Imagine being at a pub enjoying a pint and the bell rings for last orders four hours early. Imagine finishing off a pizza and the waiter suddenly announces he has run out of limoncello. That it is what it felt like watching Episode One of “The Web of Fear” on the “Lost in Time” DVD. I had been enjoying the dark spooky Hammer-Horroresque atmosphere, the Brig’s first appearance and the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria’s unique rapport when it all came to a hideously abrupt end. There were no more episodes on the DVD. I did know, but I just didn’t want to believe it. The full force of the horror of the junkings hit home. I would never ever see the end.
OMGA! (Oh my giddy aunt!) That has all changed! The Yetis are back in the underground (apart from Episode 3, but I don’t really mind the gap!!) all thanks to the wonderful Phillip Morris. It is as if the much-missed Patrick Troughton is back with us and is making brand new episodes. Could it be that in the latter half of 2013 Patrick Troughton is more “the current Doctor” than Matt Smith himself? It is as if this is the 50th anniversary present to old school fans and “The Day of the Doctor” is for the one the new.
Thanks to these newly discovered episodes we are reassessing what we learnt from the Target novel, Doctor Who Monthly and the like. It is the Whovian equivalent of a historian digging up an ancient king in a modern-day car park. It changes how a fan evaluates Whovian lore. I had always thought that Troughton calmed down at the end of his era, but there he goes surrounded by Yeti playing the “Skye Boat Song” on his recorder or stripping off for a swim in the sea in “Enemy”. And yet how ironic to think that most of us are watching this 45 year old piece of history on a modern day device like an IPad. Patrick Troughton would have thought it as wondrous as the Tardis itself.
I’m not going to review the story, watch it for yourselves! I’d like to throw a few thoughts out there. I can’t get used to the way the Yeti waddle and stomp. Or the fact they carry web guns. I think I prefer their look in “The Abominable Snowmen”. But I smiled when they roared like they did in “The Five Doctors” (it’s a bit timey wimey I know!). What’s more, they seem to have adopted a Siri function but don’t recognise the Scottish accent! The Yeti are undoubtedly scary and would have seriously rivalled the Daleks and the Cybermen if they had come back for a third Troughton story.
It was pure joy to see a sprightly, youthful and dynamic “Brigadier”, contrasting to the somewhat portly uncle-figure he portrayed in the Pertwee years. I loved the way he faced off the Yeti on the streets of London, blasting weapons and leaping over fences. “Web” feels like a Pertwee story with Troughton at the helm. This story has pace which is a rare thing in the Sixties and it is small wonder it sets the template for the Pertwee UNIT years. The Brig’s encounter here with the Second Doctor reminded me of their scenes in “The Five Doctors”. The “maddened” Yeti in the cave scene would have had so much more resonance if “Web” had been fresh in our minds.
Possessed Travers was a blessedly subtle performance, more like Judson in “The Curse of Fenric” than Richard Brier’s fruitcake performance in “Paradise Towers”. The cowardly Welsh soldier, Evans, was irritating in the extreme and I was highly disappointed when he wasn’t smashed down by a Yeti’s paw! Incidental music of the Cybermen breaking free in “Tomb” was reused for one of the Yeti attacks and I didn’t like that. I’m already confused enough as it is, the music being the theme of “The Memory Cheats” podcast. Jamie confirms himself as the ultimate male companion and won’t be rivalled until Captain Jack strides into the limelight decades later. Victoria didn’t seem to have many lines in this story which is a shame as she is quite personable and her screams add enormous tension to the proceedings.
Looking at things from a modern perspective, did the Great Moff know about the find? The “Bells of St. John” dealt with dangers in the Internet and could have been called “Web of Fear” itself. Was he being clever? Isn’t it a bit coincidental that the Great Intelligence played such a significant part in the latest series and was heavily referenced, along with the London Underground, in “The Snowmen”? Negotiations could have been going on for years, the BBC is undoubtedly very good at marketing and know how to time things better than the Tardis herself.
I laughed at the end of the story as the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria ran back to the Tardis for fear of being run over by an underground train and my smile didn’t fade as the credits rolled. I felt happy. Satiated. That Whovian pub in my mind had had a “lock-in”. The waiter had given me four extra limoncellos on the house. I was inebriated on Who. I had never expected this day to come. My impossible dream had already come true when Doctor Who came back in 2005. I never thought it could happen again.