The DVD's include:
The TARDIS sees more action in the first half-hour than anywhere else in the Troughton era, bar episode one of "The Mind Robber" (story no. 45) and episode ten of "The War Games" (story no. 50), possibly another reason why it remains so attractive to producers searching the archives for good flashback material. It has perhaps a confusing start in having to clean up the loose ends of "The Enemy of the World" (the previous story), but before the first scene is finished, the Doctor and his friends have whetted the audience's appetite for exploring a new wondrous location in hopes of discovering a great adventure. All the right stuff! The turbulent opening also serves to build anticipation of similar rough flights in later TARDIS scenes, and so earns its keep in the suspense department. Sound re-mastering removes much of the initial confusion, as dialogue materializes where only noise and shouting were audible before, and a single quick sentence of narration from Frazer on the CD version puts it all in perspective right away.
Travers' scene in the museum is a nice little piece, setting up a wonderful atmosphere for the story and linking it to its prequel, "The Abominable Snowmen" (story no. 38). The return of the Yeti is rapid indeed, not wasting any time waiting for the end of the first episode like so many of the Dalek stories. Jack Watling's reinterpretation of the older Professor Travers is a joy to behold, cantankerous and absent-minded and spot-on with comic timing. The music for this scene starts and ends superbly, providing the atmosphere of a classic old horror flick, but the middle of the piece, looped no less than three times in a row, gets a bit silly as its high pitched lead note climbs higher and higher, fighting the dialogue and nearly destroying the atmosphere. Mark Ayres' remastering manages to put the music back in its place, where it can enhance without bludgeoning. As good as this music works on its own in this story, perhaps it is significant to note that it was also used almost exclusively in the three previous episodes of Doctor Who: "The Enemy of the World" episodes 4, 5, and 6. Perhaps it is getting a bit too repetitious?
The absence of a proper audio/visual materialization for the police box is forgivable, as we get to see it in no less than two interesting locations, and the TARDIS has an entire story beat pitted directly against the Web, giving our three travellers something interesting to do in the interior for a change, where their dialogue makes the concept of the TARDIS plain for new and casual viewers. The Yeti and the Great Intelligence have many new tricks up their sleeves for this story, allowing the investigations of the Doctor and his friends to remain fresh, furthering their knowledge, and focusing on exploration even more so than in their previous Tibetan story. The base-defense formula is back, coupled with the dynamics of a "bottle-story", all of which work well thanks to a good script, great actors playing likeable recurring characters, and a master director.
Unfortunately, the telecine insert of the Doctor's first meeting with Nicholas Courtney's Lethbridge-Stewart is merely a figment of Terrance Dicks' novelization. While in some ways this off-screen entrance for the series' most important recurring supporting character is most disappointing, it opens the door of another interesting set of possibilities. Is it really the first meeting of the Doctor and the soon-to-be Brigadier? Perhaps it is so only from Lethbridge-Stewart's point of view. After all, the time-traveling first Doctor has already met him across the scanner screen in "The Three Doctors" (story no. 65), not to mention face-to-face in "The Five Doctors" (story no. 130). What indeed is the first meeting from the Doctor's point of view? Perhaps they recognized each other already when they did meet here in this story..... Then again perhaps not. Haisman and Lincoln have set up Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart to be, through coincidence, a major suspect, something that does not easily come to the mind of today's average fan, or as easily to the Doctor after he gets to know old Alistair. The Doctor really doesn't seem to know him, or at least trust that he isn't under the control of the Great Intelligence, in this adventure. Haisman and Lincoln do such a superb job of spreading suspicion onto practically every character that it doesn't make much difference - the "Who done it? Could it be....?" question will still bite and confound cast and audience alike until the end.
"Doctor, you'd better stay here and get on with your tinkering."The atmosphere that we've all come to enjoy in the UNIT stories is most definitely present in episode three. Lethbridge-Stewart takes a scene or two to grow from latest new suspect into taking over the role of lead local good-guy from Captain Knight / Professor Travers, and in comparison to them, and Leader Clent, Giles Kent, Professor Parry, Khrisong, Robson, and Jarvis Bennett, how can he not be the favourite to fill this archetypal role in all of season five's offerings?
Mystery mounts in the final two episodes, as it becomes clear that there must be a traitor in the midst, whose identity is not revealed until the final moments of the last episode. The Doctor manages to devise not one but several methods of getting back at the Yeti, the Web, and the Great Intelligence throughout the final episodes, but his increasing deviousness is too much for his friends to follow, and he is unable to get as permanent a victory as he might have wanted. The audience and the other characters need not be disappointed, as a very satisfying set of revelations, character resolutions and display of pyrotechnics brings "The Web of Fear" to a dramatically satisfying conclusion. Despite the obvious door left open for it, a further Yeti/Intelligence sequel never developed on Doctor Who, at least not during the classic era produced in the 1960's, 70's and 80's..... Sad in some respects, but the immediate future lay in another direction, with fresh worlds and ideas to explore.
2014 DVDWe Doctor Who fans have become fairly well spoiled in terms of the lavish bonus features that accompany most DVD releases of this show, when so many other shows feature plain episodes and nothing else. Well, the newly discovered episodes of "The Web of Fear" are coming to us in a fairly plain form this time. They've been given a good restoration and clean-up, and a simple but effective "telesnap"-style recreation of episode three allows us to watch the entire story. That's about it for this release.
There is a bit more "out there" however. Episode One was released previously with an audio commentary by actress Deborah Watling (Victoria), producer Derrick Sherwin, and moderator Gary Russell. To listen to that, you'll have to go back to the 2004 "Lost in Time" box set though. See below for details.
Personally, I'm not going to be too hard on anyone for the plainness of the 2014 release, but rather grateful that other releases have given us so much. I think we have to recognize that most of the special features were put together from interviews planned far in advance.... For example, it is clear that Edward Burnham was interviewed once in an outdoor garden and the footage used in the making-of documentaries for both "The Invasion" (story no. 46) and "Robot" (story no. 75), and whoever interviewed him knew it was best to get his take on both of those stories that he had participated in. But the bonus feature team probably hadn't planned to ask participants all that much about lost episodes, and I'm guessing the interview footage cupboard is pretty bare by now, everything used up elsewhere. Plus, I half-suspect that many of the unofficial "Restoration Team" members are feeling a bit burnt out and keen to move on to other things.
While I do suspect that a Special Edition of this story with many more special features may indeed come out at some point, I don't think it will be soon. And besides, "The Web of Fear" is such a classic, I don't mind so much if I end up double-dipping on this one.
But, four more episodes have just been rediscovered by the BBC!
This now allows five existing episodes from this story (#1,2, 4,5,6)
to come to DVD for 2014:
But, four more episodes have just been rediscovered by the BBC!
This now allows five existing episodes from this story (#1,2, 4,5,6) to come to DVD for 2014:
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