Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Ice Warriors

The Tardis lands in the middle of an ice age! So much for warmer pastures, all these snowy episodes are giving me a chill at this time of year – brrrr!!

It’s the future, and Earth is overrun by advancing ice caps, kept at bay by outposts stationed all over the world. One such outpost (bizarrely an old Victorian house renovated into a modern lab) is visited by the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria. An expedition outside discovers a frozen man, it turns out to be a creature from Mars, and he is accidentally awakened, and then revives his fellow warriors from the ice. They plan to free their spaceship (and possibly conquer the Earth, but first things first), and the outpost cannot use its ‘ionizer’ ray to keep the icecaps away, lest it react badly with the alien’s ship’s engine, causing a devastating explosion. Skirmishes and kidnappings ensue, as the martians and the humans size each other up and play each other’s bluff.

The Doctor infiltrates the Martian 'ice warrior' ship.

The Doctor infiltrates the Martian ‘ice warrior’ ship.

With six episodes, there’s a little more to this story than just the alien stuff. The base’s leader is a complex character, proud and accomplished, but more concerned with reporting in positive results than in saving lives and doing what’s right. Another former scientist-turned-scavenger plays off of this and is ultimately recruited back into the group. He’s played by Peter Sallis, which was distracting if only because I kept expecting him to say “cracking cheese, Gromit!”. Still, these scenes are all good, and the lab, props and costumes are all very futuristic-looking for their time.

The outpost control room.

The outpost control room.

The aliens are pretty one-dimensional villains and, with their wheezing, hissing voices, sound like a cross between Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort. Their costumes are a mix of mechanical and organic, and look a little rubbery, but I did like their weird prosthetic mouthpieces – very eerie the way they move as they talk. They also have powerful guns on their arms that make cool warped effects when they fire. Not a villain to be trifled with!

So, pretty good overall, but mostly down to the supporting cast this time.

"Cracking ice, Gromit!"

“Cracking ice, Gromit!”

A word on the restoration: the two missing episodes were condensed as a single 15 minutes piece by the BBC, and presented as an “in-universe” communications failure, with the remaining audio and pictures presented on one of the communicator screens used in the episode. I thought it was very well done and a nice touch to present it this way. That aside, I also watched fan-made full-length restorations of both, just because I want to see every single episode regardless.

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The Abominable Snowmen

This six-part story starts when the Doctor and co arrive at a Tibetan monastery in the Himalayas, and discover the monks there have been terrorised by a group of yetis. Naturally, all is not as it appears and the yetis are in fact robots being controlled by a disembodied intelligence, who is also controlling the abbot of the monks and one of the Doctor’s old acquaintances from a previous visit.

Professor Travers shows Jamie and Victoria the yeti.

Professor Travers shows Jamie and Victoria the yeti.

To be honest, I found it hard to follow exactly what was happening in this one. Four of the reconstructed episodes were particularly poorly done, with muffled sound, over-exposed images, no captions, and looked like they had been transferred from VHS (they probably had). Admittedly, I could have tracked down some better quality reconstructions, but I wasn’t all that interested in the story anyway. It dragged on for too long.

The yeti approach.

The yeti approach.

About the only thing I liked was the voice of the disembodied intelligence – slow and calm but really creepy. For a moment, I thought he might turn out to be an early form of The Master (since he referred to himself as the master), but it seems there was no relation after all.

'The Master'. (Not the Master, apparently.)

‘The Master’. (Not the Master, apparently.)

The controlling machine is destroyed, seemingly taking the Intelligence with it, and the yeti robots are disabled. The Tardis leaves for hopefully warmer pastures.

In short: meh.