Monday, 27 May 2013

The Underwater Menace (Episode 1)


Originally Broadcast 14th January 1967

Written by: Geoffrey Orme

In a nutshell: The Doctor, along with Ben, Polly and the newly arrived Jamie, arrive on an extinct volcanic island where they are captured and put to sacrifice.

NB. As this episode is missing from the BBC archives, this review is based upon the surviving audio book narrated by Anneke Wills and the BBC website’s photo-novel reconstruction.

Review: Everyone likes to throw hate into the unloved The Underwater Menace, the only Doctor Who story to be scripted by Geoffrey Orme, but I’m giving you all one reason to love it: Patrick Troughton. Despite this being only his third serial, it’s surprising how easily he’s already making his performance seem. He’s got his stovepipe hat, he doesn’t know how to work the TARDIS and is making fun of the bad guys. All the reasons why he’s one of the best loved Doctors are all here in this opening episode.

The plot too, is OK and easy enough to follow, although there is a bit of clunky and boring explaining with some rocks that even Troughton, the man who makes anything interesting, struggles to get across to the kiddies at home. Later in the episode the Doctor also happens to work out the presence of Professor Zaroff with little clues, which just feels lazy on Orme’s part. It’s clearly only there to move the episode on with a bit of speed. Beyond that, there isn’t really much of a plotline to this part, it being a clich├ęd search-and-see upon landing the TARDIS before trouble and traps and holy sacrificing. It’s nothing special, really.

Troughton: Love that stovepipe!
This episode is also noteworthy for being the first regular story for Frazer Hines’ Jamie McCrimmon who would become a vital part of the Troughton era. And just incase we missed last weeks, we get an in-your-face reminder of Jamie’s place in time. It’s widely known Jamie was a last minute companion so his dialogue was mostly taken from Michael Craze’s Ben, but it isn’t the case here. I felt the two characters had a fair share of dialogue and even had some quite nice scenes together, although it was mostly because Jamie had to have the time travel explained to him, so perhaps the dialogue stealing will become more apparent as the story goes on. Only time will tell, it always does…

Tomorrow I’ll be bringing you a review of the recently discovered The Underwater Menace 2 which I’ve managed to get my hands on!

Hope to see you all there!

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