Doctor Who: The Underwater Menace (S04E032)

By: (plus.google.com) +David Herron; Date: 2008-10-05 21:56

Tags: Doctor Who

In Jamie's inaugural voyage in the TARDIS we travel to Atlantis. It is not an Atlantis of ancient times, but one which has been buried beneath the ocean until modern times. A modern day mad scientist, Professor Zaroff, has made his way to Atlantis and has a crackpot crazy scheme. He's told the Atlantean's that he can raise their city from beneath the ocean, and to these people who have been buried for centuries having their city above the ocean again is appealing. However Zaroff has a different plan, one which will involve destruction of the planet.

The Atlantean's are shown to be a rather superstitious people, worshiping Amdo. Amdo apparently requires human sacrifice, as the Doctor and Companions are threatened with sacrifice several times. The people are shown as blindly following whatever the dictates of Amdo are, but there seems to have been subterfuge as there is a corridor behind the altar where someone can speak into a speaking tube making it sound as if the statue of Amdo is speaking.

The Doctor and Companions fall into companionship with some rebels who desire to free themselves from different forms of slavery. Some of the slaves are people who have been converted into fish, and they are "farming" plankton to provide food to the people of the city. The other slaves are mine-workers.

Zaroff had not told anybody of his real plan, and the truth of the real plan was shocking to everybody as they learned it. Learning the truth is what turned everybody against Zaroff.

One of the themes here is blind faith versus science. The Atlanteans are presented as superstitious people unable to raise themselves out of the ocean, whereas it is science that offers them their salvation. Except in this case science is lying to them and will destroy them. However for some reason at the end of the story they decide that with their city drowned, that they will leave behind them their superstitious ways.

A continuity issue is the Doctor's previous acquaintance with Professor Zaroff. They clearly know each other but this was not shown in the series. Clearly the Doctor is a very well traveled Time Lord and has met lots of people in his many years, not all of whom have appeared in filmed episodes. The documentary team is working very hard to show us the complete history of the Doctor, but even they cannot keep up with him in all his travels. Still if they're going to show us the Doctor meeting an old friend, it would be great to also show us the time when the Doctor previously met Professor Zaroff, don't you think?