Another partially lost serial, the first, second and last episode (of four) only exist in stills and fragments. I’m watching the Loose Cannon recon of the lost episodes.

Episode 1:

 The episode opens with a prologue, introduction filmed with Joseph Furst (who plays the bad guy in the serial, apparently.) We learn that this serial was originally “Doctor Who Under The Sea”, but was shelved for budget concerns. After the replacement serial “The Imps” fell through due to the writer becoming ill, they pulled out this serial, which was now under the working title “The Fish People”. It had to be majorly retooled – to cut down the budget costs and to work in the new companion, Jamie McCrimmon. Eventually it became “The Underwater Menace” and here we are.

 Since we have a new companion, we have to start with Jamie being confused, gazing around the TARDIS control room in slack-jawed bewilderment. (I’m not complaining, I like this particular trope of the show a whole lot.) Ben and Polly explain to Jamie that they don’t know where they’re going. (Which, if you think about it, it was awfully irresponsible for them to bring him along…)

 Jamie doesn’t believe them about the time-travelling; he’s not even sure what to believe. The Doctor announces they’re about to land and tells everyone to “hold on” – that’s a first. Polly hopes for Chelsea, 1966. Ben grumbles it’s probably going to be Daleks. The Doctor is hoping for “pre-historic monsters” and Jamie wonders, “What have I come upon?”

 The TARDIS appears on a rocky area, and after checking the readings, The Doctor and companions depart. Polly guesses they’re in Cornwall. After examining a rock, The Doctor proclaims they’re not in the British Isles, as it’s a volcanic rock. They see a nearby volcano shortly thereafter. The Doctor lays back to take a nap while his companions explore.

 Shortly after they depart, he lifts his head, checks his watch and consults the sky, as if making some calculations.

 Polly gets nervous, thinking she’s seen something moving in the distance, but Ben and Jamie push ahead, and she watches them climb up the rocks. She checks out some nearby caves and finds a bracelet. Exploring further, she comes across some robed figures and screams.

 Ben and Jamie rush down and head to the cave entrance, calling her name.

 The Doctor is sitting by a pool and finds a shard of pottery. He gets up and heads in the direction his companions went.

 Ben and Jamie are attacked and captured and thrown in a cell with Polly. Shortly afterwards, The Doctor is thrust in as well. The entire room begins to descend, like an elevator. It goes very far down, and The Doctor speculates they’re below sea level already.

 They have trouble breathing and all four pass out.

 We next see them four of them in a different room, laying on slabs, all in a row. Ben wakes up and looks around. He wakes everyone else up. The Doctor is rumbling about troglodytes, speculating about cavemen, trying to determine what time period they’re in.

 Polly says she knows they’re somewhere about 1970. She produces the bracelet she found, which is stamped with the Mexico Olympiad, which was in the year 1968, so it has to be later than that. This only perplexes Jamie even more, but before any more can be said, an armed guard enters.

 Polly tries several languages, to no avail. The guard gestures with his spear, which as The Doctor says, is clear in any language. They’re marched down a winding corridor, ending in a room with a table where a girl is setting out some food. The guard is rough with her, but The Doctor “stumbles” in between the guard and the girl to prevent him from hurting her.

 The Doctor sits down and starts pigging out, making a big deal out of how good it is. The companions hesitantly taste the strange food, asking what it is. The Doctor says it’s plankton. Polly is turned off at the idea.

 Men arrive, announcing they’ve been expecting them. “The Living Goddess knows and sees all” and had informed them to expect the arrival of strangers in time for their Festival of the Vernal Equinox. The man, Rano, says they have “an important part to play in the ceremony”, and by his tone, The Doctor takes that they’re meant to be a sacrifice.

 The Doctor says he has something important to impart, but his companions are taken away. The Doctor says he has to say something about Professor Zaroff, and Rano seems to know the name. The Doctor claims that he knew through the food – Zaroff is well known for making food from plankton, apparently. The Doctor writes a note, but Rano refuses to take it to Zaroff; The Doctor hands it off to Ara, the girl he interfered on the behalf of earlier, instructing her to take it to Professor Zaroff.

 We switch to a temple scene, dominated by a large idol. In the center of the temple is a pool or tank with sharks in it. There is a great ceremony going on, one of pomp and circumstance, and the companions are ushered into the temple. They are bound tightly with ropes and placed on slabs, their heads pointing towards the shark tank.

 Polly whines about The Doctor not coming, and Ben tries to reassure her, “As long as he’s not here, there’s still hope,” but as he says that, The Doctor is brought in by another guard.

 Ara delivers The Doctor’s note to Damon, another scientist, after being turned away by a guard from seeing Zaroff.

 The Doctor is tied and placed on the fourth slab. The high priest begins his prayer to Ando, their god. The slabs tilt and slowly the four travelers slide down head first towards the sharks.

 Damon brings the note to Zaroff. “Vital Secret will die with me. (signed) Dr. W.”

 At the last minute, Zaroff arrives, demanding to speak to The Doctor. The Doctor demands his companions be released before he imparts his information to Zaroff; strangely, Zaroff accepts this at face value and insists to the others that this happen.

 The Doctor and Zaroff talk; apparently, the world believes Zaroff dead some twenty years prior. His disappearance led to “the East blaming the West, the West blaming the East”. The Doctor calls him the greatest scientific genuis since Leonardo.

 The Doctor confesses that he doesn’t have a vital secret, but Zaroff decides he likes The Doctor’s sense of humour, and thus will allow them to be spared.

 The companions are brought before Damon, who decides that Ben and Jamie will work in the mines. He keeps Polly with him and takes her to a viewing window. Outside is undersea scene, where people are swimming undersea. Damon explains they have been given plastic gills to breathe underwater. Damon informs Polly she will undergo “the operation”.

 The Doctor and Zaroff are talking, and The Doctor discovers they are in the ancient kingdom of Atlantis. A guard summons Zaroff away, and Ara comes to The Doctor to tell him that Polly is going to be operated upon to make her a fish-person.

 Polly struggles in the med lab as they prepare to operate on her. She’s given a sedative and the credits roll.

 Interesting concept, so far. I’m enjoying Jamie’s confusion with the TARDIS and time travel and Ben and Polly’s amusement with him.

 Not the best serial, not the worst.


Episode 2:

 Zaroff is showing The Doctor around his laboratory; The Doctor swipes a pair of wire cutters and starts cutting wires (discreetly). This causes the lights in the operating room to dim, putting a halt to the operation on Polly.

 Damon arrives in Zaroff’s lab, accusing Zaroff of hogging all the power. Zaroff tells Damon, “I made you, I can break you!” He’s quite the megalomaniac.

 The assistants leave Ara in charge of watching Polly. Once they’re gone, Ara leads Polly away to safety.

 Zaroff and Damon confront The Doctor about the wires; he feigns ignorance, claiming that he must have ‘bumped into it’. Damon doesn’t buy it, and seemingly, neither does Zaroff, but the latter is pleased having someone to boast to. (Megalomaniac, remember?) Damon leaves, promising The Doctor that this will not save “the girl”.

 Zaroff tells The Doctor that he plans to “lower the water”, since Atlantis cannot be raised to the surface. When The Doctor points out that his plan will crack the crust of the Earth and potentially blow up the world. Zaroff is not turned off by it, but gloats that it is his dream – to blow up the world, the scientist’s ultimate dream. (Yup, total whack job.)

 Ben and Jamie arrive in the mine. As they’re brought before the overseer, another miner is accused of hiding something on his body. When a guard is called over, the item is passed several times, eventually to Jamie. It turns out to be a compass.

 The Doctor manufactures an escape while Zaroff is busy with one of his technicians.

 Ara leaves Polly in the temple, where she hides behind the idol.

 Ben and Jamie are taking a break, talking to the other workers – two shipwrecked sailors (Sean and Jacko), who seem to be planning a breakout. The miners have found another shaft, but they don’t know where it leads – it’s a bit of a last resort. Before too much can be said, the overseer arrives to assign men to a special detail. The conspirators feel this is an opportune time to make their break – if they’re on the detail they won’t be missed right away.

 I’m a bit confused, as the overseer refuses to pick them for the duty… but they seem pleased nonetheless.

 Guards search for The Doctor, who is on the run. He finds Ara and asks her where he can find the chief of state. The Doctor takes some of the clothing she has and steps into the shadows when others come near. From the shadows, The Doctor hears Ramo and Damon speaking – Ramo does not trust Zaroff and says so freely; The Doctor tells Ara he needs to speak to him. Ara steps forward and tells Damon she may have seen Polly at the market. She leads him off, and The Doctor approaches Ramo.

 Ben, Jamie, Jacko and Sean reach a fork in the tunnel (they’ve made their break, obviously.) They split up to go fifty paces up each fork to see where they go.

 Polly is asleep in the temple. Ramo leads The Doctor there, so that they may talk discreetly. The Doctor tells Ramo about Zaroff’s plan and what will happen should he succeed. Ramo leaves The Doctor there, to go talk to the Atlantean King. The Doctor pulls out his recorder and begins to play.

 Jacko comes back and finds Sean and Ben; he says Jamie has gone on. Sean agrees to meet them in ten minutes at the fork. When they find him, he’s stuck somewhere, and Ben has to help him out. (Even with the good recons, it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on at times…)

 In the temple, Polly has woken and come out from behind the idol. Ben, Jamie, Sean and Jacko emerge from the tunnel into the temple and are reunited with Polly. She tells them The Doctor went off with Ramo.

 The Doctor and Ramo wait to see the king. The Doctor is wearing a silly headdress (just like Ramo.) The king, Thous, comes in and The Doctor asks to speak to him. He tells the king that Zaroff is “mad as a hatter”. The king says he will take their words under consideration and dismisses them.

 Ara has brought food to those hiding in the temple. They hear music and the sound of others approaching and head back into the tunnel, leaving Ara there.

 The king announces he has given much thought to their words, and gestures to the doors. The doors open and Zaroff walks in. “There is your answer!” Zaroff gives a sinister smile and the credits roll.

Episode 3:

 (Yay, video! This is the earliest video of Patrick Troughton as The Doctor I’ve ever seen, outside of a few fragments from the first two Second Doctor serials.)

 Zaroff has the guards take away Ramo and The Doctor. He then tries to reassure the King, but the King can’t help but gaze into his eyes (which The Doctor had mentioned while appealing to the king – he said Zaroff’s eyes showed his madness.)

 Ramo and The Doctor are brought to be sacrificed, but instead of the sharks, it looks to be a beheading. Just as the executioner lifts his sword (not the best weapon for beheading, mind you), there’s a scream from the idol of Amdo and a voice booms out, “This is the voice of Amdo! Fear me! Bow down your heads that Amdo might accept your sacrifice!”

 Ben peeks out from behind the idol and waves The Doctor forward. The Doctor brings Ramo with him, and they escape. There’s a happy reunion and introductions to Sean and Jacko.

 The high priest runs to the king to tell him of the miracle, but Zaroff obviously doesn’t believe that Amdo took the sacrifices. Zaroff rants about Amdo, oblivious to the damage he’s doing to his credibility with the Atlanteans.

 The Doctor and his associates conspire; The Doctor suggests that they cause chaos by getting the fish people to stop harvesting food for the Atlanteans. Sean and Jacko go off to do that, while The Doctor and his companions plan to kidnap Zaroff.

 We see a market scene full of many Atlanteans, buying and selling trinkets and food and the like. The Doctor is disguised (I guess disguises are one of the Second Doctor’s things) as a musician or something. Polly (also in disguise) and Ara meander through the market and make contact with him. The girls panic when guards start searching through, and Polly hides under some carpets.

 Ben and Jamie are disguised as guards (wonder where they go their gear) and take places. Zaroff storms in and demands to know where the musician is, apparently he knows he’s The Doctor. He orders the two nearest guards, Ben and Jamie as it happens, to assist him. The Doctor runs by and they give chase. Polly joins in as they leave the market.

 The Doctor meets up with Ramo at the temple, who distracts Zaroff until The Doctor can blow some powder in the scientist’s face and they take him prisoner.

 Sean and Jacko starts riling up the fish people, first by mocking them and insulting them, and then giving them the idea to start a ‘blockade’.

 We see underwater ‘swimming’ scenes (apparently done by wire-fu and slow motion to simulate swimming in water) with different fish people apparently spreading the word? They don’t talk normally, but through odd sounds, and we get an annoying musical soundtrack behind it all, so who the hell knows.

 Zaroff, while ranting on (like a megalomaniac), seems to have an attack/seizure of some sort. The Doctor, Ben and Jamie head off while Polly and Ramo stay behind to watch over Zaroff. While they’re gone, Zaroff uses chicanery and bests Ramo in combat, stabbing him with a spear.

 Outside in the temple, The Doctor and companions are delayed by worshippers. The Doctor sends Jamie back to switch places with Ramo, but Ramo staggers out to let them know, with his dying breath, that Zaroff has escaped.

 Jamie catches up to Zaroff and Polly, and with Sean and Jacko’s help, they free her from him, but the mad scientist escapes.

 Damon is reporting to King Thous the revolt by the fish people; Thous wishes Zaroff were there to tell him what to do, but Damon insists that Thous must take charge. (What a spineless king.)

 Zaroff returns and through his megalomaniacal rants, the king sees what The Doctor said was true. The two men turn against each other, and Zaroff pulls out a gun and shoots the king dead… and the credits roll after he declares the following:

 “Nothing in the world can stop me now!” – Zaroff, gleefully. He’s very, very, VERY over the top. Almost to the point of painfully so. Almost.

Episode 4:

 (Back to reconstruction, sadly.)

 Ben and The Doctor enter the throne room and discover that the king’s been shot but isn’t dead.

 Jacko and Sean are with Ara, waiting at the idol, when The Doctor and Ben bring King Thous there. Ara tells The Doctor that Polly and Jamie went to the laboratory, looking for The Doctor. The Doctor has a plan – to break the sea wall and flood the lab.

 A scientist with a heavily receeding hairline is taking notes as Zaroff receives a report from the generation station. He gives them orders that they don’t like – his lack of security concerns his men. He then receives a report that the workers in another station have walked out, looking for food.

 Ben and The Doctor have made it to the generation station, but stop when they see an armed guard. Ben is still wearing the guard’s outfit and they try to bluff their way past. Even though Ben doesn’t know the password, they manage to convince him to let them in.

 They come across another guard, but The Doctor had gotten the first guard to give up the password (really? REALLY?) so they use it to get past him. Once inside, they start cutting wires. (Hey, didn’t they do this scene before?)

 The reactor starts to overload. Ben asks The Doctor if he knows what he’s doing and his response is “Of course I don’t! There’s no harm in trying.” I think this is very telling about the Second Doctor.

 Jamie and Polly are meandering through tunnels; they’re a bit lost on their way to the laboratory. They see a nearby wall glowing and starting to crumble and know that the sea is on the other side. As they watch, the wall bursts open and water pours through.

 Sean and Jacko hear the sea breaking in. Ara tends to the king, who moans about raising Atlantis being the dream of a madmen. Water is flooding the temple as Damon enters. Damon is bemoaning the loss of a life’s work, that it’s all washed away. The king promises Damon they can start again, and he helps the others move the king.

 Jamie and Polly are trying to evade the water. She’s doing a lot of whining. This isn’t anything new.

 The temple begins to collapse. The idol crumbles under the power of the water. Damon asks the king how his wound is, and he replies “a little better”. Must be nice, regeneration. And here I thought that was for time lords only.

 Playing the typical nutjob card, Zaroff announces to his men that nobody shall leave their station. The Doctor and Ben arrive and when The Doctor informs Zaroff’s technicians and guards about Zaroff’s plans and the sea wall breaking, they all run. Zaroff presses a button and a barrier drops down between Zaroff and the heroes; he then announces, like a badly written comic book villain, exactly what he must do to detonate his bomb. (That’s up there with putting the hero in a death trap and then explaining it so they can figure how to break out.)

 Polly and Jamie are trying to find a way out. She almost drops her lantern and whines when Jamie snaps at her over it. This is gripping storytelling, let me tell you.

 Ben pretends to leave The Doctor, and Zaroff taunts him that his friends have left him, too. The Doctor has access to a power control and turns off the lights, which leads Zaroff to raise the barrier to restore them. Zaroff has his gun pointed at The Doctor. Ben has snuck by and lowers the barrier, keeping him away from his detonation controls. He fires his gun at them but they run off safely.

 After escaping, The Doctor feels bad about leaving Zaroff to drown and wants to go back. Ben insists they keep moving along, and apparently resorts to physicality to stop The Doctor from going to help Zaroff.

 Polly whines some more. And some more. Jamie argues with her and she whines EVEN MORE. Oh, dear god… what inconsistent characterisation with her – last serial she was all strong and making decisions, this one, whine and cry and cry and whine.

 Okay, I’m confused, because Ben and The Doctor are apparently going back to help Zaroff, when the tunnel collapses and their path is blocked. Ben is still arguing with The Doctor about leaving Zaroff behind.

 We see Zaroff, still struggling to reach through (though honestly, the bars look wide enough that he could easily squeeze through if he really tried) and reach the plunger on the detonation box. The water is waist deep now.

 Jamie and Polly make it to the surface. Does she whine some more? Do we even care? She wonders about Ben and The Doctor, but Jamie isn’t too confident about their chances of surviving.

 Zaroff is shown again, to his neck in water, then the power level drops and the water goes up past his head and he presumably drowns.

 Damon and Thous and Ara talk, believing The Doctor dead. King Thous proposes that a memorial be built in honour of The Doctor, but Damon, who suddenly got a dose of personality and character, goes on a speech how they need no more temples, no more religion – it was that which allowed them to follow Zaroff (a connection I’m not sure I follow). Instead, they need to build a new Atlantis.

 “Yes… that shall be his memorial.” – King Thous.

 Ben and The Doctor are climbing towards the surface. Ben asks about Polly, but The Doctor gives no answer. They come out of a cave, just feet from where Jamie and Polly are sitting – what are the chances? The four, happily reunited, head back to the TARDIS.

 Sean and Jacko are nearby and Sean says, “I can’t believe it… a flaming English policebox!”

 Back in the TARDIS, where Jamie and Benjamin (as Jamie called him) tease each other for smelling of fish. Jamie tellse everyone that he’s rather impressed with the TARDIS and feels safe there – “It’s just the things outside that are a wee bit alarming.”

 When questioned, The Doctor claims that he can control where the TARDIS goes. They all laugh, and he says he’ll show them, “Let’s go to Mars!” He sets the coordinates and the TARDIS begins to rock and lights flicker…

 The Doctor announces, “I’m sorry everybody, but I’m afraid the TARDIS is out of control,” and the credits roll.

 A mixed bag, this serial. I’ve seen talk online about this one and I think there are a lot of people who are trying too hard to like things about it that aren’t really that good. Like Joseph Furst’s performance as Zaroff. I’m sorry, but it was really bad. Not campy fun bad, just bad. Like, not acting, just reading lines bad. (I know we don’t like to talk ill of the dead, but I’m just talking about his performance.)

 The LOOSE CANNON edit ends with Joseph Furst (who has an eyepatch in the recording, which was filmed shortly before Furst’s death in 2005) pretending to be Zaroff, giving a “You thought I had drowned, Doctor” monologue thing… and it’s really not that impressive.

 Then there’s an interview with Furst, which honestly, I’m not terribly interested in.

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