Doctor, Jamie and Victoria confront the fearsome Yeti - twice
- first in the Tibetan Himalayas during the 1930s, then several
decades later in the London Underground...
Previously issued individually on regular CDs, Patrick Troughton's
two run-ins with the Yeti make perfect partners for this MP3-CD
release. The Beeb could have fitted both six-parters on to
one disc, but - no doubt for the sake of convenience to the
listener - each story is presented on a separate CD.
first two episodes of The Abominable Snowmen romp along
very nicely indeed, and Frazer Hines' linking narration seems
particularly sprightly as he is forced to gabble with rapidity
in order to fit his voice-over into the small gaps betwixt
dialogue and action. Once into Episode Three, however, the
pace slackens off considerably. Much of the dialogue is mere
padding as characters wonder who could be in league with the
Yeti, even though writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln
have already blown the identity of the Great Intelligence's
agent by this time. It's a pity that Haisman and Lincoln couldn't
have maintained the mystery for a little longer - but they
learn from their mistake and succeed in keeping us guessing
throughout The Web of Fear.
interesting to note that while offering a scientific explanation
for the legendary Yeti (as robotic instruments of the disembodied
Great Intelligence) the writers offset this by maintaining
that real abominable snowmen also exist within the fictional
realm of Doctor Who. The monks in the first story speak
of the Yeti's usually timid nature, and explorer Edward Travers
(Jack Watling - father of series regular Deborah) actually
gets to see one at the end of the tale. It's almost like The
X-Files with one if its "so it is spooky after all" kind
aspects of The Abominable Snowmen work better on audio
than they did on TV. For one thing, we are spared the sight
of the total lack of snow on the location footage, which was
filmed in Wales during a warm August. And in both serials,
we cannot see how cuddly the supposedly terrifying Yeti were
on screen. But on the other hand, we are denied the visual
appeal of David Myerscough-Jones' extraordinary Tube station
and tunnel sets, created for The Web of Fear, which
looked so convincing that London Underground actually thought
the BBC had filmed there without permission!
Web remains essential listening for the debut appearance
of Nicholas Courtney as Colonel (later, of course, promoted
to Brigadier) Lethbridge-Stewart. The role played by the army
in this adventure sets a trend for the next several years
of UNIT stories.
product represents even greater value for money than the MP3-CD
version of The Daleks' Master Plan, when you bear in
mind the prices of the original releases of these Yeti adventures.
Let's hope it's not too long before the BBC chooses to unite
Troughton's two Dalek stories in a similar fashion.
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