Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Classic Nick Wed. 9– Under the Mountain

Our third installment of The Third Eye series takes a look at Under the Mountain, an eight-part television series based on the novel of the same name written by Maurice Gee that first aired in 1981 and was produced by Television New Zealand.

When twins Rachel and Theo Matheson first meet the mysterious Mr. Jones when they are young children lost in the woods near their home. Eight years later they meet Mr. Jones again in Auckland while they are spending their summer holidays with their aunt, uncle and cousin. It is during this time they learn that Mr. Jones is an alien, sent from another world in a battle against another race of slimy, slug-like beasts / monsters / aliens who strip a planet until it is barren then move on to the next to do the same.

While in their human form these creatures are known as the evil Mr. Wilberforce family who, despite their slug-like form have a keen sense of sight and smell as they spy on Rachel and Theo from across the lake.

Mr. Jones begins training the twins as they learn of their emerging psychic abilities and how to use them to defeat the Wilberforces. To aid in their training he give each of them a white stone that changes colors as they twins grow in power. As the series progresses their psychic abilities grow in effectiveness as the twins grow in trust and acceptance of their abilities but it is not without it’s own challenges. Rachel, the more sensitive of the two, accepts the truth of their abilities and is able to grow in power more quickly than her brother Theo who is naturally more of a cynic and often challenged Mr. Jones.

At this point I will post the character descriptions, episode guide, cast list and availability straight from Wikipedia). I’m sorry that it is very long however I do not feel that I can improve on their descriptions.

Characters Based on the original novel by Maurice Gee:

Rachel and Theo Matheson
Two seemingly ordinary fraternal twins who lived in a rural New Zealand town. One day when they were three years old, they had wandered away from their home. While a search party tried to find them, they were met by the enigmatic Mr. Jones who telekinetically kept them warm through the cold evening until they were found. Over the years to follow, they had found that they shared a telepathic link and could read each other's thoughts. Upon meeting Mr. Jones again, eight years later, he reveals the reason for his interest in the twins and their important role in his plan for saving the world from the Wilberforces.

Mr. Jones
The last surviving member of a benevolent alien race. His true form is essentially a living flame: warm, brilliant and without a definite shape. On Earth, however, he takes the form of a kindly old man. As he explains to Rachel and Theo, his race was known as "The People Who Understand" and had developed technology based on their powerful telepathic abilities. Mr. Jones has the ability to teleport, communicate telepathically and project powerful beams of light from his physical self. He had journeyed to Earth with another member of his race with the intention of finding and stopping the Wilberforces. The other member was older and had succumbed to old age before the Wilberforces could be found. Mr. Jones has since searched for twins whose minds are telepathically linked in order to complete the work, which he and his older counterpart had started.

The Wilberforces
A race of symbiotic organisms consisting of a slug-like brain (roughly twice the mass of an adult) and a large worm like body (about the size of a battleship). According to the account given to the twins by Mr. Jones, the Wilberforces originated millions of years ago on a world consisting of seas of mud, which nourished the worm organisms. Threatened with extinction, the Wilberforces resolved themselves to conquering other worlds, using their technology to reform other planet's surfaces into mud in order to thrive and breed. When they had finished using a planet's resources, no life remained on that world. By the time Mr. Jones' world had been visited by them several thousand years ago, the Wilberforces had overtaken one complete spiral arm of the galaxy. Mr. Jones' race succeeded in permanently incapacitating every Wilberforce on every planet they could be found on, including Earth. However, the Wilberforces on Earth had learned to slowly counteract the telepathic weapons of The People Who Understand before being rendered dormant. By the time Rachel and Theo are discovered by Mr. Jones, the Wilberforces have nearly completely awakened.

Screenings – 1981 miniseries
Episode Guide
Volcano of the Bleeding Skies
Red Force, Blue Force
The Alien World Below
Weapons of the Mind
Any Shape, Any Form
The Gift of Oblivion


Kirsty Wilkinson as Rachel Matheson
Lance Warren as Theo Matheson
Roy Leywood as Mr Jones
Bill Johnson as Mr Wilberforce
Bill Ewens as Ricky


Directed by: Chris Bailey
Produced by: Tom Finlayson
Written by: Maurice Gee
Screenplay by: Ken Catran
Music by: Bernie Allen

International Distribution

In the United States, Under the Mountain was shown on Nickelodeon as part of The Third Eye. The other series included were Into the Labyrinth, Children of the Stones, The Haunting of Cassie Palmer. In Dutch the title is Moddermonsters (Mud Monsters) but also known as De Monsterplaneet (The Monster Planet).


All eight episodes have been released on one dual-layer region-free (region 0) DVD in New Zealand. For some reason the video format chosen for the DVD was NTSC, while the original production material would have been produced for PAL transmission as that is the standard in use throughout New Zealand and Australia. This makes the DVD unplayable for people with certain older TV sets unable to display NTSC. Picture quality is described on the DVD cover as "subject to quality of dated production source." Audio is mono, but is of an acceptable quality.

2009 movie ‘Under the Mountain' has been adapted into a New Zealand 2009 feature film directed by Jonathan King best known for Black Sheep.

2009 Film Cast
Sam Neill – Mr. Jones
Oliver Driver – Mr. Wilberforce
Tom Cameron – Theo Matheson
Sophie McBride – Rachel Matheson
Jon Cummings – Wilberforce Drone # 3
Matthew Chamberlain – Uncle Cliff
Matt Gillanders – Wilberforce Drone # 6
Wayne Gordon – Wilberforce Drone # 4
Bruce Hopkins – Richard Matheson
Toi Iti – Country Policeman
Bill Johnson – Mr.  Carpenter (cameo)
Miriama Kamo – News Reader
Reuben King – Johan / Lenart Double
Nathaniel Lees - Detective Gray
Chelsea McEwan Millar – Clementine 
Nathan Meister – Johan / Lenart
Colin Moy – Constable  Green
Gareth Reeves – Wilberforce Drone # 2
Micheala Rooney – Aunty Kay
Madeleine Sami – Constable Wood
Allan Smith – Wilberforce Drone # 5
Matt Sunderland – Wilberforce Drone # 1
Leon Wadham – Ricky 
David Weatherly – Desk Sergeant
Kirsty Wilkinson – Mr. Jones’ Neighbor (cameo)

Kirsty Wilkinson, who portrayed Rachel Matheson from the original "Under the Mountain" on television, made a cameo appearance in the film as Mr. Jones' Neighbor. Bill Johnson, who portrayed Mr. Wilberforce from the original "Under the Mountain" on television, also made a cameo appearance in the film as Mr. Carpenter.

The film was shot in locations around Auckland in 2008 and has the approval of author Maurice Gee


Lionsgate Home Entertainment set the release for the 10 August 2010 in the United States.

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