Saturday, 25 February 2017

151 The Moonbase: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Moonbase: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 25 February 1967
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Morris Barry
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 8.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Moonbase
TELESNAPS: The Moonbase: Episode Three

"You will remain here. If you leave you will be converted like the others!"

One of the base staff draws a weapon on the Cybermen but is quickly gunned down. The Cybermen, like the Daleks before them, recognise the Doctor. The remaining men with the virus are taken to the Cyberman spacecraft where they are operated on to install a control device. Jamie is recovering in sickbay as Ben & Polly plan how to attack the Cybermen. The Cybermen bring the controlled humans back to the base and use them to control the Graviton, intending to use it to destroy all life on Earth. Polly, inspired by nail varnish remover, is brewing up a cocktail of solvents to dissolve the Cybermen's chest units. The Doctor discovers he can interrupt the Cybermen's control using the base's communication device and wonders why the Cybermen aren't controlling the Graviton: he concludes they have a weakness for gravity. Ben, Polly & Jamie load the cocktail into spray cans. They sneak into the control room and spray it on the Cybermen killing them as the Doctor breaks the Cybermen's control. Benoit goes out onto the surface to look for the missing crew members but is pursued by a Cyberman. Ben follows him outside and kills the Cybermen with more of the cocktail. They return to the base where something is spotted on the moon's surface: An army of Cybermen is approaching the base.

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This sounds and looks from the telesnaps like a cracking episode full of action and Cybermen!

The Cybermen are on screen for most of the episode and up close to the humans in the base, quickly dispatching Bob who tries to attack them in a manner similar to that of the soldier that rushes the Cybermen as they enter the control room in Tenth Planet episode 2.

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Bob might be the only member of the Moonbase crew to die in this story, although the eventual fate of the plague infected and controlled crew members is a little unclear. Interestingly the gun the Cyberman uses to kill Boob doesn't look like the one stored in it's chest unit which we saw being drawn at the end of the last episode!

The Cybermen return quickly to the theme of converting Humans that was previously aired in Tenth Planet:

CYBERMAN 1: You are known to us.
DOCTOR: And you to me.
CYBERMAN 1: Silence. Who is in command?
CYBERMAN 1: You will be needed.
HOBSON: What have you done with my men?
CYBERMAN 1: They will return.
HOBSON: They're not dead?
CYBERMAN 1: No. They are not dead. They are altered.
BEN: Altered? What have you done to them?
CYBERMAN 1: They are now controlled.
HOBSON: If you do anything to my
CYBERMAN 1: You will do nothing.
CYBERMAN 2: This one has not received neurotrope X. Stand back.
POLLY: Please, leave him alone. His head is hurt. He's had an accident.
CYBERMAN 2: His head? Then he would be of no value. The others are ready for conversion.
CYBERMAN 1: You will now take us to the control centre.
HOBSON: I'll be damned if.... It's through here.
CYBERMAN 2: You will remain here. If you leave you will be converted like the others.
BEN: I don't like that word converted.
We get plenty of opportunity to hear the new Cybermen voices provided by regular Dalek voice artist Peter Hawkins, who also contributed Cyber vopices in the later episodes of The Tenth Planet. For my money the earlier sing song, sampled, voices are better than slightly indistinct electronic drone here which can sometimes make their speech hard to follow. I've never particularly liked it as far back as when I first heard it when Tomb of the Cybermen was recovered and rush released on Video.

Their voices maybe different but their attitude towards non Cyberman life hasn't:

CYBERMAN 1: Silence. We are Cybermen. You will listen.
BENOIT: But you were all killed!
CYBERMAN 1: We are going to take over the Gravitron and use it to destroy the surface of the Earth by changing the weather.
DOCTOR: But that will kill everybody on the Earth.
HOBSON: You're supposed to be so advanced. Here you are taking your revenge like, like children.
CYBERMAN 1: Revenge? What is that?
HOBSON: A feeling people have when
CYBERMAN 1: Feelings? Feelings? Yes, we know of this weakness of yours. We are fortunate. We do not posses feelings.
BENOIT: Then why are you here?
CYBERMAN 1: To eliminate all dangers.
HOBSON: But you'll kill every living thing on the Earth.
CYBERMAN 1: Yes. All dangers will be eliminated.
BENOIT: Have you no mercy?
CYBERMAN 1: It is unnecessary. Keep watch on them.
One truly dire bit of dialogue from the Cybermen as they seem to boast in their own cleverness:
CYBERMAN 3: Operational system four complete. Entry to base now completed.
HOBSON: Entry? How did you get in?
CYBERMAN 1: It was very simple. Only stupid Earth brains like yours would have been fooled.
HOBSON: Go on.
CYBERMAN 1: Since we couldn't approach direct, we came up under the surface and cut our way in through your store room, contaminating your food supply on the way. A simple hole, that's all.
HOBSON: A hole! That explains those sudden air pressure drops we've been recording.
CYBERMAN 1: Clever. Clever. Clever.
Their previous weakness for radiation is recalled, along with a decent reason why it can't be exploited here together with a sensible line of reasoning for the attack they do use.
BEN: Yeah, those Cybermen have got us all worried, mate. We've see them in action before.
POLLY: They must have some weakness.
BEN: They have, don't you remember? They can't stand radiation.
POLLY: But where do we find that here?
BEN: There's the Gravitron power pack but that's thermonuclear. No one can get near it once its going.
POLLY: Why not?
BEN: Well because Duchess, the temperature inside is about four million degrees, that's all.
JAMIE: Well, in my day, they used to sprinkle witches with holy water.
BEN: Fat lot of use that would be on them.
POLLY: Sprinkle. Holy Water. Ben?
BEN: Yeah?
POLLY: What are the Cybermen covered in?
BEN: As far as I know, their suit is a metal of some sort.
POLLY: Oh. What about that thing on their chests? You know, the part which replaces their heart and lungs.
BEN: Some kind of plastic, I think.
POLLY: I thought so. You see, it's simple. Nail varnish remover dissolves nail varnish. Nail varnish is a plastic. So we do what Jamie says. We sprinkle them, see?
The program then takes an opportunity to get some science in:
POLLY: What is nail varnish remover?
BEN: It's a sort of thinner, something like acetone I think.
POLLY: Acetone, of course. Great, we've got some of that. Now, keep your fingers crossed.
(Polly drops some plastic into the acetone and watches it dissolve.)
POLLY: It's works!
BEN: But I still don't know what you're on about.
POLLY: If we can sprinkle some of that on their chest units, it might help to soften them.
BEN: I get it! You mean it'll clobber their controls or something.
POLLY: Yes, that's it.
BEN: Yeah, but how do we know that acetone will dissolve their sort of plastic?
POLLY: I hadn't thought of that.
BEN: Just a moment though, if we make up a mixture.
POLLY: Of all the solvents.
BEN: What have we got?
POLLY: Benzene, ether, alcohol.
BEN: We brew a right old cocktail.
POLLY: Yes. Wait a minute, how are we going to throw it at them?
BEN: Well, in bottles, I suppose. Now just a tick though. I've got a better idea.
The spray bottle used in the episode do look worryingly plastic, like the sort you use to spray plants with, in the telesnaps which might have been part of the reason that Gerry Davis has the fluid loaded into fire extinguishers in the novelization.

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The eventual results are very effective and gory though with foam spurting out of the damaged Cybermen's chests. I'd love to be able to see that sequence!

Ben doesn't come out of this exchange in preparation for the attack very well. First he's not keen on Jamie's involvement, ostensibly due to his recent recovery from, injury but more likely because he sees him as a threat to his relationship with Polly!

BEN: So, get it? This bottle holds the stuff that puts the fire out and this cylinder pushes gas into the bottle so that stuff squirts out here. Now, all we've got to do is to undo it. Phoar. Empty it and fill it with Polly cocktail.
POLLY: I've got it all ready here.
BEN: Good. What did you put in it?
POLLY: Let's think. Benzene, ether, alcohol, acetone and epoxy-propane.
BEN: Blimey, one of them should do it. Now, we'll need another one of these.
JAMIE: Right, I'll get it.
BEN: No, you stay where you are, Jamie.
POLLY: Jamie, you're not well enough.
JAMIE: It takes more than a wee crack on the head to keep a McCrimmon down.
BEN: Look mate, we don't want you cracking up on us. I'm sure Polly's very impressed.
JAMIE: Look, I said I was better. Would you like me to prove it to you?
BEN: Any time, mate.
Ben is then dead against Polly taking part as well. Did he intend to attack the Cybermen by himself? Typically sexist attitude of the time Ben comes from or is he genuinely protective to Polly?
POLLY: Look, come on. Haven't we got enough trouble without you two fighting each other?
JAMIE: I go.
BEN: Oh well, come on then. Not you, Polly. This is men's work.
Polly however is having none of it!
BEN: Polly. I thought that I told you to stay behind.
POLLY: I'm coming with you.
JAMIE: You'll maybe get hurt. Now go back.
POLLY: I'm coming with you and that's flat! You still need someone to look after you
JAMIE: I don't want
BEN: There's no time for arguments. If you're coming, come on.
BEN: Now look, we've only got one chance. When I open the door, drop down as low as you can, aim this things at their chests and squirt like mad. Right?
JAMIE: Right.
BEN: Now get ready.
But as if the weakness in the plastic in the chest units isn't enough they get another as the Doctor reasons why they're using humans in the Gravitron control room instead of taking control in person:
CYBERMAN 1: What is happening?
CYBERMAN 2: There is loss of control.
DOCTOR: Thought so. Sonic control. That should be easy.
(He resets the dials.)
DOCTOR: Funny. Funny. Go to all that trouble to make the men do the work. Why? Do it themselves, easy. They're using the men as tools. Why? Don't know. Yes, I do though. There must be something in here they don't like. Pressure? Electricity? Radiation? Maybe. Gravity! Now there's a thought. Gravity. Oh, yes. Gravity.
So that's radiation, solvents and gravity. The Cybermen are starting to look VERY vulnerable.

The sequence above seems to be showing the Doctor thinking to himself as he works out what's going on, something we don't see too often in Doctor Who being let into the head of the Doctor. There's a similar sequence post regeneration in Power of the Daleks episode 1 as the Doctor regains control of his body.

Although the episode is missing from the BBC archives, a film can for it (sadly empty of film) was found in New Zealand. Several other empty film cans have been found over the years in odd places and in one case the film that was in it (Dalek Masterplan 2: The Day of Armageddon) turned up years later. So I live in hope that somewhere in New Zealand someone is hoarding a copy of this episode as I'd love to have this one back, it sounds great on audio. I'd love to see Ben, Jamie and Polly attacking the Cybermen. Easily in my top ten individual episodes of Doctor Who I'd most like back!

This episode, The Moonbase episode Three, brings to mind the BBC science fiction series Moonbase 3 developed by Doctor Who's producer & script editor team of Barry Letts & Terrance Dicks during the 1970s. Several people, both in front and behind the camera, are involved in both series as you've frequently seen when I go through credits for actors, writers and directors on Doctor Who. I own a copy of the Moonbase 3 DVD but don't think I've ever got further than the first episode, and that's saying something because I've seen the Sensorites 4 times!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

150 The Moonbase: Episode Two

EPISODE: The Moonbase: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 February 1967
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Morris Barry
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 8.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Moonbase
TELESNAPS: The Moonbase: Episode Two

" There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought!"

Welcome to the 150th episode of Doctor Who!

Polly enters and sees the Cyberman leaving. She screams which summons the Doctor & Hobson. Hobson refuses to believe it's a Cyberman, he knows they were all killed when Mondas was destroyed. He gives the Doctor 24 hours too find the source of the infection. The Graviton keeps wandering off course and Hobson is called by his superiors. He wants to deactivate the Graviton to find the fault but his superiors won't let him. While the Doctor collects samples from the base Polly is knocked out by a Cyberman in the sickbay which ignores a terrified Jamie, who still believes he can see the Phantom Piper, and takes another crew member away. In control they detect another pressure drop in the base. The Graviton fault is traced to some damaged equipment on the surface: Jules & Franz are sent outside to fix it but are ambushed by Cybermen. Polly makes coffee for the base staff, one of whom is instantly taken ill. The Doctor deduces the virus is found in the sugar as only some of the crew are being taken ill. The Doctor then realises that the sickbay hasn't been searched: A Cyberman has been hiding in there on one of the beds and now stands revealed.

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Cracking episode that. We know the Cybermen are there but the base refuse to believe the story so the Cybermen then spend the whole episode popping up here and there abducting crew members. Yes the Cyberman hiding in Sickbay at the end is a tansy bit silly but .... I watched this episode late one night and Liz actually watched it with me. She thought it quite good but thought the start of the title looked like someone's bottom and that the cameraman was fixated on Jules & Franz's backsides as they climbed up through the airlock!

The episode does have one of the series all time greatest lines in it as The Doctor talks to Polly in sickbay:

HOBSON: I don't know who you are, what you are or where you come from. But you can get off the moon now.
BEN: Yeah, well that suits me fine. The sooner the better.
DOCTOR: No, Ben. We can't go yet.
BEN: Well, why not? They don't want us here.
DOCTOR: Because there is something evil here and we must stay.
HOBSON: Evil? Don't be daft.
DOCTOR: Evil is what I meant. There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything that we believe in. They must be fought. This disease, for instance. It isn't really a disease at all, but I can help you with it. You'll see. I'll find the cause for you.

Then there's the exchange with the oh so posh Controller Ringberg, voiced by Denis McCarthy who'd been a Doctor in Quatermass II: The Destroyers.

CONTROL: International Space Control.
R/T: Earth calling.
CONTROL: Earth calling Moon Weather Control. Stand by. Stand by for the controller.
R/T: This is Moonbase. Come in please.
CONTROL: We wish to speak to Mister Hobson.
HOBSON: Hobson speaking.
CONTROL: Stand by for the Controller.
HOBSON: Right. He's actually going to speak to us this time.
RINBERG: Controller Rinberg speaking. Is that you, Hobson?
HOBSON: Yes, Rinberg.
Very much looking down his nose at his underling here!
RINBERG: The directional fields are showing a progressive error. Reports have come in of wide-spread pressure fluctuations in Atlantic zone 6. You must get the gravitron back into balance.
HOBSON: We're trying to compensate by re-aligning the probe. We have an error in the servos.
RINBERG: Well, there's no sign of any improvement here. We've just had a report from Miami, Florida. Thirty minutes ago they were enjoying clear skies and a heat wave. Now Hurricane Lucy is right overhead.
BENOIT: There is only one thing to do.
HOBSON: What's that?
BENOIT: Shut it down.
HOBSON: What, switch the gravitron off?!
BENOIT: Yes, it's the only chance.
HOBSON: We can't do that, man. The collapse of the gravity would devastate half the globe. There'd be storms, whirlwinds, hurricanes.
RINBERG: I overheard your conversation. It's quite out of the question. You're not to shut down the gravitron under any circumstances, and that's an order. I think perhaps you don't appreciate how serious the situation already is.
HOBSON: I bet he gets a knighthood.
Superb aside from Hobson to his crew, demonstrating a clear them and us dimension to the relationship between the Moonbase crew and their senior management back on Earth.
RINBERG: We spent years in a general assembly negotiating methods of agreement between farmers and landowners and so on. Now the weather's out of control they're after our blood, and I must say I can't blame them. You've got to get that thing under control, quickly. Now please get on with it.
CONTROL: Earth control, over and out.
Not once does Rinberg enquire of the health of the ill men on the moonbase! All he cares about is it keeps operating.
HOBSON: Well, you're all in the picture. We've got trouble, bad trouble, we haven't got much time. We're going to run through every circuit, every field pattern, every damn nut and bolt on Charlie boy in there until he's running sweet and smooth. A full class A test, in fact. Now you all know what to do so let's get on with it.
The phrase "Charlie boy" always takes me right out the episode as I had a lecturer at University, Roy Edwards AKA Mr Roy, who used this turn of phrase. A brief bit of internet research reveals it, like many pieces of slang, has a quite derogatory origin!

Jamie was a last minute addition to the Tardis crew at the end of the Highlanders with subsequent scripts having to be amended to accommodate him usually with him steeling lines from one of Ben or Polly. Here he spends most of this episode asleep in sickbay. Is that to avoid having to invent new dialogue or has he appropriated Ben's role, who now has little to do in this episode, and that's the reason Polly watches over him. Have we acquired the phantom piper at the expense of loosing Ben hallucinating about Davy Jones?

Anyway the Cybermen are back and they've been redesigned: The lamp is shrunk so it now sits embodied in the Cyberman's forehead and used as a weapon to fire electric bolts that stun. With the lamp shrunk into the head the handles connecting it have shrunk accordingly. The mask is replaced by a faceplate keeping the same features as before. The chest unit has shrunk with the large dish like weapons now becoming a rod that slots into the bottom of the chest unit, but the chest unit still reflects the previous design by having a small dish embedded in the bottom of it. These are probably the most identifiable 60s version of the Cybermen appearing virtually unchanged in their next story and heavily modified in a third,

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The return of the Cybermen was greeted with some publicity including a famous photoshoot of the monsters queuing at a bus stop outside Ealing studios. You can see an example of it here. These photos were still be used many years later and I can remember seeing on in a feature in the 1982 Starlord annual now awol along with all my other annuals somewhere in my Mum's house!

Oddly enough this story also sees the return of Spacesuits to Doctor Who, something last seen in the Cybermen's first appearance, The Tenth Planet. The outfits used by the Moonbase crew here are nowhere near as good as those seen in the Tenth Planet. There does seem to have been a mix up with the suits: That's Jules and Franz in the airlock but whoever's to the rear, Franz I think, appears to be wearing the spacesuit for number 4, Doctor Evans!

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And as bad as the Moonbase spacesuits are they're better looking than the quilted ones used by the Tardis crew in the first episode.

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

149 The Moonbase: Episode One

EPISODE: The Moonbase: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 February 1967
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Morris Barry
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 8.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Moonbase
TELESNAPS: The Moonbase: Episode One

"It's you! The Phantom Piper!"

The Tardis lands on the moon. Something here has dragged it off course. The Time Travellers have fun in zero gravity until Jamie is knocked unconscious and rescued by two people from the nearby moonbase. The Moonbase has a Graviton which is used to control the weather on Earth: this affected the Tardis. One of it's operators is taken ill and rushed to sickbay where Jamie has been taken. The Doctor is initially mistaken as the station's relief Doctor but his medical skills can be put to use as the base's Doctor was the first affected. The base's commander Hobson speaks with Earth who aren't helpful and quarantine the base. Nills, his communications expert, is concerned because he feels they are being monitored. Base number 2 Benoit takes Polly to sickbay to see Jamie, but another member of the crew is taken ill. The Doctor goes to Sickbay with Ben to assess the situation and connects Jamie to the monitoring equipment. Doctor Evans is the worst of the crewmen affected by the virus which is leaving a pattern of glowing vein like lines on the skin. Ben is sent to the control room to see what's happening and be useful. He arrives as Hobson goes off duty, noting to Benoit that there have been sudden drops in the base's pressure. Benoit sends Ben to help Ralph in the stores. Ralph wonders if Ben is responsible for some split bags in the stores. While Ben fetches something for him Ralph disappears. In Sickbay Doctor Evans cries out and dies. The Doctor goes to find Hobson, already irate at Ralph's disappearance to break the bad news to him. Just before the Doctor returns Polly catches sight of something in the sickbay but it vanishes through a door before she can get a proper look. Hobson is angry when he discovers Evans' body gone and tells the Doctor to find it or get off the base. Jamie is hallucinating the Phantom Piper of clan Acrimony. The Doctor finds a fragment of silver cloth in sickbay and goes to look for more odd things. Jamie calls for water which Polly goes to fetch. While she is gone a tall silver figure enters sickbay: Jamie's Phantom Piper is in reality a Cyberman!

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Cracking stuff. Little hints right the way through of who it is causing the problems are finally revealed in the closing moments. Fresh from their successful debut in the Tenth Planet 18 episodes previously the Cybermen are back with a bit of a redesign. In fact the Cybermen are only the second monster in Doctor Who, after of course the Daleks, to make a return appearance!

The Moonbase is a reflection of popular culture at the time, the race to the moon being very much in progress with JFK's deadline of "by the end of this decade" closing in. This is the first Moonbase in Doctor Who: it won't be the last. In Seeds of Death one is controlling the T-Mat network while in Frontier in Space it's serving as a penal colony. David Tennant's tenth Doctor gets to visit the Moon in Smith & Jones, but he's in an abducted hospital building rather than a Moonbase then! Saturn's moon Titan also has a Moonbase in The Invisible Enemy. We'll also see Moonbases in several other sci-fi series including UFO (which you must see if you haven't), Moonbase 3 (or what Barry & Terrance did between seasons 10 & 11), Space: 1999 (just watch the first series, not the second), Star Fleet (which is fabulous) and Star Cops (which I love).

The moon itself controls the tides on the Earth which in turn have an influence on the weather so you can see how a gravity device on the moon *might* be used to control the weather: another example of the "anchored in reality" science that Kit Pedler has brought to Doctor Who.

When the surviving orphaned episodes of Doctor Who were released on DVD as part of Doctor Who - Lost In Time, The Moonbase was one of two 4 part stories that has two parts missing and two existing: the other was the Crusade: subsequently The Underwater Menace was added to the category of 2 episodes existing, 2 episodes missing. The surviving episodes of The Crusade and The Moonbase were presented with audio recordings of the the missing episodes included with them.

Subsequent to Lost in Time both The Underwater Menace and The Moonbase have been released on DVD, with the missing episodes reconstructed using the soundtrack against either telesnaps or animation. However there's never even been the remotest hint that the Crusade might be released in this manner.

When The Moonbase DVD came out it's missing episodes, including this one, were reconstructed with animations. I have nothing against the animations as such, and indeed the Moonbase ones aren't too bad, but feel this technique should have been saved for stories where no telesnaps are known to exist, like The Reign of Terror and The Invasion. For the other stories that are 50% or more complete, and that's The Crusade, The Tenth Planet, Underwater Menace, The Moonbase, The Ice Warriors and Web of Fear, I feel a telesnap reconstruction is more appropriate as it brings us a step closer to the original episodes. I was pleased Tenth Planet's DVD release included it's VHS telesnap recon and delighted that the sadly missing Web of Fear episode 3 is represented by a good reconstruction. Underwater Menace's reconstruction is a little simplified, effectively just a slideshow in order of the frames where more advanced techniques are possible: repeating frames, zooming in and even using stills from other episodes to represent the action as well as dropping in any surviving footage.

Before the DVD for this story was released I had my one and only go at making a telesnap reconstruction for the missing episodes of this story: Telesnaps are available for this story on the BBC website, together with brief scene descriptions and scene timings are available on the CD. From these last two I was able to work out how many telesnaps for each scene and thus how long each telesnap should be on the screen for. I downloaded the telesnaps, put them into Powerpoint, set timings for each slide and voilà: An amateur reconstruction of episode 1 of the Moonbase! Watching it back now I could make some adjustments to the timings within the scenes but overall it's not a bad attempt and has enhanced my viewing of this episode. I had several friends from the TMUK Forum in to watch this episode with me but unfortunately I didn't write down anything they said. I do recall that Ralph Burns claimed that this is his favourite episode ending ever!

The episode is considerably improved for the use of two of my favourite stock music composers: Eric Siday's Musique Electronique: Anaesthesia plays as the Tardis crew walk out onto the moon while the Cyberman's reveal at the end of the episode is announced with Martin Slavin's Space Adventure, something of a theme for the Cybermen as it was also used for their initial appearance in Tenth Planet part 1.

There's a large supporting cast for this story: fortunately most of them are easy to identify as they're wearing name badges, which each has a number on it. Base Commander Hobson is number 1 and he's played by Patrick Barr. He's got a long career in television and films, starting at a very young age. but the only other thing I think I've seen him in is the James Bond film Octopussy where he plays the British Ambassador.

1 Hobson 2 Benoit

Second in command, number 2 Roger Benoit, is played by André Maranne, British TV's default Frenchman. I've seen him in Fawlty Towers as André in Gourmet Night, the superb Yes Minister Christmas special, Party Games, as Maurice, the European Commissioner. That gets an airing every Christmas in our house. He was also in A Very Peculiar Practice, which features a number of Who alumni including the Fifth Doctor and one of the Second Doctor's sons, as a Saul Sieberman in the series 2 episode Art and Illusion. His most famous role is probably a film where he appears as Sgt. François Chevalier, a recurring role in the Pink Panther films. He too has a Bond to his name as SPECTRE Number 10 in Thunderball and appears in the British comedy film Morons from Outer Space.

Number 3 Nils Jensen is played by Michael Wolf. He appears as Van Muller in the Out of the Unknown second series episode The Prophet. Sadly missing from the archives the black robots from this episode were repainted white and used in the Doctor Who story The Mind Robber.

3 Nils Evans

The man with the most prominent Doctor Who form on his CV in the cast is Alan Rowe who plays Dr. Evans, who looks to be numbered 4, and provides the voice of Space Control. He returns in The Time Warrior as Edward of Wessex, Horror of Fang Rock as Skinsdale and Full Circle as Decider Garif. His IMDB entry shows he was a much in demand actor, though I confess Doctor Who is the only thing I've seen him in. He was the partner of actor Geoffrey Bayldon who speaks about Rowe and their relationship during Who's Round #117.

John Rolfe plays scientist number 6 Sam Becket, not to be confused with the Quantum Leap character. He'd already been in The War Machines as the Captain and would return in The Green Death as Fell. He's in the Out of the Unknown surviving fourth season episode This Body Is Mine as Rawlinson, which you can see on the Out of the Unknown DVD Set, the Survivors episode Manhunt as Summers and Blake's 7: Project Avalon as Terloc.

Sam 15 Stacy

Rather overacting in the back of a scene is Arnold Chazen as Scientist number 15 John Stacey. He's in Spearhead from Space episode 4 as an Auton VIP and is the father of actress Debbie Chazen who appeared in the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas special Voyage of the Dammed as Foon Van Hoff.

Also lurking in the back of scenes is Edward Phillips as Scientist number 7 Bob Anders who'd been in The Massacre episode 3: Priest of Death as an uncredited Parisian Man.

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Barry Ashton plays Scientist Franz Schultz, number 13. He'll be back for The Time Monster where he plays Proctor and Frontier in Space where he plays Kemp. He's got a surviving Out of the Unknown episode to his name, appearing as Frank in the Counterfeit Man and two episodes of Doomwatch as an uncredited Man in You Killed Toby Wren and The Inquest.

Playing Scientist Jules Faure, number 10, is Victor Pemberton in his first Doctor Who job. He's the first person to appear in front of the screen and contribute to the creation of the program as he'll return to script edit Tomb of the Cybermen, while regular script editor Peter Bryant has his trial run as producer, and then writes Fury from the Deep.

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Scientist number 8 Charlie Wise is played by Robin Scott who will return in The War Games: Episode Seven as an uncredited Resistance Man.

The first scientist to be seen to collapse is Jim Elliot, number 5, played by Ron Pinnell who appears to have spent most of his career acting in Australia.

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Mark Heath as Scientist Ralph Adebayo, who's shown as being number 14 in the DVD's photo gallery. It's another prominent role for a black actor in the program this season following Elroy Josephs as Jamaica in the Smugglers, Earl Cameron as Glynn Williams in The Tenth Planet and Paul Anil as Jacko in The Underwater Menace.

I have managed to spot Alan Wells as Scientist number 8 Joe Benson in the control room:

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This publicity photo shows at least one of the unaccounted for crew members, Number 11 is a Canadian whose name badge I can't read! M'learned friends at Roobarb's Forum assure me is Derek Calder's Scientist Pete Baker. He returns in The War Games as as an Alien Technician / British Soldier in episode 7 and a Time Lord Technician in episode 10.

That leaves just Leon Maybank as Scientist number 12 Ted Braun: he returns as a UNIT Male Operator in Day of the Daleks but I haven't managed to identify him here.

So to recap this is who each of the crewmembers are and their number!

1 T. Hobson Patrick Barr
2 Roget Benoit André Maranne
3 Nils Jensen Michael Wolf
4 Dr. G Evans Alan Rowe
5 Jim Elliot Ron Pinnell
6 Sam Becket John Rolfe
7 Bob Anders Edward Phillips
8 Charlie Wise Robin Scott
9 Joe Benson Alan Wells
10 Jules Faure Victor Pemberton
11 Peter Baker Derek Calder
12 Ted Braun Leon Maybank
13 Franz Schultz Barry Ashton
14 Ralph Adebayo Mark Heath
15 John Stacey Arnold Chazen

Saturday, 4 February 2017

148 The Underwater Menace: Episode Four

EPISODE: The Underwater Menace: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 04 February 1967
WRITER: Geoffrey Orme
DIRECTOR: Julia Smith
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Underwater Menace
TELESNAPS: The Underwater Menace: Episode Four

"To raise Atlantis from the sea was only the dream of a madman after all."

The Doctor & Ben find the wounded Thous and remove him to the tunnels where he gets Sean & Jacko to take him to the surface. They go to find Polly & Jamie who've gone to Zaroff's laboratory seeking them. Ben & the doctor bluff their way past the guards and sabotage the generators. Polly & Jamie are lost in the tunnels when they notice the walls start crack letting the sea water in, which floods the tunnel emerging through the statue in the temple. Damon finds Thous, Sean & Jacko in the tunnels and leads them to safety up the shaft onto the mountainside where refugees are gathering. Water floods Zaroff's control chamber separating Zaroff from the controls preventing him from activating the mechanism to lift Atlantis. Ben & The Doctor are forced to leave him and escape to the surface where they find Jamie & Polly who had feared them dead. The Tardis leaves, witnessed by Sean & Jacko, and the Doctor declares they are going to Mars. However the Tardis is shaken by an unknown force and is out of control.

It's a story about Atlantis: it should be pretty obvious it's going to end with it being destroyed and flooded. And that's just what happens here. A brief clip, excised by the Australian censor, of the destruction exists showing Zaroff's final moments as he sinks beneath the rising water.

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At least one other character's death occurs off screen:

THOUS: How is my poor country?
DAMON: The water has already flooded the lower parts of the city.
THOUS: The great enemy, which we held at bay for so many centuries, the ever-lasting nightmare is here at last.
DAMON: Rescue parties are being organised. All passages have been blocked except the main shaft. We're keeping that open till the last to give the stragglers a chance.
THOUS: What of Lolem the priest?
DAMON: Well, last seen he was going towards the temple to seek aid from Amdo.
THOUS: He is lost then.
In fact I get the impression writer Geoffrey Orme may have something against religion in general from what follows:
DAMON: Any sign of the Doctor?
ARA: No. He must have died saving us.
THOUS: We'll raise a stone to him in the temple.
DAMON: No. No more temples. It was temples and priests and superstition that made us follow Zaroff in the first place. When the water's found it's own level, the temple will be buried forever. We shall never return to it. But we will have enough left to build a new Atlantis, without gods and without fish people.
THOUS: Yes. That shall be his memorial.
So we see that some Atlanteans escape to the surface, and you have to assume that the fish people survive down there in the water. Woe betide them if they ever find a Sea Devil nest!

Of course this isn't the first time this Atlantis has been flooded/sunk and you have to wonder how it got down there. For an explanation see The Daemons or The Time Monster. But not both! As I said earlier, if they're so dependant on the fish people how did they survive for so long down there? And if they've got the shaft which they use to escape in this episode, why haven't they left the city and returned to the surface before? All very odd, plot holes you could drive a submarine through. There's contemporary evidence that the script wasn't quite up to scratch and had been dropped as Patrick Troughton's second story, replaced by the Highlanders, and only pressed into service when another story by Galaxy Four author William Emms fell through when he was taken ill.

But the telesnaps show some terrific imagery in this episode as water pours through the mouth and nose of the giant face of Amdo in the temple flooding the set:

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You get the feeling that the disaster aspect of this episode would look rather good on screen!

The telesnaps also show a number of items we'll recognise. Prominent amongst them is the prop referred to as The Rel Counter from it's appearance in the Dalek Invasion of Earth movie. However either side of it here are two panels that would seem to be similar to those seen in earlier episodes. We'll get a clearer look at these two in a later story.

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In fact this episode is what put me onto the panels in the first place. I saw the panel with the dials, lights and lines peaking through barrier and though "I've seen that somewhere before....". Little did I know what it would lead to as it turns out these panels are EVERYWHERE in 1960s Doctor Who and many other pieces of sixties sci fi and fantasy!

For more on the panels and their appearances on television so far see this article.

It's not the only recognisable object here as the Power Box the Doctor snipped a cable in in episode 2 is revealed as the same power box he fiddled with in Power of the Daleks!

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Our heroes all survive the flood, reunited on location again at Winspit Quarry and Beach. For the scenes in episode 1 Anneke Wills' Polly was wearing her clothes from, the Highlanders. Now she's reduced to the much more skimpier costume of an Atlantean slave girl which isn't suitable wear for an English beach in Decemeber as she recalls on the DVD!

From the beach we return to the safety of the Tardis, allowing Jamie to do some of the typical new companion restating what the series is about stuff:

DOCTOR: Right. Off we go into the wide blue yonder, as someone was once heard to remark.
POLLY: Hooray.
BEN: Yeah, I'm not sorry to be out of that place. Phwoar, Jamie, you don't half stink of fish!
JAMIE: Oh, you want to take a wee sniff of yourself, Benjamin. He's not exactly a bonnie bunch of heather.
DOCTOR: You sound very happy, Jamie.
JAMIE: Oh aye, Doctor, I am now. You know I never thought I'd say this, but, well it's great.
POLLY: What is?
JAMIE: All this. I'll never know what makes it go, mind you, but, well, at least I feel safe in here. It's only the wee things outside that are, well, alarming.
DOCTOR: He's got a point there.
BEN: Yeah, you can say that again.
JAMIE: Is it a fact, though, Doctor? You can't exactly control the Tardis?
DOCTOR: Control it? Of course I can control it.
JAMIE: No, no, what I meant was, can you not exactly make it go where you mean it to?
DOCTOR: If I wanted to. It's just that I've never wanted to.
BEN: Oh, yeah, I bet.
DOCTOR: Right, just for that, I'll show you. Now, where shall we go? I know, let's go to Mars.

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POLLY: Doctor, what's happening?
BEN: Doctor, can't you do something?
DOCTOR: Do something? I seem to have done something. It's all your fault, wanting me to tamper with the steering. I'm very sorry, everybody, but I'm afraid the Tardis is out of control!

Neatly leading us into the next story, The Moonbase.

Underwater Menace 4 sounds a pretty good episode, I'd love to see it. For years I'd argued the story as a whole was much better than it's sole representative episode, the third one, a common problem with several Troughton survivors like Enemy of the World and, we believe, The Space Pirates. Reunited with the second episode the third is much better but both one and four sound good and look OK on the telesnaps especially the location filming and flooding disaster scenes. I'd happily see the remaining two episodes of this come back.

This is the only Doctor Who writing job for Geoffrey Orme and was the second and final directing assignment for Julia Smith. The cast were known to be unhappy with the script and the star, Patrick Troughton, didn't get on with the director so you can see why neither returned. Smith went on to great success in the BBC including helping to create Eastenders.

The Underwater Menace was novelised by Nigel Robinson in 1988. A CD of the soundtrack, with narration by Anneke Wills, was issued in 2005 and was reissued in 2012 as part of Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Volume Four(1967).

The Underwater Menace was finally released on DVD on 26th October 2015. Like episode 1, episode 4 is represented with a simple photosnap recon which is effectively an in order slide show of just the telesnaps taken for this story. Apparently it was done like this on cost grounds on direction from managers at BBC Worldwide. When those working on the project offered to make it a bit more fancy for free their offer was turned down. I do note they've sneaked a fade effect into the Tardis dematerialisation here! The DVD includes the surviving Australian censor clips, sadly not dropped into the episodes, and of course the recovered episode 2, the real selling point for this DVD. For the episode 4 commentary recordings of archive interviews conducted with Hugh David, the intended director for this serial, Innes Lloyd and Patrick Troughton were used. Barring any further returns it looks as if The Underwater Menace will be the final classic series Doctor Who release.