Sunday, 14 April 2013

Cold War - initial musings

If you are a casual viewer of Doctor Who, you will probably have rather liked last night's episode. If, on the other hand, you are a devout fan, with an extensive knowledge of the programme and its history then you were probably less enamored.
I must admit that I fall into the latter camp.
What they did with the Ice Warrior simply baffled me. I am all in favour of giving a returning monster a bit of an update - but to throw established continuity out the window (or porthole in this case) I find just annoying.
The notion of an Ice Warrior simply climbing out of his armour and scuttling round the air ducts like Gollum was ludicrous. And has anyone ever wanted to know what Ice Warriors looked like under their armour anyway? I'm sure no-one has. We accept them as they are - massive powerful creatures. Showing us the thing inside the armour actually diminished them in my opinion.
To make such drastic changes to an already established monster I don't agree with. Why couldn't Mark Gatiss have simply come up with an entirely original creature of his own?

My dissatisfaction with the Ice Warrior aside, what about the actual story?
All the submarine-in-peril cliches were in place.
The TARDIS landed in the midst of the action, so no messing about with introductions. One crew member - the stereotypical Stephasin - didn't trust the new arrivals, but the wily old professor and the Captain accepted their help all too quickly. I loved David Warner's character. I won't ber able to listen to "Vienna" in the same way ever again. Liam Cunningham I thought was quite underused.
As far as the setting was concerned, only lip service was played to the Cold War as it was in the early 1980's. I strongly suspect Gatiss came up with the title first then made the story fit around it. It could just as easily have been any nuclear submarine at any time.
JLC continues to impress. I do think that the reasoning as to why she, and she alone, could approach the Warrior was a bit far-fetched.
The notion of the Ice Warrior being talked into standing down - due to questions of honour - has been done before in the programme.
After 5000 years in the ice, how handy was it that an Ice Warrior spaceship just happened to be in the vicinity to take him away.

Perhaps a second viewing will make me feel a bit more upbeat about this episode. As a fast-paced adventure story it was quite straightforward and nothing special. As an Ice Warrior story I thought it was rather woeful. I really wish I was just a casual viewer sometimes...

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