March 31: The Abominable Snowmen Episodes Five & Six

Yes, no change to the glacial pace; thankfully though, Padmasambhava's comment from the end of the last episode is delivered at a normal speed.  But this time around we get an attack on the monastery by the Yeti, Victoria hypnotized by Padmasambhava, the Doctor going to see his old friend Padmasambhava, and the Great Intelligence working on taking over not just the cave with the pyramid, but the whole mountain as well (and presumably from there the world).

Padmasambhava pleads with the Great Intelligence. (The
Abominable Snowmen
Episode Five - from Doctor Who
Photonovels: The Abominable Snowmen - Episode Five
) ©BBC
The Doctor's conversation with Padmasambhava is quite touching, as the Doctor realizes there's nothing he can do for his old friend, who's been under the influence of the Great Intelligence for nearly two hundred years (a number which causes problems when we get to 2012's "The Snowmen", but that's a long way off).  And the bit with Victoria is nicely effective, especially when she's been "programmed" to respond to the Doctor's voice with pleas of terror: "Doctor.  There is great danger.  You must take me away.  Take me away, take me away!"  His deprogramming of her has a nice moment too: "Look at my eyes.  You're feeling tired, very sleepy.  Drift away.  Let yourself drift away into sleep.  Deeper.  Deeper.  Sleep.  Sleep.  Sleep.  Sleep.  Oh, not you, Jamie," he adds crossly, as Jamie also starts to drift off.

And the Yeti attack!  Granted, it doesn't seem to be much of an attack, concerned more with property damage than killing people, but one of the monks, Rinchen, is killed when the Yeti knock a giant Buddha statue on him.  And still, after four episodes of seeing the Yeti generally standing around looking menacing, it's good to see them put into action.  And meanwhile, more of the mountain is being consumed by the strange glowing substance that apparently makes up the Intelligence.

Episode six begins quite violently.  The Doctor realizes that the Yeti are being controlled from inside the monastery, which leads Khrisong to confront Padmasambhava and save the Abbot Songsten from his power -- Khrisong not realizing that it's too late for Songsten -- and so he ends up with a blade in the back for his troubles.  The Doctor convinces the monks to evacuate while he faces off against the Great Intelligence (along with help from Jamie, Victoria, and the monk Thonmi), which leads to a mental battle between Padmasambhava and the Doctor (with some help from Victoria), while Jamie and Thonmi smash everything they can, eventually destroying a giant sphere and a large pyramid -- thus severing the Intelligence's control of the Yeti and preventing it from taking corporeal form on Earth by way of an exploding mountain.  And Padmasambhava is finally allowed to die.

So yes, The Abominable Snowmen is rather slow, but I find I don't really mind.  There are enough character moments and interesting set pieces to more than make up for any slack in the plotting.  Yes, it's another base-under-siege tale, but we haven't quite had one like this since The Moonbase (allowing for the fact that The Tomb of the Cybermen, although sharing many characteristics of a base-under-siege plot, is different enough to not quite qualify), so it's ok.  The only real concern is how the Buddhist monk part seems a bit grafted on.  Other than the idea of a monk's mind exploring the astral plane and getting caught up by an alien Intelligence, there's nothing here to really justify this being in a Tibetan monastery.  But to be honest, this isn't a major concern, and I find that in the end I quite enjoy The Abominable Snowmen.  It's not the greatest tale, but it's by no means the worst, and the fact that it remains relatively interesting over the course of six episodes, despite the paucity of story, is an achievement in itself.