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Mar 12, 2006

I've Started Something

There is nothing worse than starting something that you cannot finish. This is the major problem when watching any story that has missing episodes, especially one where only the first episode exists. I know that you can get the story on CD so you can carry on where you left of after watching the first episode, but it just isn't the same, is it?

The Web of Fear has a fantastic first episode, which builds up really nicely and it is such a shame that the rest of it has been junked. Like a lot of Patrick Troughton stories not much happens in the first episode, it just, sort of, builds up nicely over the course of the story's length and often they don't really kick in until at least episode three, but there is a lot of atmosphere and building up of the plot there to keep the viewer interested.

I am not to sure about the opening scenes where the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are writhing around on the floor. I always remember this was quite an embarrassing scene to watch, especially when there were other people (or non-fans) in the room and, of course, if you hadn't already seen the previous story then you would have no idea why they were all writhing around on the floor, especially if you walked in at that very moment. 

There are quite a lot of great moments in the first episode: the scene in the museum where the curator is cut down by a yeti to the strains of Bela Bartok; the scenes in the underground when the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are exploring; the scene with a cobwest infested newspaper seller who falls to the ground when Jamie taps him on the shoulder (as copied very well by Kevin Davies for Thirty Years in the TARDIS); as well as some cringe-inducing moments: the opening TARDIS scenes where Troughton desperately tries not to cop a feel of Debbie Watling (well you would, wouldn't you?); the "what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this" exchange between Captain Knight and Anne Travers.

Like the majority of Troughton stories this is very atmospheric and you can tell just by watching this episode that here you have a director who has a bit of flair about him rather than the usual static camera shots favoured by a lot of the directors of the day (and Peter Moffatt in the eighties). Douglas Camfield is definitely one of the best, if not the best, directors ever to have worked on Doctor Who and this story is one of his triumphs.

Also kudos must go to the set designer who so convincingly replicated the London Underground that the authorities thought they had actually filmed there! The acting on display in the episode is pretty top notch as well with particular praise going to Jack Watling as the ageing, blustering Professor Travers and to Pat Troughton giving his always-excellent performance as the Doctor.

As this is a sequel to the earlier story The Abominable Snowmen you do have to have a bit of knowledge of that story to really appreciate the opening episode of this adventure, but not that much that you couldn't work out what is going on in this story if you hadn't.

I always liked the story, from when I read the target novelisation of the story when I was at middle school, and was rather miffed when I discovered that the majority of the story was missing, but was glad that at least one part survived. I guess that if the story was complete it may not be considered to be such a brilliant story as it is at the moment (like Tomb of the Cybermen which was a classic until someone went and found it and discovered that it was only average), so part of me is glad that the story is mostly missing, but another part of me wishes I could watch the whole thing in its glory, rather than just watch an episode, and then listen to the soundtrack of the rest. It just isn't the same. 


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