Number : Season 4, serial 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 episodes.
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 tries to be different.
What’s bad : Troubled production. Hastily rewritten – and filmed. Ridiculously dated costumes. Badly flawed. Jamie written in – at last moment.
Review With Spoilers : The Underwater Menace is the fifth serial 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 Zaroff’s plans – and attempts to stop him, with the help of an Atlantian priest.
Originally slated for production, The Underwater Menace was then dropped – due to budget concerns and was replaced with another different script, called The Imps
However, due to issues with the The Imps production. The Underwater Menace was hastily rescheduled and shot in a rush; only a week before final transmission. And boy! Does it show!
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 outset, which sadly is not executed – in a way to make this production postively memorable.
The now infamous dancing fish people, flying about on visible wires; whilst trying to simulate being underwater is laughable, even taking into account the natural forgiveable dating – after 50 years.
The Underwater Menace was one of Patrick Troughton’s least favourite episodes, citing the “ridiculous costumes and make-up of the fish people”. Producer Innes Lloyd; agreed, citing it as looking : “like something from a “50’s 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 warning to Who’s loftier ambitions, with little budget and time available – that it is sometimes best – to just not go there, sometimes. It is memorable – but not for intended reasons.
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