. W.", apparently suggesting a surname. (See further discussion of the Doctor's name here.)

It is often said that this story provides the first of three different explanations for the sinking of Atlantis in Doctor Who, the other two being in The Dæmons and The Time Monster. However, The Underwater Menace depicts the destruction of an already sunken civilisation in the late 20th century (as indicated by the reference to the Mexico City Olympics of 1968), The Dæmons has it as one unspecific claim by Azal as he rants, and The Time Monster, the third Doctor and Jo Grant's certainty notwithstanding, shows Kronos destroying a temple and no more.

As the serials The Power of the Daleks and The Highlanders are both missing, episode three of this serial is the earliest surviving episode to feature Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, as well as Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon.

Production

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(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 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"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 Doctor Who Under the Sea and The Fish People.

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.

The story is frequently criticized for its poor production values, which were due to a combination of last-minute production and an ambitious script. Location filming for episodes one and four took place at the Dorset quarry of Winspit, the same location used in the later story Destiny of the Daleks.

Doctor Who book
Book cover
The Underwater Menace
Series Target novelisations
Release number 129
Writer Nigel Robinson
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Alister Pearson
ISBN 0-426-20326-7
Release date 21 July 1988
Preceded by Vengeance on Varos
Followed by The Wheel in Space

Commercial releases

Episode three is the earliest surviving Patrick Troughton episode and was released on VHS in 1998, along with the documentary "The Missing Years" (see Lost in Time). The episode and documentary were later included on the Lost in Time DVD set; several brief surviving film clips were also included.

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.

In print

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

References

  1. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "{{subst:PAGENAME}}". Outpost Gallifrey. http://gallifreyone.com/episode.php?id=gg. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  2. ^ "{{subst:PAGENAME}}". Doctor Who Reference Guide. http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_2g.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  3. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2006-05-10). "{{subst:PAGENAME}}". A Brief History of Time Travel. http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/gg.html. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  

External links

Reviews

Target novelisation


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