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The Underwater Menace (TV story)

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The Underwater Menace
FishPeopleDouble
Novelised as: The Underwater Menace
Doctor: Second Doctor
Companion(s): Ben, Polly, Jamie
Main enemy: Professor Zaroff
Main setting: Atlantis, post-1968
Key crew
Writer: Geoffrey Orme
Director: Julia Smith
Producer: Innes Lloyd
Release details
Story number: 32
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 4
Premiere broadcast: 14 January - 4 February 1967
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: GG
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Behind the scenes video

The Underwater Menace was the fifth story of Season 4 of Doctor Who. As of October 2013, its second episode was the earliest surviving Second Doctor telerecording. Currently, only episodes two and three survive in full.

Synopsis Edit

The TARDIS arrives on an extinct volcanic island. Before long, the travellers are captured and taken into the depths of the Earth, where they find a hidden civilisation — the lost city of Atlantis.

The Atlanteans worship a goddess named Amdo and use fish people — men and women operated upon so that they can breathe under the sea — to farm the plankton-based food on which they survive. A deranged scientist, Professor Zaroff, has convinced them that he can raise their city from the sea, but actually he plans to drain the ocean into the Earth's molten core, so that the resultant superheated steam will cause the planet to explode.

The travellers meet up with two shipwreck survivors, Sean and Jacko, who persuade the fish people to rebel and stop work. The Doctor eventually foils Zaroff's plan, but only by breaking down the sea walls and flooding the city. Zaroff drowns, but everyone else escapes.

Plot Edit

Episode 1 Edit

The TARDIS materialises on a volcanic island. The crew, with new companion Jamie, explore their surroundings. One by one, they are seized by unknown hands and thrown into a cage elevator, which descends below sea level. When they reach the bottom, they discover an artefact they date at post-1968. They are taken by some men to a dining hall and given a dinner of plankton. When Lolem, a priest, arrives, guards seize the Doctor and his friends. The Doctor convinces a serving girl, Ara, to bring a message to Professor Zaroff, whom he has deduced to be there. The Doctor and his companions are tied up and suspended over a pool of sharks, to be sacrificed to the goddess Amdo. Zaroff, having received the Doctor's message, arrives and orders the sacrifice stopped. He takes the Doctor to his laboratory and reveals that he plans to raise Atlantis; Ben and Jamie are sent to work in the mines; and Polly will undergo an operation to change her into a fish person.

Episode 2 Edit

The Doctor sabotages the lighting, affecting the operating room. While Zaroff's assistant Damon checks on the lights, Ara rescues Polly. Zaroff explains his plan to the Doctor, who realises it will blow the planet apart. Down in the mines, Ben and Jamie meet Sean and Jacko, and join them in an escape into the tunnels. The Doctor escapes from Zaroff. He meets with the priest Ramo, who also mistrusts Zaroff. The Doctor shows Ramo what Zaroff intends to do. Ben and Jamie, with Jacko and Sean, meet up with Polly and Ara behind the idol of Ramo. The Doctor, dressed as a priest, and Ramo go to the Thous, leader of Atlantis, with information about Zaroff's plans. Thous hands the Doctor and Ramo over to Zaroff, to do with as he wishes.

Episode 3 Edit

The Doctor and Ramo are brought by Lolem and the priests to the idol of Amdo, about to be beheaded as a sacrifice. A voice issues from Amdo, commanding all present to bow their heads. The Doctor, recognising the voice as Ben's, escapes with Ramo and meets up with his friends. Lolem tells Zaroff and Thous of the miracle — the Doctor and Ramo vanished as Amdo accepted the sacrifice. Zaroff is suspicious and orders Atlantis searched. The Doctor makes his plans: Sean and Jacko will convince the fish people to stop supplying the perishable plankton to Atlantis, and the rest will kidnap Zaroff. Both plans succeed. The Doctor takes Ben and Jamie to the laboratory to check on Zaroff's progress while Polly and Ramo guard Zaroff, who fakes a heart attack. He fools Polly and Ramo, stabbing Ramo and escaping with Polly as hostage. The Doctor realises he needs Ramo as a guide; heading back, they discover Zaroff has killed Ramo and captured Polly. Jamie rescues Polly but Zaroff gets away. Zaroff and his guards seize power; Zaroff shoots Thous and triumphantly exclaims, "Nothing in the world can stop me now!"

Episode 4 Edit

The Doctor and Ben discover the wounded Thous, then meet up with their friends and allies. Zaroff proceeds with his plans. The Doctor plans to flood lower Atlantis to stop Zaroff, and sends Sean and Jacko to warn the people to move to higher levels. Meanwhile, Zaroff's guards are dealing with a populace panicking over starvation, as the fish people have stopped providing food. Polly and Jamie, in the lower levels, climb to higher ground; elsewhere, the Doctor, Thous, Sean, and Jacko move to higher ground. The Doctor confronts Zaroff in his laboratory. Lolem appears in the lab, ready to kill Zaroff. Zaroff shoots at Lolem, while the Doctor flips switches on Zaroff's control panel. As the water levels rise, the Doctor and Ben want to save Zaroff, but he is trapped. Jamie and Polly, and other survivors of Atlantis, make it to the surface. Ben and the Doctor join up with Jamie and Polly and head for the TARDIS. Before it dematerialises, Sean and Jacko reach the surface and watch as it disappears. Inside the TARDIS, all is well until, as usual, the ship goes out of control.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Culture Edit

Individuals Edit

  • As they land, Polly hopes it is 1966 Chelsea, Ben wants to avoid the Daleks, and the Doctor wishes to see prehistoric monsters.
  • Jacko calls Jamie "Jock".

Story notes Edit

  • This story had the working titles of The Fish People, Doctor Who Under the Sea (also referred to as Under the Sea) and Atlanta.
  • Since Jamie isn't actually shown inside the TARDIS in The Highlanders, part one of this story has his "bigger on the inside" moment.
  • This story continues an early Second Doctor trait of assuming different identities, vaguely similar to the Master's penchant for disguise. In this adventure, he briefly dresses up as a local merchant.
  • At the end of episode three, Professor Zaroff utters the timeless line, "Nothing in the world can stop me now!" Davros and the Fifth Doctor would say similar lines in TV: Journey's End and The Caves of Androzani respectively.
  • In the opening TARDIS scene, Polly, Ben and the Doctor are each heard "thinking" about where they would like to land next in a rare example of internal monologue. This was achieved by pre-recording the actors' voices and playing them back during the making of the episode.
  • The name of the mad scientist, Zaroff, is similar to that of Dr Zarkoff, a scientist featured in the classic Flash Gordon adventures,
  • While The War Machines still remains the only time in the history of the series where the Doctor is referred to explicitly as "Doctor Who," the Doctor's note to Zaroff in the first episode is signed "Dr. W," making this the closest the Doctor has ever come to referring to himself as "Doctor Who."
  • Episode two was recovered on 19 September 2011.
  • This was the first story about the lost city Atlantis.
  • One music cue from this story exists, entitled 'The Fish People'.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode 1 - 8.3 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - 7.5 million viewers
  • Episode 3 - 7.1 million viewers
  • Episode 4 - 7.0 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • Joseph Furst adopted an outrageous East European accent in his portrayal of Zaroff. (Furst spoke in his own natural accent.)

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • At the start of episode three, the director's voice can be heard.
  • During the underwater scenes in episode three, the Kirby wires holding up the Fish People are clearly visible.
  • When Zaroff fires his pistol (a contemporary Beretta) at the end of episode three, there is a sound effect, but no evident smoke, recoil, or discharged cartridge.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit


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