C032 The Underwater Menace

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The lost city of Atlantis, fish people, and a mad scientist who ISN’T The Doctor

The Second Doctor and his companions – Polly, Ben and Jamie – materialise on a volcanic island mere moments before, against all odds, they’re kidnapped.

They’re brought down far below the surface to what turns out to be the lost city of Atlantis. Once a great civilisation, or so we’re lead to believe, Atlantis has turned into a terrifying, cultist hellhole, where marooned sailors and undesirables are operated upon against their will, being human-centipede’d into so-called fish people and forced to harvest plankton for the regular Atlantean bipeds.

Working in his laboratory in the heart of Atlantis is Professor Zaroff, a crazy bonkers mad scientist who’s famous for being able to refine plankton… into food… or something. He claims to be able to raise Atlantis from the bottom of the ocean, but in reality his scientific aspirations are aimed in a different direction entirely. Instead, he intends to blow up the Earth!

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Here's what we think




Here's what you think

5 Responses to “C032 The Underwater Menace”

  1. Steven | @sgamer82

    A companion’s first TARDIS adventure is always something special, and The Underwater Menace gives us Jamie McCrimmon wondering too late just what he’s gotten himself into. He holds up well in his first adventure, working well with Ben and Polly as they help the Doctor defeat the mad scientist Professor Zaroff. I don’t think he truly starts to come into his own yet, as he seems mostly content to follow the lead of his fellow travellers, though I did enjoy his moment at the very end when he says he enjoyed the adventure (particularly the part where it’s over and they’re safe in the TARDIS).

    Zaroff is the true highlight of this serial as the hamtastic proto-Davros out to destroy the world just to prove he can. My favorite moment with him and the Doctor is when the Doctor calls Zaroff’s bluff about the project going on without him. Zaroff acts cool and in control until the Doctor makes the weakness of his ego clear, at which point he abandons all pretence. As purely human villains go, Zaroff is definitely one of the top contenders.

    I also particularly liked Ara the serving girl. While she seems far more determined to help the Doctor and company at first for what’s basically a moment’s kindness, she is a vital part of the effort against Zaroff, as the troupe’s guide in the Atlantean tunnels.

    On the other hand, I don’t feel much was done with the Fish People. It was an interesting concept but other than as a threat to Polly and a means to distract Zaroff’s efforts, they didn’t have much to do with the plot. Going by an interview with Anneke Wills that was at the end of the audiobook version I had, the cast felt much the same. Also, entertaining though it was, the “kidnap Zaroff” subplot in episode 3 mostly felt like stalling to fill an episode until the climax.

    On the whole, I’m rating this episode a 3.8. Its biggest weakness to me story-wise being the lack of use for the Fish People plot. There was also a religion vs science subplot that could’ve been handled better, given that at the end Damon blamed their religion for everything Zaroff’s science did.

    Finally, a few little trivia bits to round off this review:
    * The addition of Frazer Hines as Jamie was a last minute decision within the show. This is part of the reason for my comment that “he hasn’t come into his own” yet, and also why the next serial, “The Moonbase” will have Jamie doing what he does in the first episode or so.
    * Joseph Furst used his actual accent when performing as Professor Zaroff.
    * At the time she recorded the audiobook featuring her, Anneke Wills (Polly) lived in a cottage not far from where they did location shooting for The Underwater Menace. From the little interview with her in the audiobook, the locals recognized Wills but she had a hard time remembering just what she’d filmed there until she recorded the actual audio book.

  2. Trenton Bless (Wrestlemania489)

    Well, I may not have a mini review for this serial overall, I have a review of this serial on DVD!

    So, I recently purchased the DVD, and I must say, though the restoration of Episode 2 is stunningly beautiful, the recons for episodes 1 and 4 are pretty bad. They just have still images (they don’t use the censor clips at all.) for every scene, even the title sequence! From what I understand the episodes were supposed to be animated, “Moonbase” style. But that never happened becaue the animation studio suddenly went kaput and left BBC Worldwide stuck in a jam. At one point the release was cancelled entirely! But, back in December 2015 the DVD suddenly appeared in the UK and all was right in the world. Sadly, that triumph turned sour when we found out what they had done. They just mashed together what images they had and put the censor clips in as bonus features rather than in the recons. Soon, the DVD was to be released in America. It was originally going to happen in January. Then it was pushed back a month. And then it was pushed to May 24th, 2016. I recently visited my local shop (on the hunt for a different piece of merch that was recently released) when I saw it. It was discounted, and I thought “meh, why not. Gives me a good excuse to buy two DVDs”. I mean, I was happy that I finally had it, but I was disappointed by how bad the recons were.

    So, overall, I’d give the DVD a 2.0/5. It’s just so bad. It’s only saving graces are the bonus features, the restored version of episode 2, restored audio for the missing episodes (gonna use those to make my own recon. I could do it better myself, I bet!) and the cover art looks really cool. So yeah. If you haven’t already, I suggest avoiding the DVD release and buy Episode 2 on iTunes if you can. (Only available in the UK and Australia, sorry US listeners) It’s worth it to watch it in a higher quality, especially since it may be the last Classic Who release until more missing episodes are found.

    • Ponken

      Nice one, dude! And best of luck with making your own recon!!

      • Trenton Bless (Wrestlemania489)

        Thank you. Might try to sync the restored audio to the Loose Canon recons first to see how that works. If it doesn’t go well, I’ll go to Plan B

  3. Peter Zunitch

    The issue I find with this story is that I always forget most of it a week after I watch it. Unfortunately it’s been more than a few months since I’ve watched it last, so this review will be rather sparse. It bored me the first two times I watched it. The newer versions of the recons help a bit, but there are some definite missed opportunities. The fish people, while silly looking are lumped into one long scene that should have been broken up throughout the story. They were totally underutilized. They should have been the key to the story, not a breakaway from it. Likewise the religious subplot made it seem like a small bunch of fanatics who gained some power rather than a driving sociopolitical force that held true influence in the minds and hearts of the people.
    Oh and did anyone besides me think Zaroff was played by Gene Wilder for much of the story? That would have been awesome (not that this guy wasn’t great). The flooding chaos at the end was exciting, but I wish some of the earlier fluff would have been taken out to make room for more of it. This weeks most missed footage goes to the Zaroff death scene. 2.3


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