Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors Review

It’s always interesting to look back at the debut story of an iconic enemy, seeing which parts of their character / their race lasted and what was added as they went along. In the case of the Ice Warriors their debut story is actually a very basic Second Doctor “base under siege” story with about the only impressive thing about them being their costume design. Still, they proved popular enough to bring back later several times (including two Third Doctor TV stories coming to this blog in a month or two!) so let’s take a look at the one that started it all!

Synopsis:

The TARDIS arrives on Earth in a new ice age. The travellers make their way into a base where scientists, commanded by Leader Clent, are using an ioniser device to combat the advance of a glacier. A giant humanoid creature, called an Ice Warrior by one of the scientists, has been found buried in the nearby glacier

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The Doctor remains unconvinced of Clent’s computer / holder of plastic utensils.

Despite now being known as the debut story of the Ice Warriors, the story is really a rather on-the-nose anti-computer story. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive at an Earth base fighting back a glacier caused by a second ice age and find the base’s leader Clent (Peter Barkworth) panicking as things start to go wrong and all he can do is consult the base’s computer. After The Doctor fixes the issue he finds out the base’s tech guy Arden (George Waring) has left a few weeks ago due to the Leader’s obsession with the computer and not acting on his own instincts. While this is going on a trio of scientists and archaeologists find a mysterious figure in the ice and bring it back to base. It eventually defrosts and reveals itself as an Ice Warrior (well, as a Martian, the Ice Warrior bit was a name the scientists gave it, but hey-ho…) and kidnaps Victoria, knocking Jamie to the floor on the way out. The Ice Warrior makes his way back to his frozen ship and revives more of his crew as The Doctor and Jamie soon meet Arden and his wildman ally Storr (Angus Lennie).

This does lead to a good few episodes of back and forth, Victoria nearly escapes the Ice Warriors, Jamie is hurt by the Ice Warriors and saved by Arden, Storr tries to make a deal with the aliens and is killed, Arden carries Jamie to the base while fighting off stock footage of wolves, The Doctor arrives at the Ice Warrior ship, gets captured and eventually escapes with Victoria, and soon everyone, including Arden, is at the Earth base and the Ice Warriors retreat to their ship (The Doctor using sonic sound to disrupt them and send them packing) It’s fun to watch, don’t get me wrong, but there is a good amount of running around to fill the six parts. Clent and his main assistant Garrett (Wendy Gifford) panic as the Ice Warriors attempt to attack them and their only option is to go against the machine and use the ioniser on the Ice Warrior ship but they can’t bring themselves to go against it so Arden pulls the lever against the computer’s wishes and saves the day. Clent and Arden find common ground as our lead trio leave…

Even the animation made sure to have at least one naff Ice Warrior costume among the better ones. Now that’s continuity!

This is one of the partially missing stories filled in with animation during the original DVD run, with two episodes originally missing. The animation is fine, I like the style they went for, but like a lot of the 2D animation in these missing Who episodes the movement is a little dodgy, especially Jamie being struck down by the Ice Warrior… that looks awkward, to put it nicely. Still, it was always nice to see these kinds of animations back when they weren’t coming out twice a year like they are now!

The Bad:

“Oh Doctor, it was so scary! I breathed in oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide!” “Yes, yes Victoria… *sigh*”

While it wasn’t anyone’s fault that Deborah Watling couldn’t finish filming the final episode it’s still extremely jarring that half way through Episode 6 we just see The Doctor tell her to go back to the TARDIS by shouting at the camera and then we just never see her again. I’m not sure what it would be but there had to have been a better way to deal with it than that…

Apart from that the only bad is, as mentioned, the story is a bit of a generic run-around, the middle four episodes treading water until we get our resolution in Episode 6. I love the era so I don’t mind but I’d be amiss to not point out that it is a flaw in the story…

The Continuity:

“Now whatever you do, don’t bugger him! I know what you’re like!”

Beyond all the subsequent appearances of the Ice Warriors, which I’m obviously not going to list (though I will mention “The Seeds of Death”, which is their second story and also features the Second Doctor) but I will mention that Jamie thinks they’ve just “landed further down the mountain” at the start because the previous story, “The Abominable Snowmen”, also took place in a snowy location.

That’s about it though!

Overall Thoughts:

An Ice Warrior is flanked by two crap bulky helmeted Ice Warriors! Scary!

I enjoy The Ice Warriors, it’s a generic “base under siege” Second Doctor story, but sometimes I just want a basic Troughton run-around. The two animated episodes are a little ropey but do the trick in bringing the six parter to life. Basically it’s a lot of fun, but may not be to everyone’s tastes.

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