The Friday Docback Is Chilly Towards ‘The Ice Warriors’!! DOCTOR WHO Story #39, HornOrSilk Reviews The ‘Dark Eyes’ 2.1 / 2.2 Big Finish Audio, And More!!
[awesome story HERE]
…with a look at The Ice Warriors, a six part Troughton-era DOCTOR WHO adventure originally transmitted November/December 1967. This one is famous for introducing the title characters - recently revisited by Matt Smith in Cold War.
The image portion of Ice Warrior’s episodes is missing due to the dreaded BBC purge which ‘house cleaned’ a number of early DOCTOR WHO tales (and other shows) into extinction back in the day - these episodes are presented here with their original audio tracks laid over animated reconstructions of the episodes. More on The Ice Warriors shorlty. But first...
REMEMBER: THE NEXT INSPECTOR SPACETIME IS STILL SEEKING CROWD FUNDING!!
LAST WEEK we learned that the next installment of the INSPECTOR SPACETIME series was being crowd-funded; it was recently revealed that seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy would be amongst its cast.
The project is over half way to it’s $25,000 goal now - please consider learning more about the undertaking HERE and possibly contributing to its production.
More on the project in the coming weeks, so stay tuned…
HORNORSILK REVIEWS THE THE DARK EYES 2.1 / 2.2 BIG FINISH AUDIOS
Parts 2.3 & 2.4 will be reviewed next week!
By: Nicholas Briggs
By: Alan Barnes
THE ICE WARRIORS
The TARDIS materializes on its side in, where the Doctor and companions Victoria (Deborah Watling) and Jamie (Frazer Hines) debark into the snowy, Ice Ageish hell that is…Europe? They quickly enter an installation whose purpose is to keep advancing glaciers in check, soon realizing that said facility is facing a number of perils, not the least of which are hissing and pissed creatures from Mars.
The Ice Warriors are an interesting lot: their conception(both physically and narratively) is often far more intriguing than their execution. Whereas Daleks and Cybermen often strike me as the Darth Vaders or Terminators of DOCTOR WHO’s staple of recurring antagonists, The Ice Warriors have always felt more like Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman from DIE HARD). A bit more calculated and understated - more like chess players. More like big schemers. Yet, despite the characters’ innate potential, the stories around them - with the arguable exception of 2013’s Cold War - rarely do them justice on the whole.
Ican see why Steven Moffat was initially reticent to return the Ice Warriors to his current DOCTOR WHO - and, after watching this introduction to the species, I find a greater appreciation for their handling in that Smith-era episode. These guys…they just don’t work as well as they should in principle. And I’m not sure why…
I think part of it is due their innate presentation: the Ice Warriors’ decelerated, hissing speech and rotund, lumbering physicality feels more geriatric and less immediate than the Dalek’s psychotically excitable countenance, or the Cybermen’s relentless, unyielding propensity for occupation and assimilation. Hardly the stuff of intimidation or tension. Another factor might be that, in their first two DW appearances at least, the Ice Warriors appeared in tales which were very procedural and driven by a number of pesky little details: rendering their ‘threat’ rather plodding, and even tedious at times.
Which is certainly the case in this adventure, appropriately and simply entitled The Ice Warriors. The script by Brian Hayles meanders, diverts, and takes far too long to travel for too little distance. There is (apparently) catastrophic urgency attached to the happening in this tale, yet very little of that tension is actually felt. From a pacing and involvement persecutive, viewers may find themselves feeling like a casual observer watching people at a bus stop rather than an involved participant.
Peter Barkworth as Leader Clent often overplays his part here, evidently failing to grasp that the best way to convince an audience that a fantastical occurrence happening on screen is ‘real’ is not to overreact to it . Through misplaced theatricality and profound over-projection of his lines, Barkworth alone pretty much scuttles proceedings single-handedly: he takes this story so seriously that it’s challenging, if not impossible, for us to take it seriously at all. Add to that the afore mentioned...issues…with the titular foes, and one finds a cocktail that is often poorly mixed.
Ice Warriors’ notion of an outpost being used by humans to influence Earth’s natural systems evokes The Moonbase (Toughton, Story #33) six stories before it - perhaps a little too much at times. In both instances, the outposts’ function very much informs the drama of the tale we’re watching - that’s a similarity which is difficult to overlook. Interestingly, this same conceit (a globally necessary infrastructure in peril) was once more explored 9 stories later in another DW Ice Warriors adventure, also by Hayles - The Seeds of Death (Troughton, Story #48). That story, on the whole, unfolds much more effectively and inventively than this one.
To Hayles’ credit, there are some interesting thematics running throughout TIW. Chiefly, the story explores power - both human and technological - and its effects and interactions on both people and the world around them. This is a heady notion for a saga which is so clunky and awkward in a number of other regards - perhaps a fuller exploration of such themes might’ve kept The Ice Warriors from a slide towards the overwrought abyss it eventually plunges into.
A funny scene in Episode One - in which Jamie attempts to convince superb-hot traveling companion Victoria to dress as skimpily and provocatively as the future girls they’re surrounded by - is sly and memorable, and more humor along these lines might’ve helped to not only pop this tale’s ponderous bubble, but better distinguish it as a romp rather than an overwrought melodrama.
In pacing, atmosphere, and structure, The Ice Warriors often feels more like a radio / audio drama than a visual presentation - I can imagine it playing much better as such, and may well consider revisiting this tale with sound only, and the picture off. As is, though, The Ice Warriors is a frustrating anomaly: it’s a goulash of many good ideas stirred together clumsily, and with nowhere near enough spice added in.
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