Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NN1 - The Abominable Snowmen 1

The Abominable Snowmen signals the end of an era in Doctor Who - the era of shorter stories. Apart from a few notable exceptions, Doctor Who stories had been made up exclusively of four-part serials since the end of Season 2. The winner? Fans of well-paced drama. I've never been that big a fan of the six-plus parters, as history as often tried to prove to me. Only The Power of the Daleks, thus far, has gone above and beyond and actually fully validated the need for six episodes (on account of the fact that all six episodes are utterly tremendous).

From now until the end of Patrick Troughton's run, there will be all of one (1) four-part story. That's not to say that the rest of the Troughton era will be long, drawn out, crap, but the odds are against these remaining stories. Fortunately, Episode One of Snowmen starts out well, killing off Jack Travers's fellow explorer before the opening credits are even shown. We don't see the Yeti yet, apart from The Doctor in a ludicrously oversized fur coat (boo! Fur is murder!), but that's enough for The Doctor to get captured and, thus, involved in the story.

I like that this story takes place in 1935. There doesn't seem to be a real reason for it to, which is the refreshing bit. It brings a certain randomness to The Doctor's adventures. Previous stories set on Earth either happen in a time long ago to capitalize on the costumes/history/morals/etc of the day, or the present day to capitalize on the convenience of being able to shoot location footage on an every day street or airport. Not here. Given the minimalist lifestyle of the monks in the Buddhist monastery, this story could have been just as easily set in 1967, but, thankfully, the TARDIS is able to go to different times and places than present day England. Or present day Cardiff. Hint hint.

Spooky little episode, with a stark atmosphere that can almost be heard as well as felt.


hypocaust said...

I wouldn't say the serial is set in 1935 for no reason.

The inter-war years were a boom time in Himalayan exploration, mountaineering, etc inspiring fiction like James Hilton's Lost Horizon that have made the 20s/30s the archetypal setting for fiction set in the Himalayas.

The other boom period is the 50s with the climbing of Everest and numerous Yeti expeditions. Choosing the 30s instead of the 50s or a then present day setting means the story pre-dates the Chinese takeover of Tibet, so the writers don't have to address that issue.

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