The Underwater Menace

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‘Nothing in the world can stop me now!’ Professor Zaroff

14 January – 4 February 1967

The Memory Cheats

This story was my Patrick Troughton choice in the run up to the 50th Anniversary so it is only just over a year ago that I last watched it. I didn’t have episode 2 back then but hoping to find it online this time. It is a shame the BBC have decided not to release it. From what I remember, the recon with Aneke Wills narration was quite good and there were quite a few stills.

The Time Space Visualiser

The first thing that strikes me as I settle to another reconstruction is that all those existing episodes prior to this we’re largely studio bound. The vast majority of these missing stories all have a lot of location filming. What a shame so much of it is lost. Episode One would be a great find.

Less than five minutes in and we are in a cage already. A guard enters with a trident and Ben says,’Polly, you speak foreign, go and talk to him’ Travel broadens the mind. Soon they are seated around a table and they are given a nice bowl of plankton and the Doctor goes into one! When The Doctor tells Polly plankton are animals she seems horrified at the thought of eating them. Is she a vegetarian?  Damon arrives and it is Colin Jeavons, the iconic 70s actor. You never see him anymore. He takes Zaroff the note signed by ‘Doctor W’. The second titular joke in as many stories.  A complaint about modern Who is that this joke is overused, but it is all fine!

So we come to episode 2. Finally, after twelve episodes, we get to see a complete 2nd Doctor episode. How strange is fandom, complaining that this episode was found! It may not be Tenth Planet 4 but I am quite excited. Handy wardrobe the Doctor finds to hide in while running around in episode 2. Have just realised it is Brian Coleman playing the High Priest. Who knew? The Doctor is in drag again. He really is a master of disguise. Though with the glasses he looks more like Roy Orbison. The travellers are in mortal danger once more, captured and about to be beheaded when Ben manages to find a PA system behind the statue and does an impression of the Atlantien god. Phew!

This story is far from awful. It has humour, (Women and children last!) genuine horror with Zaroff turning shipwreck victims, and almost Polly in to fish people and hints at referencing the cold war. This gives the story a rather grand feeling which is helped by what looks like some great location filming and an exploding water tank. What a shame they did not release it with the recovered episode and some animation.

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Unprovoked Angry Retort of the Week

Jamie asks Polly, ‘What radiation?’ She starts to explain and then snaps that it is too difficult to explain. Well I guess the shows remit to educate and entertain is out of the window.

Best Extra Award

The underwater swimming scene is fantastic. I think I may keep it on loop when we are not watching the television. However, the lady fanning herself with a leaf deserves an Oscar!

Cliche Counter

The Priest commands the Doctor and his friends cease their idle chatter. We’ll of course he does. I must use that line at school one day.  Is therea line in this whole story that is not a cliché?

Notable Firsts

The first of three trips to Atlantis in Doctor Who.

The first truly maniacal super villain – and he wants to rule the world! Actually he wants to destroy it. With a sink plunger! I don’t care if nobody likes Zaroff apart from me, he is hilarious.

Innuendo Bingo

Episode 1 15:55

Polly: The Doctor isn’t coming.

A nation sighs its relief.


Polly: You’re not turning me into a fish.

Surely too late to worry about that!

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The 500 Year Diary

20th March 1970 am

Getting very crowded in the TARDIS. Have three companions now!

Landed on an extinct volcanic island. We all went exploring and ended up being captured! We’re sent down in a lift where we lose consciousness – must try and employ my respiratory bypass system. So we’re under the sea and Polly finds a bracelet from the 1968 Mexico Olympics. We’re offered a diet of plankton which was rather delicious which leads me to believe that Professor Zaroff is here. Try to make contact with him via the priest Lolem, but he’s too keen to sacrifice all of us to take any notice. Instead pass the note to Ara… what a nice girl. Perhaps she could come aboard too? The note says ‘Vital secret will die with me. Dr W.’ Who? He’ll probably think.

He obviously gets the note as our sacrifice to sharks is stopped – this involved slowly tilting a board. My companions are sent to the labour controller and I have to admit to Zaroff that I have no secret. He sees the funny side and lets me live! Deduce we’re in Atlantis and Zaroff is going to raise it!

20th March 1970 pm

Did my usual tinkering. Managed to mess around with the electricity which probably saved Polly’s life.

Anyway, Zaroff explains that his real plan is to drain the water into the Earth’s core thus revealing Atlantis. I point out that this will destroy the planet, but Zaroff doesn’t seem that bothered. Not quite sure how he’s going to benefit from this as he’ll die too so who will know about it?

Escape from Zaroff’s lab and sneak off into the caves. I get Ara to distract Damon whilst I talk to the priest, Ramo. Convince him that Zaroff is up to no good. He takes me to the leader, Thous, who basically grasses us up to Zaroff!

20th March 1970 eve

Zaroff sends us off to the sharks again. Oh we’re to be beheaded first. Happily, the voice of their god, Amdo, booms out. But I knew that voice. It was Ben! Handy that there was a loudspeaker device. Anyway, we make our escape and make plans.

Get this Sean and Jacko to try and convince the fish people to stop making food whilst the rest of us capture Zaroff – this involved me dressing as a market trader, but no hat! We get hold of Zaroff, but he pulls the fake collapse trick, which we fall for! Whilst we’re checking in the lab, he stabs Ramo and takes Polly as a hostage. Perhaps not one of my best plans! With his escape, it seems nothing in the world can stop him now!

20th March 1970 night

Zaroff is going round shooting people. He is nuts. He even took a pop at Thous. This has meant that Thous believes us. There’s only one thing to do and that’s to flood Atlantis!

The fish people have stopped working. These Atlanteans must be very hungry or very fat as the food’s only been missing for a few hours and they are starving!

Get into the reactor and start the process. Have a final confrontation with Zaroff who I presume drowns. Did try and go back for him, but there was a rockfall in the way. Shame, a great man, just a bit unhinged.

Luckily we all manage to escape. Not sure what happened to the rest of the Atlanteans and the Fish People. Perhaps I’ll find out in the future if I return to Atlantis.

And so off in the TARDIS. Ben and Polly are mocking me for not being able to control it. Set course for Mars to prove them wrong. Except something goes wrong….

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The Five Word Lords

Watch with tongue in cheek.

Artwork: From the BBC DVD cover



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