The Underwater Menace – 1967 – S4 – E5/9

imageNumber : Season 4, episode 5 of 9.

Which One : Atlantis.

Cast : The Doctor : Patrick Troughton
Polly : Anneke Wills
Ben Jackson : Michael Craze
Jamie : Frazer Hines
Zaroff : Joseph Furst
Damon : Colin Jeavons
King Thous : Noel Johnson
Ramo : Tom Watson
Lolem : Peter Stephens
Damon’s Assistant : Gerald Taylor
Ara : Catherine Howe
Sean : P.G. Stephens
Jacko : Paul Anil
Nola : Roma Woodnutt
Overseer : Graham Ashley
Zaroff’s Guard : Tony Handy

Written By : Donald Orme

Produced By : Innes Lloyd

First UK Broadcast : 14 January – 4 February 1967.

Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.

Plot : The Doctor discovers the civilisation of Atlantis, allive and well underground with plans to re-emerge thanks to the help of the unhinged Professor Zaroff.

What’s good : Has some interesting ideas and visuals. It tried.

What’s bad : Troubled production. Hastily rewritten and filmed. Ridiculously dated costumes. Badly flawed. Jamie written in at last moment.

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Review With Spoilers : The Underwater Menace is the 5th episode of season 4 and new companion Jamie’s first full episode.

The Doctor, Polly, Ben and new addition Jamie; land on a volcanic island and re-discover the civilisation of Atlantis; alive and living underground.

They are planning to re-emerge into the world by draining the ocean into the Earth’s crust, with the help of Doctor Zaroff – a brilliant but deranged scientist. The Doctor learns of his plans and attempts to stop him, with the help of an Atlantian priest.

Originally slated, The Underwater Menace was then dropped from production due to budget concerns and was replaced with another different script, called The Imps
However, due to issues with the replacement script. The Underwater Menace was hastily retooled and shot in a rush – only a week before final transmission.

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“Your people? Your people? They are MY people now! I hold their whole world in my power!” Zaroff

It shows too, as the story is a complete mess. New companion Jamie had to be wedged into the story – last minute but gets very little meaningful dialogue or scenes.

At least The Underwater Menace displays grand ambitions from it’s setup, which sadly is not executed – in a way to make this production memorable; for the right reasons – that is.

The now infamous dancing fish people, flying about on visible wires whilst trying to simulate being underwater; are laughable, even taking into account the obvious dating – that affects all of classic Who.

The Underwater Menace was one of Patrick Troughton’s least favouritrle episodes, citing the “ridiculous costumes and make-up of the fish people”. Producer; Innes Lloyd agreed, citing it looking : “like something from a ’50s American ‘B’ movie”.

Even the central-core of the story, which pits the Doctor against a mad scientist; fails to inspire and Dr Zarrof himself comes off as overplayed and hammy.

The Underwater Menace would best serve as a reminder to Who’s loftier ambitions, with little budget to realise. It is memorable but not for intended reasons.

🔴⚪⚪⚪⚪ (1/5)

Old Doctor Who