Under The Mountain1973: The Matheson twins, age three, go missing from their home, triggering a massive search and rescue operation near their rural New Zealand home. An enigmatic man, Mr. Jones, discovers them bathed in a golden glow; they’re found shortly afterward by police, but Mr. Jones is nowhere to be found.

1981: Rachel and Theo Matheson visit their aunt and uncle’s home in the shadow of the Rangitoto volcano. Now approaching adolescence, the twins have grown not just up but apart. During a swim, Theo thinks he spots a shark or some other creature in the water, causing a panic, and later he’s spooked when a neighbor’s car slows down suspiciously, as if observing Theo and his sister. But while it may seem like Theo’s imagination is running away with him, he didn’t imagine the sea creature. When it comes to pay the twins a visit, Mr. Jones is waiting to protect them yet again.

screenplay by Ken Catran
based on the novel by Maurice Gee
directed by Chris Bailey
music by Bernie Allen

Under The MountainCast: Kirsty Wilkinson (Rachel), Lance Warren (Theo), Roy Leywood (Mr. Jones), Bill Johnson (Mr. Wilberforce), Bill Ewens (Ricky), Glynis McNicoll (Aunt Noeline), Noel Trevarthen (Uncle Clarry), Laurie Dee (Mr. Matheson), Annie Whittle (Mrs. Matheson), Jonathon Hardy (Country Policeman), Paula Jones (Waitress), Rachel Constantine (young Rachel), Phillip Constantine (young Theo), Gay Dean (Jones’ neighbor), Norman Forsey (Searcher), Sean Duffy (Searcher), Fred James (Searcher)

Notes: Rangitoto is one of the many volcanoes of the Auckland Volcanic Field, a still-active area of volcanic growth whose future activity may yet threaten New Zealand’s most populous area. Rangitoto, last active roughly half a millennium ago, is the site (and the result) of the largest eruption in that field in recorded history. It is now considered dormant, and its empty lava tubes may be explored by tourists. The episode title, Maar, refers to a volcanic crater at ground level, Under The Mountainthe result of an explosion when groundwater comes into contact with magma, which usually becomes a natural lake after the eruption. In this case, it refers to Lake Pupuke, a dormant maar near Rangitoto.

Under The Mountain was the first production designer gig for Robert Gillies, formerly the full-time sax/trumpet player of New Zealand art-rock band Split Enz. His later work as production designer included Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Cleopatra 2525, the short-lived Bruce Campbell series Jack Of All Trades, and Legend Of The Seeker. He also designed props for the 21st century big-screen versions of Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Prior to this series, Gillies had assisted in the set design for Split Enz’ near-legendary theatrical extravaganzas and music videos.

LogBook entry by Earl Green