‘THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Yeti with the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria
This is the first Yeti story in ‘Doctor Who’!
‘The Abominable Snowmen’ is a classic ‘Doctor Who’ adventure that is now sadly mostly missing from the BBC archives! It’s one of the ‘lost’ classic TV adventures that is now available a BBC audio soundtrack. I enjoyed hearing ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ on audio with narration by Frazer Hines! ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ CD is now available as part of ‘The Lost TV Episodes: Collection Four’ CD box set.
This is a six-part adventure by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. It was their first contribution together to the ‘Doctor Who’ series. I enjoyed their take on the mythical Yeti, the abominable snowmen that live in the Himalayas in Tibet. The Yeti soon became popular ‘Doctor Who’ monsters.
Thankfully, ‘only’ one episode of ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ still exists in the BBC archives and that is ‘Episode Two’. That episode can now be seen in the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD. There is also surviving footage of ‘Episode Four’ on the DVD as well as location filming taken during the making of the story.
I found ‘Episode Two’ of the story very easy to enjoy as it has some iconic Yeti moments and is pretty tense when the Doctor is about to be executed and Jamie and Victoria are on their way to the monastery before meeting Professor Travers. I would have to hear the whole story on the audio CD.
The audio CD was equally enjoyable and Frazer Hines (who played Jamie in the story) has a very engaging voice to listen to when he provides the linking narration for ‘The Abominable Snowmen’. The CD sleeve notes provide the track listings and the scene directions for where scenes take place.
The TARDIS arrives in the 1930s on Earth. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria visit the Himalayas in Tibet. The Doctor hopes to return a special bell called a gantha to the monks at the Detsen monastery. However, all is not well at the monastery. The monks are under constant attack by some robot Yeti.
I remember the first time that I saw the Yeti was a cameo appearance in ‘The Five Doctors’. I’m surprised the Yeti have only appeared twice in ‘Doctor Who’ and it was only during Patrick Troughton’s time as the Doctor. It was interesting that the Yeti in this story were robots and not real.
The Yeti are actually controlled by the Great Intelligence, who tries to take over the world by using the monastery as a base of operations. The Yeti in this story are pretty cuddly looking and look like overgrown fur coats. They would get more frightening later when they make a return in the series.
The concept of the Yeti is interesting, in that they are robots under the Great Intelligence’s control. On the outside, they look cute and cuddly. But on the inside, they are dangerous and probably will kill you. I wonder who the actors who played the Yeti managed to cope while out on location filming.
Patrick Troughton excels as the Doctor in this adventure. I like the fur coat he wears, making him look like a Yeti and the moments he has when playing his recorder in the monastery prison cell. I was anxious for the Doctor when he was accused for murder and about to get sacrificed out on the open.
I also like it when the Doctor is working things out in the monastery and he tries to get the respect he deserves from the monks and Professor Travers. I like his scenes with Thomni who he manages to win his trust and I like how exasperated he gets when Khrisong refuses to listen to any of his advice.
Frazer Hines is also superb as Jamie. Jamie tries to be strong and heroic; despite feeling cold in the Himalayan Mountains and having the sword he found in the TARDIS broken in half by a Yeti. I liked the moments he has when concerned for Victoria. He’s clearly is in love with her during their travels.
I did like that moment when Jamie persuades Professor Travers to take him and Victoria to the monastery after he threatens them to take them to where the Yetis are. I also liked it when Jamie calls a Yeti a ‘hairy beastie’ and I did find it funny when he mispronounces Padmasambhava’s name.
Deborah Watling is lovely as Victoria. I enjoyed the scenes she shares with Jamie when they’re out on the Himalayans Mountains and when being chased by Yeti. I was anxious for Victoria when she was in a trance by the Great Intelligence, and found her pretty cheeky when she goes off by herself.
I found it intriguing as to why Victoria would initially think that the Himalayas were in India and not in Tibet. I wonder if that’s what she was taught when living in Victorian times with her father. I liked it when she’s told to leave the monastery with the monks by the Doctor and she’s refusing to do so.
Jack Watling makes his first appearance as Professor Travers in this story. Jack Watling is the real-life father of Deborah Watling, so it was nice to have that father-and-daughter working together in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. He is great as Professor Travers, who is on an expedition to search for the Yeti.
The guest cast also includes Norman Jones as Khrisong, one of the warrior monks at the monastery. This is one Norman’s many guest-role appearances in ‘Doctor Who’. Khrisong is a monk who is easily suspicious and doesn’t trust the Doctor when he claims he’s innocent for not committing a murder.
There’s also David Spenser as Thonmi. Thonmi is a young monk at the monastery who gradually trusts the Doctor after discovering he has returned the gantha believed to be lost after so many years. He helps the Doctor; Jamie and Victoria when sorting out the Yeti menace at the monastery.
There’s also Charles Morgan as Songsten, the Abbot at the Detsen monastery. Songsten serves his master within the monastery. But he’s under hypnotic control by the Great Intelligence and is forced to do its bidding when going out on the mountains. Will he help the Doctor to stop the Intelligence?
There’s also Wolfe Morris as Padmasambhava, who lives in the Inner Sanctum of the monastery. Padmasambhava is also under the control of the Great Intelligence who gives orders to Songsten. He has a calm, eerie voice within the monastery, which sometimes shifts into rasping and creepy tones.
The scenes in the Himalayas were filmed in Snowdonia in Wales. I know they couldn’t afford to go to the actual Himalayas themselves to film the location scenes in the story. I’m pleased they chose mountains in Wales to film the story. I wish there was more snow from what I saw in ‘Episode Two’.
I liked how the story ends with Professor Travers escorting them the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria back to the TARDIS on the mountains. Travers then discovers a real Yeti who is less feral and more timid. This delights Travers who he runs after it as the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria head back to the TARDIS.
Of course, this is the beginning as the Yeti return to ‘Doctor Who’ in the story ‘The Web of Fear’. Professor Travers also returns in that story, as a much older man in the 1960s. The Yeti were supposed to return in a third story called ‘Laird of the McCrimmon’, but sadly that didn’t get made.
‘The Abominable Snowmen’ is a great ‘Doctor Who’ adventure that’s sadly missing from the BBC archives, baring one episode and exists as a TV audio soundtrack on CD. I enjoyed listening to ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ on audio. I hope that the TV story gets recovered like ‘The Web of Fear’ did.
If you have the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD, there’s a commentary for ‘Episode Two’ with Deborah Watling, moderated by Gary Russell.
‘The Abominable Snowmen’ rating – 7/10
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