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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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The fifth story from Patrick Troughton's second year as Doctor Who comes to DVD.

Originally a story of six twenty five minute long black and white episodes, all that existed in the bbc archive of this one till recently was episode one. The others having fallen foul of the BBC's old policy of wiping tapes of programmes they never expected to repeat or to have any long term value.

Copies of episodes two, four, five and six were recently found, though. All have been restored to pretty decent picture quality.

Episode three remains gone. To allow for a quick release of the story on DVD, this has episode three recreated by using the original soundtrack and photos that were taken of it at the time that it was broadcast.

The story was the second appearance of the Yeti. And their controller, the great intelligence. The Doctor, plus companions Jamie and Victoria, had met them three stories before, in 'The Abominable Snowmen.' Which was set in 1930's Tibet. And where they met scientist Professor Travers.

The Web of Fear starts with a quick scene that resolves the cliffhanger ending to the last episode of preceding story 'The Enemy of the World' [and which really belongs in the finale episode of that, but was presumably held over just to create a cliffhanger] and then it's 1960's London. Where the much older Travers lets his curiosity get the better of him. The Yeti return.

As London falls foul of a strange fungus, and the Yeti prowl the streets of the city and Underground tunnels, a small army unit is trying to fight back. When the Doctor and friends join them they find they have enemies both outside the military base. And within....

'The one with the Yeti in the London Underground' comes from the fact that this one did stick in the public consciousness for a long time, and attained the status of lost classic as a result.

It's nearly all studio bound, apart from a couple of location bits. Including a superbly directed battle sequence as the Army take on the Yeti. The jump from film material to video recording is noticeable but you do get used to it.

The sets are very good - as a result of which London Underground did inquire how the BBC had gotten to film in the tube without their permission. And the supporting cast are all well drawn. The actor playing reporter Chorley seems to try and imitate Alan Whicker - a name that would have meant a lot to viewers at the time - Travers' scientist daughter comes over as being genuinely intelligent. Although with somewhat stereotypical Welshman Private Evans, who is always looking to get away from danger, you can never be sure if he's meant to be comic relief or not and his attitude does get a bit annoying at times.

Amongst the character is a military man called Col. Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Whose first meeting with the Doctor occurs off camera and whose first appearance is in the missing episode three. Nicholas Courtney delivers a commanding performance from the off. And thus the name of the character became rather familiar...

Amongst these people though is someone who is working for the intelligence. This fact creates a great deal of tension [to audiences of the time, who had never seen Lethbridge-Stewart before, they wouldn't have known whether to trust him or not] an the best of the story is in parts three and four when things all seem to go against the humans, and a great deal of tension and action and shocks await.

Six parters could always be overlong, and this possibly is. Ultimately it's perhaps an overlong runaround. But it's a really good one.

Can it live up to it's reputation and the memories of those who saw it at the time?

That's for the viewer to decide. But at least you can get a chance to do so. Which is great.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English.

Subtitles: English.

It's English audio captioned.

The only extra whatsoever is a trailer for the story 'The Enemy of the World' on dvd. And since that one is already out, the trailer is thus 'also available' rather than 'coming soon.'
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on 3 March 2014
Web of Fear was one of my favourite target novelisations back in the day, I was disappointed to learn (in 1982) only 1 episode was intact and never expected to write this review.
The yeti (1st seen in Abominable Snowmen) return after one of their control spheres is reactivated led by the Great Intelligence (recently seen battling Matt Smith) and spread a deadly weblike substance through the London Underground.

This a good sequel to Snowmen, more of the same but different. A very innovative idea to place the yeti in an incongruous setting such as the Underground. As you will know even if you're only ever seen Ep1 (as on Lost in Time), a small section of the underground was recreated brilliantly in studio and show from myriad different directions & angles so it passes for lots of bits of the underground. the script is a good script confident in the brilliance of its monster and enemy and just out to make a thumping good action adventure.

The characters are good too, the returning Travers ( also in Abominable Snowmen) is excellently portrayed by Jack Watling. He plays the role here as an older man (some 40m years separates the 2 stories) and avoids the usual playing much older than your self cliche's. Instead he gives us a more temperamental & emotional man & suggests he gets tired easily.
Playing Travers' daughter Anne is Tina Packer. An instantly likeable character when she rebuffs mild advances from Capt Knight. She is also believably intelligent and a credible scientist. Taking a leaf out of Ice Warriors' Jan Garett she finds time to have a change of costume.
Derek Pollit's Evans is a coward you can't help liking ( what a trick missed not seconding him to UNIT and having the Brig exasperated in later stories by his behaviour!) and Jack Woolgar's Sgt Arnold is the sort of tough but fair army type so often played by one Mr Hartnell before he was the Doctor.
The man of the match of course is the Brigadier; who at this stage is still Col Lethbridge-Stewart. Great debut as the character by Nicholas Courtney, sadly his 1st appearance is in the still missing Ep 3 represented by soundtrack and telesnap pictures but what a memorable start as he holds the Doc at knifepoint! The hallmark of the character-military but human and not narrow minded is here for all to see.

A great show for Mr Troughton, devious (he doesn't tell others what he's up to), clever, compassionate and with Miss Travers almost flirty!
Frazer Hines' Jamie gets to do plenty as the man of action & forms an odd couple double act with Evans.
Deborah Watling's Victoria now warming up to being out of her era ( for the character her outfit is quite daring) does her usual stuff getting captured etc. but she does it so well you don't mind. Shame she doesn't get more screentime with Jamie.
The yeti are a marvellously incongruous monster & just fantasic fun. With John Levene playing one it means Sgt Benton's in the story too (Levene recalled that at this early point when he only got the monsters to play, Troughton was very encouraging to him).

Generally the webstuff is well made occasionally there are pulsating things clearly made of cellophane but the look is generally pretty good. Great direction & the soundtrack only episode doesn't ruin things at all (in a few bits they cannily reuse other episode's footage).

Good restoration work too.

Just briefly because I thoroughly enjoyed this, no extras! There clearly was ample time to do a commentary even if animation and a making of doc might have delayed things too much.

This story never comes to life on audio and now it's restored to glory, I recommend it for evreyone.
33 comments| 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Web of Fear has long been regarded as an all-time Doctor Who classic, even when all we had to go on was one surviving episode and the soundtrack. With four of the five missing episodes now recovered its reputation seems secure, as with the luxury of more visuals it's clearly a story where everyone was on the top of their game.

Key to this was director Douglas Camfield. Long regarded as the best Doctor Who director of his era, viewing all five existing episodes only serves to enhance his reputation. The studio scenes set in the Underground are full of menace and shadows, with the Yeti rarely seen full on. The brief glimpses we do see are much more effective, as in the cold light of day they are fairly comical.

This is best demonstrated in the Covent Garden sequence in episode four - the initial shots of the waddling Yetis doesn't do them any favours, but this is quickly forgotten when Camfield orchestrates one of the best action sequences in 60's Who. Given his affinity with the military, it's a pity he never directed more during the early 1970's when the UNIT/Pertwee era would have fitted him like a glove.

Patrick Troughton is totally commanding as the Doctor. Encapsulating Troughton's strengths is a difficult task in just a few words, but his economy of performance is always striking. He could clown with the best of them, but Troughton is so compelling when he downplays. The less he does the more effective it is - just a glance or a few words can say so much when they're delivered by a quality actor.

Apart from the return of Jack Watling as Travers, the story is most notable for the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Lethbridge-Stewart. He's put through the mill here, particularly in the aftermath of the doomed Covent Garden expedition. But he's only one of a uniformly strong cast, with Jack Woolgar as Staff Sgt Arnold and Jon Rollason as the oily Harold Chorley giving particularly good performances.

True, the story does lack a little logic. The Great Intelligence seems to have draped London in a web of fear purely to lure the Doctor into its trap. But how did they know that the Doctor would return to this point in time? If it had been the early 1970's then the Doctor did have a base on modern day Earth, but in the Troughton era this wasn't the case. One draft more might have come up with a better plan for the Intelligence, one which actually involved the Earth rather than the rather cod sci-fi concept of draining the Doctor's brain.

Notwithstanding this, The Web of Fear is a creepy tale that deserves its classic status. The Enemy of the World might be a better written and more ambitious story, but Web is a supremely good example of the Troughton base-under-siege story.

It's bound to disappoint some that the missing episode three is represented with a telesnap recon rather than animation. And like Enemy of the World, this DVD lacks the special features that we've come to expect. The one plus-point the DVD has over the ITunes download is that it's VIDfired. Whilst it's a shame there's no commentary, documentary or animation, it's maybe worth taking a moment to wonder why.

Several possibilities have been mentioned over the past few months. The first is that the contract with Dan Hall's company Pup Ltd (who, following the collapse of 2E, were commissioned to produce extras) expired before these stories were found.

The second possibility is that there could have been numerous expenses incurred in retrieving these episodes, so maybe a bare-bones release is partly to regroup some of the money already spent.

And it could just be that BBC Worldwide knew that this story would sell without special features, so maybe an extras-packed SE might follow in the future.

Maybe sometime the complete story of Philip Morris' efforts will be told (in the third edition of Richard Molesworth's Wiped! maybe?) and will answer some of these questions, but for now we just have the stories. Although if anyone had told me at the start of 2013 that within twelve months I'd have all of Enemy of the World and most of The Web of Fear sat on my shelf in DVD format I'd have bitten their hand off. And I doubt I'm the only one.

If anyone doesn't want to buy this bare-bones release then they can stick with the non-VIDfired ITunes download and wait for a possible SE which may or may not happen. I'm more than happy though to have this DVD on my shelf as whilst it may lack the special features of other releases, the quality of the story shines through.
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on 11 October 2013
Like many fans of Doctor Who, I have waited with bated breath this week for the announcement of exactly which episodes of WHO were back at the Beeb. The Web of Fear has always been at the top of my list of episodes that I wanted to see, so to discover (admittedly before the embargo was lifted at midnight) that all bar one of these episodes was recovered was the biggest thrill I think I have ever experienced (and I've had a few!!!)
Naturally I immediately headed to iTunes at a minute after midnight and downloaded all 6 eps of Web as well as all 6 eps of The Enemy of the World, and believe me when this hits the DVD release day you will not be disappointed.
The remastering is phenomenal - the picture is crystal clear, the sound is sharp and clear, and the action is truly wonderous to behold.
Pat, Fraser & Deborah are on sparkling form, and the supporting cast are simply fantastic.
But for me, a huge reason I had to see this story was for the arrival of a certain Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart. I had the privilege of meeting Nick Courtney on many occasions - and getting very drunk with him on most of them. With his performance here in Web you can totally understand why he was asked back to reprise the role the following season in The Invasion.
I'm not going to waffle on - I'm just going to suggest you get this ASAP. Then sit back, relax, and marvel at how brilliant 60's Doctor Who was and cross your fingers that there are more missing episodes on their way back home................
2424 comments| 133 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 March 2016
I love this. For me it was an iconic story, probably as when I was kid I read the book on a coach and just as I came to a part about a silver orb crashing through a window, the coach I was on crashed into the one next to it and the window next to me smashed covering me in glass. So I will never forget this one. There are good actors and well performed. Excellent, and one of the few remastered Troughton stories. BBC should be ashamed for having so few of Troughtons era
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on 15 February 2015
Well, for me, Dr Who was always too scary for me to watch when I was young (4-5 years old). But I always remember watching one episode at my cousin's house, where it was set in some underground. Tunnels that filled up with some foam at the end.

So, here we are some 45 years later with the first chance to revisit this once again. And does it stand up? Absolutely!

The story is creepy (as lots of the 60s stories were) and well told, with good use made of the London Underground. The supporting cast have defined characters that are believe able. And let's not forget it contains the fist appearance of Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart. What I really liked was that you don't know anything about him and he could've been one of the bad guys; the story kept you guessing.

Whilst there are no extras and no doubt there will be a special edition version sometime, this is still worth buying as is. Enjoy.
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on 24 February 2014
When the news was leaked last October that four of this storys' missing episodes had been found at a TV station in Nigeria, I - along with many other Doctor Who fans - licked my lips at the prospect of seeing at last a story that has long been classed as a classic in all its' glory. And having watched it the day before posting this review, I can safely say that it more than lives up to expectations.

The Web Of Fear works on so many levels as it contains many memorable moments and images. Perhaps the most iconic scenes are those involving the Yeti in the darkness of the deserted London Underground tunnels, and the idea of the great intelligence once again using them in its' invasion of Earth is an inspired idea. The human traitor aiding the aliens in their plan isn't known until the last few minutes of the final episode, and when it's revealed who it is the viewer is left speechless - who would have thought it could have been the loyal Staff Seargent Arnold, when some suspected the intrusive journalist Harold Chorley or even one of the other soldiers? Professor Travers makes his second appearance in this story, and he is just as flawless in the scenes when he is seen to have been taken over by the intelligence as he is during the rest of the serial as the blustering, no-nonsense scientist.

For many fans this story sees the introduction of the character who would become as much an icon as the Doctor himself, that of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (later to be Brigadier), and such is the impact made by Nicholas Courtney in his debut in the role that many are left wondering whether the part was made especially for him. Him and Patrick Troughton are great in their scenes together, more or less laying the foundations for the relationship between the Doctor and the Brigadier in later seasons. The tension never lets up from one moment of the story to the other, much of it due to the skills of the late great Douglas Camfield, who as this storys' director proves that he was the ideal choice to deal with scenes including a gun battle between the Yetis and the regular army.

The Yeti themselves are genuinely more frightening this time around, but they still manage to also look rather comical in some scenes, most notably during the scenes shot on location in Covent Garden in episode four. And in some shots when they appear in the tunnels the lack of any incidental music to accompany their presence on screen does tend let the production down slightly, but thankfully this is only a minor flaw as the rest of the story is virtually faultless.

Two things that the DVD suffers from are: 1)the still missing episode three appears only as a series of telesnaps edited together, and 2)due to the time constraints between the story being re-discovered and its' rush-release onto DVD there are no special features of any kind, the same problem that occurred with the release of The Enemy Of The World. If perhaps the third episode was to be found tomorrow and this story was to be re-released as a special edition as a result, I would suggest these would be included to keep fans like me happy at the earliest opportunity.

So to sum up, this is one DVD release that was well worth the wait. Superbly written, directed, and crammed with tension with many memorable scenes as well as being genuinely terrifying, you'll be gripped from the minute you start watching.
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on 2 March 2014
Following its defeat by the Doctor (the Abominable Snowmen), the Great Intelligence has been studying the Time Lord. Finally able to take advantage of the scientific curiosity of Professor Travers in repairing one of its control spheres, the Great Intelligence has constructed an elaborate scheme to trap the Doctor. While its robot Yeti servitors lay siege to the London Underground, the Tardis is first caught and then released to materialize within the tunnels of the Circle Line.
With the Yeti gradually cutting off the Circle Line and it becoming obvious that someone within their number is working for the enemy, the few remaining soldiers and civilians still trapped underground are facing certain destruction unless they can find a way to destroy or disable the Yeti.
Ultimately, the Great Intelligence aims to capture the Doctor, absorbing the entire contents and experience of his mind into its own.

I have particularly vivid memories of the Web of Fear from its first broadcast in 1968, so the chance to see it again was irresistible. Although it's still a good story the Web of fear is probably now best remembered for the introduction of Nicholas Courtney as Colonel (later Brigadier) Lethbridge-stewart.

The restoration and transfer to DVD is excellent, although the third episode is still missing. Instead, the episode is represented by the original soundtrack and stills, which in this case works well enough not to detract from the overall experience. Apart from a trailer for the already released "Enemy of the World" there are no special features at all on the DVD but this is still a great addition to the Classic Doctor Who series.
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on 17 March 2016
Yay it's the Yeti! Not many of Patrick Troughton's series remain and I had thought that the Abomnible Snowman monster had been wiped out for good but it has survived in the Web of Fear. One episode is partly only audio with static pictures but that doesn't effect the story at all. These are the days of intriguing adventures with a Doctor who does not have all the answers until, like a detective with infinite wisdom, he discovers the alien truth. Brilliant!
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on 30 September 2014
This along with The Enemy Of The World are a Doctor Who / TV Sci-Fi fan's dream come true.

Shame Episode 3 is still missing but it has been reconstructed using John Cura's Off Screen Stills and is superb.

Worth it for the price, just don't expect any new documentary or added extras as this is a bare bones release but worth it for a classic slice of 1960's British TV Sci-Fi.

I mean, it's Patrick Troughton, the introduction of Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart and the Yeti in the London Underground - what more do you need?
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