Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 181: The Abominable Snowmen, Episode One
I think it's more than fair to say that whatever had to follow The Tomb of the Cybermen for me was going to have a tough job to keep me impressed, and I'm sorry to say that the first episode of The Abominable Snowmen has left me rather flat. To tell the truth, I think it really is as simple as me being disappointed that it isn't another episode of Tomb, because there's plenty here that would be right up my street in any other circumstance.
There's two areas of the story's setting that should particularly appeal to me. The fact that it all takes place in-and-around a remote monastery in the Himalayan mountains means that I've got an instant hook - take a Google Image search of these monasteries, there's some beautiful examples of them. They're just the right setting for a Doctor Who story, and especially suited to a base under siege tale - there's no one else for miles and miles around. I'm listening to today's episode on audio, so I've been picturing a desolate mountainside shrouded in snow and fog, though I fear tomorrow's episode may not tie in with that, if the location photos are anything to go by!
Quite aside from the location of the story, it's set in a period of history that really interests me - that late 1920s/early 1930s period where there were still areas of the Earth, to be explored. Oh, don't get me wrong, I know that we've still not been into the very depths of some rain forests, or to the peaks of every mountain, and the bottom of the sea leaves us with a vast area to explore, but this period in time is the dying days of the stereotypical 'explorer' image, when you can still sail out to sea and discover a new island which a satellite would have located in seconds today.
Then there's the idea of hinting for the Yeti. I've never really known where I stand on the idea of the Abominable Snowman. I don't think I believe in its existence, or if I do then I think it's probably just a type of rare monkey, and nowhere near as mystical as people think. But I love the idea of those early 20th century explorers going out to look for the creature, and the suggestion that the Doctor is from a newspaper, and there to sabotage the mission for a 'cheap headline' is great - and very in keeping with the era.
We've also got an opening scene that I really should absolutely love - it takes time to show us the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria all hanging around in the TARDIS and having fun together. It feels like an age since we've been able to spend some time inside the ship with our regular cast (I have to admit that I didn't really notice it fading out, but I think The Chase was probably the last time that we really had anything quite like this. Possibly I could cite the opening to The Moonbase where they joke about the Doctor over-shooting Mars).
It's not all fun and games, though, and there's plenty of drama to be found once the Doctor is inside the monastery and being held prisoner by the monks. It's always of interest when the Doctor is separated from his friends and left alone with no allies, and in a setting quite unlike any we've had in the series before, it's always nice to have something new. Jamie and Victoria's exploration of the Yeti cave isn't of as much interest to me, though, and I'm sorry to say I zoned out a little during this (Victoria's screaming soon snapped me back to attention, though!).
Here's hoping that the chance to watch tomorrow's episode will allow me to pull this story out from the previous one's shadow, and set me on a better course for the rest of the tale…