Episode 146 – “The Underwater Menace” – Part 02

Here we are with an interesting episode. It was a missing episode until just a few years ago, when it, along with the first episode of “Galaxy 4”, were both recovered. This is, therefore, the earliest existing Second Doctor episode! Hooray!

The Doctor is losing the Battle of the Hats!

Polly is still being menaced (underwater), by some sinister doctors, while our less sinister Doctor is watching all the technical things going on, making his own little internal notes. The professor he’s talking with has ideas to raise Atlantis from under the sea. How? By lowering the oceans.

Yeah, that makes sense. I’m pretty sure I remember that plot from the Deep Space Nine episode where Bashir was pretending to by a spy.

Meantime, Ben and Jamie are ushered into the mines, where they’re exposed to a really annoying sound effect. It’s worth noting that this is the first proper appearance of Jamie in an existing episode. Hooray!

The Doctor escapes from his situation by playing with chemicals not long after Polly is rescued from her situation by a kindly Atlantean woman.

We find out that the Atlantean high priest seems less than perfectly convinced that Professor Zaroff is working in everyone’s best interests. He’s also apparently blind, since the Doctor runs right in front of him at one pint, and he doesn’t see him.

Zaroff’s plan to destroy the world by draining the oceans into the core is silly and wouldn’t actually work, but the Doctor’s explanation for how it would destroy everyone is really silly. I doubt there’d be any steam pressure. I’m pretty sure what would happen is that the water would simply turn anything molten into rock. Maybe some steam, maybe not, but certainly not enough to destroy the world.

Then the Doctor plays his recorder, because he’s the Second Doctor, and that’s what he does.Later the Doctor meets with the head guy of Atlantis, and mugs for the camera quite a bit, which…well, also that’s what he does. The head guy isn’t convinced, and turns them over to Zaroff, and…that’s where the episode ends. So exciting.


Episode 145 – “The Underwater Menace” – Part 01

Ah, back to DVD. In this case, the possible final DVD of the old series to be released, although stay tuned (and before you start wondering, yes if this is true, I will go back and rewatch the story and write about it, no matter where I am in the series timeline).

This particular story has two missing episodes, and they’re presented here in…sigh…reconstructed form. Though at least it’s a reconstruction with good sound and pictures.

I mean, we wouldn’t want to miss the Battle of the Hats.

We begin with Jamie experiencing his first ride in the TARDIS, with the Doctor quoting Burns. I really do like Jamie, and it’s fun to see him have his first experiences with the Doctor.

The crew have arrived at a volcanic area, it seems, and certainly not Britain, or so the Doctor says. I must say that while this is a nicely done reconstruction so far, it does suffer from an oddly small assortment of pictures, and, at least at this point, no subtitles explaining what’s going on. All a bit odd.

Soon our heroes find themselves in what appears to be an elevator, descending deep into he ground. They pass out, I think, and find themselves in a decompression chamber. Polly then uses a rather clever method to figure out roughly what year they might be in. I like that!

They are soon brought into custody, and get to sit down to what the Doctor at least thinks is a lovely meal of plankton. Polly is less convinced of its loveliness.

It seems that the Doctor and friends have shown up at about the right time to be a sacrifice to the gods, or something. Conveniently there happens to be a professor around whom the Doctor has heard of. So that’s lucky.

So we learn as more story passes, that this is Atlantis (big shock), and that the people who live there sustain themselves by going outside to farm and stuff. This requires that artificial gills be fitted. Polly is chosen. This…does not please her.

My Thoughts on Story 031 – “The Highlanders”

This was the second Second Doctor story, the first story with Jamie, and arguably the last of the true “historicals”. All three of these things are good.

Despite the rest of this article, I’d love to watch a fully-recovered version of this.

If you’d asked me before I started this saga what I thought of the historical stories (set in Earth’s past, and frequently featuring actual historical characters, but with no science fiction elements beyond the TARDIS and its crew), I would have said I liked them. “The Aztecs” was, and remains, one of the best of the first few years of the series.

But while that story was great, there were so many, many others that weren’t. “The Masscare” and “The Smugglers” stand out as some of the worst that the series has to offer, and others, like “The Crusades”, “The Reign of Terror”, “The Myth Makers” and “Marco Polo” were very humdrum and not all that entertaining. Really, the historicals have become, for me, rather like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead.

“The Highlanders” falls between those extremes. It’s wonderful for introducing Jamie. But the story is a bit of a bore, and the characters are largely uninteresting (though fa-Finch was quite nifty). It also covers a part of British history that even I, no mean amateur historian, know little about.

The reconstruction nature doesn’t help things here, but I don’t know that actual video would make this story much better (while I think it would do nothing but help “Marco Polo” and “The Myth Makers”). Stirring action scenes that are made up of still photos with sound effects do leave much to be desired.

The sad thing is that so much of Troughton’s era is missing, which means that there are long stretches of nothing but reconstructions. Joy.

Still, this story did give us Jamie, and that alone makes it worthwhile and pushes the series up onto a new plateau. That pleases me.

Writer Elwyn Jones
Gerry Davis
Director Hugh David
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer None
Production code FF
Series Season 4
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing All episodes
Date started 17 December 1966
Date ended 7 January 1967

Episode 144 – “The Highlanders” – Part 04

I know, I know. I’ve been really lazy and not doing this lately. Well, pish. Let’s get going on the last episode of the second serial for the Second Doctor!

Dat hat, doe…

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Ben was being forced overboard off a ship. Well, he lands in the water and swims around to safety, as one does. He then encounters the Doctor, who is wearing a rather odd disguise.

Meantime, the prisoners, including Jamie, are being prepared to be Transported to the Caribbean. We also get more of the Doctor hamming it up with what he think is a German accent. He spins some odd tale of a prince being in prison or something, and then we cut to Kirsty and Polly, trying to free Kirsty’s father from imprisonment.

The Doctor seems to convince the English that Jamie is the prince mentioned earlier. I assume this meant to be Bonnie Prince Charles, about whom I know nothing other than the name.

Then we get a bit of a battle that’s actually got some video to it, though for all I know this footage comes from some other, completely unrelated thing.

Soon enough the Doctor and friends win, and get ready to head off. There’s some stuff involving a ring and a few other things, but I’ve, once again, largely checked-out at this point. This isn’t a bad story, but it’s a bit dull, I don’t know the history, and the reconstructions don’t help.

But in the end, we get Jamie flying off with the Doctor, Ben, and Polly, and so now the Second Doctor’s era begins properly!

Next time: “The Underwater Menace”

Episode 143 – “The Highlanders” – Part 03

I watched most of this episode while eating my dinner, so I didn’t really “live write” about it. But here are my thoughts!

Thought One: I’d make a more convincing woman.

The bits of high comedy continue, with the Doctor in a dress, mostly, and Polly and Kirsty encountering Ffinch. Meantime, Jamie and Ben are on a prisoner ship, facing the chances of being transported.

The story continues to be a little meh, but not bad. I’m enjoying it more than the Dalek story that came before it, though that isn’t difficult, given how much I dislike the Daleks at this point.

Some things happen, and Ben is about to be hanged, and, as so often seems to happen with these reconstructions, I’ve lost track of the story. I really look forward to the Pertwee years and beyond.

Episode 142 – “The Highlanders” – Part 02

They say that in the end, there can be only one. Yet here we are, born to be kings, and watching episode two!

Alas, both Duncan and Connor are nowhere to be seen.

Episode two begins with bagpipes, so…trigger warning.

Polly is still messing about with Kirsty, who can’t seem to stop crying, something that Poly snarks about a bit. Meantime, the English are wandering around, looking for various rebels. Kirsty and Polly manage to capture one of them, which is mildly amusing.

At the same time, the Doctor, still pretending to be German, is doing his best to tend to Jamie’s laird, with Ben lending a hand here and there. There’s an amusing moment where the subject of germs comes up, which Jamie promptly connects to the Doctor being German. Then there’s a sing-a-long. So that happens.

Polly and Kirsty have robbed the English officer they captured. Polly seems to be amused that his name is Ffinch. She makes it a point to pronounce each “f” on its own, which I find quite amusing.

The Doctor goes off and tries to do…something. I’m not quite clear what. Earning money, I believe,  by manipulating historical events. Here’s part of the problem with this story: I know very little about the history here, and it’s taken for granted that most of the audience does know it. It’s kind of like if there was an American time travel show and we went back to the American Revolution. There’d be a lot that would go unexplained because Americans would already know it. Thus is the case here, too, I think.

What follows is an amusing scene. “You suffer from headaches, yes?” There is some good comedy in this story, which does help a bit. One man says, “Dam your eyes!” and I can’t help by picture Marty Feldman.

Really, this story seems to play quite a bit like a farce at this point, not unlike “The Romans”.  That’s no bad thing; comedy plays better than action with reconstructions.

Episode 141 – “The Highlanders” – Part 01

Welcome to “The Highlanders”! This is a very important story in the history of the series, and in the history of the Second Doctor. For this is the story that introduces the one, the only, Jamie McCrimmon, who also added some eye-candy.

Perhaps some up-kilt action is in order?

It’s very hard to overstate the importance of Jamie in the series. He was a fantastic character, and Frazer Hines and Patrick Troughton had wonderful chemistry with each other.

We open with a battle between the Scots and the English. This is different from the usual battles which, to quote Pratchett and Gaiman, featured the Scots locked in endless combat with their mortal enemies, the Scots.

The Doctor, Ben, and Polly arrive on the scene, and I realize, to my great disappointment, that the audio in this reconstruction is shit. I can barely understand anything that anyone is saying. But, still, Jamie will be along shortly! So I will deal.

The Doctor and crew go wandering about, but it isn’t long before Jamie and his friends capture him. The Doctor sees that the local laird is lying around injured, and offers to help. The Scots agree, and all seems ok, but then the English show up.

Interestingly, there are a few video clips in this episode, including one of a soldier shooting one of Jamie’s friends. I hadn’t been aware that any video clips existed, so that’s rather neat.

Also…goodness, the Doctor is inflicting us with some horrible fake accent. Apparently German, since he says he’s Doktor von Werr. I’m not sure what the Doctor thinks a German accent sounds like, but I’m pretty sure it’s not like that.

We then cut to a scene of people scheming and plotting. I know this because of the evil chuckle one gives, and not because of any of the dialogue, which I honestly can only barely understand.

Some of the Scots are about to be hanged, but the Doctor pops up and Germans at them for a bit. He tries to convince them that they can’t legally hang the Scotsmen, and they seem to buy it, after a fashion.

While all of this is happening, Polly and a Scottish woman are running around doing…something. I can’t entirely tell what, but they do at least have a plan to try and deal with the various menfolk being in jail. Or, if you prefer, gaol. The Scots woman has a “precious ring”. Oh, dear…