Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 185: The Abominable Snowmen, Episode Five
The more I look at the tele snaps for this story, the more I think the Yeti look brilliant. They just do! There's a shot early on in this episode where three of the beasts make their way across the courtyard of the monastery, and it just looks brilliant. What with the Cybermen in the last story and the Ice Warriors coming up in the next one, there's certainly a lot of tall monsters around in this season.
I'm also finding that I like the idea of the Yeti being controlled by the small models more and more, too. Though I've never seen The Abominable Snowmen before, I have seen Downtime more than once (for my sins, though I still think it would have been great adapted into a Sarah Jane Adventures story - imagine Yeti stomping their way up Bannerman Road!), and I'd never quite understood the point of the little wooden Yeti that's so key to the plot there.
Actually, there's quite a lot about Downtime that's confused me over the years, and I think that might be one of the resins I've never really managed to get my head around the Great Intelligence. For some reason, my mind goes all over the place in Downtime, and gets confused about Victoria looking for her dead father in Det Sen Monastery, where she encounters the long-dead Travers (who's played by Watling's real-life dad… see how I manage to confuse myself?), and then there's some stuff about the Yeti invasion of London, which is still to come for me in the marathon…
As if that wasn't bad enough, I'm still struggling to tie up the Great Intelligence we see here with the one from The Snowmen, The Bells of St. John, and The Name of the Doctor. Piecing together what I've gotten from this story and what I vaguely recall from the last series of Who, this is what I think the Intelligence's timeline is like. Anyone care to point me in the right direction? I've made a bit of a guess in relation to how the Intelligence came to Earth, so bear with me…
1) The Great Intelligence is a formless entity that floats around the stars. It may or may not be (depending on how you class the books) a being left over from a previous universe. While it's very intelligent, it longs to have a physical form.
2) While it's floating around, wondering how to gain a physical body, he encounters Padmasamabhava's mind on the Astral Plane, somewhere around the 17th Century. Using the monk's mind, he is drawn to Earth but cannot materialise. He intends to replace humanity with Ice People (that's his plan in The Snowmen, I think…), and so possesses some snow in the Himalayas, and directed it to London (Britain is a great empire at this point - you want to take over the world? London is a good place to start…).
3) The snow is then made into a snowman by the young Simeon, who grows up under the Intelligences guidance. The Doctor manages to defeat the Intelligence, dropping a big hint about the London Underground (while also seeming to not realise who the Intelligence is) and then muses that it will learn to live without a host body.
4) Upon defeat, the Intelligence draws back to the Astral Plane, where he's still in contact with Padmasamabhava, and has kept the monk alive for centuries. He starts work on a new plan which will allow him to take the form of a load of foam. Y'know, just 'cos. He then builds robot Yeti to protect his pyramids - the means through which his new form can enter the world.
Now, I've not seen The Web of Fear yet, but I think I can more-or-less guess where things go from here (broadly speaking, anyway). I don't want to make some massive assumptions and look like a complete fool if I'm wrong, though, so we'll pick this timeline up in a couple of weeks when the Intelligence makes a comeback. It's taking some thinking, but I'm pretty sure I've got it worked out nicely, now, and it makes sense!
The problem is, while I quite like the grand idea of it (and if things go the way I think during The Web of Fear, there's suddenly more justification for the Great Intelligence committing suicide to destroy the Doctor at the end of the most recent series), I'm still just not all that involved in The Abominable Snowmen as a whole. Ho hum, one more episode to go, and I'm expecting lots of Yeti action, so that could be good!