The Underwater Menace: Episode 2
Broadcast on January 21st 1967 @ 5.50pm (7.5 million viewers)
This episode is the earliest surviving complete episode from the Patrick Troughton era, ‘The Underwater Menace’ being only the third story to feature the Second Doctor, that we are still able to watch and enjoy, and was finally released onto DVD last year.
Troughton’s performance is fascinating to watch, still experimenting with the role he begins with some early bumbling. However, when confronted by the maniacal Professor Zaroff, Troughton’s portrayal becomes significantly more measured with his seriousness elevating the sense of danger and threat presented by an over the top cartoon villain cliché with none of the subtlety of a Tobias Vaughan seen in ‘The Invasion’. For example, the cliffhanger’s drama featuring the cold-blooded murder of two innocent people is immediately negated by the infamous “nothing in the world can stop me now” line.
This episode also gives us an opportunity to see another memorable aspect of the story in the form of the Fish People, who are humans surgically enhanced to give them the ability to breathe underwater. The creatures provided the cliffhanger to Episode 1 but Anneke Wills struggles to act terrified when menaced for an excruciatingly long recap. However, the concept has the potential to create a terrifying cliffhanger, a dark and grim example of a body horror experiment akin to a 1980’s horror movie, such as ‘The Fly’. Unfortunately because the Fish People are merely dressed with bathing caps and googly eyes, just one of a number of incredible challenges that this story must have been to the production team, that any potential drama is sadly watered down.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
Also first aired On This Day…
- Underworld : Part 3