Doctor Who #181: The Abominable Snowmen Part 6

"Brave hearts will not suffice for this battle."TECHNICAL SPECS: Missing from the archives. Consequently, a reconstruction was used. First aired Nov.4 1967.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor enters a contest of wills with Padmasambhava, allowing his friends to smash up the Great Intelligence's equipment. The Yeti - and the mountain! - blows up.

REVIEW: What's odd about this serial is that there really isn't a tangible villain. The Great Intelligence is this great bit abstraction, even as it is made flesh, and everyone acting badly is either its pawn, misguided, or a fluffy beeping robot. The characters are quick to forgive second and even third-hand murders because no one is actually responsible for their evils. It's a world where everyone is a victim. Perhaps it's fitting that the Intelligence is more or less represented by an oozing mountain, as this is more or less a story about people placed in danger by a natural disaster. Or a supernatural disaster, as it may be. And so, it's pity we should feel towards Padmasambhava when his puppet strings are finally cut, and sympathy for Khrisong who was only trying to do his duty, and even a little sadness when the Yeti's chest cavities explode.

There are some in this story who are also confused about who the heroes are. We still have some shrill monks who call Victoria a devil woman, but also Travers who heads up the mountain, the hard man who believes himself the serial's protagonist. He'll fail miserably, because the real fight is in the sanctum at the heart of the monastery, but what a strange final confrontation it is. Padma uses telekinetic powers to stop the Doctor, which is the kind of thing Doctor Who will soon enough be able to call its stock and trade. But in the meantime, you have Victoria repeating meditation phrases so doesn't fall under the Intelligence's spell again, Padma catching bullets with his bare hands, and a climax that is (disappointingly?) about smashing glass spheres and pyramids. And boom, one of the mountains in the Himalayas explodes with pale goo running down its slopes. Even without proper video, it's truly bizarre (and wonderful?).

In the epilogue, there's a sense that there was a sweet romance between Victoria and Thomni, with the mind of sweet goodbye often done between young people at the end of any given serial. A repressed Victorian teenager and a chaste Tibetan monk? It might have worked. Travers finds closure, for his part, in a true Yeti sighting, as the Whoniverse reveals that it has room for both the robot and the missing link kind. Mysteries unsolved, adventures to be had even for those who stay behind. However, Jamie really shouldn't have asked for a warmer destination next time, as it's about to get even colder...

VERSIONS: The Target novelization changes some of the names slightly, often switching letters around (Songtsen for Songsten, for example), apparently to put them at a distance from the historical figures they were named after.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A Buddhist fable that ends with great whomping explosions, it almost feels anti-climactic, but that may be the lack of video talking.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The Abominable Snowmen introduces a beloved recurring monster, features an unusual "base" for them to besiege, and achieves a certain Lovecraftian insanity. An episode or two too long, but otherwise a solid entry in the canon.



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