Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Abominable Snowmen


  1. Well, this kicks off with a scream, which is always a good way to start a story.

    A slow-paced first episode reveals another Tardis redesign, as the scanner has now become a very small cathode ray television screen in a pillar.

    It feels like there are a couple of firsts in here. As near as I can make out this is the first time that the Doctor has returned to the scene of a previous unseen adventure, and the first time that a "new" enemy has heard of the Doctor before. His reputation, it seems, is starting to get around.

    Character-wise Travers is an interesting monomaniac, and I continue to adore the relationship between the Doctor and Jamie.

    "Have you thought up some clever plan, Doctor?"
    "Yes Jamie, I believe I have."
    "What are you going to do?"
    "Bung a rock at it."

    I also very much like the contrast between the cute-but-deadly yeti and the scary moving control spheres.

    Unfortunately the quality of the reconstruction I was able to watch for this was very rough indeed, meaning that a lot of the time I simply wasn't able to work out what was going on. And it became less understandable as it went along.

    So in short: the second episode was great. But I wonder what the rest of the story was like.

  2. The Doctor Jamie and Victoria land in Tibet and immediately become suspected of turning the Yeti against the local monks. So a cracking start to this story in the first two episodes with Professor Travers, Thonmi, and Khrisong all pretty well written and acted in support.

    Unfortunately, it does become increasingly dull and repetitive after this, just not sustaining 6 episodes at all. There are some great moments - Piers has already picked out "bung a rock at it" but may I add Troughtons superb "they came to get their ball back" when the yeti recover a control sphere. The three regulars are all in great form throughout, as mentioned the support cast is good and the voice of the Great Intelligence is immensely chilling. The yeti themselves are quite effective but look a bit too cuddly to be truly frightening perhaps.

    So, overall, a story with many plusses but pulled down from great to good by just being too long. 7/10 from me

  3. The Doctor's previous off-screen visit gives us the unusual element of the locals knowing of the Doctor, and his foreknowledge of the area, just so it be put on it's head when he doesn't find what he expects!

    Victoria's hypnotism and her eerie repeated phrase triggered by the sound of the Doctor's voice is splendid. I'm rather taken with Victoria when, based on Tomb alone, I was never keen before. She's wonderfully wilful and has a strength of character we've seen too little of in female companions to date. This is perhaps another perk of watching all the stories through in order. I probably never would have warmed to Victoria on the basis of any one story, but watching them in sequence she's becoming a real favourite after decades of indifference.

    Sets are excellent, as usual, and the quite extravagant location work is really effective. I find I'm totally convinced by the monks and the location. It's an absorbing story.

    Norman Jones as Khrisong is particularly good, as we watch the character develop from distrustful to realising the truth of the strangers words, until he is ultimately betrayed by his own master.

    If, like me, you've wondered if it really was Harold Pinter playing Ralpachan as has sometimes been rumoured, apparently it's not. At least not according to this message board post apparently from Ros Fielden (Pinter's assistant).

    Although The Yeti are imaginatively designed they are not actually very threatening at all, which is a shame. Also, Padmasambhava was a little disappointing next to my memory from the novelisation.

    The premise of a formless alien entity latching onto Padmasambhava during his astral travels and taking control of him is easily the most original invasion we have yet seen in Who. Genius and bonkers!

    It is strange to come back to this as I have become a huge fan of Nigel Kneale's The Abominable Snowman (as filmed by Hammer with the incomparable Peter Cushing (who had starred in the original TV production of The Creature)) since enjoying the novelisation as a child. This story rests heavily on Kneale's.

    Is this only the second psuedo historical, after The Meddling Monk? It's a promising format!

    It is over long though. I know the six episode format is mainly cost driven but I'm surprised they are still doing so many.

    Better than: The Underwater Menace
    Not as good as: The Faceless Ones