The Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria face the fearsome
Yeti - twice. They first encounter them in the Tibetan Himalayas
during the 1930s. The creatures resurface several decades
later in the London Underground...
you experiencing a strange feeling of déja vu? Yeah, me too.
This special box set contains both of Patrick Troughton's
battles with the Yeti, which have previously been released
as individual CDs in 2000 and 2001 respectively and, earlier
this year, in the BBC's new MP3-CD format. So this is the
third time that these two stories, The Abominable Snowmen
and The Web of Fear,
have been released on audio.
If by some miracle you don't already own these adventures,
then this double pack is well worth a listen.
first two episodes of The Abominable Snowmen romp along
very nicely indeed. Frazer (Jamie) Hines' linking narration
sounds 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 constitutes
mere padding as characters wonder who could be in league with
the Yeti, even though the writers, Mervyn Haisman and Henry
Lincoln, have by this point blown the identity of the governing
Great Intelligence's agent. It's a pity 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.
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 appeared
on screen. On the other hand, we are denied the visual appeal
of David Myerscough-Jones' extraordinary Tube station and
tunnel sets, which he created for The Web of Fear.
They looked so convincing that London Underground actually
thought the BBC had filmed there without obtaining permission!
Web remains essential listening for the debut appearance
of Nicholas Courtney as Colonel (later, of course, promoted
to Brigadier) Lethbridge-Stewart. The function fulfilled by
the army in this adventure set the trend for the next few
years of UNIT stories.
It's interesting to note that while offering a scientific
explanation for the legendary Yeti (as robotic instruments
of the disembodied Intelligence) the writers offset this by
maintaining that real abominable snowmen also exist within
the fictional universe of Doctor Who. The monks in
the first story talk 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 of endings!
box set is not as affordable as the recent MP3-CD release,
but it still represents greater value for money than the original,
individual releases of these Yeti adventures. It's just a
shame that the BBC didn't grace them with a cuddly fur-covered
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