You’ve probably noticed that Doctor Who Magazine #488 is out now, but if you haven’t read it yet you won’t have seen this unfortunate news. After months of speculation, the planned DVD release of The Underwater Menace, which was intended to have animated missing episodes, has been cancelled.
It was back in March that problems were highlighted with the release when Anneke Wills queried on Twitter about the release date for the DVD.
But even in August 2014, Planet 55 – the company responsible for previous animated reconstructions – were forced to issue a statement denying their involvement with the project. And a few weeks before that, Restoration Team’s Steve Roberts suspected that the Doctor Who DVD range was dead, noting
“[W]e’re the team that remasters the episodes for DVD release and even we don’t have a clue what’s going on with TUM now. From where we’re standing, it’s looking like the range is dead.”
Following the discovery of the second episode of the serial, it seemed likely that a DVD release would feature the two remaining installments, and the BBC certainly confirmed this at the time. So what has gone wrong?
Someone who has been able to shed some light on this is Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury. Chatting with fans on Gallifrey Base, he indicated that the problem with the release was to do with finding an animation partner.
For what it’s worth, the overriding reason The Underwater Menace DVD hasn’t seen release is because BBC Worldwide has been unable to find a company that considers it financially viable to animate the two missing episodes. The previous animators either made a big loss on their previous Who projects, or have gone out of business altogether (partly because of making a big loss on such projects). As a result, BBC Worldwide has the two middle episodes of The Underwater Menace sitting on its shelves, with no realistic way to bridge the missing material. There’s a reluctance to just use telesnap recons or soundtracks, so the whole release has been cancelled. It’s a shame.
And while it seems likely that this is the end for the release (until such a time as it makes economical sense for a partner to get involved or the BBC decides to throw all of Season 4 onto a Blu-ray compilation disc) there remains some light at the end of the (time) tunnel. Spilsbury continues…
Funnily enough, Panini had a visit from someone at BBC Worldwide the other week, telling us a bit about the BBC Store, and asking if DWM could help promote it. They also asked my advise, wondering if there was any ‘unreleased’ Doctor Who that they could possibly utilise for the Store? I told them that the only existing episode not yet put out on DVD was The Underwater Menace Episode 2. I also said that in addition to UWM2, there are the two documentaries created for the abandoned DVD release, plus various other oddities (eg 2003’s The Story of Doctor Who, the full-length Confidentials etc). Anyway, they seemed very interested, and noted all this down, so you never know. Fingers crossed!
So, that seems like all but the end for The Underwater Menace‘s DVD release. And, perhaps, the end of the Omnirumour… until this changes, it’s worth noting that The Underwater Menace is available as an audiobook.