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A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.pig@live.co.uk. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Doctor Who at 50: Musings on the Great Intelligence

Growing up as I did, in the wilderness years of Doctor Who’s existence, I got most of my information concerning the show from the internet and the BBC’s official website. On those few scant pages I would look through publicity photos and the odd video clip. It was here that I discovered the Yeti in “Photo-novels” of The Abominable Snowmen (1967) and The Web of Fear (1968). The black and white telesnaps fascinated the younger me, particularly those from the Web of Fear. How the hell did the Yeti end up on the London Underground? Luckily for me I had done well in some sort of primary school maths test and was rewarded with a copy of the Trouhgton Years VHS. The episodes on the tape included Enemy of the World Episode 3 and the Space Pirates Episode 2 but the main item of interest was The Abominable Snowmen Episode 2. Here we’re the Yeti I’d read about, the ones I’d seen in blurry black and white photos but these weren’t still images. Needless to say that tape got worn out pretty quickly.


Admittedly at the time it was the Yeti that concerned me the most, not the Great Intelligence. In fact, since I’d only looked at the pictures in the Photo Novels and not actually read the captions, I don’t even think I was aware of its existence. Suddenly I was captivated by this mysterious being. You couldn’t see it, it had no form and we didn’t even know it’s origins but it was there, talking and controlling the Yeti. Reading the Target Books and listening to Audio soundtracks helped my obsession and although the Yeti still interested me probably more so than their controller, the Great Intelligence became almost myth like to my child self. I’ve always been fascinated with ancient and powerful beings in science fiction and the Great Intelligence fitted the bill. When a rare showing of The Web of Fear Episode 1 occurred one BBC 4 I was devastated to learn my mother had accidently taped over it, indeed the only way she earned my forgiveness was through a VHS of Earthshock.

Cut to Christmas 2012, about an hour before the Snowmen is due to start. I’m sat reading a copy of Craig Hinton’s Millennial Rites which features The Great Intelligence and Anne Travers. This novel tells of the origins of the Intelligence, it was one of the Great old Ones (yes the same ones Lovecraft wrote about, in fact the Intelligences real name is apparently Yog- Soggoth) that existed in the universe before ours, where it was a powerful warlord and had a body. Imagine my surprise when I turn on The Snowmen and in the last 15 minutes the villain is revealed to be none other than the Intelligence. Except this is before it’s met the Doctor in the Abominable Snowmen...so in a way a kind of an origin story...I was not impressed.


Now admittedly although I loved the idea of the Great Intelligence returning to the show, I hated The Snowmen as an episode. The Intelligence itself felt almost shoehorned on and the plot was painfully weak, the resolution being one of the worst in a Christmas episode for a long time, and that is saying something! I was much more impressed when the Intelligence returned in the Bells of ST John and then again in The Name of the Doctor a few weeks ago. Let’s start with the Bells of St John; on the whole this was an episode I really loved. Similarly to The Snowmen the Intelligence’s presence was not revealed until the final few moments, but here it felt so much more meaningful and the plot was well balanced between Clara and The Intelligence. In the Name of the Doctor the Intelligence simply filled the role of being the Big Bad, but it did it well and it was interesting to see this used than a much more conventional and mainstream villain.

The return of the Great Intelligence has proved controversial among fans, some loving it and some hating it. Personally I must admit that whilst I detested last year’s Christmas Special, The Bells of St John and the Name of the Doctor have been two of my favourite episodes of the past series. I thought in general the Intelligences return was pretty well done. I love the idea of taking minor who villains and making them into something more, for example the Macra in Gridlock. The Macra only ever had one appearance in Doctor Who before 2007, in the Macra Terror way back in 1967. Now some people have complained that Russell T Davies took a monster and simply turned it into a crazed animal and you could argue this point quite successfully. However I personally disagree with this, The Macra were a forgotten villain, they were featured in one story that it must be said is hardly considered a classic and faded into the mythology of the show. Russell T Davies stuck them mostly to their original appearance, fitted their new appearance into their continuity seamlessly and pleased many diehard fans. Similarly the Great Intelligence was mostly remembered for its robotic servants and on its own didn’t really make much of a lasting impression. Moffat took this, a monster which had a lot of mystery surrounding it and made it stand up on its own. Whilst I do think the Yeti could have made at least one appearance (perhaps instead of the Whisper Men as they seemed to have very little purpose other than being the Intelligence’s henchmen) it was nice to see the intelligence acting on its own and gaining a reputation as a villain in its own right.


There has been some debate as to whether the ending of the Name of the Doctor means that The Abominable Snowmen, The Web of Fear and The Bells of St John occur after that story. Personally I like to think it goes the Snowmen, then Abominable Snowmen, Web of Fear, Bells of St John and finally Name of the Doctor. If you look at it this way it builds up a huge grudge against the doctor and adds so much more impact to the idea that at the end that the Intelligence wants to die, it’s lived so long it wants to end. However it won’t go without taking the Doctor with it, something that a creature that only faced the doctor in one story prior would not seem willing to do, especially when it would only have endured life without a body for a few years.

Personally I was pleased with the Great Intelligence’s return, I’m not too sure about the whole origin thing and personally I need to rewatch The Snowmen (god help me) as I didn’t think it made a whole lot of sense! I would be interested to hear if anyone thought any different about the Intelligence’s return and if so, why? Please comment below I would love to hear your thoughts!

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