Under the Mountain

Under the Mountain

"Under the Mountain" was an eight-part television series based on the novel of the same name written by Maurice Gee. It was produced by Television New Zealand and first transmitted in 1981. Many of the minor roles in this series were played by people who were at the time well known performers in New Zealand. The entire series has now been released on DVD.

Plot & Location

The show focused on a pair of twins, Rachel and Theo Matheson. While on school summer holidays in Auckland, they were contacted by a man named Mr. Jones, who had met them briefly eight years earlier. This time, Mr. Jones revealed his true identity and mission. He was an alien, sent from another world in a battle against another race of aliens. These latter creatures were a family of slimy, slug-like beasts who could take on human form. Led by the evil Mr. Wilberforce, the slug monsters were now bent on destroying Earth and only the twins' emerging psychic abilities could turn them back. Filming for the farm & bush scenes in the first episode took place near Silverdale, North of Auckland, at Mt. Pleasant, a historic dairy farm & homestead in Pine Valley Road.


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 others thought. 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 planets' 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. However, 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.

Episode Guide

# Maar
# Volcano of the Bleeding Skies
# Red Force, Blue Force
# The Alien World Below
# Weapons of the Mind
# Any Shape, Any Form
# Assault
# The Gift of Oblivion


(in credits order)
* Rachel Matheson .... Kirsty Wilkinson
* Theo Matheson .... Lance Warren
* Mr Jones .... Roy Leywood
* Mr Wilberforce .... Bill Johnson
* Ricky ..... Bill Ewens
* Aunt Noeline .... Glynis McNicoll
* Uncle Clarry .... Noel Trevarthen
* Mr Matheson (Episode 1) .... Laurie Dee
* Mrs Matheson (Episode 1) .... Annie Whittle
* Country Policeman (Episode 1) .... Jonathon Hardy
* Waitress (Episode 1) .... Paula Jones
* Young Rachel and Theo (Episode 1) .... Rachel Constantine & Phillip Constantine
* Jone's Neighbour (Episode 1) .... Gay Dean
* Searchers (Episode 1) .... Norman Forsey, Sean Duffy, & Fred James
* Librarian (Episode 2) .... Maggie Maxwell
* Traffic Officer (Episode 3) .... Billy T. James
* Wilberforce Family (Episodes 4-7) .... Roy Billing, Paul Owen-Love, David Weatherley, Richard Von Sturmer, Rodney Newman
* Wilberforce Family (Episodes 5-7) .... Timothy C. Lee, & Robert Bruce
* Delivery Man (Episode 5) .... Ray Woolf
* Boy (episode 6) .... Alexander Van Dam
* Girl (episode 6) .... Unice Walker
* Johan & Lenart (episode 6) .... Gerald Klyn
* Undertakers (episodes 6 & 7) .... John Atha & John Cronin


* Directed by: Chris Bailey
* Produced by: Tom Finlayson
* Written by: Maurice Gee
* Music by: Bernie Allen
* Music performed by: The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
* Screenplay by: Ken Catran
* Key Grip: Victor Yarker
* Mechanic Grip: Geoff Jamieson
* 2nd Unit Camera: John Irwin
* Best Boy: Ian Philp (sic)
* Production Manager: Brian Walden
* Unit Manager: Gillian Harris
* 1st Assistant Director: Peter Barrett
* Assistant Directors (episode 8): Ian Goldingham & Simon Ambridge
* Costume Designer: Barbara Darragh, & Lisa Prager (Episode 8)
* Makeup: Jill Mills, Bernie McKay, & Keith Pine (Episodes 4-8)
* Properties Mistress: Christine Mangin
* Assistant Designer: Kerry Shone
* Film Editors: Harley Oliver
* Videotape Editors: Paula Dixon, Wayne Kastelan, & Jeff Law (Episodes 7 & 8)
* Graphic Designers: Ray Richards & Margaret Hannay
* Continuity: Heather Bradbury
* Script Editor: Duncan Stuart
* Children's Dialogue Coach: Jacqui Dunn
* Lighting Cameraman: Michael O'Connor
* Camera Operator: Peter Thompson
* Sound: Neil Newcombe
* Technical Producer: Graeme Henderson
* Designer: Robert Gillies
* Senior Video Camera: Alan Silvester (Episodes 3-8)
* Studio Sound: Terry Murphy (Episodes 3-8)
* Vision Switcher: Elizabeth Cammell (Episodes 3-8)
* Scenic Artists: John Fisher & Rex Orange (Episodes 4, 5 & 8)
* Properties Mistress: Christine Mangin
* Stunts: Robert Bruce & Timothy C. Lee (Episode 5)
* Pyrotechnics: Kevin Chisnall (Episode 8)


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" but also known as "De Monsterplaneet".'Under the Mountain' is currently being adapted into a feature film in New Zealand.


All eight episodes have now been released on one dual-layer region-free (region 0) DVD in New Zealand [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/682685/1757793] .

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.

External links

* [http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~z/Under_The_Mountain.html Information about the series]

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