Saturday, 28 January 2017

147 The Underwater Menace: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Underwater Menace: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 28 January 1967
WRITER: Geoffrey Orme
DIRECTOR: Julia Smith
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 7.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Underwater Menace
TELESNAPS: The Underwater Menace: Episode Three

"Nothing in the world can stop me now!"

As the Doctor and Ramo are being sacrificed the statue of Ando speaks and while the priest's heads are bowed the Doctor and Ramo escape meeting Jamie, Ben, Polly, Jacko & Sean inside the tunnels behind the statue. The Doctor sends Jacko & Sean to get the fish people to strike: the food they collect rots within hours so this will quickly bring Atlantis to a halt. The Doctor and his companions kidnap Zaroff in the market place aided by yet more dressing up from Troughton. The Doctor, Jamie & Ben leave him guarded by Ramo & Polly but he kills Ramo and escapes, taking Polly hostage but she's rescued by Jamie and the others. Zaroff goes to see King Thous but they argue. Zaroff pulls a gun on Thous and shoots him while his guards slay those belonging to the King. Zaroff proclaims that

Nothing in the world can stop me now!

Much better than I remember it being now I'm watching a clear cleaned up version in the context of the episodes round it. Yes the Fish People, victims of a Kirby wire ballet sequence mid episode as they pass word of the strike round, are a bit rubbish with sequins plastered all over them like a four year old has designed them but they're not in the story much.

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Yet in amongst these there are a couple of very odd fish people lacking the make up we're familiar with from publicity photos, like those I saw in a Starlord annual as a child. One's wearing goggles and the other's got a full face mask on!

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A good example of needing to see the episode in context can be found at the start of the episode as Thous stares at Zaroff towards the end of their conversation:

ZAROFF: Have I not sworn to you that Atlantis shall rise again from the sea? Haven't I? Haven't I? What are you staring at?
THOUS: Nothing. Nothing at all.
On it's own, it just seems odd. But set it in the context of the Doctor's comments to Thous in the previous episode:
DOCTOR: Excellency, the Professor is a wonderful man.
THOUS: Wonderful?
DOCTOR: A worker of miracles.
THOUS: Indeed, you speak the truth.
DOCTOR: But, have you noticed his eyes lately?
DOCTOR: When he talks of his project, have you noticed his eyes? They light up like this!
THOUS: What does this mean?
DOCTOR: The Professor is as mad as a hatter.
THOUS: Mad? Zaroff?
DOCTOR: Completely. No answer. It's sad.
Thous has been watching Zaroff's eyes and has come to the conclusion that the Doctor is right, which then gets explicitly stated at the end of the episode
THOUS: Zaroff! Where have you been? We've been looking for you. The workers are in revolt.
ZAROFF: My guards will restore order.
THOUS: They are simple people. I'm sure they will
ZAROFF: Those who resist will be killed.
THOUS: Killed?
ZAROFF: I have no time to waste.
THOUS: Zaroff, you are subject to me in all matters. I will not have my people
ZAROFF: Your people? Your people? They are my people now. I hold their whole world in my power.
THOUS: The Doctor was right about you. I order your project stopped at this moment. Guards! Take Zaroff to the temple and hold him there.
ZAROFF: You're a fool. You're a fool! I'll send you to your beloved goddess Amdo to discuss the future of the universe with her.
THOUS: I demand that you
ZAROFF: You? You demand? You demand? Well since your, since your beloved goddess has developed such an enchanting appetite for people, it is only fitting that the great Thous should offer himself. No, no, I shall offer him.
Which takes us to the point where Zaroff's dived off the deep end and gone completely bonkers as his immortal line to close the episode shows!

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King Thous is played by Noel Johnson who I will almost guarantee is a name unknown to you. However he was famous as the voice of Dick Barton, special agent. He'll return as Charles Grover M.P. in Invasion of the Dinosaurs. He was Osbourne in some of the earliest television science fiction in the UK A for Andromeda and The Andromeda Breakthrough. He was in the Out of the Unknown episode Thirteen to Centaurus as General Short. This episode exists and can be found on the Out of the Unknown DVD Set. Johnson also appears in the Doomwatch episode The Logicians as Priestland.

Lolem, the high priest, is another contestant in the "campest character in Doctor Who" competition. He's played by Peter Stephens who was previously Cyril in The Celestial Toymaker. He's got an Out of the Unknown to his name too, playing Stephenson in Time in Advance, another existing episode on the DVD set.

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Catherine Howe, who plays servant girl Ara, was at 16 the youngest credited artist to appear in Doctor Who to date. There's been other stories with children in but none in a credited speaking role that I can think of. She left acting in the early 70s to pursue a career in folk music. Her only competitors for youngest credited actor I can think of are Sarah Prince, Karuna in Kinda, and Jasmine Breaks, the Girl in Rememberance of the Daleks, but I can't find ages for either of those performers.

Tony Handy, Zaroff's Guard, had also been in Out of the Unknown appearing as a technician in the missing third season episode Immortality Inc.

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IMDB has a credit on episode one for Bill Burridge as a Priest: he's not in episode 1 but he is in episode 3: Toby Hadoke identifies him as the executioner early in this episode during the DVD commentary for this episode. He'd previously been in The Savages as an Extra and would return as Mr Quill in Fury from the Deep, a Villager/Coven member in The Dæmons and a Draconian in in Frontier in Space. He's got Doomwatch to his name too as a man in Hear No Evil and Flood.

Underwater Menace 3 was found in the BBC Film & Video library during Ian Levine's initial visit in 1978 and was until 2011 the earliest existing Patrick Troughton episode, a record now supplanted by it's immediate predecessor.

I can remember watching episode this on it's video release, when it was part of the bonus material released with The Ice Warriors and being surprised by it having the familiar Hartnell era title sequence that's been with us since An Unearthly Child! As it's a Patrick Troughton episode I expected it to have the title sequence with his face which I was familiar with from the Krotons & the War Games. I'm not 100% sure but I think the first time I saw the DVD version, part of Doctor Who - Lost In Time, was when I watched it for the first version of this blog which was also the first time I saw the episode in the context of having listened to the surrounding audio episodes. Now one of those has been recovered too and we have telesnap reconstructions for the remaining two episodes which lift this one which I'd thought for a long time was probably the poorest of the four by some distance.

Sadly the next episode doesn't exist so it's back to a telesnap reconstruction for the final episode. Don't worry there's only a gap of two missing episodes before the next proper one on DVD.

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