Jul 052014

One of the hardest parts of being a fan of classic Doctor Who is the knowledge that a great deal of the first two Doctors’ episodes have been lost. The BBC in their incredible ignorance consigned many an episode to the furnace to make storage room. Patrick Troughton’s era was hit incredibly hard by this idiotic policy, so it was with great joy that I heard that a number of lost episodes had been found. This last weekend, my oldest friend brought over one of these lost stories, The Web of Fear, for us to watch. I’ve read the two novels based upon the stories featuring the Great Intelligence and his minions, the Yetis. So was this lost story worth the wait? Find out in our Doctor Who: The Web of Fear review.

The first thing we noticed that was interesting was the fact that in the early Doctor Who serials, they immediately began right after the ending of the previous one. Thus, we saw the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria discussing the end of The Enemy of the World. On Earth, we see Professor Travers, who originally appeared in the first Yeti story, warning that the Yetis could become active and were extremely dangerous. As is normal, these warnings are ignored, and the classic Mark I Yeti is activated and claims its first victim. In space, some powerful entity encases the Tardis in webbing, but the Doctor manages to free the Tardis and materialize on Earth.

Doctor Who: The Web of Fear review

The Tardis appears in the subway system under London, but something is incredibly amiss. The Doctor and his companions stumble across a dead body encased in webs. Eventually, they run across a military unit who is performing some kind of operation. The situation becomes clear as it’s explained that some kind of fog is covering a section of London while a poisonous fungus is spreading through the subway tunnels. Professor Travers and his daughter are there acting as the scientific consultants to the military’s attempts to stop the fungus and the Yetis.

Now the DVD release of The Web of Fear is incomplete. Episode three is still missing, but still photos are used with the audio to recreate the full episode. The storyline is rather tight, with the Doctor and the others working to stop the Yetis. The military group is comprised of several notable personalities, such as the Captain who seems to have a spark with the Professor’s daughter. Then there’s the cowardly reporter embedded with the unit wanting more information, but who is clearly looking out for his own skin. My favorite character of the unit was the hard-nosed sergeant. What is notable in The Web of Fear is that it’s the first Doctor Who appearance of the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney), although he’s only a mere Colonel in this serial. The Brigadier is his normal awesome self as he quickly takes charge in his no-nonsense manner. I can’t describe how incredible it was to see the beginning of a Doctor Who legend.

Probably the strongest element of The Web of Fear is the production design. The sets are magnificent, and it’s true that the show did such a good job of recreating the London underground that the BBC was accused of illegally filming down there. While modern viewers may find the appearance of the Yetis not that menacing, I think that they looked quite so for the time period. Close up, they look pretty good with their massive claws. Their best feature is their glowing eyes, which show up rather creepily in the dark tunnels of the London underground. From further away, their menace factor drops a bit as the actors obviously can’t move that fast in the bulky costumes.

Doctor Who: The Web of Fear review

Patrick Troughton is his usual superb self as the Doctor works to defeat the Yetis and the Great Intelligence. Jamie (Fraser Hines) is boisterous as normal, and Victoria serves as the innocent damsel in distress. There’s some nice chemistry between Victoria (Deborah Watling) and Professor Travers, which is to be expected as the actors are daughter and father.

Overall, The Web of Fear is a solid serial. The Yetis look pretty cool in the darkness of the tunnels, and there are some really good, if rather sad, plot twists. One thing that classic Doctor Who did on a regular basis was to have a high body count in their stories, and this story is no exception to that characteristic. I’m so excited that I was finally able to see a classic Doctor Who story that I thought that I would never see in my lifetime. The only negative is that the DVD release has no bonus features, but I won’t count that against my final grade. The Doctor Who DVDs, on the whole, have the best bonus features amongst all DVD releases, bar none. I think the BBC wanted to get this released quickly, thus the lack of bonus features. On the plus side, the visual quality is simply superb. If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you need to see this serial. You have one of the classic monsters, the Yetis, and the introduction of the mighty Brigadier. My final Doctor Who: The Web of Fear review verdict: A-

  4 Responses to “Doctor Who: The Web of Fear Review (1968)”

  1. The Tardis = : )

  2. With his rapier wit, bowl haircut and flittering recorder he is one of the greatest jesters of all time! This is the cosmic piper to follow with his young companions and time machine in tow! But beware this absent minded professor with the keys to time! He might just leave you dangling in space! Hee hee! Ho ho! Ha ha!

    ‘The jester is an annoying fellow…’

  3. I’ve heard that Jamie is a brave young lad with a stout heart even though he wears a skirt! Either way a better companion would be hard to find! It would be an honor to share a nice tankard of dwarven ale with him and join him in battle with my trusty axe!

    Grum is not dum!

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