Sunday, July 15, 2012

Doctor Who: 038 The Abominable Snowmen

After the Cybermen have been put back into deep freeze, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria take off in the TARDIS once more and materialize in Tibet. The Doctor discovers he's near a monastery that he's visited before, many years in the past. He has a ghanta - a holy bell, given to him for safe keeping on his previous visit during some kind of crisis (although his previous adventure there remains somewhat of a mystery). He intends to return this ghanta to the monks. When he arrives at the monastery, he has a reunion with an old friend and a meets some new enemies. Thus begins The Abominable Snowmen, the first of two adventures this season featuring a new monster, the Yeti.

Apparently season 5 of Doctor Who was an excellent time to be a tall actor working in Britain. With two appearances by the Cybermen, two appearances by the Yeti, and an appearance by the Ice Warriors (another new monster), five of the seven stories this season utilized tall actors (although The Tomb of the Cybermen was technically filmed during the filming block for season 4). The Yeti and Ice Warriors were created for this season since the Daleks were off-limits due to Terry Nation trying to sell a pilot for a Dalek series.

I was really looking forward to seeing this story: the Yeti are another one of the classic monsters (next to the Daleks, Cybermen, and Ice Warriors). Sadly, both stories in this season featuring them only have one surviving episode each. Despite being fondly remembered by fans, they don't really appear again after this season other than a cameo in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors. Thankfully, again, we have a full set of telesnaps and the audio track for the missing episodes, so reconstructions are possible. I watched the Loose Cannon reconstruction, although there is apparently an Elaphe reconstruction out there as well. As with some of the more recent Loose Cannon reconstructions, there is computer animation of the Yeti in various places. Some of it works and some doesn't, but it helps to keep the story moving. :)

To be honest, I was a little disappointed by this story after hearing all the hype over the Yeti. I'd already heard spoilers, so I knew what they were going into it: perhaps that was also a factor. It wasn't a bad story and it had its good parts, but it was just sort of middle of the road to me. Perhaps the fans' fascination with the Yeti comes from their second appearance in The Web of Fear. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the rest of the episodes in this story, though. It was good, just not fabulous. :)

With 5 of the 6 episodes of this serial missing, this starts our running tally for season 5 and brings Troughton's overall totals to 33 missing episodes, 3 missing serials, and 5 incomplete serials. Next time, the TARDIS crew lands on Earth during the Second Ice Age and encounters The Ice Warriors from Mars.

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