[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!
Dark Eyes brought us the aftermath of the Eighth Doctor Adventures. The Doctor, more or less feeling defeated by the Daleks, lost all sense of hope and wanted to give everything up. He was hurt, he was angry, and he had to find a reason to go on.
This is a problem the Doctor has had to face many times throughout his adventures, and so it is no surprise that he is given what he needs. A quest. Molly O’Sullivan, a World War I nurse, “Dark Eyes” as the Doctor nicknamed her, was the central focus of a major Dalek plan. Her eyes unnaturally black, and it turned out, revealed a kind of energy building up within her which could be used as a major “reality bomb,” aimed at taking out the Time Lords before they even existed.
The Doctor, obviously, was successful in his quest. But to his surprise, Molly wanted to go back home. She wasn’t ready to continue as the Doctor’s companion. Thus the Doctor, after being somewhat successful in stopping the Daleks’ plan, is back at work. He isn’t as happy go-lucky as he was the early years of his incarnation, but, he now has hope, and has a sense that he must go on, whatever the cost.
Dark Eyes was an excellent four-part story, with twists and turns, and all kinds of hints that the Time War is about to start (without any direct reference to it). The wait for its sequel is now over.
It is also a four part story, though each adventure feels more like its own separate story, and, after the first two audios, it is difficult to see the overall arch which connects them.
Big Finish Dark Eyes 2.1 – The Traitor
By: Nicholas Briggs
Dark Eyes 2 begins unexpectedly with a story that feels more at home with the Dalek Empire storyline than with the ending of the first Dark Eyes set.
The Doctor is alone and finds himself on Nixyce VII, where the Daleks have taken charge.
Liv Chenka (played by Nicola Walker), who previously met the Doctor met in his seventh incarnation, is “working” with the Daleks. Well, not really, but many view her as doing so, including the Daleks. She is helping keep the occupied people alive by providing supplies to them. She is seen, by the Daleks, as supplying the occupied peoples with the hope which motivates them to push on and be better workers. The Daleks have learned how to manipulate their slaves thanks to the events in the whole Dalek Empire series. Thus, Liv is designated as “the traitor” by the resistance. She is seen as a collaborator even though her intentions are just.
Nonetheless, there is a mysterious danger outside of the Dalek domain which the Doctor is concerned about. It’s so bad, he even thinks about doing the unthinkable: recruiting the Daleks for help. But to do so, he needs to find a way to contact them. And so the Doctor finds himself in the midst of a revolution against the Daleks, with rebels disguising themselves as Robomen, working to undermine the Daleks the best they can, while Liv Chenka is trying to figure out what exactly is the best course of action she can take in order to help the people of Nixyce VII.
Who, if anyone, is the real traitor?
The story is good, though I feel a bit letdown with it. This comes from the heightened expectations I had for it after “Night of the Doctor. ” I wanted this set to start somewhat differently than this, however, what we see here still fits with the general narrative established in “Night.” The Doctor is his own person. He is willing do anything in order to achieve his ends. Strangely enough, what he does here might itself lend to the hate that the Time Lords experience in the universe, where they are seen as equals to the Daleks. This is not actually worked out here, but rather, something I can see developing from what happens within this story. The Doctor is the Time Lord most will come to know, and as such, his actions, even if right, will look to many as utter betrayal and indicative that the Time Lords might even be at work with the Daleks.
A major part of this story deals with the resistance to the Daleks, and how many of them, including the Doctor, pretend to be Robomen in order to act with less interference from the Daleks. It’s an interesting concept, but once in place, is used throughout the story, where I feel it loses its appeal. Within the context of the story, it makes sense to do this, but, again, expectations as they are, I wanted something a bit… different from what we got.
The direction continues to be exceptional. The story feels like it is a full story by the end, even though it is only a one disc story, showing that this can be done (and has been done many times before). But the adventure brings up many questions: what has the Doctor been up to, how does this connect to the whole Dark Eyes 2 plot, what exactly is that plot?
While I think others might rate this one higher, I give it a 7/10. I get a sense that we are rushing into the middle of things and that the story will make more sense once I hear the whole arc, which would of course probably raise it a notch if this happens.
Big Finish Dark Eyes 2.2 – The White Room
By: Alan Barnes
Despite the interesting plot of the first adventure, I found the second to be more enjoyable. There was more of a sense of humor in it. It also did what I was expecting with the first, that is, bringing back Molly and finding a way to have her as the Doctor’s companion.
The reunion between the Doctor and Molly wasn’t entirely a happy event. The Doctor has returned to his home on Baker Street, to find it is being used by others, one who threatens him with a gun. Caught off guard, the Doctor then hears Molly’s voice, and recognizes it. As soon as she helps save the Doctor, the Doctor shows he is more than a little grumpy, as if an element of the first incarnation has been brought out due to all the events in his life. He actually tells Molly off for using his house and tells her she has to leave.
Of course, events prove that the Doctor has to once again work with Molly. She has been helping deserters from the war, who then have been vanishing. It turns out that there is an alien virus affecting them, making them appear like ghosts and travel slightly through time. It’s destructive. And for this reason, the Viyrans are involved, trying to eliminate the disease.
There is little introduction to the Viyrans here, though I expect if you have not listened to other Big Finish audios, you will be able to grasp their interest is in eradicating dangerous virii which could destroy the space-time continuum. Though their intentions might be just, their methods are overkill, and they are willing to destroy whatever they feel is needed, including whole planets, if it will eliminate a contagion.
The fact that the Viyrans are used with little introduction is the weakest element of this adventure, because it seems as if a familiarity with the Big Finish version of the Doctor Who universe is expected by this point.
Molly, played by Ruth Bradley, is in superb form here, and she certainly continues to push the Doctor in the way he needs.
And, somehow, for some reason, her Dark Eyes come back. They go black once again, due to contact with a person infected with the virus the Viyrans are after. And this, of course, continues to represent the mystery surrounding Molly. While speculation is used to explain why her eyes are once again black, clearly, the change indicates something more is going on, and her Dark Eyes might once again be a plot element for the story arc.
Molly really holds her own. She is not a yes-man to the Doctor, though she is also not entirely contrary to him, either. She challenges him, which is what he needs, more than the adventure itself. I can’t help but wonder if she might be involved with the Doctor’s decision to eventually skip out of the Time War. Perhaps this will be addressed, perhaps it won’t.
All in all, this is a more enjoyable adventure than the first, and I give it an 8/10. Alan Barnes shows that he can indeed use the limited nature of a “one-disc” story to make a story which feels complete and without need of any extra time to polish it out. While last week I was disappointed in his FDA, here, I am more than satisfied with his work.
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.
The Ice Warriors is now available on DVD HERE in the US, and HERE in the UK.
DOCBACK CODE OF CONDUCT
1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)...
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