Top positive review
13 of 13 people found this helpful
If we can't watch it, this will be just fine!
on 23 September 2000
The BBC, in the days before home video, decided that some of its programs were no longer required in its archives. In a somewhat unsystematic purging, many classics were consigned to the flames, including several Doctor Who stories. Fortunately, some fans of the series had made their own audio recordings, and these (following a thorough re-mastering by the BBC) are being released.
"The Web of Fear" is one of these releases. This story is very important in Doctor Who's long history - it points the way forward to a major change in format. At the beginning of the series, the Doctor's companions included two teachers Intelligence (Ian and Barbara). No story took place on contemporary Earth as one of the plot threads was the endeavours of these two teachers to return to their own time and place. Even after they returned home, this aversion to contemporary Earth continued. The first story fully set on contemporary Earth was "The War Machines", and "The Web of Fear" was the second.
Following on from the popularity of the Yeti in "The Abominable Snowmen" (another lost story, and sadly not also available as a CD soundtrack), the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria again encounter the Yeti - this time in the contemporary London Underground. This story introduces Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, who afterwards is promoted to Brigadier and placed in charge of the British section of the United Nations Taskforce. One of the most popular of Doctor Who's supporting cast.
The story is strong, with an underlying mystery - who is the agent of the Great Intelligence who is controlling things? There is a sizeable cast with lots of suspects. As the story progresses, the web closes in and the cast members are thinned out. Tension would have been quite high for the viewers experiencing this story, one episode at a time over six weeks. It is still palpable in this story, even if you were to listen to all two and a half hours in one sitting.
Of course, we are deprived of the visuals and linking narrative read by Frazer Hines (who plays Jamie in the story) can only go some way towards bridging these gaps. For me, the season in which "The Web of Fear" appeared is the first I can remember watching Doctor Who as a child. My memory could supply a limited amount of imagery to accompany the sounds, but I don't believe this is necessary.
"The Web of Fear" is one of the best stories of Patrick Troughton's era playing the Doctor, and it is a good story for anyone interested in the show. For the fans, the bonus is that the story is a precursor to the UNIT stories, which were to form the backbone of the series a couple of years after this story was broadcast.
Highly recommended. OK BBC, where's "The Abominable Smowmen"?