Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Underwater Menace (episode 4)

Originally Broadcast 4th February 1967

Written by: Geoffrey Orme

In a nutshell: The Doctor takes drastic actions to stop the insane Professor Zaroff.

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: The final part of this story is a big disappointment for one reason: the visuals. Having nothing to watch for this episode doesn’t do it any favours, as this part has a lot of rushing water, flooding and running away. We need to see these things to get a sense of the impending drama but instead we just get the unconvincing sound of rushing water. The only real visual part of this episode we do have is scarily atmospheric, however, as we witness the final fate of Zaroff in a brilliant three-second long clip.

There are some fun lines of dialogue here, more than likely inserted in by Troughton, such as not being asked for a password and not looking “exactly normal”. I can just picture Pat T pulling his face at being called that. The TARDIS team have also settled in and accepted new companion Jamie McCrimmon although the team are cringingly pally at the end of the serial, particularly when criticising the Doctor’s lack of TARDIS knowledge.

"Nothing In Ze World Can Stop Me Now! Except drowning and the wiping of episodes 1 and 4...
  Their big reunion after each thinking the others had died also feels a little underplayed, but other than that they’re all on fine form, albeit not being given anything really fun to get their teeth into this week. Last week we had them disguised as guards, chasing people, getting into fights. This week watch as they run away from water! A big step down in dramatic value.

It’s a shame the final episode isn’t too good, although it suits my theory that came about with the newly found episode 2. Maybe we just need those visuals so much in the Troughton serials to make the story a strong one. After all, it made episode 2 fantastic, so imagine how good this finale could be if only we could find that darn episode (and the other hundred)!

Tomorrow: We take a look at the other serial that's been partly replaced in the archives, William Hartnell in Galaxy Four!

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