The countdown continues with two monsters that both first appeared on television screens in 1967.
6. The Ice Warriors
Although Doctor Who Season 5 was when they both debuted (Ice Warriors, Yeti) both have roots that began long before that.
In the instance of the Ice Warriors, they are the archetypal Green Men from Mars – their greenness not being fully appreciated in the Black and White days of the Sixties though. Like the Yeti, their Doctor Who origins in the time of Doctor Who most-junked seasons (Seasons 3, 4, 5) means it’s by luck we have a few of their Season 5 episodes left.
The episodes lost (Ep2, Ep3) of the serial The Ice Warriors though are ones that highlight one aspect of the Ice Warriors, a vital trait of any Doctor Who monster – scaring the companion. The still above and the Target novelisation cover it inspired give some sort of idea of the drama of the terrified Victoria of these lost episodes.
It seems likely though the eventual BBC DVD release of this story will in some way “complete” the story (in the manner of The Invasion or The Reign of Terror).
After another Patrick Troughton story (The Seeds of Death which has been re-released as a Special Edition as part of the Revisitations 2 box set) they chalked up another two story-appearances in the next decade in the Peladon serials starring Jon Pertwee.
These Seventies stories tilt the Ice Warriors towards an Ood-like complexity of characterisation – monsters are people too. It’s the sheer number of stories which places them higher than the Mara of the Top 10, and the fact they’re stories which have been admired for decades places them higher than the others. (Though like the Yeti they’ve yet to appear in the 21st Century era of the television programme.)
5. The Yeti
Like the Ice Warriors, the Yeti have roots began long before their Season 5 debut – being based on The Abominable Snowmen of myth (heck, that’s even the title of their debut story). Also the word “Yeti” wasn’t invented by Doctor Who.
The Doctor Who twist – it’s the Doctor Who tradition of one of those abstract intelligences that project their influence, (see also the Nestene, the Mara – though the Yeti were their precursor). If the form of the Nestene Consciousness (in its first story) is Lovecraftian, then it’s the idea of the Yeti-controlling Great Intelligence which is. A horror beyond the stars, trying to manifest itself on Earth.
What would appear to be a weakness to the basic concept of the Yeti robots – the novelty of the location of Himalayas can’t be repeated – is actually a strength as they roam beyond their “natural setting” making Doctor Who magic along the way just two stories after their original appearance.
It’s the juxtaposition of something fantastical against the everyday, (in The Web of Fear, the London Underground) that would be immortalised as a tenet of the programme with the phrase “Yeti on a loo in Tooting Bec”.
Why do they project webs? Why not? Looks cool. There’s something though that fits with the image of their bewhiskered bulk shambling down the dark tunnels of the underground rather than the open air of the Tibetan hills. Is it a primal fear, from the time of wooly mammoths, the age of roaming bears that would be a danger to the shelter of caves?
Another, easier to answer question – why are they so high up the Top 10 chart with only two “Yeti stories”?
Ah, they have a third appearance which cements their status as Doctor Who legends – The Five Doctors.
Chosen to be the monster the Second Doctor encounters, (while he’s rocking the heavy fur coat he wore in the Himalayas), and the First Doctor and Third Doctor are against obviously iconic monsters – ergo, an elevation to undoubtably iconic for these shaggy-haired robots is achieved.
That their stories of the Sixties were great and fondly remembered is why they were included in this 20th Anniversary Special though – remembered being the operative word as both serials of that decade just exist now with one episode each available on the Lost in Time Doctor Who box set.
The Classic Doctor Who website has “photonovels” of The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear which you can read while listening to the BBC audio CDs of the existing television soundtracks. There’s also the Target novelisations (the BBC has reprinted Doctor Who and The Abominable Snowmen recently, as well as Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors).
We ended the previous segment with the conclusion that ‘Unlike Star Trek‘s classically Science Fiction situations of a human society and alien society interacting, Doctor Who “aliens” are much more the monsters of ghost stories or the subconscious, the half-glimpsed of the imagination’ – so how do the Ice Warriors and the Yeti fit into this theory?
The Yeti are “very Doctor Who“, while the Ice Warriors of the Third Doctor’s stories are a rare example of Star Trek apparently influencing Doctor Who (ST TOS Journey to Babel).
Victoria’s reaction during the serial The Ice Warriors shows though they can equally exist as something to hide behind the sofa from – hopefully a forthcoming “complete” DVD will allow us to appreciate that.
Numbers 10, 9, 8, and 7 – Ood, Weeping Angels, Mara, Nestene
Next week: reviews of an episode of Miracle Day Tuesday and Thursday, while the countdown continues next Saturday.