Tag Archives: Yeti

Day 39 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The 5 Greatest Monsters of the Sixties

Standard

Image

Doctor Who’s long history of non-human villains has its genesis in the show’s second ever serial, The Daleks. Choosing the Top 5 is relatively easy given the extraordinarily high attrition rate of monsters considered to be “the next big thing”. Starting with Terry Nation’s The Sensorites, and ending with Robert Homes’ The Krotons, the Sixties were littered with the carcases of monsters that never quite made the grade.  The Dominator’s Quarks, The Underwater Menace’s benevolent Fish People, The Macra Terror’s Macra, The War Machines’ WOTAN and War Machines, Galaxy 4’s Rill, The Chase’s Mechonoids, and The Web Planet’s Zarbi and Menoptra are but a few  examples.

One of the less successful monsters of the Sixties, the Fish People from The Underwater Menace

One of the less successful monsters of the Sixties, the Fish People from The Underwater Menace

In essence, any 1960s monster that scored a repeat story in that decade has made The Doctor Who Mind Robber’s list of the Greatest Monsters of the Sixties. All have been revived in New Series Doctor Who, with the exception of the Yeti. Please see Day 49 of our countdown for the Ten Least Remembered Monsters of the Sixties.

5. The Great IntelligenceThe Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear

When Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart asked the Doctor in The Web of Fear what the Great Intelligence was he responded by saying, “Well, I wish I could give you a precise answer.  Perhaps the best way to describe it is a sort of formless, shapeless thing floating around in space like a cloud of mist, only with a mind and will”.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria first encountered the Great Intelligence at the Det-Sen monastery in 1935 Tibet (The Abominable Snowmen).  Having possessed the body of the monastery’s Master, Padmasambhava, this otherwise disembodied sentient being permitted its host to live up to 300 years.  The Intelligence forced Padmasambhava to build him an army of robot Yeti, the construction of which took over 200 years.  The Yeti were controlled by small hand-made pyramids. The Intelligence’s plans to take over the mountain on which the monastery stood were thwarted when the Doctor, Edward Travers and the companions destroyed the pyramids. Padmasambhava finally found the peace he so desired when his body passed away and the Intelligence again became a sentient being without a parasitic body.

The Abominable Snowmen's Padmasambhava was possessed by the Great Intelligence

The Abominable Snowmen’s Padmasambhava was possessed by the Great Intelligence

The Doctor and his companions again met the Intelligence when they found themselves in the London Underground 40 years later. In The Web of Fear their old friend Professor Travis had inadvertently facilitated the reactivation of the Yeti. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria teamed up with members of the British Army to thwart the Intelligence’s plans for domination. The Intelligence used the body of the deceased Staff Sergeant Arnold and even Professor Travers for a short time.  The Intelligence sought to possess the Doctor’s body and to drain his mind with a conversion headset.  Unbeknownst to his companions, the Doctor had already reversed the settings so that it was the Intelligence’s mind, rather than his own, that would be drained.  Jamie, however, smashed the control spheres prior to the Doctor sapping the Intelligence’s mind.  Although still alive, the Intelligence vanished and was never again seen by the Second Doctor.

Staff Sergeant Arnold was possessed by the Great Intelligence in The Web of Fear

Staff Sergeant Arnold was possessed by the Great Intelligence in The Web of Fear

4. The YetiThe Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear

Although briefly seen in the 20th Anniversary Special, The Five Doctors, the Yeti have only been the central players of two serials, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. Robotic servants of the Great Intelligence, the first Yeti were manufactured by Padmasambhava at the Intelligence’s command.  Rather pear shaped and cuddly, the Mark 1 Yeti were not as threatening in appearance as their Mark 2 counterparts which had claws capable of holding web-guns and were more streamlined. Exactly who assisted the Intelligence in the production of the Mark 2 Yeti of The Web of Fear has never revealed.

The Doctor and a Yeti in The Web of Fear

The Doctor and a Yeti in The Web of Fear

3. The Ice WarriorsThe Ice Warriors and  The Seeds of Death

The Ice Warriors are natives of the planet Mars. Large reptilian humanoids, the Ice Warriors can stand up to 7 feet in height. The Doctor and his companions first came upon the Ice Warriors at the Brittanicus Base where they had been frozen in ice for over 5,000 years. Defeated when their space craft exploded the Ice Warriors were next encountered on the Moon in The Seeds of Death. Their attempts at obtaining control of the Earth were foiled when the Doctor discovered that their seed pods were ruined by water.  The Doctor then sent their space craft into an orbit around the sun.

The Doctor used his genius in an attempt to thwart death in The Seeds of Death

The Doctor used his genius in an attempt to thwart death in The Seeds of Death

When the Ice Warriors were next met by the Doctor in 1972’s The Curse of Peladon they were members of the Galactic Foundation and had renounced violence. They became allies with the Doctor and remained so in a subsequent Third Doctor adventure, The Monster of Peladon (1974). In 2013’s Cold War the Ice Warriors’ pacifism was a long forgotten.  

Pertwee era Ice Warriors

Pertwee era Ice Warriors

2. The CybermenThe Tenth Planet, The Moonbase, The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Wheel in Space and The Invasion.

The Cybermen made their Doctor Who debut in William Hartnell’s last serial, The Tenth Planet. Very much humanoid in appearance, the Mark 1 Cybermen were possessed of a sing-song voice.  Their faces were covered only with a stocking and they still retained their human hands. Unlike their successors, the first Cybermen initially did not seek to destroy the human race but rather hoped to convince them to join their “utopian” existence.

A Mark 1 Cyberman in The Tenth Planet

A Mark 1 Cyberman in The Tenth Planet

With the success of their first television appearance the Cybermen were quickly co-opted as rivals to the Dalek’s mantle of favourite Doctor Who monster. Each story in which they appeared saw their costumes modified, with the most substantial change occurring to the Mark 2 model.  Gone were the stockinged faces and in their place were robotic heads.  The five digits of their human hands were replaced by three fingered gloved hands.

The Cybermen emerge from their icy tombs in this iconic image from The Tomb of the Cybermen

The Cybermen emerge from their icy tombs in this iconic image from The Tomb of the Cybermen

The Cybermen were the subject of two particularly iconic images of Sixties Who.  Even the tackiness of breaking through new-fangled cling wrap was insufficient to dampen the effectiveness of the Cybermen’s emergence from their icy tombs in The Tomb of the Cybermen.  Their appearance on, and march down, the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in The Invasion was arguably the greatest cliff hanger of the era. Still images of the event have become part of popular culture.

Perhaps the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who.  The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral

Perhaps the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who. The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in The Invasion

1.   The DaleksThe Daleks, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Space Museum (cameo), The Chase, Mission to the Unknown, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks

Only a brave person would nominate anything other than the Daleks as their favourite 1960s monsters. Appearing in just the second Doctor Who serial, it was arguably the Daleks that saved the show from a mere 13 week run. In a stroke of genius the Terry Nation created and Ray Cusick designed mutants immediately captured the imagination of the British public. Dalekmania was in full swing and within 18 months the Daleks would appear in the first of two colour, theatrically released movies.

Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks' first appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963

Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks’ first appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963

The Daleks featured in seven Sixties serials and appeared as a cameo in another. The 12 piece extravaganza The Daleks’ Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing serials. Only 3 episodes are held in the BBC Archives.  Among other missing episodes is Mission to the Unknown, the only one part 1960s serial which also has the distinction of featuring none of the regular cast.  Arguably the most missed of all Dalek serials is the Second Doctor’s first story, The Power of the Daleks.  It, together with another missing story, The Evil of the Daleks, is highly revered in fandom.  It can only be hoped that at least some of these missing episodes are some day recovered.

The 12 part Dalek's Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

The 12 part The Dalek’s Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

HONOURABLE MENTION

The Chumblies – Galaxy 4

Although the Chumblies were never reprised they were the most adorable Doctor Who monsters ever.  Despite the Doctor, Steven and Vicki being initially frightened by them it soon became apparent that they were benign and worked for the good and just with the Rill. The Chumblies are top of my list of Sixties monsters that I’d most like to see revived.

A Chumbley with the Drahvins in Galaxy 4

A Chumbley with the Drahvins in Galaxy 4

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Advertisements

Missing Episodes – Let’s Discuss Coincidences

Standard

Image

In my review of the recently released The Ice Warriors DVD on 3 September I posited that there may be a relationship between the resurrection of seemingly deceased Doctor Who monsters and the sale of Classic Series DVDs. Only four months prior to The Ice Warrior’s DVD release an Ice Warrior emerged for the first time in 39 years in The Cold War. Similarly, the last Fourth Doctor DVD to be issued, The Terror of the Zygons, coincidently found its way onto retailers’ shelves but a mere six weeks prior to the Zygons much anticipated reprise in the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor. Should we anticipate the return of the Fish People soon given the impending release of The Underwater Menace, I asked.

The Ice Warriors DVD Cover

In retrospect, the recovery of The Web of Fear is now obvious considering the story arc which commenced with the 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen.  At the time the return of the Great Intelligence, a formless mass first encountered in The Abominable Snowmen and last seen in The Web of Fear 44 years earlier, was a incredibly bizarre decision by Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat. Of all villains to resurrect, why choose one who only appeared in two missing serials over 40 years previously? Not that this was the first time that a monster seemingly lost for all time had been reimaged.  The Macra reappeared in the 2007 Series 3 episode Gridlock having last been seen in 1967’s The Macra Terror.

A snowman from 2012's The Snowmen

A snowman from 2012’s The Snowmen

The Great Intelligence’s revival was not limited to a single episode, however.  It went on to appear in two further Series 7 episodes, The Bells of Saint John and The Name of the Doctor and was the series’ major protagonist.  Which leads us to further coincidences.  Were the Snowmen who accompanied the Great Intelligence in The  Snowmen a substitute for the Intelligence’s first tools, the Yeti? Should we anticipate the recovery and issue of The Abominable Snowmen sometime soon? Moreover, is this image taken from the 50th Anniversary trailer perhaps a hint that The Abominable Snowmen has indeed been returned.  The snow capped mountains in the background clearly represent Tibet and the stone block building could readily be a monastery.  Is the Second Doctor playing his recorder as if to summon the missing episodes home? Only time will tell, however one thing is certain.  Henceforth the revival of any monsters and villains from lost 1960’s episodes  will be scrutinized and speculated upon by fans as evidence of recoveries.  Let’s see what the 50th Anniversary and Christmas Specials, together with Series 8, brings forth!

A screen capture from the BBC trailer for the 50th Anniversary Special, The Name of the Doctor

A screen capture from the BBC trailer for the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Web of Fear – Loose Cannon Reconstructions

Standard

ImageOnly episode one of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.  For the purposes of this marathon I viewed Loose Cannon’s reconstructions of episodes two through to six, links to which are provided below.

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 2 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 2 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 3 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 3 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 4 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 4 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 5 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 5 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 6 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Web of Fear, Episode 6 Part 2

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.  The Web of Fear was originally  broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. The Web of Fear was originally broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

The Web of Fear

Standard

Image

Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart began his television career in Doctor Who as a Colonel in The Web of Fear and ended it, more than 40 years later, with a knighthood in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial Enemy of the Bane. In the interim the Brigadier, as he was most frequently and affectionately known, appeared in 103 TV episodes of Classic Series Doctor Who¸ the 1993 30th Anniversary Special Dimensions in Time, and two episodes of the Sarah Jane Adventures (2008). The character’s death was acknowledged in the Series 6 episode The Wedding of River Song (2011). The Brigadier also appeared as a character in countless audio dramas, books, cartoons and short stories right up until the actor Nicholas Courtney’s death in February 2011.

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances in The Web of Fear  (1968)

Lethbridge-Stewart appeared alongside the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors in  serials and with the Sixth Doctor in Dimensions in Time. Nicholas Courtney, however, had the distinction of also appearing as Bret Vyon in the first four episodes of the First Doctor’s serial, The Daleks’ Master Plan.  Interestingly, Courtney’s first and last appearances in Classic Series Doctor Who were alongside fellow actor Jean Marsh. Marsh had played Courtney’s sister, Sara Kingdom, in The Daleks’ Master Plan and was Morgaine in 1989’s Battlefield. To tangle the interweaving web of Doctor Who even further, Marsh had been married to Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor, between 1955 and 1960.

Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial, Enemy of the Bane (2008)

Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial, Enemy of the Bane (2008)

Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was the longest running recurring human character in Doctor Who by a country mile.  The only villainous characters of greater longevity have been the Daleks, who first appeared in 1963, the Cybermen (1966), The Ice Warriors (1967) and quite ironically for the purposes of this review, the Great Intelligence (1967).  And to think that contract to appear as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart was only four weeks long!

The Eleventh Doctor learns of the Brigadier’s death in The Wedding of River Song

Aside from the creation of the iconic Lethbridge-Stewart, one would be hard pressed to find another Doctor Who story that had such a long term influence on the series than The Web of Fear. As a classic example of the “base under siege” genre, it was the first to be set in present day London.  Transferring the previously Himalayan bound Yeti to the London Underground provided both a contemporary and identifiable point of reference for viewers.  The sense of terror was greatly amplified when monsters were lurking in the tunnels and tube stations that most viewers knew so well.  Incidentally, one of the actors in the Yeti suits was none other than John Levene, who would go on to portray another long time recurring character, UNIT’s Sergeant Benton.

Yeti in the tunnels of the London Underground

Yeti in the tunnels of the London Underground

The Second Doctor’s co-operation with the military in The Web of Fear would resurface in Season Six’s The Invasion, in which both Lethbridge-Stewart and Benton were members of the newly established United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). The Invasion was the template for the Third Doctor’s earthbound exile in Seasons Seven and beyond.  But more about that when I review The Invasion.

Jack Watling reprised his role of (an aged) Travers in The Web of Fear

Jack Watling reprised his role of (an aged) Travers in The Web of Fear

The appearance of the Yeti in The Abominable Snowmen, and its sequel, The Web of Fear, propelled them to iconic status.  As a consequence of the writers, Henry Lincoln and Mervyn Haisman’s, falling out with the Doctor Who production team the Yeti would only appear again briefly in the 1983 Twentieth Anniversary Special, The Five Doctors. The Yeti’s short screen time had little effect on the creatures’ iconic status. Although never appearing alongside the Yeti on screen, Jon Pertwee is fondly remembered for his oft quoted phrase, “Yeti on the loo in Tooting Bec”.  What Pertwee was referring to was the direction that Doctor Who had taken during the Third Doctor’s earthbound tenure.  The Doctor was confronting  the monsters, not on an alien planet, but in the viewers’ own backyards, or toilets, or under their city ….  Akin to the expression, “Behind the Sofa”, “Yeti on the loo” quickly entered the Who vocabulary.

Reading a paper in the loo is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  But did the Third Doctor anticipate meeting a Yeti in the loo?

Reading a paper in the loo is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But did the Third Doctor anticipate meeting a Yeti in the loo?

This “Yeti on the loo” in-joke was most probably lost on a great many New Series viewers to part three of Pond Life, the prelude mini-adventures to Series Seven. The pun was much more than just the play on words of “Ood” and “loo”, and was most certainly a shout-out to Classic Series Who. Give a thought to the late Jon Pertwee as you watch Rory and Amy’s startled responses to the Ood in their bathroom.

Rory and Amy are confronted by an unexpected guest in Part 3 of Pond Life.

Before we leave the Yeti, The Web of Fear was the last serial to feature the sublime composition by British Composer, Martin Slavin, entitled Space Adventure. Ordinarily the Cybermen’s theme, it provided a superb backdrop for their first three stories, The Tenth Planet, The Moonbase and The Tomb of the Cybermen. In its last appearance in Who this composition accompanied the Yeti in Covent Garden.  

Victoria, Jamie and the Doctor contemplate their options

Victoria, Jamie and the Doctor contemplate their options

The Web of Fear is not without its failings. There is an unfortunate negative Jewish stereotype in episode one in the form of Julius Silverstein, a wealthy artefact collector and business person who runs his own museum.  Having acquired a deactivated Yeti from Edward Travers, he refused to return it after being advised that the Yeti’s control sphere had been reactivated and disappeared. The consequence of this belligerence was Silverstein’s own death at the hands of the reactivated Yeti.  When Terrance Dicks novelized the serial as Doctor Who and the Web of Fear in 1976 the character’s name was changed to Emil Julius in an attempt to avoid the negative stereotype.

The unfortunate artefact owner, Julius Silverstein

The unfortunate artefact owner, Julius Silverstein shortly before his death at the hands of a Yeti

As equally offensive, but rarely mentioned, example of racism is the characterization of Driver Evans, a Welsh officer of the British Army and a member of Lethbridge-Stewart’s team.  Evans is portrayed as unintelligent and cowardly, and he clearly wants to dessert from the Army. Had there been more than one Welsh Army officer in the serial then this Cymrophobia (anti-Welsh sentiment) could have been averted by presenting the other character(s) as courageous. Evidently Terrance Dicks was also concerned by this Cymrophobia and had Lethbridge-Stewart state that ordinarily the Welsh are good soldiers.

The character of Driver Evans was evidence of Doctor Who's Cymrophobia.

The character of Driver Evans was evidence of Doctor Who’s Cymrophobia.

The unfortunate stereotyping of the age aside, The Web of Fear is a tremendously suspenseful serial beautifully directed by Douglas Camfield. High up on many Who fans lists of “most wanted” missing serials, The Web of Fear’s influence on the future of Doctor Who could never have been imagined when its episodes were junked.  Only episode one remains in the BBC Archives, which is one more than the next serial in my marathon, Fury From the Deep. Join me for my next review as I examine how Australian film censorship has given us a tantalizing glimpse of this long lost story.

A body at the entrance of the deserted Tube Station

A body at the entrance of the deserted Tube Station

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.  The Web of Fear was originally  broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. The Web of Fear was originally broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Abominable Snowmen – Rare Yeti Photographs

Gallery

The Abominable Snowmen

Standard

Image

The 1960s saw the dawning of Western interest in Eastern religions.  Perhaps premier among the spiritualities investigated was Buddhism. It was in 1967 that a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemane, Thomas Merton, published his collection of essays, Mystics and Zen Masters.  More than 40 years later, two of the top five Google search results on “Merton and Buddhism” return a conservative Catholic article entitled, “Can You Trust Thomas Merton?” Yes, there are still many orthodox Catholics who would prefer to imagine that the Second Vatican Council never occurred, and fear that enlightened spiritual writers such as the late Fr Merton are a threat to the very fabric of Christendom.

Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama

Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Doctor Who should enter into this stream of consciousness with its Tibetan tale of Buddhist Monks and Yeti, The Abominable Snowmen.  Five of the six episodes of this serial are among the 106 currently missing from the BBC Archives.  Thankfully the good people at Loose Cannon Productions have come to our rescue, yet again, with their masterful reconstructions.  Episode two is available on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.  An excellent precise of the serial was provided by David J Howe and Stephen James Walker in their 2003 publication, The Television Companion. The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who.  Rather than reinventing the wheel I’ll let them summarise the plot for you:

Songsten, Khrisong and a fellow monk

Songsten, Khrisong and a fellow monk

“The TARDIS arrives in Tibet in 1935 and the Doctor visits the remote Detsen (sic) monastery in order to return a sacred bell, the ghanta, given to him for safe keeping on a previous visit.  There he meets and Englishman, Travers, on an expedition to track down the legendary Abominable Snowmen or Yeti.  It transpires that the Yeti roaming the area are actually disguised robots, which scare away or kill anyone who approaches.  The High Lama Padmasambhava, whom the Doctor met hundreds of years earlier on his previous visit, had been taken over by a nebulous alien  being, the Great Intelligence, which has artificially prolonged his life and is now using him to control the Yeti by way of models on a chessboard-like map.  The Intelligence’s aim is to create a material form for itself and take over the Earth.  The Doctor banishes it back to the astral plane, allowing Padmasambhava finally to die in peace”.

David J Howe & Stephen James Walker's The Television Companion was published in 2003 by Telos Publishing

David J Howe & Stephen James Walker’s The Television Companion was published in 2003 by Telos Publishing

The Abominable Snowmen’s writers, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, sought to authenticate the serial by utilizing some real life names from the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The Master of the monastery was Padmasambhava, so named after the eighth century Buddhist Master who is said to have brought Vajrayana (tantric) Buddhism to Tibet. History names Padmasambhava as the author of Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State (Bardo Thodol) which is known colloquially in the Western world as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Given that the Bardo Thodol is in effect a treaty on how to ensure an absolute death and escape from the cycle of reincarnations, it is profoundly ironic that Padmasambhava of The Abominable Snowmen should be caught in a state of suspended life for hundreds of years. His death at the conclusion of the serial is more in accord with Buddhist philosophy as Padmasambhava at last finds peace in absolute death.

An image of Padmasambhava

An image of Padmasambhava

The name of monastery’s Abbot, Songsten, is taken from seventh Century Tibetan Empire founder, Songtsän Gampo, whilst the young monk Thonmi is so named after Thonmi Sambhota, the person traditionally credited for the invention of the Tibetan script. When the script was novelized by Terrance Dicks in 1974 as Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen, it was on the suggestion of Doctor Who’s then producer, Barry Letts, that these names should be changed.  As a Buddhist Letts considered the appropriation of the names inappropriate and accordingly they were slightly amended to Padmasambvha, Songtsen, and Thomni . At face value it appears that perhaps the Abbot’s name would best have remained as Songsten, as that is further from the real spelling of Songtsän than Songtsen.

An image of Songtsan Gampo

An image of Songtsan Gampo

An image of Thonmi Sambhota

An image of Thonmi Sambhota

Whereas The Tomb of the Cybermen was resplendent with crazed archaeologists, The Abominable Snowmen instead has a “mad anthropologist”.  This at least is how the fictional press of the serial refer to the explorer Travers as. Incidentally Travers is played by Jack Watling, the father of companion Deborah Watling. Watling reprised his role of Travers three serials later in the sequel, The Web of Fear. Watling, the elder, did a fine job in the serial, as did Deborah who was quite mesmerizing in the scene where she speaks the same phrase automatically whilst under Padmasambhava’s trance.

Jamie, Victoria and the "mad anthropologist", Travers. Jack Watling, the father of Deborah Watling, played Travis

Jamie, Victoria and the “mad anthropologist”, Travers. Jack Watling, the father of Deborah Watling, played Travis

Victoria emerges from the TARDIS and is shocked by what she sees

Victoria emerges from the TARDIS and is shocked by what she sees

The necessity for compassion is perhaps the integral moral of this story.  Although the monk-warrior Khrisong is murdered by the Abbot, Songsten, he is forgiven of his crime by both the victim on his death bed, and by his fellow monks thereafter.  As the young monk Thonmi rightly concludes, Songsten had been put under a trance by the Master, Padmasambhava.  He was but a puppet, as was Padmasambhava whom the Doctor identified as also being controlled. The entity that was the source of this control was the Great Intelligence.  This theme of forgiveness is not restricted only to Buddhism, but also to Christianity. Khrisong’s final words are reflective of one of Jesus Christ’s seven final sayings, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Judeo-Christian links in this story can also be gleaned from Padmasambhava’s use of the words “I am” on several occasions when describing himself.  Padmasambhava at one point states, “But our brother must not be allowed to depart in the knowledge that I am other than what I am”. “I am that I am” is the common English translation of God’s response to Moses when asked for his name (Exodus 3:14).

Khrisong is unforgiving to the Doctor as he is put out as Yeti bait.  In death, however, Khrisong forgives his murderer, Songsten

Khrisong is unforgiving to the Doctor as he is put out as Yeti bait. In death, however, Khrisong forgives his murderer, Songsten

The Doctor and the young monk, Thonmi

The Doctor and the young monk, Thonmi

The Great Intelligence returned, like Travers, in The Web of Fear, but the character would not be reprised for a third time for over 44 years, the longest period in abeyance of any monster, alien or foe in Who’s  history.  Manifesting itself as snow in the 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen, the Great Intelligence planned to invade the earth with Snowmen in lieu of Yeti.  The Great Intelligence eventually gained control of Walter Simeon’s body and would appear again as the Doctor’s main protagonist in the 2013 episodes The Bells of Saint John and The Name of the Doctor. A brief history of the Great Intelligence from The Abominable Snowmen  to The Name of the Doctor is set out in the video below.

The Great Intelligence Through the Ages 1967 -2013

The character’s long dormancy was most probably a consequence of the rift between its creators, Haisman and Lincoln, and the producers of Doctor Who following the pair’s ill-fated third Who script, The Dominators. Interestingly, no acknowledgement appears for Haisman and Lincoln as the creators of the Great Intelligence in the final credits of the Series 7 episodes in which the entity appears. Monsters created by other freelance writers, such as Terry Nation’s Daleks, are still credited to their originators to this day.

The Yeti taking a stroll

Haisman and Lincoln’s creations, The Yeti, taking a stroll

A final fascinating note on the Great Intelligence is that its appearance in The Snowmen predates chronologically its presence in The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear.  With the Abominable Snowmen set in around 1935 and The Web of Fear in the UNIT era, which is probably sometime in the 1970s, the Victorian tale of The Snowmen well predates the Troughton era stories.  John Hussey in his article on the history of the Great Intelligence published in Doctor Who TV, posits that the Doctor’s battles with the Great Intelligence in The Snowmen  could have actually been the inspiration for the two earlier stories. As evidence Hussey directs the reader’s attention to the London Underground map which the Eleventh Doctor showed the Great Intelligence. In outlining to the Intelligence the weaknesses in the system the Doctor may in fact have been responsible for Intelligence’s subsequent (but shown on TV, earlier) attack utilizing the London Underground in The Web of Fear.

The Eleventh Doctor shows the Great Intelligence a map of the London Underground in The Snowmen

The Eleventh Doctor shows the Great Intelligence a map of the London Underground in The Snowmen

A snowman from 2012's The Snowmen

A snowman from 2012’s The Snowmen

Being so critical of racism in the last serial, The Tomb of the Cybermen, I would be remiss not to point out that the Tibetan characters in The Abominable Snowmen are all played by Caucasian males. Unlike other Who serials such as the Third Doctor’s Planet of the Spiders and the Fourth Doctor’s The Talons of Weng-Chiang , the characters’ facial make up isn’t overtly reminiscent of Asian identity.  This early example of the Doctor Who production team erring in its moral duty to employ a more multi-cultural cast could perhaps, in this instance only, be overlooked if the viewer chooses to regard all the monks as Western converts to Buddhism.

The Abominable Snowmen's Padmasambhava

The Abominable Snowmen’s Padmasambhava

An unfortunate example of racism in the Third Doctor's Planet of the Spiders

An unfortunate example of racism in the Third Doctor’s Planet of the Spiders

White men were still being cast as Asian males in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, a Fourth Doctor Adventure

White men were still being cast as Asian males in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, a Fourth Doctor Adventure

I couldn’t fail to conclude this review without saying a word or two on the most loveable of Doctor Who monsters, the Yeti.  By the writers’ making these mythical Himalayan creatures robots, the designers were given the most perfect excuse for their creation of a less than realistic monster. If the Yeti looked pair shaped and cuddly, rather than mammoth and scary, the designers could always claim that realism was not their intention.  Perhaps they could retrospectively claim that the Monoids of The Ark were really robots!  All told, The Abominable Snowmen is a cracking good yarn and comes highly recommended.  By me at least!

The Yeti were so cute as to attract children during the filming of The Abominable Snowmen in Wales

The Yeti were so cute as to attract children during the filming of The Abominable Snowmen in Wales

Perhaps The Ark's Monoids should have been robots.  It would help explain their appalling design!

Perhaps The Ark’s Monoids should have been robots. It would help explain their appalling design!

Episode 2 of The Abominable Snowmen is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.  The Abominable Snowmen was originally broadcast in the UK between 30 September and 4 November 1967.

Episode 2 of The Abominable Snowmen is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. The Abominable Snowmen was originally broadcast in the UK between 30 September and 4 November 1967.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCES:

David J Howe & Stephen James Walker, The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to DOCTOR WHO. Telos Publishing Ltd, Surrey: 2003,

John Hussey, “Attack of the Snowmen: The Story of the Great Intelligence”, Doctor Who TV, 7 January 2013, http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/attack-of-the-snowmen-the-story-of-the-great-intelligence-44236.htm.  Retrieved on 20 August 2013.

Missing Episodes Hysteria Update

Standard

Image

Rumours of the recovery of missing episodes of Doctor Who still continue but to date there has been no evidence produced of any finds.

The Yeti's second adventure in The Web of Fear is rumoured to have been found

The Yeti’s second adventure in The Web of Fear is rumoured to have been found

An also rumoured recovery is a television interview with the First Doctor, William Hartnell.  To date no interviews with Hartnell, out of character, are known to exist. The opportunity to hear Hartnell speak in his normal accent is widely sought after.

The Enemy of the World is one of the rumoured Missing Episodes finds.  In this serial Patrick Troughton plays the dictator Salamander who is the spitting image of him

The Enemy of the World is one of the rumoured Missing Episodes finds. In this serial Patrick Troughton plays the dictator Salamander who is the spitting image of the Doctor

Outpost Skaro has reported on its Twitter feed that a “mate of mine is saying that people are beginning to see Enemy of the World … hope it’s true!” The most commonly bandied around number for returned episodes is 17, although claims that as many of 94 of the missing 106 have been returned, have been made. The oft quoted 17 returned would probably entail all seven episodes of Marco Polo, and five each of The Enemy of the World  and The Web of Fear.  Episode three of Enemy and episode one of Web are held in the BBC Archives and have been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.

Episode 3 of The Enemy of the World and Episode 1 of The Web of Fear are held in the BBC Archives and have been released on the tripe DVD set, Lost in Time

Episode 3 of The Enemy of the World and Episode 1 of The Web of Fear are held in the BBC Archives and have been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time

Given the decimated nature of the archival material of Patrick Troughton’s tenure as Doctor, it would be an incredible coup to have returned two complete and consecutive Season Five serials.  Season Five hitherto has one complete serial, The Tomb of the Cybermen, and four out of the six episodes of The Ice Warriors.  The two missing episodes of The Ice Warriors  have been animated and the complete serial is being released on DVD later this month.

The Ice Warriors is to be released in late August 2013.  Included with the four recovered episodes are two animated ones

The Ice Warriors is to be released in late August 2013. Included on the DVD release will be the four episodes held in the BBC Archives, together with two animated missing episodes

Anyone interested in an in depth analysis of 1960s Doctor Who and the missing episodes is advised to track down the updated edition of Richard Molesworth’s seminal work Wiped! Doctor Who’s Missing Episodes. The revised edition was released by Telos Publishing Ltd earlier this year .  Wiped!  is presently available for purchase online through The Book Depository UK.

The updated edition of Richard Molesworth's book Wiped! was released by Telos Publications Ltd earlier this year

The updated edition of Richard Molesworth’s book Wiped! was released by Telos Publications Ltd earlier this year

You can find my first article on the Missing Episodes Hysteria here.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.