Given that there’s not been a new episode of Doctor Who since mid-May 2013, and there won’t be a new proper season until some undetermined (Autumnal?) date in 2014 for Mr. Capaldi, it could be easy to dismiss that, sadly in an Anniversary year, 2013, like 2010, has been a relatively lite year for Doctor Who, which simply isn’t true. Not only were there seven episodes in the spring with two more to go for the remainder of 2013, but there was the amazing recovery of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear found in Nigeria, and returned to the BBC Archives. That makes 11 by our count, which would be a decent year for Doctor Who by almost any measure. For the purposes of Classic Capitology however, it’s the latter two which provide interest.
And such stories they are. The Web of Fear was quite recently #7 in the 50 for 50 Countdown, and having just seen this Troughton gem, the Classic Capitology team is loathe to disagree with that assessment. For years episode 1 of The Web of Fear, which was the only surviving episode extant, was so tantalizing that the prospect of disappointment for the rest of the story had to be an unconscious consideration. We’re pleased to report this simply isn’t so. Not only was this Lethbridge-Stewart’s first story, the Colonel made some tactical mistakes, even being slightly suspect given his introduction in (the still missing) episode three.
But what is especially pleasing is how the whole thing hangs together. It was always (spoilers!) a trap for the Doctor. Then as it quickly became a base-under-siege scenario and a character study. The Watlings were given some story time together, and Troughton was simply vintage. If and when the 50 for 50 List is reconsidered, I have no doubt that The Web of Fear would make almost any list.
It is especially nice in a celebratory Anniversary year, that finding The Web of Fear beings a story continued in The Snowmen and concluded (?) in The Name of the Doctor. It’s fanciful to wonder if the Moff, playing a long game, knew how this could tie together and shaped his own stories to fit. Impossible? But we’ll bet you thought of that too.
The new caps for The Web of Fear are generally very good, although it’ll be easy to see when episodes three telesnaps take over. Another important Doctor Who Anniversary is coming up. I wonder whether Classic Capitology will take note of it?