Monday 16 May 2011

175 The Abominable Snowmen: Episode Two

EPISODE: The Abominable Snowmen: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: 07 October 1967
WRITER: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Lost In Time
TELESNAPS: The Abominable Snowmen: Episode Two

And we're onto disc 3 of the Lost in Time set!

Jamie knocks down the prop holding the roof up burying the Yeti. They take a sphere from the pyramid to show the Doctor but as they leave the buried Yeti starts to move. The Doctor is visited by the Monk Thomni who has been sent to take him to Khrisong. The Doctor tells him to look in the straw of the cell as Khrisong arrivces to take him away. Thomni finds the Ghanta hidden there. Victoria and Jamie are chased down the mountainside by the Yeti. Khrisong verbally clashes with Rinchen & Saphan about what he plans for the Doctor. The Doctor is tied to the gate as bait for the Yeti. Thomni takes the Ghanta to Abbot Songsten, but hears another voice: Their master Padmasbhava. Padmasbhava now knows the Doctor has returned since the Ghanta has been bought back. Jamie & Victoria meet Travers on the Mountain. They get him to take them to the Monastery in return for showing him where the Yeti's cave is. Padmasbhava questions Thomni and instructs him to have The Doctor released and treated well. The unseen Padmasbhava's hypnotic tone convinces Thomni that his orders come from the Abbot and not Padmasbhava. When Thomni leaves Padmasbhava speaks in a more sinister tone to the Abbot about the Great Plan. Jamie, Victoria and Travers arrive, and Travers tells the monks that he was mistaken. Thomni arrives with the orders from the Abbot and Khrisong frees the Doctor. The sinister Padmasbhava tells the Abbot nothing must stop their preparations as there is little time left. Jamie & Victoria show the silver sphere to the Doctor who asks them about the Yeti. Travers tells them that the Yeti are shy and elusive creatures. Three Yeti are sighted from the monastery. Jamie has a plan to capture it so the Doctor & Victoria retreat into the Monastery. Jamie spreads a net on the floor at the gate: they batter the Yeti and haul the net up, suddenly noticing it has stopped moving. Buried in the mud is a bleeping & wiggling silver sphere which has fallen from the Yeti. A monk finds Jamie's sphere in the monastery and places it by the Budha statue. The Doctor discovers the Yeti is a robot and there's something missing from inside it's chest. Outside the Monastery the buried sphere admits a bleeping call, returned by Jamie's sphere inside which starts moving....

Episode 2 of The Abominable Snowmen may be my favourite surviving episode of sixties Doctor Who: Great location work, superb dimly lit studio sets (and we'll see much later how important decent lighting is when it all goes wrong in the 80s), good monsters, a sinister presence and even little stuff like the spheres communicating with each other and the moving one at the feet of the Budha. The plot ticks along nicely in this episode resolving certain aspects of the first episode and introducing new elements, notably the master Padmasbhava. This episode works superbly and makes me wonder how much better episode 1 would be with the pictures.

Abominable Snowman 2 is the only episode of this story to exist. It was returned to the BBC in 1982 from a collector named Roger Stevens via Ian Levine. Stevens had bought a number of films from a former BBC employee who had "acquired" them. Levene asserted the both Snowman 2 and another episode, Invasion of the Dinosaurs 1 were missing from the archives. Levene returned the copy of Snowmen 2, but held on to Invasion of the Dinosaurs 1 for a little while longer, as a potential bargaining chip is any other sources of missing episodes emerged. That was returned to the BBC in mid 1983. See pages 195-9 of Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes by Richard Molesworth for more details.

Abominable Snowman 2 was released on video as part of Doctor Who - the Troughton Years in 1991 along with Enemy of the World 3 and Space Pirates 2. It's by some distance the best episode on the tape. A second surviving Yeti episode, The Web Of Fear 1, would have to wait many more years for it's VHS release in 2003 as part of the final Doctor Who VHS release. Both episodes can be found in the Doctor Who - Lost In Time DVD set.

The surviving copy of episode two has a sound fault, present on all off air recordings of the story. Towards the end of the episode The Doctor is examining the Yeti and is meant to say "You were right about one thing Victoria — this creature certainly doesn't seem to be flesh and blood". The audio is missing for the first half of the sentence until the middle of the word Victoria. The fault was disguised for the VHS release but is patched using other surviving Troughton dialogue for the CD and VHS releases.

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