Saturday, 14 January 2017

145 The Underwater Menace: Episode One

EPISODE: The Underwater Menace: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 14 January 1967
WRITER: Geoffrey Orme
DIRECTOR: Julia Smith
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 8.3 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Underwater Menace
TELESNAPS: The Underwater Menace: Episode One

"You're not turning me into a fish!"

The Tardis crew land on a beach at the foot of a mountain and while exploring are captured one by one and taken to the city of Atlantis on the sea bed. They are to be sacrificed to the Goddess Ando. The Doctor discovers eminent scientist Professor Zaroff is there and gets a message to him, which causes him to free the Doctor and save his companions from death. Zaroff has devised a technology to harvest plankton for food and plans to raise Atlantis back to the surface. Ben & Jamie are to be sent to work in the mines, but Polly is to undergo the operation to be converted into a water breathing Fish Person, one of the creatures that harvest the plankton. The episode ends with Polly struggling against her bonds as the surgeons approach her with a needle to put her under anaesthetic.

vlcsnap-00022 x

It was almost inevitable that Doctor Who would do Atlantis at some point and here we get a post sinking Atlantis. The society here seems dependant on Zaroff's technology, which is a recent addition, so you wonder how the eked an existence out before that..... and what they're still doing down there if they have easy access to the surface, as shown by the lift from the caves that the Time Travellers are bought down in. Hmmm, that plot element is a little odd: why have the Tardis materialising on the beech, why not have it land directly in Atlantis and Atlantis be completely isolated from the surface world?

I do wonder if Geoffrey Orme has ever read the Fantastic Four. His Atlantis seems to be a cross between their Atlantis and the subterranean world of the Mole Man, also from the Fantastic Four. Zaroff would seem to be inspired by mad scientists everywhere, but the name especially bring to mind Professor Hans Zarkoff from the Flash Gordon films.

This episode is enlivened by some nice location work at the start: The Tardis landing site is Winspit Beach in Dorset, with the cave entrance filmed nearby as Winspit Quarry, latter a location for Destiny of the Daleks and the Blake's 7 episode Games. During recording the crew were based at The Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset. Many years later Anneke Wills, who plays Polly, held her 60th Birthday party in the same pub and was amazed to find she'd visited it many years before and their stay was commemorated by signed photos on the wall!

vlcsnap-00007 vlcsnap-00010

Polly manages to beat the Doctor by providing a date for when they've arrived:

DOCTOR: Yes, it's difficult to put a precise date on these people.
POLLY: I don't think it is.
DOCTOR: All right then, when?
POLLY: Oh, I'd say about 1970.
DOCTOR: Can you prove it?
BEN: Yeah, go on, prove it.
JAMIE: How d'you know, Polly?
BEN: Ah, she's been studying her crystal ball.
POLLY: Abracadabra.
DOCTOR: Oh, how interesting, yes. Hmm. It's Aztec. Fake of course.
BEN: Mexico Olympiad.
POLLY: When we first left Earth it hadn't happened yet.
BEN: No, that's right, it wasn't due till 1968.
POLLY: Right, so now is any time later than that.
The 1968 Olyympiad will later effect Doctor Who by taking the show off the air for two weeks between The Mind Robber episode 5 and The Invasion episode 1 to allow for coverage of the event.

There's a little nod, or rather a tip of the hat, to the show's current running joke as the Doctor arrives in Atlantis and is fed:

DOCTOR: This is good. This is very good. Mmmm. It's delicious. This is excellent. Sit down, sit down. This is ambrosia.
BEN: What's got into him?
POLLY: I don't know. I've never seen him go for food like this before. It's usually hats.
JAMIE: Better hurry or he'll scoff the lot.
After episode two of this story was recovered in 2011 the intention was to release the Underwater Menace with animations for episodes 1 & 4, as had been done for The Invasion and most of the other incomplete but existing stories. However problems with the animators meant this fell through, a major reason for the DVD being delayed so long. When the DVD project was resurrected in 2015 this episode was represented with a very simple telesnap reconstruction, effectively just an in order slide show with no zooming, repeated shots or use of screen captures from other episodes. The episode is accompanied by the second half of an interview with Michael Troughton, who has written a very good Biography of his father.

Another omission from the DVD reconstruction is a censor clip comprising a portion of the ending of this episode which I think represents one of the most sinister and scary things seen in Doctor Who:

DAMON: Don't be afraid, girl. Life is very beautiful under the sea. Come along. Seventy percent of the world's surface is under the oceans. You are looking at our food producing area. Without it, we couldn't survive.
POLLY: It's fantastic. What are those?
DAMON: Those are our farmers.
POLLY: I think it's splendid. All those people working under the sea to feed the others. But listen, how do they breathe?
DAMON: We give them plastic gills. Look.
DAMON: That surprises you, doesn't it?
POLLY: It's breathtaking. Oh, sorry. That wasn't meant to be a pun.
DAMON: No, not at all. No, I'm glad you're taking it like this. Some people get most upset when they find they're to have the operation.
POLLY: Operation?
FOREMAN: Well, of course. We couldn't send you out there without it. You'd drown.
POLLY: You're not turning me into a fish!
vlcsnap-00026 vlcsnap-00027
POLLY: Keep away!
DAMON: Bring her here. Don't be difficult, girl, it's quite painless. Lights.
POLLY: No! no!
DAMON: We're ready now.
POLLY: No! No! No! No! No! No!
DAMON: One tiny jab, and you'll know nothing more about it until it's all over.
Fortunately the clip is present elsewhere on the disc.

The recovery of episode 2 of this story means that this episode now brings to an end the longest run of missing Doctor Who episodes:

Tenth Planet 4
Power of the Daleks 1-6
Highlanders 1-4
Underwater Menace 1
That's a total of 12 consecutive missing episodes.

The next longest missing episodes run now is the 8 episodes from Fury from the Deep 1 - Wheel in Space 2 followed by a pair of 7s: all of Marco Polo and Galaxy 4 episode 4 to Dalek Masterplan 1. When I first wrote about Underwater Menace episode 3 I said:

No earlier Troughton episode has ever been found and the 13 episode gap between Tenth Planet 3 and this one is one of the longest standing without a complete episode being found within it. At 13 episodes it's also now the joint longest period in terms of episodes for which no episodes exist matching the 13 missing episodes between Web of Fear 1 and Wheel in Space 3 (the last 5 episodes of Web, all 6 of Fury from the Deep (11) and the first 2 of Wheel in Space(13)) .
Nice to see that gap shortened and, indeed, that second 13 episode gap significantly cut too!

The longest gaps at the start of the missing episode hunt were 30 episodes, between Faceless One 1 and Enemy of the World 3 (5 episodes of Faceless Ones, 7 of Evil of the Daleks (12), 4 of Tomb of the Cybermen (16), 6 of Abominable Snowmen (22), 6 of The Ice Warriors (28) and 2 of Enemy of the World (30)) closely followed by the 27 episodes between Time Meddler 2 and The Ark 1 (final 2 of the Time Meddler, 4 of Galaxy Four (6), 1 of Mission to the Unknown (7), 4 of the Myth Makers (11), 12 of the Dalek Masterplan (23) and 4 of the Massacre (27)) However a significant number of episodes have been discovered to plug some of those gaps.

No comments:

Post a Comment