Doctor Who: Revisiting THE UNDERWATER MENACE

Christopher Morley grabs his Speedos and dives into The Underwater Menace...

Five adventures into his Second incarnation (three on screen, plus Timewrym and Invasion of the Cat-People in prose), it's time for the Doctor to get to grips with the mythical lost city of Atlantis with Ben, Polly & Jamie in tow- we must plumb the depths in search of The Underwater Menace! Writer Geoffrey Orme's only recorded contribution to Doctor Who marks the first of many TARDIS trips for McCrimmon, who joined the crew at the culmination of The Highlanders. Perhaps in honour of this his new bow-tied laird of sorts quotes Robert Burns:
"Nae man can tether time nor tide."
If you were paying attention to the fetching Scots headgear the Doctor was sporting throughout his sortie into the Battle of Culloden you just might know which of Burnsie's poems he took that line from. Its Tam O'Shanter!

Why not don one now as we delve into it? Or at least a little of the English translation, which should give you some idea of the gist...
This truth finds honest Tam o' Shanter,
As he from Ayr one night did canter;
Old Ayr, which never a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny lasses.

Oh Tam, had you but been so wise,
As to have taken your own wife Kate’s advice!
She told you well you were a waster,
A rambling, blustering, drunken boaster,
That from November until October,
Each market day you were not sober.
Feel free to keep your Caledonian head- cosy on as we move forward! Jamie is understandably taken aback by the sheer concept of the TARDIS, though he'll come to be something of a best friend to its erstwhile pilot.
JAMIE: What's this?
DOCTOR: You'll find out.
JAMIE: Ah, I don't think I want to.
BEN: It's a machine, my old haggis, which will take us away from Scotland forever.
JAMIE: Where to?
BEN: Ah, well, that as the Doctor would say, that is in the lap of the gods. We never know.
JAMIE: Aye, you'd not be leading me on now, would you? Is it a fact you don't know where we're going?
POLLY: Quite true, and what's more we don't even know what year it will be either.
JAMIE: Ach now, I don't believe it.
That ''lap of the gods'' remark will prove oddly prescient once they find themselves in the watery domain of the worshippers of Amdo!

It seems they've waited a long time for the new TARDIS team to turn up, and they're not in any mood to hang about now they've arrived. Ramo, a priest of the Atlanteans, is at least kind enough to warn them of what lies ahead-
DOCTOR: Good day to you.
RAMO: We've been expecting you.
POLLY: He speaks English.
BEN: What does he mean, he's been expecting us? We didn't know we were coming ourselves.
RAMO: The living goddess Amdo sees and hears all.
DOCTOR: And she had a message about us? For you?
RAMO: Yes. She told us you would fall from the sky in time for our festival of the vernal equinox.
DOCTOR: And just what part are we to play in this festival of the vernal equinox?
RAMO: A very important part, I regret to say. Guards!
A sacrifice is to be made, with the Doctor & friends the intended victims.

Professor Zaroff, a man with quite possibly the most stereotypically German accent ever heard, is taking the Atlanteans for fools. Though he does at least help to confirm to the Doctor exactly where he & his companions find themselves!
"We're on the ancient kingdom of Atlantis."
Quite correct.
"Ancient temples under the sea. But that's not possible! That's only a legend..."
Much scepticism from our relatively new recorder enthusiast hero. He does make a very good point in that ''Surely science is in opposition to ancient temple ritual and idol worship?''. Why yes, yes it is!

But ze Professor has already thought of that and managed to gain the trust of the locals by making a rather big promise. ''To lift Atlantis out of the sea'' no less! He's also been grafting gills onto humans by way of experimentation, and Polly could be next in line for the treatment.

"One tiny jab, and you'll know nothing more about it until it's all over."
This is about as far from Botox as its possible to get, though. The science of the whole thing is rather mind-boggling too!
DOCTOR: Professor, you have offered these people a very big sugar-coated pill to make them accept you, yes?
ZAROFF: I turned their dreams and prophecies to my own means.
DOCTOR: The dreams of a people living on a drowned continent must be.
ZAROFF: To lift Atlantis from the ocean. Make it dry land again.
DOCTOR: Exactly. But now, how are you going to do it? Even a genius like you.
ZAROFF: Look. Atlantis underwater.

DOCTOR: A very large mass to lift.
ZAROFF: If I can't lift it then I must lower the water level. You see the valve there?
DOCTOR: Yes, may I?
ZAROFF: Please. Simple, isn't it?
DOCTOR: Yes, but you haven't got a drain big enough to take an ocean.
ZAROFF: Then I will make one.
DOCTOR: You'll forgive me. I'm a little lost. The crust of the Earth is more than a hundred miles thick. Below that is believed to be a white-hot molten core. Now where is your ocean going to go?
ZAROFF: That is my secret.
DOCTOR: Oh, now you're making fun of me, Professor.
ZAROFF: No, no.
DOCTOR: Even supposing you could drill to the depth of a hundred miles.
ZAROFF: There is a place where a fissure reduces the distance to less than fifteen miles.
DOCTOR: It's still an enormous obstacle.
ZAROFF: But not insurmountable. We have been working on it for many years.
The man's clearly mad, and so the Doctor appeals to Ramo's better judgement- the priest taking him before Thous, ruler of this vast underwater kingdom. Happily the nutty Professor is thwarted, and it's off to The Moonbase for the latest space/time travelling foursome!

The Underwater Menace was the final scheduled DVD in the classic Doctor Who range, but recently it was removed from release schedules. Although episodes 1 and 4 are missing restoration work had been performed with the remaining footage.

There is a campaign to get this classic adventure released, after all it contains the earliest full Patrick Troughton episode in the BBC Archives. Show your support for the DVD release of The Underwater Menace here.
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