Saturday, 4 November 2017

179 The Abominable Snowmen: Episode Six

EPISODE: The Abominable Snowmen: Episode Six
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 04 November 1967
WRITER: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 7.4 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Volume Four(1967)
TELESNAPS: The Abominable Snowmen: Episode Six

"This things that's here, this evil, it will spread. It has to be stopped and I think I can do it."

The glowing substance pours from the cave down the mountainside. Travers tells The Doctor he remembers that Abbot Songsten took the pyramid up the mountain. Khrisong pursues the Abbot to Padmasambhava's sanctum where the Abbot kills him under Padmasambhava's hypnotic control. The monks turn on their Abbot, but the Doctor saves him saying that he has been controlled by Padmasambhava who in turn is under the influence of another. Travers and Ralpachan leave for the cave with the intention of destroying the pyramid. The Doctor learns from Songsten that the Great Intelligence has broken out of the cave and that the control device for the Yeti is behind Padmasambhava's throne in the sanctum. Padmasambhava summons three yeti to the monastery who pass Travers and Ralpachan on the mountainside. The Doctor gets Thomni to teach Victoria the Jewel of the Lotus prayer to protect her mind from Padmasambhava's control. Travers and Ralpachan discover the entire mountain top glowing: they can get nowhere near the cave and must return to the monastery. The monks leave the monastery, taking Songsten with them but leaving Thomni to assist the Doctor. The Doctor confronts Padmasambhava who attacks him with his psychic powers, while Jamie & Thomni attempt to smash the yeti control. Victoria tries to prevent Padmasambhava moving Yeti into the room, but can't. They enter and are about to kill the Doctor when Jamie and Thomni smash their control mechanism causing the Yeti to explode. Travers enters and shoots at Padmasambhava who catches the bullets. The Doctor instructs Jamie and Thomni to look for a pyramid which they find and destroy, blowing up the area of mountain covered by the secretion from the cave and severing the Intelligence's link to Padmasambhava allowing the old man to finally die in peace. The monks are summoned back to the monastery as the Doctor and his friends leave.

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Walking up the mountainside to the Tardis with Travers they see a real Yeti and Travers runs off after it leaving the Doctor and friends to depart.

DOCTOR: What's the matter with you? Are you cold or something?
JAMIE: Oh it's all right for you in your home made Yeti kit.
DOCTOR: Yes, I suppose there is a little bit of a nip in the air.
JAMIE: A nip? A nip? Just look at my knees. They're bright blue.
DOCTOR: What a horrible sight.
JAMIE: Could you not land us somewhere warmer next time?
DOCTOR: Jamie, you never know, do you?

That's just brilliant, loved it, what a great climax to a superb story. I think that's my favourite Who story so far, certainly the best of the missing ones. There's not a duff performance in there.

Khrisong's death at the hands of his Abbott is a big shock! There's been so few on-screen deaths so far this story, just Travers' companion John in the first episode and Rinchen in the fifth.

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But as is made clear The Abbott is not in control of his actions and following Khrisong's dying plea for mercy for Songsten and the evident effect the death has had on him the monks take him into their care. Khrisong's death allows Ralpachan to step forward and take a larger role in the remaining episode and it's quite interesting that he gets paired with Travers who earlier deceived Ralpachan while he was on guard duty at the gate.

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Like I said in the previous episode it just sounds so good. Usually putting the telesnaps together with the soundtrack sheds light on what's happening but here it's almost easier just listening to the soundtrack as the telesnaps don't do the battle justice. In particular the telesnap of the levitated incense burner does little to convey the threat and the one shot of Jamie and Thomni smashing the control apparatus is indistinct as is the white out effect as the control spheres explode. There's also VERY few telesnaps of the Yeti this episode too: not one of John Cura's better weeks.

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There is a hint in the telesnaps that the climatic model sequence of the mountain blowing up might have been rather good though!

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Fabulous story from start to finish. Like Power of the Daleks it doesn't feel stretched to fit six episodes. The production team obviously agreed they'd got a good thing here as they commissioned a sequel immediately from the same writers, Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln, bringing back both the Yeti and Travers in three stories time. If anything that story is even better than this one! Although we don't see the Monks of Det Sen Monestary again Doctor Who would later return to Budhist themes periodically during Jon Pertwee's time as Doctor Who.

Quite rightly Abominable Snowmen was the first Troughton story to be novelised, Terrance Dicks' third novelization after The Auton Invasion and Day of the Daleks. It's either the second or third Troughton book I bought after The Cybermen (Moonbase) and, perhaps, The Ice Warriors. An audio CD of the book, as read by Patrick's son David Troughton is available, and the short clip I've heard sounds superb. The novel was reissued in 2011.

The soundtrack for the story has been released as a CD, in the Yeti Attack 2 pack with it's sequel, Web of Fear, as an MP3 CD with Web of Fear again and as part of Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Volume Four(1967)

Only the second episode of this serial, recovered in 1982, exists and that has been released as part of Doctor Who - the Troughton Years VHS in 1991 and Doctor Who - Lost In Time DVD set in 2004. However a set of prints of these was recorded to have been sent to BPTV in Jos, a city in Nigeria, in 1974 along with Enemy of the World, Web of Fear and Wheel in Space. While Enemy of the World and most of Web of Fear has been recovered from BPTV's successor in 2013 there's been comment made as the fate of the other 2 stories that they should have had. Similarly the same four stories, plus the Ice Warriors and Fury from the Deep were sold to GBC in Gibraltar in 1973 and the fate of their prints is also unknown according to Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes. So Abominable Snowmen has a better chance than most stories that it might one day be returned to the BBC. Personally I'd love to have it back, it's at the absolute top of my "most wished for returns" list.

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