The Troughton era has always fascinated me due to the lack of availability of his episodes. This one is a particularly atmospheric one and one that I used to enjoy the Target novelisation for back in the day. Sound quality is as decent as you can get given the archive nature of the sources to hand but I should stress it is very listenable. Commentary keeps you well informed during moments of action or silence. We should generally rejoice such a recording exists at all :)
Another strong story from Patrick Troughton's second year as Doctor Who. In my opinion this was his best season, with other great episodes such as Tomb of the Cybermen, The Ice Warriors and the frankly mad Fury from the Deep.
This is just the soundtrack with linking narration to cover scene movements and action sequences. Episode 2 can be found on the Lost in Time DVD and may be useful in helping you visualise the settings. However, I found it works well on its own, though some action scenes can be a bit hard to follow.
This story is a little on the fuzzy side. An ethereal alien intelligence creates an army of robotic mind-controlled Yetis and uses them to take over an isolated Tibetan monastery (as a base for global conquest we assume). The Yeti's make sense in the context of the story, but little is said as how and where were they constructed, or how they arrived on earth. The Intelligence too is rather a vague character, we found out virtually nothing about it except it has the power to infiltrate people's minds. These are, of course, minor points only of interest to the most pedantic fans (like me) and the vagueness does add to the overall sense of mystery.
Once you accept the premise what you get is an effective cat and mouse thriller. There is a strong sense of foreboding created by the isolated setting and the uncertainty of who could be undergoing mind-control. The tension mounts as the monastery is besieged by the Yetis leading in the end to.........well let's not spoil it.
The performances are great. The Doctor suffers all sorts of indignities trying to convince the monks of his good intentions. Victoria and Jamie show the close sibling-like relationship, one minute caring the next squabbling, that made them the best companions of the Troughton era for me. The supporting characters are all interesting and well defined.
Perhaps the story is a little overlong, it does take the Doctor rather a long time realise how to break intelligence's means of communication. You will probably have worked it out much sooner.
If you enjoyed this episode you can repeat the experience by listening to The Web of Fear, a later episode in the same season, which is essentially the same story transposed from a Tibetan Monastery to the London Underground.
There's this thing about really good Doctor Who stories. The Caves of Androzani has a plastic dragon. Talons of Weng-Chiang has a cuddly gerbil. Otherwise wonderful tales let down by a badly-designed monster. From the fully extant (ie on film) Episode Two, the Yeti are very slightly cute, but they're also huge and, frankly, I'd be frightened of Teletubbies if they were being controlled by Wolfe Morris' chilling Padmesambhava. Sounds rather perfect so far... It's a story of Tibetan Warrior Monks besieged from outside by the Abominable Snowmen of the title, The Robotic Yeti, and from inside by The Great Intelligence, an alien force set to consume the monastary today and the world tomorrow. The Doctor's been here before (but we've never seen that officially and the script accomodates the Doctor's familiarty without any of the quite unnecessary fuss and confusion the programme would descend into in the mid-eighties, when this sort of thing happened more often). Troughton is as usual superb, the 67-68 season once again proven his finest few hours, and Victoria (only her third story) still surprisingly stands up as a weak but sympathetic young lass. Jamie gets to have an idea and the Doctor says the immortal line "Bung A Rock At It!" The narration read by Frazer Hines, is quickfire but fluid and intelligently written, and if you've seen Episode Two, plus the stories that surround it, it's no trouble visualising such wonderful scenes as the Cliffhanger to Part Three, where the Yeti behind Victoria... or where... hey, just listen to it.
One of the lost stories from the Troughton period of Doctor Who and one of the most atmospheric. I suppose any story set in a monastery is 'sinister' almost by definition (why is that, exactly??) but the air of looming menace in this recording is strengthened by three things. First, the unusual absence of background music (silence can be creepy!). Second, the continual sound of howling wind outside. Third, the character of the old llama, Padmasambhava. The first time you hear his voice it makes you jump as it echoes around the corridor outside his inner sanctum. More frightening is the way it keeps switching from a booming but gentle resonance to a gasping, snarling whisper (as the Great Intelligence resumes complete control of the old monk's mind). As a kid, the voice gave me nightmares. Listening to it now, I still get the odd pleasurable shiver. The concept of the old llama, once a friend of the Doctor's from his previous visit during the 17th century but now imprisoned in his chair for 300 years, is the central tragedy of the story. Padmasambhava longs for his own death and the only thing Troughton's Doctor can do for his old friend is to help him achieve it. Just brilliant.