Friday, July 10, 2009

QQ6 - The Web of Fear 6

One of my favourite TV programmes of all time is The Tripods, a televised adaption of The Tripods trilogy of books by John Christopher. Of course, it had the good fortune to be made by the BBC during the mid-1980s and the regime of one Michael Grade, who canceled the programme after its' second series. The third series was never made, leaving fans to wonder how the third and final chapter would wrap things up.

The end of The Web of Fear almost has that feeling of unfinished business, too. The Doctor has a plan to absorb the Great Intelligence into himself, thus destroying it forever, but his friends and companions think otherwise. One can almost see the thoughts of Yeti sequels and merchandising opportunities dance through the eyes of writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, via the actions of Travers, Jamie, Victoria, et al., when the characters pull The Doctor out of harm's way, thus allowing the Great Intelligence to go free. (The Yeti are, at least, defeated).

And the intention was to have a third Yeti adventure during Season Six before the troubled production of the Haisman/Lincoln penned The Dominators changed plans considerably (about which, more later). Any future Yeti story would have had a tough task in topping the two previous stories featuring the marauding furballs. Whereas The Abominable Snowmen was notable for its calm, pensive, yet threatening, atmosphere, The Web of Fear was ramped it up considerably, thanks to the updated Yeti costumes. Also, instead of the vast expanse of the Himalayas, here the setting was the claustrophobic confines of the London Underground. It worked perfectly, as I can imagine ridership on the Underground system decreased during the original broadcast run of this story.

However, the action and atmosphere did come in fits and starts for me. Episodes One and Four stand up as tent pegs for the rest of the episodes, which had a hard time matching the sheer brilliance of One and Four. One of the all-time best Troughton stories, though, and certainly one the most frightening.


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