One of the best — and occasionally most frustrating — things about Doctor Who is its longevity. The series, which premiered in 1963, will celebrate its 60th anniversary this November, a colossal achievement that spans 872 episodes, encompassing 300 stories spread across 39 television seasons. Wading into all that historical context can feel daunting, particularly for those of us who came to the world of the blue police box in the wake of the series' revival in 2005. And that's before you even consider that a significant chunk of its earliest seasons no longer exists.
Between t967 and 1978, BBC policy was to routinely delete archive programs for various practical reasons, including lack of space and scarcity of material. As a result, many of the show's earliest episodes, from William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton's First and Second Doctor eras, are now missing or incomplete. I7 out of 253 episodes remain lost to this day.
Luckily, however, a complete audio recording for all episodes still exists, which means fans can still see these classic stories after a fashion. Animators have reconstructed and recreated many of the series' lost or incomplete installments, including Second Doctor stories "The Faceless Ones," "Fury from the Deep," "The Evil of the Daleks," "The Macra Terror," "Power of the Daleks," and "Web of Fear."
And now the 1967 Second Doctor adventure "The Underwater Menace" will be the latest story to be given new life by way of animation when it arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray this November.
The original master recordings of all except episodes two and three of this four-part serial were lost soon after its initial broadcast. But the surviving audio has been used to create a new version of this lost Season 4 classic.
"The Underwater Menace" stars Troughton's Second Doctor alongside companions Jamie (Frazer Hines), Ben (Michael Craze), and Polly (Anneke Wills). The story takes the characters to the underwater city of Atlantis, where they meet with Professor Zaroff (Joseph Fürst), who has convinced the Atlantians that he can raise their sunken city from the sea. But when the Doctor discovers a terrible secret — that Zaroff is planning to destroy the Earth by draining its oceans — he and his friends must race against the clock to prevent the end of the world. Can the Doctor defeat the underwater menace?
Per the press release, the new two-disc box set will be "super jam-packed" with unseen and exclusive content, and all episodes have been animated in both color and black and white versions. It will also include the two surviving episodes from 1967, a making-of-documentary feature, and other extras.
"The Underwater Menace" will hit shelves this November, just in time for the holidays — and likely a certain iconic sci-fi property's diamond anniversary as well.