Today: May 18, 2024

Doctor Who: The Abominable Snowmen

Like so many vintage broadcasts, The Abominable Snowmen – the second serial of the fifth season of Doctor Who, aired in 1967 – remains largely missing. Of the six episodes, the complete form only exists of one. The rest only existed as audio…until now. 

Using the audio-only recordings of all of the episodes, an animated version of the series has been created so that fans can enjoy this long-discussed tale. 


In the 17th century, an old Tibetan friend of the Doctor’s reached out and touched the mind of an alien disembodied energy, known only as the Great Intelligence, giving it a conduit to Earth. 300 years later, the Doctor revisits the Himalayas because he wants to return the Holy Ghanta, an ancient relic he was given many centuries ago by the grateful monks and their Master, Padmasambhava, at Det-Sen Monastery. On arriving however, the Doctor is treated as a villain – blamed for a series of brutal murders in the area. Jamie and Victoria meanwhile discover the true culprits – the previously peaceful Yeti that live in seclusion on the mountainside have apparently turned violent. The Doctor must convince the monks that not only is he not their enemy, but the real foe – and the power controlling the Yeti – is living amongst them.

This isn’t the first time the BBC have created animation for long-lost Doctor Who adventures, and it surely won’t be the last – but they’re almost always met with a mixed response, and understandably so. While some value the opportunity to experience these holy grail episodes (albeit in this animated form), others find it something of a cash-grab rush job. Indeed, the animation techniques used by these releases is often questionable – it looks cheap and unnatural, with janky movements and generally dull visuals. They make the DC VOD titles look like Avatar

Presented in both black & white and colour versions, viewers are at least given the opportunity to see the series slightly closer to the original experience. But the animation is at times borderline unwatchable. A restored version of the surviving original episode is included, alongside photographic reconstructions of the remaining – and these are more effective and authentic than the animation that is presented as the main attraction.

Like the other similar releases that have come before it, Doctor Who: The Abominable Snowmen can be filed under “good idea, bad execution”. The animation is poor, but the experience will certainly inspire curiosity in the more hardened Who fans.


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