The Ice Warriors

We only fight to win.

Varga

Synopsis

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive in the midst of the New Ice Age, where the human race are attempting to keep advancing glaciers at bay using an ioniser. A team from the Brittanicus Base find a frozen warrior in the glacier, which revives once it has thawed out. Unfortunately, it is an Ice Warrior from Mars and his comrades and spaceship are still frozen in the ice, and he sets about planning to conquer the Earth.

Review

The Ice Warriors is a fun, if flawed story, introducing a villain who is probably in the ‘B’ List – I don’t think you’d have many casual viewers or people on the street able to identify the hissing Martian menace easily. I enjoyed this story, but it does definitely have some flaws associated with stories with a longer running time and the conclusion is a bit of a let down.

There are some interesting ideas here, some as fundamental as the setting of the Brittanicus Base inside a Victorian stately home, as per the war effort in the Second World War is a really nice touch and the juxtaposition between the house outside the control room and the advanced computer inside is a really good idea. More centrally, there is the conflict between base commander Clent and scientist Penley, which leads to Penley leaving the base as the TARDIS materalises. This essentially boils down to trust in technology, and with characters like Storr, an acquaintance of Penley, we have a character who does not trust in science at all. Clent, a self-professed coward, dares not go against the advise provided by his computer, which leads him to the point of paralysis towards the climax of the story when the computer predicts that the result of using the ioniser to attack the Ice Warriors’ ship will result in an explosion that will wipe out the base. Penley, whilst a scientist, seems to maintain his trust in humanity making decisions for himself, and taking on the risk that this involves, as seen by his willingness when helped by the Doctor to destroy the Ice Warrior spaceship.

Ultimately though, the conclusion lets this story down. It is problem that is generally shared with the six-part stories that they do feel overly long and this story is no different. Some are able to justify it and pull something out of the bag in the final part, however, The Ice Warriors closes with the reveal that the destruction of the spaceship is ultimately small and inconsequential. This makes it feel like most of the story, in which various characters have been trying to calculate and investigate what the damage would be feel like treading water for the majority of this story’s run time. I also struggled quite a lot with the sense of geography in this story – I couldn’t visualise where locations like Penley’s hideout and the Brittanicus Base is, which was more of a problem when it came to the Ice Warriors beginning their attack.

The Ice Warriors themselves look fantastic, and the set designs here are really good. From watching the behind the scenes documentary on the DVD, I know that the caves were made from polystyrene, but I honestly could not tell. It really stands up from this point of view. Derek Martinus’ casting of bigger actors to be in the Ice Warrior suits also really helps the audience buy them as a threat. The effect is only enhanced when we get to see Ice Warriors alongside Patrick Troughton and Deborah Watling onboard their ship later on in the story, where they tower over the Doctor and companion. In the course of my research for this review, I found out that Troughton is the joint-third shortest actor to play the Doctor with William Hartnell – only Sylvester McCoy and current incumbent Jodie Whittaker are shorter. The Ice Warriors do feel like a threat and their hissing voices are really sinister. Although they are never going to reach the heights of Dalekmania, it is easy to see why the production teams for the Troughton and Pertwee eras brought them back and why they were brought back for the revived show in 2013.

In terms of the central cast, Troughton is on fine form again here, and he seems to really have hit his stride when it comes to playing to the Doctor. Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling don’t really have a lot to do here, with Victoria playing the part of damsel in distress for long stretches of the middle episodes. Amongst the guest cast, Peter Barkworth stands out as Clent, the seemingly robotic base commander, who does show that he is still capable of compassion when Arden and Jamie go off to investigate what has happened to Victoria. It is a good decision to have Clent have a pronounced limp and more intriguing that the reason is never elaborated on – perhaps this was a decisive moment behind him putting his trust in computers rather than humanity. Peter Sallis is good as Penley, even it took me a while to realise that it was him! Having grown up on Wallace and Gromit and occasionally seeing Last of the Summer Wine, it took me a while to realise that it was him. He does provide a good counterpoint to Clent and their relationship is very believable.

Verdict: The Ice Warriors has some good ideas, but unfortunately fails when it comes to its conclusion. The Ice Warriors are great and the sets look amazing though. 6/10

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Wendy Gifford (Miss Garrett), Peter Barkworth (Clent), George Waring (Arden), Malcolm Taylor (Walters), Peter Diamond (Davis), Angus Lennie (Storr), Peter Sallis (Penley), Bernard Bresslaw (Varga), Roy Skelton (Voice of Computer), Roger Jones (Zondal), Sonny Caldinez (Turoc), Tony Harwood (Rintan) & Michael Attwell (Isbur).

Writer: Brian Hayles

Director: Derek Martinus

Parts: 6

Behind the Scenes

  • The first appearance of the Ice Warriors. Writer Brian Hayles originally envisaged to resemble human soldiers in medieval-style space armour. It was costume designed Martin Baugh who suggested that they be reptilian.
  • A real bear was used for the film inserts, which were specially filmed for this story. It was hired for a day’s filming at BBC Ealing for a fee of £70.
  • Episodes 2 and 3 remain missing from the BBC Archives and were recreated using animation for the 2013 DVD release.

Cast Notes

  • Michael Attwell would later appear in Attack of the Cybermen opposite Colin Baker.
  • Angus Lennie appeared in The Terror of the Zygons.
  • Peter Sallis was originally going to play Striker in Enlightenment, however, due to industrial action delaying the schedule, he had to withdraw from the cast.

Best Moment

I quite like the moment where the Doctor walks into the control room of the Brittanicus Base completely unnoticed and starts basically being the Doctor.

Best Quote

In 2 minutes 38 seconds, you’re going to have an almighty explosion! The readings say so!

Well, how can you possibly know that? I haven’t even — I haven’t even processed them through the computer yet!

I don’t need a computer.

The Second Doctor and Clent

Previous Second Doctor post: The Abominable Snowmen

The Abominable Snowmen

Victoria, I think that this is one of those instances where discretion is the better part of valour: Jamie has a plan.

The Second Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive in Tibet in the 1930s, where the usually gentle Yeti have besieged a Buddhist monastery, and the the TARDIS team become ensnared in the plans of the Great Intelligence.

The Story

It feels as though we constantly hit a story in the Troughton era with parts missing. The Abominable Snowmen is no exception, with only the second episode still existing. I have watched some fan-made reconstructions to get a feel for the story, but I don’t think it’s fair to give it a rating based on these. If in the future, an animated version is released, then I’ll review it then – like I did with The Faceless Ones earlier this year.

This story is notable for introducing the Great Intelligence, who would reappear in The Web of Fear, later in Season 5. The Great Intelligence currently holds the record for the longest period between onscreen appearances at 44 years, reappearing in The Snowmen in 2012, voiced firstly by Sir Ian McKellen and then portrayed by Richard E. Grant. Created by the writers of this story, curiously, Haisman and Lincoln did not receive a credit for the creation when it returned in 2012. The Intelligence went on to feature in the expanded universe, appearing in Big Finish audio stories such as The Web of Time opposite River Song, set prior to the Second Doctor’s arrival in this story and in books, most frequently the Candy Jar published books about the Brigadier’s childhood and life prior to meeting the Doctor.

The story also has another recurring character who would go on to appear in The Web of Fear, in the shape of Edward Travers, played by Jack Watling, Deborah Watling’s father. It is his endeavour to find a real life Yeti that links the two stories, with the story starting with a Yeti killing his travelling companion, John in the story’s opening moments. The Doctor comes to visit the scene of a previous and unseen adventure, only to find that the situation has changed as the Great Intelligence seeks freedom from the astral plane, possessing the body of Padmasmbhava in his quest to do so.

The Abominable Snowmen has a pretty solid reputation to live up to, and I would love to see it either found again or brought back via the means of animation, with memorable creatures and villain. Having not known much about this story before researching it and now knowing how it ties into The Web of Fear, I’m now looking forward to seeing the returning elements!

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Jack Watling (Professor Edward Travers), Wolfe Morris (Padmasambhava), Charles Morgan (Songsten), Norman Jones (Khrisong), David Grey (Rinchen), David Spenser (Thonmi), Raymond Llewellyn (Sapan), David Baron (Ralpachan) & Reg Whitehead, Tony Harwood, Richard Kerley and John Hogan (Yeti).

Writer: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln

Director: Gerald Blake

Parts: 6

Cast Notes

  • Norman Jones would later appear in The Silurians and The Masque of Mandragora.
  • David Baron is often erroneously claimed to be Harold Pinter, as this was his Equity name, however Pinter had abandoned the name before production on this story had commenced.

The Evil of the Daleks

Evil of the Daleks - Dalek Emperor

Synopsis

The Daleks capture the Doctor to try to distill the human factor, believing that this will mean that it will make them invincible.  The Doctor appears to be co-operating with them, making Jamie question his faith in the Time Lord.

The Story

The Evil of the Daleks is another Patrick Troughton story which is mostly missing from the BBC Archives, having been wiped in the early 1970s, with only episode two having been recovered.  Ironically, The Evil of the Daleks was the first story to be repeated on British television, being re-broadcast in the gap between Seasons 5 and 6, with some new framing narration performed by Patrick Troughton and Wendy Padbury (the new companion as played by Wendy Padbury) at the start of the first episode.

Evil of the Daleks - Dalek Jamie Victoria

This story actually serves as an introduction for another new companion, Victoria Waterfield, played by Deborah Watling, who leaves with the Doctor and Jamie at the end of the story.  With the story starting with Victoria’s father Edward stealing the TARDIS in Victorian times, this means that the Doctor is travelling with two humans from different eras of humanity’s past.  Edward’s eventual sacrifice at the end of this story leaves Victoria as an orphan, something that will lead to one of my personal favourite Doctor speeches in the next story, The Tomb of the Cybermen.  Victoria would stay with the Doctor and Jamie until Fury from the Deep, which continues a tradition of only having companions (apart from Jamie) travel with the Doctor for a single season.

The Evil of the Daleks was at the time intended to be the final appearance of the Daleks on Doctor Who.  Their creator, Terry Nation, intended to sell them to American television and so the decision was made to give them a final send-off from their parent show, as there was some talk of this Dalek spin-off being broadcast in Britain on ITV.  David Whittaker’s story did kill off the Daleks in the final scenes of the story, however, producer Innes Lloyd was told at the last moment not to make this a final end.  This was achieved by putting a glowing light inside one of the wrecked cases of the Daleks, suggesting that something had survived.  Of course, the Daleks would return, however, this would be their last appearance for five years, reappearing in Day of the Daleks opposite Troughton’s successor, Jon Pertwee.

The Evil of the Daleks - Destruction of the Daleks

This makes this story the first season finale to feature a recurring adversary of the Doctor’s and marks the end of Troughton’s first season as the Doctor, marking a successful transition of lead actors and securing the future of the show.

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), John Bailey (Edward Waterfield), Marius Goring (Theodore Maxtible), Alec Ross (Bob Hall), Griffith Davies (Kennedy), Geoffrey Colville (Perry), Jo Rowbottom (Mollie Dawson), Brigit Forsyth (Ruth Maxtible), Gary Watson (Arthur Terrall), Windsor Davies (Toby), Sonny Caldinez (Kemel), Robert Jewell, Gerald Taylor, John Scott Martin, Murphy Grumbar & Ken Tyllsen (Daleks), Roy Skelton and Peter Hawkins (Voices of the Daleks).

Writer: David Whitaker

Director: Derek Martinus

Behind the Scenes

  • John Bailey, who plays Edward Waterfield here, had previously appeared in The Sensorites and would go on to appear in The Horns of Nimon.
  • The Evil of the Daleks was voted as the best Doctor Who serial ever by readers of Dreamwatch Bulletin in a 1993 poll celebrating the show’s 30th Anniversary.