Doctor Who #177: The Abominable Snowmen Part 2

"Victoria, I think this is one of those instances where discretion is the better part of the valour. Jamie has an idea."TECHNICAL SPECS: The only existing episode from this serial, and it is found on the Lost in Time DVD boxed set. First aired Oct.7 1967.

IN THIS ONE... The monks try to lure the Yeti with the Doctor as bait, but the Abbot releases him. They capture a Yeti anyway.

REVIEW: The only existing episode with this version of the Yeti in motion, and I'd like to tell they're like poetry, but no. As any still will reveal, they look like fluffy seal-point sports mascots, and it's rather funny to watch them plomp after Jamie and Victoria. Their wrinkly claws are more effective, which makes them a monster best seen in the dark. For example, the frenetic camera work during the Yeti attack, a precursor to today's ubiquitous handheld action scenes, does a good job because we don't see what's happening exactly. Though we learn these creatures are robots (robot yeti, how Doctor Who is that!) and not the Abominable Snowmen Travers is hunting for, shots like the one above to make them out to be timid beings after all. You just want to hug them. In fact, the metal spheres that fit in a cavity not unlike the one in the center of Tony Stark's chest, are a good deal creepier than the Yeti themselves, creeping and beeping along without help when left unattended.

In this episode, public opinion finally turns in the Doctor's favor thanks to young Thomni who finally listens and finds the holy ghanta in the Doctor's cell. Travers, though he remains a callous man, believes Jamie and Victoria's story, and by extension, the Doctor's (perhaps selfishly, because they bring news of the Yeti). And Khrisong sees the error of his ways when the bell is returned. We meet the Abbot Songsten, and it seems to me that the more characters that are introduced, the less Asian they look (a minor complaint, at least they didn't "yellow-face" the actors too much). And of course, there's the master, Padmasambhava, who is represented as a disembodied voice (or rather two) and who was apparently alive during the Doctor's first visit more than 200 years ago. This character will become important as the story progresses, but he's already exuding mystery. His presence is veiled from all the monks except the Abbot, and Thonmi is entranced into forgetting he ever heard the voice. And Padma seems to have a split personality. He has a gentle voice that genuinely cares about the Doctor's well-being, and a hissing, malevolent voice that speaks of a Great Plan the Doctor must not know about. The way these voices alternate, it's like Gentle Padma is afraid of what Dark Padma means to do, and yet can't stop it.

As soon as the Doctor and Jamie are back together, they indulge in a comedy bit, the bread and butter of this pairing. Jamie has a plan, so the Doctor runs off before it's put into action. Amusing, but I'm not sure it's deserved. When has a plan of Jamie's backfired in the past? Maybe I should have been checking for it. Victoria is in fear mode, sadly, finding everything frightening and icky. Deborah Watling does it well, but it's really not much to play. Disappointing after her charming start in Tomb of the Cybermen. And boy does she ever have a high-pitched voice!

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The existing episodes of any given Troughton story are precious regardless, but this one features some charmingly disarming monsters and introduces what might be the power behind events, a mysterious presence with some added depth.


Bill D. said...

I remember reading that Deborah Watling actually found the Yeti to be really cute and that she liked to cuddle them, and I can't help but thinking there were a half-dozen or so sweaty guys in Yeti suits who were more than willing to oblige. Snuggling up to Deb Watling back in the mid-60s would've been one hell of a fringe benefit.

Siskoid said...

Benefits you don't get when you're playing a Cyberman.


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