on April 27, 2014
Well, let's start with the good news first. A lost episode from the very poorly represented Troughton years is uncovered.
I remember watching episode 1 on the "Lost In Time" box set and being both intrigued and upset I was left hanging at
the end of the episode. It's a very strong story involving the Yeti/the Great Intellegence, all taking place in the abandoned London Underground, which is enough creepy in itself. Of the 6 episodes that make up this story, all but episode 3 has
been found & restored. The picture & sound quality are in line with past remasters. IMHO the London Underground sets
are only amplified by the black & white footage-not sure it would be as intiguing in color. There's a great use of shadows
and making the dark work for you.
On this particular disc, the BBC has opted not to use the past services of the animation team that has filled in the gaps
of past missing episodes. Honestly, I have to say I prefer this way. Since 5 of the 6 episodes exist, they were able to cull
enough stills to make it work.
The bad news is that we (I) have been accustomed to lots of DVD extras (actor interviews & the making of..., etc.) There
is nothing here. You get the story only-not that that's a bad thing. I just thought they could have waited a bit longer to
interview former Doctor companions Frazier & Deborah (Jamie & Victoria) and put together a "making of" segment.
Outside of that, I am very happy with the purchase and look forward to more missing episode discoveries poping up from
the basements & storage rooms of remote libraries & churches around the globe. Never give up the quest!
The TARDIS is moving through space, minding its own business, when it's nearly trapped by a giant web. It escapes (or does it?!) and the monitor shows that it has materialized in the dark somewhere. The Doctor and Jamie are ready to go out and explore. Victoria isn't so sure, "Is it safe?"
The Doctor is quite chirpy in his reply: "I shouldn't think so for a moment."
They figure out that they're in the London Underground! Unfortunately, the tunnels are infested with the web fungus and robot Yeti.
What! The Doctor thought he'd deactivated all the Yeti at the end of "The Abominable Snowmen", 40 Earth years before. It turns out that Professor Travers has inadvertently reactivated one of the robots, allowing the Great Intelligence to attempt another invasion. It doesn't look good for planet Earth. Travers confidently tells Harold Chorley, a tabloid reporter: "More than likely, we'll not be able to defeat this menace. And London, the whole of England, might be completely wiped out. <aside> Have you got that?"
This national catastrophe requires the army, and the Doctor meets Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (before he becomes a Brigadier in UNIT), who asks,
"Tell me, Doctor. This Intelligence. Exactly what is it?"
Doctor: "Well, I wish I could give you a precise answer. Perhaps the best way to describe it is a formless shapeless thing, floating about in space like a cloud of mystery, with a mind and will."
How do you fight something you can't see?
"The Web of Fear" was originally broadcast in February/March 1968. The series has 6 episodes of 17 minutes each. The Doctor first met it's villain, the Great Intelligence, in "The Abominable Snowmen" series (9/1967). POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: Thanks to the Doctor's well-intentioned companions, the Great Intelligence gets away at the end of "The Web of Fear". He'll be back in a big way in "The Snowmen" (2012 Christmas special) and "The Bells of St. John" and "The Name of the Doctor" (both Season 7, 2013).
This is a super Dr. Who series, a true sci-fi thriller with hidden homing devices and a mole in their midst. A little touch of melodrama, too! The B&W cinematography is very good - particularly in the beginning, where a Yeti awakes in a museum. I half expected Boris Karloff to walk out.
The video for all episodes except #3 has been recovered and digitally vidFIRE remastered for this DVD release. The show looks crisp and clean. The original audio is available for all 6 episodes and has been remastered.
Episode 3 is shown with the original soundtrack and telesnaps, still photos. This is the same as is currently available on itunes. However, the itunes videos of episodes 1,2,4,5 & 6 cannot be of vidFIRE quality, so the DVD should look better (I haven't ordered it on itunes).
youtube has a short interview with with the gray-haired Nicholas Courtney. Courtney explains that "The Web of Fear" was "all set in the London underground. The sets are rather impressive, I think.... It was done in Lime Grove, and so carefully ... that London Transport rung up and said, 'How dare you film the London Underground without our permission.' "
That the underground is a set is given away after the TARDIS first lands. For a time, there is no music, and as Jamie walks down the tunnel in his big boots, you can hear the distinct sound of his steps on plywood.
English subtitles are available. The only Bonus Extra is the trailer for the upcoming DVD release of "Enemy of the World". It's too bad they didn't at least add Production Notes to "Web of Fear".
[Note: I updated my review after receiving and reviewing the DVD.]
on April 22, 2014
Once you’ve dived into the universe of Doctor Who far enough, there are few things that can surprise you. Many of the villains we know from the recent 2005 reboot had been introduced decade before, when the original series aired. Locations, themes, even solutions to deadly puzzles all ring familiar as you dip your toes into the classic episodes. Yet, that doesn’t hold true one hundred percent of the time, and watching the remastered 'Doctor Who: Web of Fear', only recently brought back to life through the discovery of some missing footage, is certainly an exception.
The Tardis frozen in space covered by space cobwebs. Yep, check and mate. Never seen that before.
'Web of Fear' originated in the years of the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. Originally broadcast in early 1968, the story surrounds The Doctor and his traveling companions as they are lured down to Earth, and into the subway tunnels of London. When they arrive, the entire city of London has been evacuated due to a scourge of robot Yeti creatures, an unknown fog, and a living fungus currently filling up the underground tunnels. The Doctor finds assistance from a band of soldiers, a long lost friend and the initial appearance of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (the head of UNIT), in his battle against the Yeti and their master, The Great Intelligence.
For the newbies out there yet to delve into these older episodes, The Great Intelligence was played much later in the Matt Smith years by Richard E. Grant (introduced in the episode with the deadly ghost coming out of the frozen pond). Here, the classic villain is mainly out of sight until the later chapters where he appears only in the bodies of borrowed people or soldiers.
The story is important to the Doctor Who canon due to the introduction of Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT (which isn’t actually mentioned outright during the episode). The same actor, Nicholas Courtney, will return in later years playing the same character, now promoted to Brigadier. His no nonsense, painfully logical, yet subtly caring demeanor is truly fun to watch.
Although most of the footage was unearthed, and able to be digitized and remastered, the third episode in the series only exists via still photos and audio tracks. So what you see on the screen during that portion is really only a slideshow of stills. The effect is a little like watching a old time radio play just translated to TV. As with many of the older Doctor Who episodes, there are some hilariously archaic special effects. The deadly fungus that fills the tunnels looks like sudsy overflow from your washing machine and the terrifying Yeti monsters are slow, bulky, and look like they grew up on the other side of Sesame Street. Nevertheless, the triumph here is none of that takes away from the drama, excitement and fun of the show. Some might say it actually adds to it, if you’re one who loves older cinema.
One of the other characters that deserves special mention is Professor Travers (Jack Watling). He is a fantastically amazing curmudgeon, a sort of human representation of the battle between science and the rest of the world. He also opens up the long held debate about the responsibility of scientists to understand the ramifications of their constant tinkering with nature.
Another memorable note was the ending, which I won’t give away fully, but The Doctor has a chance to not only defeat The Great Intelligence, but rid the universe of him for good. When that plan goes awry, Troughton lets us see a glimpse of the deep anger and frustration The Doctor can have with those around him. They don’t understand the universe like he does, the action/reaction chain that he has followed his entire existence. We see a brief moment of how lonely it can really be to be the only truly smart person in the room.
'Doctor Who: The Web of Fear' is a worthwhile classic episode for the collector and not a bad one for the recently initiated either.
on April 22, 2014
The Web of Fear, mostly complete and restored. What could be better? The Enemy of the World I say, but that's next month.
To make a quick comment on the DVD itself, it arrived a little bit ago. The quality is what to expect from these well restored and VidFIREd Classic Who releases. And unlike the Moonbase R1 DVD this one is running at the correct speed and is completely interlaced for that lovely video look, ;)
A word of warning though, the main menu is not, xD As in when the disc finally reaches the menu don't let your heart sink like mine did when I heard dialogue rendered a pitch too low and no video look to be seen. The menus were probably a quick conversion.
But rest assured as -the main feature is VidFIREd and running at the right speed-!
Just ignore the menu on this disc like I will do from now on, xD
on May 20, 2014
This story was often called one of the very best of DW but we only had part 1 to watch for years. A part 1 that made you wish you could see the rest so badly. Well almost all of the rest was found and now we have an excellent story but not perfect. It's a six parter so you get the padding and running to and fro. The climax is a bit anti-climatic. A supporting player annoys. But we get great, atmospheric sets of the London Underground, the intro of Lethbridge-Stewart & the seed of the later UNIT stories and the return of the Yeti looking more menacing. Part 3 is recreated with still photos and the audio track. A must have for Who fans.
on April 22, 2014
My earliest recollection of Dr. Who is William Hartnell's "Planet of Giants from 1964. Man, that dates me... When I heard that this serial had been found, I danced for joy as, no doubt, so many others did. I wanted amongst other things to see how much I did recall from it. Not as much as I had thought, it seems, but that was no obstacle to my devoting 2.5 hours to watching it from start to finish.
It's a confusing start but that evens out once you realise that the Doctor and his companions have been thrust into a crisis, rather than be there at the start of the shenanigans.
And what delightful shenanigans they are too as the Yeti, formerly of Tibet, take to the London streets after bringing the Underground to a complete halt. The Underground sets are divine and word is that London Transport got a bit miffed with the Beeb because they thought they had stolen into the Underground after hours to film; they are beautifully lit and so wonderfully staged.
Everybody gets a chance in this story and characters that might otherwise have remained in the background are brought to the fore. Even the Doctor is absent from Part 2 and it's nice to see Jamie and Victoria less prominent. Jack Woolgar gets the honours here as Staff Arnold.
Sadly, there are no special features. I remarked to one UK reviewer that complained about this that, given the incredibly short time between discovery and release, he was lucky to get it at all but that is a comment that no longer holds any water. I would have been happy to wait until now to get something...alack, alas....We do have the notice that "Enemy of the World" is "Now Available" but not as "Now Available" as this piece. Oh well.
OK, so the Yeti look like the Wombles' poor relations and Victoria's gunny sack makes her look like a midget but nevertheless, it is truly delightful to watch and, Episode 3 notwithstanding, one for the record books. It really is good. The set piece with the Yeti slugging it out with UNIT in front of a sign that says "Commit No Nuisance" is a gem (I wonder if that was intentional humour?); there's a yet-to-be-promoted-to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and, while we're on the subject, Sergeant Benton as a Yeti; and for the observant, the chocolate being handed out is "Camfield's" Dairy Milk.
And so the collection grows evermore complete but I have the sinking feeling that the Beeb will quietly shelve the classic Dr. Who reconstructions, given the stories circulating about "The Underwater Menace." Given, also, the haphazard and occasionally criminally inept animations of some of the stories, it wouldn't surprise me to know that I'm right. But that's for the future.
In the meantime, sit back and revel in some not only classic Dr. Who but classic television.
on April 30, 2014
Outstanding to have this release. I believe it has been digitally re-mastered the images are sharper than I would have believed possible. and the sound is amazing. As usual I will skip the plotline as I am sure you have read it.
What you get on this release is one disc containing 6 episodes and no special features. Though there are subtitles if you need them.
This is a reconstructed episode. It is still missing episode three. However using an audio recording and still pictures they convey the story very well. I am sincerely glad they used the still pics over the animation they used in other re-constructions. It is less distracting from the story and while the stills don't always match the dialogue it is still a good release.
Onto the bad. There are no special features as I mentioned. I hope this is headed for a release as a special edition. The finding of the missing episodes and the re-construction is a story I would love to see.
I have seen it mentioned that they should have held the production up until special features could be added. I disagree. For the lousy 20 bucks or so I paid for this I am not only happy to have it in hand I will be more than glad to shell out more of my hard earned cash when they do release the Special Edition.
on April 22, 2014
First I'd like to say that if you are on the fence about getting this story, you should.
At the very least buying it will generate support and funds for the BBC and encourage them to search for more missing episodes! That being said this is a really good story!
It's really great to see more Patrick Troughton episodes, especially at his height in his run. It nice to see the Jamie/Victoria/Second Doctor team! They work well together.
The Yeti make a comeback and the Brigadier has his first episode! Although the part where he comes in is episode three which is missing but nicely reconstructed with photos.
All in all it's a great story and is a must have for any collector or fan of Patrick Troughton!
on May 27, 2014
I love the story, but because this story was rushed to DVD within months of its recovery, there are no special features on the DVD. I can deal with that, but instead of animating the missing episode (which has been so nicely done with other stories), we revert back to the old "audio track and still images". I was very disappointed about that and really hope that BBC Video considers a re-release with animation in the future.
On October 10, 2013, the BBC held an press conference in London announcing the recovery of the missing episodes of Enemy of the World and the Web of Fear (minus episode 3). Thanks Phil Morris! These were made available as downloads on iTunes with a recon and off air audio used for Web 3. The press conference was attended by Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Deborah Watling (Victoria) among others. The Web of Fear was sort of a follow up to the hugely popular The Abominable Snowman. It features the return of Professor Edward Travers and the introduction of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.
from tv shows on dvd:
"The TARDIS narrowly avoids becoming engulfed in a cobwebby substance in space. It arrives in the London Underground railway system, the tunnels of which are being overrun by the web and by the Great Intelligence's robot Yeti. The Intelligence's goal is to drain the Doctor's mind; can the Doctor sabotage the device before the Intelligence's plan comes to fruition?"