Doctor Who #473: Underworld Part 2

"Whatever blows can be sucked."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.14 1978.

IN THIS ONE... The Mynian ship escapes its fate and crashes into a soft planet with an inhabited core.

REVIEW: False alarm on the Mynian ship turning into a planet, but it's definitely what's happening to P7E (Persephone? there's a lot of wordplay in this), the lost ship that holds their gene bank. After an exciting effects sequence, escaping P7E's fate and crashing into the soft slurry of the mysterious planet at the nebula's core, we enter a completely different (under)world. This world of Trogs who fear Skyfall (can't help but hear the tune), oppressed by striking, hooded Inquisitors working for the "Oracle". And it looks quite bizarre too thanks to liberal use of CSO tunnels. It makes the environment surreal, even if in general, the effect is realized much more expertly than Barry Letts' early experiments with the third Doctor. It's possible your enjoyment of this episode will depend on how well you accept these effects.

As if to make the greatest use of the virtual environments, there's a LOT of running around in tunnels. They still try to make it lively, and sometimes it works (the Doctor spinning his scarf during the fumigation), sometimes it doesn't (the Trogs running from a cave-in is high camp). Herrick proves to be a bit of an action man, making quips and bouncing lasers off his little shield in as butch a manner as he can muster. Leela's a bit on edge still, after Part 1's pacification perhaps, trying to kill poor Idas, just running for his life and sad that his prophet-like dad's going to be sacrificed soon. Now the Doctor needs to rescue the old man because he'd probably make a good exposition character to explain this strange society. But for now, we'll have to be content with the running around through special effects.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A dynamic, visually interesting episode, even if nothing much happens once the Mynian ship gets to the eponymous Underworld.


Tommy Krasker said...

I believe "Underworld" is the only Classic Who serial I have never been able to get all the way through. I've tried twice now, but every time I get to that scene in Part 2 where dozens of villagers are running around insanely panicked (it must be the part you describe as "the Trogs running from a cave-in"), I can't go on. I no longer have the will to watch. And I really don't think Baker & Martin have a handle on Leela, which annoys the crap out of me, since she's such a brilliant character -- but then, aside from her creator, Chris Boucher, and Terrance Dicks, I'm not sure any writers of that era have a handle on Leela. But I peeked ahead to your overall review of the serial, which you put at "Medium," so if anything would ever prompt me to try to get all the way through, it would be that. I'll let you know if I make it. If you don't ever hear from me again, the serial did me in.


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