Doctor Who: Stories From The Scrapheap - THE MENDAY FAULT

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Christopher Morley dives into another story from the Doctor Who scrapheap.


This latest morsel in our series of Stories From The Scrapheap finds the Fourth Doctor in territory his Second incarnation knew only too well! For The Menday Fault, originally submitted for Season Thirteen, is the tale of a nuclear submarine & its crew finding much more than they bargained for while exploring the Fault of Menday. The story represents what would have been quite a potential departure from the usual narratives Tom Baker found himself starring in during his seven-year stretch as captain of the good ship TARDIS.

Had it been submitted at any point between 1966 & '69, though, it might have had more of a chance! The ' base under siege' narrative became par for the course for Patrick Troughton at the behest of then-producer Innes Lloyd, who suggested it as a cost-cutting measure enabling similar sets to be used multiple times, the new formula making its d├ębut in The Moonbase & subsequently recycled in various permutations for the likes of The Macra Terror ( which was also the first time we saw his rumpled face incorporated into the title sequence), Tomb Of The Cybermen, The Ice Warriors & The Seeds Of Death.

Though we never saw The Menday Fault make it to our screens, a breakdown of writer David Wiltshire's intended six-part epic is readily available-
Episode 1 - The Doctor and Sarah are aboard the experimental nuclear submarine Thor to observe its attempt to break the world undersea depth record – which Thor quickly passes when it dives into the 20,000ft deep ‘Fault of Menday’, situated in the Bermuda Triangle. As the hull begins to react adversely to the pressure, the Commander orders the submarine to surface – but the vessel continues to descend before the pressure suddenly decreases. The crew become weightless before a jolt sends them tumbling to the floor. The depth gauge reads 30,000ft. Footsteps are heard on the hull and the outer hatch begins to open…

Episode 2 - A creature enters through the hatch, subduing resistance by using a pressure weapon to squeeze several crew members to a pulp. The Doctor theorizes that the submarine has penetrated an inner world within the Earth itself. The creature orders the crew to disembark, and they emerge into a world of blue grass, white trees and towering red buildings. Light radiates from a ‘sun’ of green incandescent gas. The Doctor is thrown into prison with the others. He is horrified by the threat posed by the Polaris missiles aboard the submarine; the underworlders’ sun is dying and they plan to use the missiles in an invasion against the surface world!

Episode 3 - The Doctor and the Commander are taken from their cell to a large palace and introduced to Zorr, the leader of the Suranians – who demands information about the surface world. A water tank is revealed. Inside is Sarah, water swirling around her ankles. If the Doctor and the Commander don’t co-operate, the water level will rise. Another tank is revealed. The water is somewhat higher and a horrifying creature, identified as a Trelw, is swimming inside. Zorr reveals that the Trelws are an aquatic race conquered by the Suranians and used in their experiments. These creatures have previously been sent to the surface world to test the possibilities for survival, and have given rise to certain Earth legends. Trewls are both poisonous and carnivorous – a fact which Zorr demonstrates by throwing a scrap of food into the tank, which the creature leaps upon. Within three-and-a-half hours the water levels in Sarah’s and the Trewl’s tank will coincide and the creature will be released. The Doctor and the Commander are forced to tell the Suranians about the surface world. Whilst the Doctor attempts to explain Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Commander gives a guided tour of the submarine. Secretly, he sets a timing device on the nuclear warheads. Back in the cell, the Commander tells the Doctor what he has done. The Doctor is horrified. The explosion will expand the gases of the Suranian sun, destroying the Earth. Stunned, the Commander says that the warheads will detonate in one hour…

Episode 4 - The Doctor demands to see Zorr. He escapes from his two escorts by tying their tails together, then makes his way through the streets to the submarine. He finds it guarded so swims to the hull. As he pulls himself up from the water, a hideous shark creature snaps at his heels. With only moments to spare, the Doctor deactivates the firing mechanism, but he is captured by guards and taken to Zorr, who orders the Doctor to be taken to the museum. He is joined by the Commander and Sarah in a long gallery containing various human figures on display in different historical dress. These are not waxworks but the past victims of the Bermuda Triangle – turned into display objects by the Suranians. Despite pleas from the Doctor and his companions, two crewmen are brought in and frozen by a hypodermic injection. As an incentive, Zorr warns that the same thing will happen to one crewman per day if the humans don’t co-operate. In the cell, the Doctor considers the possibility of escape. He hatches a plan to blast through the energy barrier between the surface and the Suranian world using the nuclear torpedoes. First, he says Sarah must trust him with another plan. The Doctor and Sarah are taken to the palace and Sarah is returned to her glass tank. Zorr is angered by the Doctor’s lack of co-operation, and the gate between Sarah’s and the Trelw’s tank is raised. The creature rushes forward with a ghastly roar…

Episode 5 - Sarah faints and the Trelw picks her up, but does not harm her. The Suranians are amazed and in the confusion, the Doctor releases Sarah and her rescuer. They escape down a side tunnel. Realizing that the Trelws are the basis for the surface world’s stories of mermen, the Doctor had realized that Sarah would be safe and had told her so in prison. The Trelw says he is called Nephus, one-time leader of the erebus. He claims that his people are being mentally controlled by a Suranian machine, which the Doctor deduces is a transmitter sending its power through the weapons that the Suranians carry. The Doctor and Sarah break into the transmitter room and sabotage it. Guards burst in and drag them away to Zorr, who has decided that they are a threat. Two syringes of freezing liquid are produced, and the Suranians move towards their captives…

Episode 6 - Thanks to the Doctor’s tampering, the transmitter room explodes. A Suranian inadvertently stabs himself with his own needle and, in the confusion, the Doctor and Sarah escape. They release the captured submarine crew and race toward the docks. In the grand hall of the palace they are surrounded by guards. Nephus and a score of his people burst in and overcome the Suranians. In the ensuing battle, Nephus kills Zorr. Later, at the dock, Nephus and the Doctor say goodbye. After promising to return, the Doctor boards the submarine and it finally sets sail. Quickly he calculates the figures needed to break through the energy barrier. The nuclear torpedoes fire and the ship is suddenly through, rising quickly to the surface. Everyone is overjoyed. Later the Doctor confides to Sarah that he is troubled – this is not the last they’ll see of the Suranians…
The choice to situate the Fault of Menday within the Bermuda Triangle could have served to reopen the case into an ongoing mystery. The area also known as the ' 'Devil's Triangle'' has seen many a plane & ship disappear while passing through, with several theories as to why this may be. Take a look at journalist Vincent Gaddis' 1964 article ''The Deadly Bermuda Triangle'' for starters (found HERE).

Add a pinch of The Underwater Menace, Fury From The Deep, Doctor Who & The Silurians & The Sea Devils & you have the essence of The Menday Fault!
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