|Varga and Zondal are ssssslippery customers.|
Written between the 14th and 15th October 2015.
This article would have been a lot more appropriate, I can now say with hindsight, in the Autumn of 2013, when the Ice Warriors returned to our screens in Series 7's Cold War. Hindsight adds a lot to these Sixties reviews - especially when watching them in such quick succession. The Ice Warriors gained a place in Who folklore for the first, missing appearance of the titular monsters, who would recur in the show until Season 11. As with the Cybermen stories from last month, the missing episodes in this serial have been animated, although unfortunately this is a lot more Youtube Poop and less Infinite Quest.
The plot follows yet another Base-Under-Siege format, with our base being Brittanicus Base, the stern leader being a bloke called Clent (insert your own rude innuendoes here), the voice of reason is Miss Garratt and the traitor is Peter Sallis' Penley. (Although he comes back.) Set in a far future where Global Dimming (oh, how I miss you) has caused the Earth to enter an early ice age, the Brittanicus Base exists to do some technical mumbo jumbo with lasers in order to prevent glaciers from rolling over the British landmass. On one of their surveys, they uncover a Martian Spacecraft, and the inhabitants, known only as the Ice Warriors, attempt to uncover their ship and fulfil their mission to conquer Earth.
The story is written by Bryan Hayles, and like Malcolm Hulke's later stories The Silurians and The Sea Devils, the titular Ice Warriors are, despite being alien and aggressive, people worth talking to instead of simply trying to annihilate. There are times where they don't even feel like the villains of the piece - the emotionless Leader Clent is often in a position of antagonism, and the main threat against our characters is the icebergs fast approaching to consume Europe. It's in this where we find the story's main ideological dichotomy - science versus nature, logic versus emotion. Although many characters in the episode are against "science", their anger comes from the fact that in the background of the serial, there is the implication that by this point, the human race is controlled a centralised computer. It's a brilliant concept that doesn't end up skewing one way or another, with the overall message at the end being that a balance must be achieved between computer logic and human intuition. It's a little similar to the themes behind some of this era's Cybermen stories, except here it actually gets mentioned, discussed and thoroughly explored. For once, the six episode runtime feels entirely deserved.
|This is ridiculous, if lovingly created.|
Speaking of, the episode's direction and atmosphere is brilliant, tying into the overall theme quite nicely. The icy wastes are very well-made and they feel genuinely desolate, punctuated by a shrill, unearthly wail. And I'm talking about the deliberate one on the soundtrack, not just the increasingly unbearable screams of Victoria Waterfield, who screams at the slightest provocation. She's an unfortunate reflection of a few of the attitudes of this era, like those I discussed during Cybermen Month. Like those serials, there were a few jaw-drop moments - like Jamie leching over the station staff' short skirts, or Victoria's infinitely quotable reaction of "Oh no, not Africa!"
|Aaand roll credits. (I need to stop watching CinemaSins.)|
NEXT WEEK: The Doctor and his companions get trapped in the Land of Fiction, in The Mind Robber.