THE WEB OF FEAR

We’re going underground. Please mind the gaps. All five of them.

Me: This is the first story with a new producer, although he did get a trial run with The Tomb of the Cybermen.
Sue: That doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
Me: His name is Peter Bryant. I forgot to mention that The Enemy of the World was Innes Lloyd’s last story as producer. He was responsible for 16 stories. Is there anything you’d like to say about Innes before we move on?
Sue: Not really, no.

 

Episode 1

Sue: This had better not be a sequel to The Web Planet, Neil. I’m serious.

Jamie teases the Doctor about his inability to fly the TARDIS properly (which is understandable given that they’ve just spent the last five minutes hanging on to it for dear life). The Doctor promises to show him otherwise.

Sue: Is this the story where he actually sits down and fixes the TARDIS? It’s taken him long enough.

Meanwhile, in a spooky museum…

The Web of FearSue: Oh no! Not the ****ing Yeti again! It’s too soon! They were only in it a few days ago. What have these writers got on the production team? It must be something really scandalous.

Back on the TARDIS, the crew are enjoying a light snack.

Sue: Where did they get the bread to make these sandwiches?
Me: Is that important? Really?
Sue: I like to know these things. They used to have a food machine, but I don’t remember seeing a setting for bread. And I can’t imagine the Doctor popping into Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s to stock up on supplies when he just happens to land near a shop, either. But it’s possible, I guess.
Me: It’s a space-time machine, Sue. I’m pretty sure it can bake bread.
Sue: And slice it too – that isn’t homemade bread; it’s thin-sliced Nimble by the look of it.
Me: Jesus, even Andrew Pixley doesn’t go into this kind of detail.

Deep inside some underground tunnels, the British army have more important things on their minds than bread (although they could murder a nice cup of tea).

The Web of FearSue: It’s UNIT!
Me: It isn’t.
Sue: Oh, that’s disappointing. You’ll be telling me that the Master isn’t in this, next. The London Underground looks fantastic, by the way. It’s a great location to set a story in.
Me: It isn’t the London Underground. It’s a BBC set.
Sue: Piss off! That isn’t a set.
Me: That’s what London Underground said. They were convinced the BBC had sneaked in and filmed there without permission. They went mental, or so the story goes.
Sue: I’m not surprised they couldn’t tell the difference. It looks amazing. Look at that carpentry!

Sue will keep banging on about how great the sets look throughout this story.

Sue: Such beautiful curvature…

In fact, Sue is full of praise today.

Sue: This episode is nicely directed. I don’t think we’ve seen direction this good since Douglas Camfield. This isn’t Douglas, is it?
Me: I don’t believe it. Your ‘Camfield Radar’ is incredible. That’s the second time you’ve spotted Camfield’s involvement in a story. I’m seriously impressed.
Sue: It’s not that difficult. He’s the only director who knows what he’s doing.

She’s far too engrossed in the action to say anything after that, and when the credits roll, she’s very pleased indeed.

Sue: Well, that was a cracking start. They should have cut away before the explosion went off for that cliffhanger, but that’s forgivable. It’s a great start for the new producer. Yes, we like Peter. We like Peter a lot. In fact, if I had to score these episodes individually, I’d probably give that 10 out of 10.

 

Episode 2

And so it begins. Another epic run of recons. It’ll be another 13 episodes before we reach Episode 3 of The Wheel in Space.

Sue: At least we’ve seen the first episode – it helps when I can see something tangible early on. At least I can get a feel for the characters and the locations. I suppose we should count ourselves lucky.

I remind Sue that Jack Watling is Deborah’s father.

Sue: I like the way they’re exploring the ramifications of time travel by visiting Travers again later in his life. You don’t really see that in Doctor Who. The Doctor usually just buggers off.
Me: Not that he had a choice in the matter, of course.
Sue: I bet this scared children shitless. It’s because it’s set in a recognisable location, and those tunnels are scary enough at the best of times.
Me: Well, it certainly scared the crap out of Mike Gatting.
Sue: It’s very atmospheric, and the Yeti are much more frightening in this one, too. The guns help, I think. And they have Orbital eyes. They look quite impressive.

As the web advances along the Circle Line, Sue suddenly realises that Patrick Troughton has been absent from this episode.

Sue: I’ve just worked out that he’s on holiday this week. This must be a pretty good story if I’ve only just noticed that.

And then Driver Evans appears, singing in Welsh.

Sue: And now it’s turned into Dad’s Army.

Suddenly the web/fungus/mist/scary thing starts to advance on Evans and Jamie, trapping them in the tunnel.

Sue: I’m impressed. A classic cliffhanger. You can’t really argue with that.

 

Episode 3

The Web of FearSue: It’s the Brigadier!
Me: Colonel, actually, he hasn’t gone up in the world yet.
Sue: I thought you said UNIT weren’t in this story?
Me: They aren’t, they’re just the regular army.
Sue: Is this the event that brings UNIT about? Hang on a minute. The Doctor and the Brigadier met each other off-screen. How rubbish is that?
Me: It’s not as if they knew the character would go on to be so important. It’s just another supporting role at this point. But yes, it is frustrating.
Sue: They should remake this story. Well, they could put something scary in the London Underground. I’m not sure if Yeti would work today, but I really like the action taking place in a recognisable location. It makes a nice change from all those high-tech bases and stately homes.

As the Doctor explains what the Great Intelligence actually is, Sue sinks deeper into her chair.

Sue: People are just milling around, talking up the threat. It wouldn’t be so bad if we could actually see them milling around. Please don’t tell me this story falls apart now.

When a journalist named Chorley demands that he be airlifted out of their current predicament, Lethbridge-Stewart gives him a right earful.

Sue: The Brigadier…
Me: Colonel.
Sue: The Colonel has a very commanding presence. You can see why they asked him to come back. He’s quite strict, but he’s likeable and charming with it.

Chorley ends up chatting to Victoria, who happily tells him where her time machine is parked.

Sue: What is Victoria’s function in this story, exactly? She’s just a pretty girl with a big mouth.

The episode ends with Travers menaced by a Yeti.

Sue: That was probably a really good cliffhanger. Bugger.

 

Episode 4

Sue: I like the way the Brigadier…
Me: Colonel.
Sue: I like the way the Colonel just accepts that the Doctor has a time and space machine in the shape of a police telephone box. He doesn’t bat an eyelid – not that we can see his eyelids moving – but he sounds like he’s fine with it. No wonder they asked him to run UNIT after this – he’ll swallow practically anything.

Sue is a fan of Anne Travers, too.

Sue: Anne would be a good assistant. The Doctor needs someone with intelligence. I notice that he’s sidelined Jamie and Victoria. They couldn’t hold a screwdriver steady if their lives depended on it. They’re plucky and brave, but they’re also completely ****ing useless. Well, Victoria is. She dies in this one, doesn’t she? I bet she does. And then Anne will take her place. I can see it coming a mile off.

The army enter the web on a trolley. After some agonising screams, the trolley comes back with a corpse on it.

Sue: This is a bit grim, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, on the street above them, the Colonel and his men are attacked by marauding Yeti.

Sue: The Yeti have definitely slimmed down a bit. They’ve lost a lot of weight from their hips. I still don’t understand why the Intelligence would use the Yeti in contemporary London, though. They just about make sense in Tibet, but here? Hmm…
Me: Maybe the Intelligence had to work with what he had lying around after his last invasion attempt. And what kind of monster would well work in the London Underground anyway? A dinosaur?
Sue: Don’t be silly.
Me: Are you impressed by the Yeti-acting so far?
Sue: I beg your pardon?
Me: The Yeti-acting. How do you rate it?
Sue: I don’t understand. They’re Yeti. What do you want me to say?
Me: So there isn’t a particular Yeti that stands out, then? That’s odd, I thought you’d recognise raw talent when you saw it. Camfield did.
Sue: What are you banging on about, Neil?
Me: I’ll tell you later.

The army engage the Yeti.

The Web of FearSue: Whoah! What the hell are they supposed to be?

I should explain that the reconstruction we’re watching features copious amounts of CGI Yeti.

Sue: They look like dancing chimps.

Luckily for us, the battle is intercut with snippets of real footage.

Sue: This really helps me get a handle on what it must have looked like. It’s very exciting for an episode of Doctor Who. Non-stop action and another great cliffhanger. Douglas shows everyone how to do it.

 

Episode 5

Sue: Finally, the Intelli-whatsist has turned up to explain the plot to us. It’s only taken him four episodes.

Travers, under the control of the Great Intelligence, rasps his way through a series of demented demands.

The Web of FearSue: Poor Travers. His throat must be killing him.

The Intelligence threatens to kill Victoria if the Doctor doesn’t succumb to a brain-drain.

Sue: The Doctor has exactly 20 minutes to make up his mind. How long is left in this episode?
Me: About 20 minutes.
Sue: What a surprise. Still, I suppose it’s nice to see a villain working to a strict timetable that just happens to coincide with an episode’s running time. I’ve noticed that the villains on 24 tend to do that as well. I hope he doesn’t give in. The thought of the Doctor being brought up by Jamie and Victoria as a baby doesn’t bear thinking about. I don’t think they’d get through another season of the show to be honest. I’d probably get Anne to do it; she could teach him about science and stuff. Victoria would just teach him to be scared of things, and Jamie would be completely hopeless – he doesn’t even know what a hovercraft is!

Evans wants to hand the Doctor over to the Intelligence so they can all go home. Sue doesn’t like the cut of his jib.

Sue: Evans needs a bloody good court-martial if he gets out of here. You can’t talk to the Brigadier like that!
Me: Colonel.
Sue: The programme missed another trick when it came to merchandising. These remote-controlled spheres with the bleeping noises would have sold like hot cakes. Cats would have loved them.

As paranoia sets in, no one is above suspicion.

Sue: I think we’re supposed to believe that the Brigadier is the traitor, but of course that’s impossible.
Me: Because the Brigadier isn’t actually in this?
Sue: You know what I mean.

The Web of FearEvans continues to act, as Sue so delicately puts it, “like a complete twat”.

Sue: This isn’t a great day for the Welsh in Doctor Who.
Me: Oh it gets a lot worse than this. But the Welsh get their revenge. Eventually.
Sue: I’ve just realised that Evans is played by Michael Crawford. He’s in loads of Doctor Who, isn’t he? Look! “Hmmm, Betty! The Yeti’s done a whoopsie in the tunnel.”

The episode concludes when a torrent of fungus begins to flood the lab.

Sue: Okay, who ordered the porridge?

 

Episode 6

Sue: Evans is really getting on my nerves, now. He actually said, “There’s lovely” when the Yeti dragged him off. And why don’t the Yeti just kill him? They’d be doing us all a favour. Plus, why does this recon keep referring to a ‘lead Yeti’? What makes the ‘lead Yeti’ so special? Has he got special markings on his fur or something?
Me: It’s the Yeti played by the actor with raw, unharnessed talent.
Sue: And we haven’t seen Chorley for ages. He’s obviously the traitor. Plus, we’re running out of suspects.

The Web of FearThe action moves to the station platform.

Sue: There’s an advert for Blockbusters on the wall over there. What year is this set, Neil?
Me: Don’t even go there, Sue.

The traitor turns out to be… Arnold. Who was dead all the time. Which means the Intelligence is a bloody good actor.

Sue: I never would have guessed that twist. Mainly because it doesn’t make any sense.

The Doctor is hooked up to the Intelligence’s brain-draining device, but Jamie and Evans smash the apparatus to bits. Hurrah!

Sue: I can’t believe the Doctor is upset because somebody else saved the day in a less clever way. He’s in a right strop.

The Doctor is furious because the Intelligence wasn’t completely defeated.

Sue: I guess they’re setting it up for the third part of the trilogy. I’m sure the Doctor will sort it out when they meet again. In a couple of weeks, probably.

 

The Score

Sue: That was very good. Watching it was frustrating, but I can see it for what it is, and it worked in small chunks. I still don’t know what the bloody Yeti were doing in the Underground – I’d love to read Chorley’s newspaper report – but it was pretty scary, and it felt like proper Doctor Who. And you’ve got to love the Camfield.

8/10

 

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