Checking Out Classic Who: The Web of Fear

The Web of Fear picks up right from where The Enemy of the World left off. The TARIDS is hurtling through space with its doors wide open after The Doctor’s battle with Salamander. Jaime manages to close the doors while the TARDIS continues to hurtle into deep space. When everything settles,  The Doctor discovers his ship has been covered with a web and is stuck.

Meanwhile, a Yeti captured 40 years ago in the Himalayas wakes up and begins wreaking havoc in 1970s London. When the Doctor manages to free his TARDIS, they land in the midst of the British Army fighting the invasion. The Doctor and his companions must figure out who is controlling the Yeti and stop them.

Like The Enemy of the World, this episode was missing for 45 years before it was found in 2013. Unfortunately the third episode wasn’t included, so the BBC decided to release the story with the audio and telesnaps for episode three. 

The TARDIS encased in Web Image Credit

This story is a sequel to The Abominable Snowmen where Professor Travers, the Yeti and the Great Intelligence return. Yes, that’s the same Great Intelligence that Richard E. Grant portrayed during series 7. This episode actually gets a shoutout when the Eleventh Doctor examines a lunch box with a Underground map on it during the 2012 Christmas Special. Most of this story takes place in the tunnels of the London Underground. In fact the set design for this story was so good, the BBC received complaints that it shot in the actual Underground system without permission when in reality they built a tunnel segment and just shot from different angles to make it appear different.

Even though this is a sequel, you don’t need to see The Abominable Snowman to enjoy The Web of Fear. The Yeti that troll the tunnels aren’t exactly the same as their first appearance. The Doctor comments that they’ve upgraded to Mark II. The props and the costumes are menacing lumbering through the darkness with their glowing eyes.

The Yeti on the prowl Image Credit

Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, played by Nicholas Courtney, makes his first appearance during episode three of this story. You may know him as the Brigadier.  During The Web of Fear he’s a colonel in the British Army but he’s better known for leading the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce or UNIT. Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart realized there needed to be an organization ready to deal with alien invasions. He went on to work with the Third Doctor, and met the Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors. Sadly he was unable to meet any of the nuWho Doctors, but when Nicholas Courtney died, Steven Moffat wrote the death of the Brigadier as one of the plot points in “The Wedding of River Song.”

I enjoyed this story. It felt more like a traditional science fiction story than The Enemy of the World but it was done well. There are six episodes, but the plot is engaging, even during  episode three with the telesnaps. I felt they provided enough background of what happened during the previous story with the Yeti to understand. Having Professor Travers return but setting the story 40 years later so he’s older (but played by the same actor) was a great device. For a show about time travel, that doesn’t happen often.

The Doctor, Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, and Victoria. Image Credit

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