Doctor Who: Thin Ice (Audio Lost Story) Review

Anyone who has read my review of the next story in the “Season 27” Lost Stories quartet, “Crime of the Century”, will know that I don’t have fond memories of these stories, but I did remember not minding this one that much. Upon relistening to it, the story… isn’t that good, but it’s definitely better than the next one, and if memory serves, the two after that. I guess we’ll see if that still holds true, but for now let’s look at “Thin Ice”, the lost story that was originally called “Ice Time” and was originally set to be Ace’s leaving story…

Synopsis:

Moscow 1967. The Doctor and Ace have arrived behind the Iron Curtain, and the Soviet Union is seeking a new weapon that will give it mastery in the Cold War.

What is the secret of the Martian relics? As the legendary War Lord Sezhyr returns to life, the Doctor is faced with some of his oldest and deadliest enemies.

The fate of Earth – and the future of Ace – are now intertwined…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The thing about “Thin Ice” is there are two stories going on at once. On the one hand The Doctor and Ace get caught up in Soviet Russia as a Brit named Markus Creevy (Ricky Groves) is on a mission to steal some Martian Ice Warrior artefacts from the Kremlin on behalf of an Ice Warrior named Hhessh (Nicholas Briggs, as per!), all the while The Doctor is in mental communication with a Time Lord trying to enrol Ace in the Time Lord Academy, this whole plot being planned by the Gallifreyan higher-ups as a test to see is the human is worthy of a position. Both are good ideas, but they both weaken the other a bit…

There are a few highlights, The Doctor and co. breaking into the Kremlin vault and escaping in a car/van chase across Moscow was fun to mentally picture, and the idea of the “helmet of Lord Sezhyr” having powers that eventually cause the long-dead Ice Warrior to possess and mutate the body of the poor Raina Kerenskaya (Beth Chalmers) is a fun one. Raina is Markus’ love who he wishes to bring back to London with him, and she’s also pregnant with his child, a child that is soon born despite only being 15 weeks into her pregnancy (odd side effect of the Martian tech, I guess!) The baby born is Raine Creevy, The Doctor’s new companion in the next story… There is also a duel between Sezhyr and Ace towards the end which is fun, and ends with the helmet being removed the Raina returning to normal for a happy ending.

Ace ends up turning down the opportunity to become a sort-of honourary Time Lord and re-joins The Doctor on his travels, something that wasn’t in the original TV version plan but allows for the all the Big Finish audios (not to mention New Adventures books) with Ace continuing to travel with The Doctor to happen…

The Bad:

While I don’t really like the style of the other Seventh Doctor Lost Stories, I feel this one works rather well, and is nicely put together.

There is a pacing problem with this story that’s quite hard to explain, but there were times when I wondered if I’d missed the credits/opening and was into the next episode because it seemed to be going on for so long, but the episodes aren’t that much longer than usual, so I guess the script was rather … dull? I think the story being interrupted by the Time Lord exam segments doesn’t help either, constantly pulling The Doctor away from the plot…

I think my main gripe, especially now in 2020, is Ace throwing another “you’ve manipulated me, I’m fed up of you always manipulating me!” tantrum, especially as, you know, she re-joins him at the end of this story, and Big Finish-wise alone continues to travel with him for some time! In fact the whole idea that The Doctor all this time has been preparing her for a spell at the Time Lord Academy never rang with me, as why would he want her do go there? He himself disliked his time there! Ah well…

If you’ve already read my review of “Crime of the Century” then you’ll know I talked about the main enemy of the story being undercut by forced humour. Sadly, while not to the same degree, the Ice Warriors are said to be constantly eating fish fingers and stockpiling them throughout this story. Like I said, it’s not exactly speaking like a surfer, but it’s an unnecessary comedy wrinkle in the Ice Warrior mythos…

The Continuity:

Beyond the obvious fact that several of the characters featured here reappear in the next story, “Crime of the Century”, there isn’t a lot. Well, the Ice Warriors are a big continuity point, but I’m not listing all their stories! Plus there is now a Twelfth Doctor story also called “Thin Ice”, but it has nothing to do with this story…

It’s worth noting that at some point Ace does actually join up with the Time Lords and becomes an agent of sorts. We’ve heard several stories of her in this position, and even one on the fringes of the Time War that may indeed be her final leaving story, but we haven’t heard how she actually ended up on Gallifrey. At least, not yet…

Overall Thoughts:

Thin Ice has its moments, but it’s surrounded by a lot of padding and cut-aways that really drag the pace down. It sits somewhere in the middle, score-wise, which if memory serves will place it as the best of the “Season 27” Lost Stories…

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