Doctor Who: All You Need to Know About The Great Intelligence

Categories: Doctor Who

I can safely assume that all my fellow Whovians have seen "The Bells of St. John" by now, and most of us are all up in a tizzy over the fact that we still know almost nothing about new companion Clara Oswin Oswald and the fact that Steven Moffat killed twice in the damn episode! That's got to be some kind of new record, even for him. Leaving that aside, let's take a moment to look at what will apparently be a major antagonist over the course of the season, The Great Intelligence.

New Whovians may not be overly familiar with this classic villain, and that's perfectly understandable. The character holds the record for the longest time between an appearance in the classic series and the new with 44 years since it was last seen on television. Furthermore, its two previous appearances (not counting "The Snowmen") both come in serials that are no longer complete, making going back to experience the stories much more difficult. Only one episode of either serial survives.

The Great Intelligence is a nemesis of the Second Doctor, whom Matt Smith draws much of his interpretation from. The Doctor first battled the Intelligence in his timeline in Tibet in the 1930s in the serial "The Abominable Snowmen." The Doctor had gone to return an artifact to a monastery he had borrowed it from. His first visit was so long ago in the past that it had become legend, and he arrived with Jamie and Victoria just as Professor Edward Travers came upon the legendary Yeti as part of a scientific expedition.

Though the serial is incomplete, a cracking good novelization by Terrance Dicks is available for next to nothing, and almost makes up for our not being able to experience the adventure as intended. The Doctor manages to drive the possessing power of the Intelligence out of the ancient body of his friend, the spiritual leader Padmasambhava, which the Intelligence had invaded and kept alive to pursue its plans. Those plans involved a robotic army of artificial Yeti to conquer the Earth.

If you do pick up the novelization, you'll quickly notice many similarities between it and "The Snowmen." The Intelligence contains its presence inside transparent houses, possesses powerful men to act undetected, revives the corpses of those men when killed to directly attack The Doctor and uses an artificially created army to wreak havoc.

Part of this is due to the fact that Steven Moffat likes to reuse lost Second Doctor stories more than he likes killing companions. Having recently read Power of the Daleks, the Second Doctor's first story, I immediately realized that "Victory of the Daleks" was essentially the same story, just set on Earth with Nazis instead of rebels from Vulcan. Even the line "I am your servant" gets recycled.

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Taresa Mikle
Taresa Mikle

I'm sure you'd enjoy this, Terrence T. Kidd!


"Victory of the Daleks" was not written by Steven Moffat; it was written by Mark Gatiss


Hooray!  Someone on the Houston Press staff is a Whovian!  All the more reason to read the best paper in the city!

Hanabi-chan topcommenter

It's awesome, isn't it? BTW: I am turning my daughter into a second generation Whovian. :)

Hanabi-chan topcommenter

JefWithOneF:  BBC America has been running specials, once a month I believe, on the previous actors who played The Doctor. They do a little special where different people involved in the show dicuss whatever actor is being highlighted on that program. Last Sunday it was Jon Pertwee that was featured, followed by "Spearhead from Space", Pertwee's first ep. I think they showed "Tomb of the Cybermen" for Troughton and "The Aztecs" for Hartnell.

BTW: What is your take on John Simm's potrayal of the Master?

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