Doctor Who #196: The Web of Fear Part 3

"You seem to forget that I'm here as a representative of the Press, and as such--" "And as such, Mister Chorley, you are no more than a passenger."TECHNICAL SPECS: Missing from the archives, a reconstruction had to be used (Part 1, Part 2). Even after most of the serial was recovered in 2013, this one remained lost. Which means we STILL don't have the first appearance of Lethbridge-Stewart. First aired Feb.17 1968.

IN THIS ONE... First appearance of one Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart as suspicion falls on a number of characters. Which one is being controlled by the Great Intelligence and thus controls the Yeti?

REVIEW: Nicholas Courtney has appeared before on Doctor Who, in the equally Camfield-directed Daleks' Master Plan, as Bret Vyon, an almost-companion of the first Doctor's. This, however, is his first appearance as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, a Colonel who would soon become a Brigadier, an army man who would soon head the UK division of UNIT, in large part because of his participation in these events. And he's "the Brig" right from the get-go, the early Brig, the Brig that wasn't yet part of the stuffy, closed-minded bureaucracy the third Doctor stood against. He's quick to trust in the scientists at his disposal, glad to see protocols being followed, and quick enough to fast-talk Chorley into a role that will both make him feel useful AND get him out of the way. He's still "old chap" and all that, with his oh-so-very British expressions, and though they try to finger him as the Great Intelligence's pawn, his geniality as much as hindsight exonerates him.

So who IS the traitor? Well, of course, I already know because I'm steeped in Whovian lore. If you don't, there are plenty of suspects. Anne Travers seems unreasonably cool and collected, but we've seen the traitor's military boots, so it can't be her. Nor can it be Chorley, though you want it to be him, the little prat. There's Evans, the coward, who doesn't leave when he says he will, but a bit obvious, no? The point is to ramp up the paranoia as the fungus closes in. We also learn what the rules of this siege are in a briefing held by Lethbridge-Stewart - a mist up top blocks radio waves, etc. Bit of a mystery why the Press would embed TV's Chorley, of all people.

While the Doctor does his science thing, and Jamie is out there dodging fungus and Yeti alike, Victoria is proving a more difficult character to write for. There's a lot of worrying about Jamie, of course, to the point where it becomes annoying, but it gets worse. She just can't keep her mouth shut about the TARDIS and about the military's plans against the Yeti. To a journalist! Who might be a pawn of the Great Intelligence! Victoria has now gone from useless to a liability, and you can almost feel the moment went the actress and/or production decided to change the team dynamic and bring in a new Who girl.

VERSIONS: A reconstruction stands in for the episode on the DVD.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Though the plot itself hangs at a Medium, the first appearance of Lethbridge-Stewart raises it a notch.


Anonymous said...

This is the missing story I most wish we still had. I think I like Power of the Daleks better overall, but this one relies more on the visuals and misses more in recon form.



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