Monday 18 April 2011

147 The Underwater Menace: Part Three

EPISODE: The Underwater Menace: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: 28 January 1967
WRITER: Geoffrey Orme
DIRECTOR: Julia Smith
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Lost In Time
TELESNAPS: The Underwater Menace: Part Three

*Finally*, after 13 episodes, a Troughton episode that exists and we can watch on DVD. I can remember watching this earliest surviving Troughton episode off it's video release, when it was part of the bonus material released with The Ice Warriors but I'm not 100% sure I've seen the DVD version before. I've certainly never listened to it in the middle of the audio episodes. So here we go:

We open with the familiar title sequence that's been with us since An Unearthly Child. This was a surprise to me when I saw early Troughton episodes that they didn't have the title sequence with his face which I was familiar with from the Krotons & the War Games.

As the Doctor and Ramo are being sacrificed the statue of Ando speaks and while the priest's heads are bowed the Doctor and Ramo escape meeting Jamie, Ben, Polly, Jacko & Sean inside the tunnels behind the statue. The Doctor sends Jacko & Sean to get the fish people to strike: the food they collect rots within hours so this will quickly bring Atlantis to a halt. The Doctor and his companions kidnap Zaroff in the market place aided by yet more dressing up from Troughton. The Doctor, Jamie & Ben leave him guarded by Ramo & Polly but he kills Ramo and escapes, taking Polly hostage but she's rescued by Jamie and the others. Zaroff goes to see King Thous but they argue. Zaroff pulls a gun on Thous and shoots him while his guards slay those belonging to the King. Zaroff proclaims that
Nothing in the world can stop me now!
It's so nice to be able to see something move again! Much better than I remember it being now I'm watching a clear cleaned up version in the context of the episodes round it. Yes the Fish People, victims of a Kirby wire ballet sequence mid episode as they pass word of the strike round, are a bit rubbish with sequins plastered all over them like a four year old has designed them but they're not in the story much. Zaroff's completely bonkers by the end of the episode, so badly gone that he gets his immortal line to utter.

King Thous is played by Noel Johnson who I will almost guarantee is a name unknown to you. However he was famous as the voice of Dick Barton, special agent. Lolem, the high priest, is another contestant in the "campest character in Doctor Who" competition. He's played by Peter Stephens who was previously Cyril in The Celestial Toymaker. Chief Surgeon Damon, who's prominently in the censor clips, is played by Colin Jeavons, later to appear in K9 & Company. He finds fame later in life as Tim Stamper, the assistant to the sinister Francis Urquart in House of Cards & To Play The King. Now Ian Richardson, who played Francis Urquart, is an actor that would have made a superb older Doctor Who. Catherine Howe, who plays servant girl Ara, was at 16 the youngest credited artist to appear in Doctor Who to date. There's been other stories with children in but none in a credited speaking role that I can think of. She left acting in the early 70s to pursue a career in folk music. Her only competitors for youngest credited actor I can think of are Sarah Prince (Karuna in Kinda) and Jasmine Breaks (the Girl in Rememberance of the Daleks) but I can't find ages for either of those performers.

Underwater Menace 3 was found in the BBC Film & Video library during Ian Levine's initial visit in 1978. No earlier Troughton episode has ever been found and the 13 episode gap between Tenth Planet 3 and this one is one of the longest standing without a complete episode being found within it. At 13 episodes it's also now the joint longest period in terms of episodes for which no episodes exist matching the 13 missing episodes between Web of Fear 1 and Wheel in Space 3 (the last 5 episodes of Web, all 6 of Fury from the Deep (11) and the first 2 of Wheel in Space(13)) . The longest gaps at the start of the missing episode hunt were 30 episodes, between Faceless One 1 and Enemy of the World 3 (5 episodes of Faceless Ones, 7 of Evil of the Daleks (12), 4 of Tomb of the Cybermen (16), 6 of Abominable Snowmen (22), 6 of The Ice Warriors (28) and 2 of Enemy of the World (30)) closely followed by the 27 episodes between Time Meddler 2 and The Ark 1 (final 2 of the Time Meddler, 4 of Galaxy Four (6), 1 of Mission to the Unknown (7), 4 of the Myth Makers (11), 12 of the Dalek Masterplan (23) and 4 of the Massacre (27)) However a significant number of episodes (11 and 5 respectively) have been discovered to plug some of those gaps.

Back to CD for the next and final episode I'm afraid. Don't worry there's only two episodes before the next on DVD and quite a while before we get a gap this big again.

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