…with a quick look The Web of Fear - first transmitted February/March 1968 then lost to the ages until its recent, high profile recovery by film historian/archivist Philip Morris. This one pits Patrick Troughton’s Doctor against The Great Intelligence (featured in the most recent Matt Smith Season/Series) and its army of robotic Yetis on the streets of London and throughout its Underground tunnels.
More on Web shortly, but first…
THEATRICAL SCREENINGS OF THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR ONSALE GLOBALLY
(Not surprisingly) they’re selling out in UK.
Check CineWorld, Odeon, Vue, Picture House for locations. Many chains/venues are adding second screenings for the November 23 simulcast (concurrent with BBC’s global transmit of the 50th anniversary episode) - chains like Picture House are scheduling screenings for the following day…others may be as well, so dig around.
US screening tickets (a limited number of simulcast cities - synced with the actual UK television transmit of the show) are on-sale now as well- venues for bewilderingly after-the-fact screenings on Monday November 25 are also on-sale. Details HERE at Fathom Events of check Fandango.
THE WEB OF FEAR
Deborah Watling (companion Victoria Waterfield) is REALLY cute.
Which has nothing to do with anything other than she’s a major component in The Web of Fear, one of two recently recovered ‘long lost’ / now found and restored episodes episodes recently released by BBC via iTunes.
Last week we looked at the other recovered tale, called The Enemy of the World. My chief criticism of that story is that roughly two of its six installments serve no purpose whatsoever. The story hits the ground running like gangbusters, dips unnecessarily and inexplicably, then rallies to a fairly compelling and rewarding conclusion. The same nitpick can be leveled here, although Web’s structural/pacing issues take on a wholly different complexion. Here, Web is…for want of a better phrase…consistently inconsistent…rallying to amazing highs and dipping to seat-shifting lows within the same episode, over and over again. A case study in consistent storytelling this is not.
Still, it may well be impossible for anyone even remotely interested in DOCTOR WHO - or kitschy Science Fiction in general - not to embrace Web without an affectionate smile. Lethbridge-Stewart and his men blasting lumbering roboYeti on the streets of London with guns, grenades, and a bazooka is so utterly whacked it must be seen to be believed. Overweight (cuddlier than villainous) roboYeti stalking about with future rifles is also a sight for the ages. Add in Watling (she’s really cute) and bookishly sexy guest actress Tina Packer (playing the daughter of a scientist performed by Watling’s real-life father)…
...combined with the introduction on Nicholas Courtney as the aforementioned Lethbridge-Stewart (who would go on to become of of DOCTOR WHO’s most enduring and beloved characters)…Web of Fear has a great deal going for it, it merely serves us the goods a bit sloppily.
As referenced above, this is the first story in which the character who would ultimately become known as ‘Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’ appears. One of the tragedies and frustrations of Web’s recent recovery from Africa is that one single component of the story is still actually missing (a conspicuously under noted fact in in the storm of publicity swirling around the announcement of the recoveries). Namely, it’s third installment - which encompasses the moment in which we (and the Doctor) actually meet Lethbridge-Stewart. So, while we are blessed (and we truly are fortunate in this regard) to finally be beholding the character’s first adventure with the Doctor, it’s a tad hard not to feel stung by the notion that their initial encounter remains the sad fodder of photographic reconstruction.
I’m fully aware that I’m sounding a tad negative about this episode - far more so than I intended, probably. At the end of the day, it truly is a lot of fun - but it’s often a bit of an effort to make it to sludge one’s way to Web’s genuinely enjoyable elements. This said, like The Enemy of the World before it, there’s a great deal of charm to be found here - and the scale of this production vividly illustrates the richness which was decimated when BBC initially banished this saga (and many others like it) back in the day as part of a standard housecleaning process. Making it impossible not to wonder what some of the still-missing adventures must’ve looked like and ‘felt’ like, and reinforcing the tragedy of their absence all the more. Here’s hoping for future recoveries - and I suspect we will have more. I’d even bet on it. In the here and now, though, it’s truly amazing to have Web and Enemy back in play after all these years - all these decades. While neither is a soaring triumph on par with the very WHO could offer, both are quite worthy and do not disappoint in the end, despite their admitted blemishes.
And Deborah Watling is really cute.
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