Wednesday 30 December 2020

That Was The Year That Was...

Who would have thought, when we sat down to watch Series 12 of Doctor Who, that the rest of 2020 would be such a bizarre year? We already knew about the coronavirus, as it had first been spotted in the closing months of 2019, hence its proper name of Covid-19.
What we didn't know was the impact that it would have, globally, that Spring, and indeed right up to the present day. Vaccines are now on their way, but rollout seems to be slow, and the majority of people won't have had their shots until Spring 2021, a whole year after it first broke out.
We had been forced to wait a year without any new Doctor Who in 2019, other than a New Year's Day special.
2020's special would also be the first episode of the new series - a two-parter with a Bondian spy theme.
The frankly underwhelming Series 11 had gone out of its way to avoid continuity with the past, but we knew from images on social media that newly redesigned Cybermen would be featuring at some point this year. The BBC then revealed that Judoon would definitely be returning, as they had been spotted by the general public filming in Gloucester. 
As it was, there would be more returnees, which the BBC managed to keep under wraps.
The first of these surprises was in that first episode of Spyfall. The "O" character played by Sacha Dhawan turned out to be the latest incarnation of the Master, and very good he was too. Few expected a new Master quite so soon, as it was only a dozen or so episodes before that we had seen the last of Missy, as well as a return for the John Simm version.
We then had that shocking ending, where we learnt that Gallifrey had been destroyed.
Series 12 had got off to a good start, but things started to slip already with the second episode. The idea that a season of ten 45 or 50 minute episodes could provide sufficient plot for the Doctor and three companions was shown to be a wrong one early in Series 11. The first year of Peter Davison's time showed it didn't work, and they had 26 episodes to play with. Despite having three companions, the Doctor picked up two extra companion characters in Spyfall Part II, leaving the regulars with nothing to do. This would continue throughout the season, with guest characters pushing out the regulars, who were becoming increasingly redundant.
Part II was a let down in other ways, with the Doctor using the Master's new ethnicity against him, and then setting up the secondary villain, only to totally ignore him at the conclusion.
Things got even worse with the third episode, Orphan 55, which is my least favourite story ever, at time of writing.
Far too many characters who were cardboardly written. Dreadful costuming and makeup for the Hyph3n character. The shock (not!) surprise that this planet was really the Earth. Like that's never been done before. The Doctor's preachy lecture at the conclusion, like the audience are too thick to get anything more subtle. And then there was that bloody awful screeching old woman. A horrible, horrible experience overall, which brought back bad memories of the previous series.
Things managed to pick up with the fourth episode, the celebrity historical featuring Tesla and Edison. A more straightforward story, with a good guest cast and some decent new monsters.
Mid-series, we then got Fugitive of the Judoon, which threatened to bring the pillars of continuity crashing down around our ears. As well as the return of the titular space rhino police, we had the unexpected reappearance of Captain Jack Harkness. Then, we suddenly discover that Ruth appears to be an unknown incarnation of the Doctor, her true nature hidden by a Chameleon Arch. Her TARDIS is buried in the countryside, and it looks like a Police Box. She's supposed to be an earlier incarnation, predating Hartnell, yet the Time Lords knew nothing about her, and she shouldn't have had a Police Box for a TARDIS anyway as we saw when it got stuck like that - and it wasn't pre Hartnell.
Apart from the obvious messing with continuity I had problems with this story. Everyone raves about it, but take away Jack and the Ruth reveal and what are you actually left with? It's a very slight tale without these flagpole moments. A bit of comedy nonsense with the Judoon and with a creepy cake shop stalker.
We had been warned by the BBC that this series would be addressing topical themes, such as plastics pollution of the world's oceans. That's what we got in Praxeus. Despite the globetrotting scale of the piece, we once again had too many new characters shoehorned in, leaving the regular companions with too little to do. And for the second time this series we got lectured at at the conclusion. At least they managed to have gay characters who weren't killed off.
The next story (Can You Hear Me?) promised much, and did at least attempt to cover the issue of mental health, and each companion was highlighted in a way, but it still had a few things wrong with it. The whole Aleppo subplot seemed pointless, leading to yet more guest artists cluttering up the running time, and the set up of who the two aliens were took far too long, leading to a very rushed ending. Then there was the terribly misjudged bit at the end where the Doctor goes out of her way to avoid talking with Graham about his health concerns - despite the whole story being about how we should listen to those in distress. The animated sequence was nice to look at, at least.
So far, so no Cybermen. 
The Haunting of the Villa Diodati was reasonably well made, but I did feel that it seemed like two separate stories that weren't properly integrated. The haunted house with Shelley, Byron, Mary et al would have made a good story on it's own. The appearance of the Cyberman Ashad came quite late in the proceedings, so his being the inspiration for the Frankenstein monster wasn't made enough of.
This story also basically acted as a warm up for the two part finale. The fist section of this - Ascension of the Cybermen - spent a lot of time with a seemingly unrelated subplot about a young Irish policeman. We had to wait until the final week to find out what that was all about, but in the meantime we did get some decent Cyberman action. Then came The Timeless Children, which quite unnecessarily divided fandom. As I wrote at the time, this was a revelation that no-one asked for. We were all quite happy with the Doctor being a rebellious Time Lord, but Chibnall had to sort out an apparent continuity issue from The Brain of Morbius (even though it could already be squared as being previous incarnations of Morbius, who loses the mind-bending competition after all. Instead of the Doctor having been 13 white men, he'd actually been 21 white men, because all 8 of the people we see in the contest are white males. This finale went further and showed that the Doctor had been all sorts of ethnicities as a child, thanks to a child serial killer called Tecteun.
It wasn't just the continuity shattering that has annoyed fans. The episode is really badly written, with the Doctor simply standing there for the best part of an hour whilst the Master gets all the best lines and steals the show. It's one big massive info-dump.
If you show a gun in the first act, you have to have someone use it by the third act. Now that Chibnall has carried out this act of vandalism, he really has to go somewhere with it. The danger / opportunity (delete as applicable) is that he leaves it hanging for someone else to resolve. They might just decide that the Master was lying the whole time and ignore it all. Actually, it would have been far better had it been the Master who had found out he was the Timeless Child. It would have made his destruction of Gallifrey more plausible.
The series ended with a cliff-hanger, with the companions back on Earth in a TARDIS shaped like a council house, whilst the Doctor has been whisked off to Judoon Jail. We'll see how that pans out in a couple of day's time, with Revolution of the Daleks.
The virus might have meant that we wouldn't get a 13th series anytime soon, but fortunately production got underway in November. We already know of two returning monsters in Series 13, one of which has had a redesign - they've been spotted by members of the public and the pictures are there for all to see on the internet. We know that Graham and Ryan leave in Revolution, and so far only Yaz has been seen filming on Series 13, with no sign of any new companion.
As there is already footage in the can, it will be interesting to see if we get any kind of preview at the end of Revolution.
Over the summer we got the Lockdown Tweet-a-longs, which now appear to be happening every other day and have totally lost their novelty. The first batch had new additional material shown on-line, most of which was a bit rubbish.
Towards the end of the year we have had Time Lord Victorious, which seems to be aimed at parting fans with a heck of a lot of their money. I've reviewed the free bits - the animated Dalek series, which was so-so at best.
Another negative impact of the virus, as far as Doctor Who is concerned, is the paucity of classic material which has been released this year. We got Season 26 back in late January (despite it being promised to us as a Christmas present), and then Season 14 was released soon after lockdown had started. We're still waiting for the next set (Season 8), but that won't be with us until February 2021. At least a couple of animated lost Troughton stories were released, even if one of them was a remastered reissue.
The Web of Fear Special Edition doesn't even have a release date yet.
Here's looking forward to 2021, when we might actually be able to get to the pub and go on a holiday, and we might even get more than two blu-ray box sets.
Happy New Year everybody.

Monday 28 December 2020

Philip Martin (1938 - 2020)

Sad to hear that the writer Philip Martin has passed away, at the age of 82. Martin wrote two highly regarded stories during the Colin Baker era of the show. The first was Vengeance on Varos, which introduced the popular character of Sil. It was inevitable that Martin - and Sil - would be invited back, and a new story was in preparation for the 23rd Season when the series was placed on hiatus.
Martin was then asked to contribute to the revised Trial of a Time Lord format, and contributed the second segment (episodes 5 - 8) which is generally known as Mindwarp. For many, it's the best part of the season.
The abandoned story - "Mission to Magnus" - was novelised by Martin, and later adapted for audio.
Born in Liverpool, Martin wrote for Z-Cars, which was set in his home city. Later, he wrote a play for the BBC called Gangsters, which revolved around the criminal underground of Birmingham. This led to a full series, starring Maurice Colbourne. Martin appeared in the series as a villain who looked and sounded like WC Fields.
Last year he revived Sil for a spin-off video production - "Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor" - for Reeltime Pictures.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Christmas Pause

I was hoping to do one more post before Christmas, but unfortunately I'll be a little too busy to do so - so I'll take this opportunity of wishing you all as merry a Christmas as is possible under these trying circumstances. I will be back briefly around the 27th December, then it will be another slight pause until my review of the new Special on the 1st January.
Best wishes to you all.

Sunday 20 December 2020

What's Wrong With... The Moonbase

This is a Cyberman story, so let's start with their plan.
The Earth's weather is controlled by a gravity-influencing machine in a base on the Moon. The Cybermen intend to seize this machine - the Gravitron - and use it to wreck the climate, softening us up for an invasion. Rather than just break their way in to the base and assume control, they devise a cunning subterfuge. Clever. Clever.
Stage 1: break into the base surreptitiously, so you can sneak in and out.
Stage 2: introduce a toxin into the sugar supply. This is a special pathogen, which will leave its victims still alive but capable of having their minds controlled.
Stage 3: start sneaking the virus victims out of the sick bay one by one. Pretend to be a patient if anyone comes in, by lying under a duvet - no-one will notice.
Stage 4: take the patients to your spaceship where the mind control operation takes place.
Stage 5: once you have enough mind controlled personnel then, and only then, do you come out into the open. You only actually need one human, but kidnapping more will greatly increase your chances of being detected and stopped.
Stage 6: get your abducted human to operate the Gravitron for you, as you are somehow susceptible to gravity, despite it being a universal force.
Stage 7: create lots of hurricanes and typhoons, etc.
Stage 8: invade. Not because you want to take over the planet - more because you think humans will defeat you in the future. You know what? You're right...

It was one thing for the Cybermen to be susceptible to radiation, as in their first outing, but having problems with gravitational forces is a different matter. The writers clearly had to have them allergic to something, to explain why they don't just smash their way in on a frontal attack.
Does it matter which personnel you have selected for mind control? Apparently not. Poisoning the sugar supply is a rather random way of doing things - which might explain why it's the medic and a guy who looks after the stores who are taken, rather than any actual Gravitron personnel.
Surely a foodstuff would have been one of the very first things you would have looked at, in a case of potential poisoning - especially one not everyone uses, if not everyone is falling ill at the same time.
We see a crewmember collapse immediately after drinking some sugared coffee. If the toxin always works this fast then why didn't the crew realise that the presence of a spilled coffee cup next to each victim might be a clue as to how they poison is being spread.
Why do the Cybermen go to such lengths to avoid detection, then get spotted twice by Polly within a few minutes? The sickbay is small, so can we honestly believe that a Cyberman could hide under a duvet without someone noticing - especially once they have started removing the patients.
Surely another part of the base would make a better place to hide than the sickbay, during a health crisis when it's going to used a lot.
Despite claiming not to be a doctor of medicine since the early Hartnell era, the Doctor here thinks that he did study medicine under Lister, at Glasgow in 1888. Now, he doesn't claim to have actually passed the degree, but he couldn't have studied at this time, in this place, under Lister. Joseph Lister left Glasgow University in 1869. In 1888 he was working at University College Hospital in London.
The Cyberman plan does, initially at least, work out in their favour. However, Polly devises a weapon against the Cybermen who have taken over the base - a solvent which melts their chest units.
The Cybermen simply reactivate one their mind-controlled subjects, who have been left conveniently unguarded. One of them manages to take control of the Gravitron.
Despite their plan going smoothly, the Cybermen then decide to attack the base's dome with a laser cannon - putting their own agent out of action. All they had to do was wait for Dr Evans to wreck the Earth's surface with severe weather conditions and they would have achieved their goal.
The Cybermen then decide to smash their way in - the one thing they have gone to great lengths to avoid. By wrecking the dome, they will have killed all the humans - including their own mind-control subjects - so would have no-one to operate the Gravitron. They'd have to do it themselves.
Why did the Cybermen only fire on the dome the once? They wait ages before firing again - giving the Doctor long enough to employ the Gravitron to prevent any other strikes.
The reason the Gravitron can't be pointed along the horizon is that it would affect the base - and yet when the Doctor and Hobson do point it across the lunar surface it has no effect on the base at all. The crew don't all go floating up to the roof.
Last, but by no means least, how does Polly recognise these streamlined robots as Cybermen, after barely a glimpse. Also - where do these Cybermen come from, if we only recently saw their entire planet destroyed and their entire race wiped out. (There was a line about a new home planet of Telos, but this was cut - so there's no on screen explanation).

Thursday 17 December 2020

Inspirations - Silver Nemesis

This is the "official" 25th Anniversary story. The production team rearranged the originally intended running order of the season so that Silver Nemesis would commence broadcast on the actual anniversary date of 23rd November, 1988. The story title was going to be called simply "Nemesis" but the "Silver" was added for the occasion.
Daleks had already been used to launch the season, so the Cybermen - second most popular monsters and often described as being 'silver giants' - were the obvious choice for the story.
Changing the story order led to minor continuity issues, such as Ace being seen to wear one of Flowerchild's earrings, which she won't be seen to pick up until the following story.
Oddly, the team did not look to an established writer on the series, as they had with the 20th Anniversary. Instead they went with a writer new to the series, in what would become his only contribution - Kevin Clarke.
Clarke claimed not to have any particular ideas for storylines when invited in to meet with JNT and Andrew Cartmel. He just winged it. One notion he had was that the Doctor would prove to be God.
As far as this story goes, we have an ancient and powerfully destructive Gallifreyan artefact which was in the Doctor's possession, but has been left at the Earth. There are three groups of villains out to get hold of this artefact for their own nefarious ends, one of which comprises a bunch of Nazis. There are suggestions that the Doctor is no ordinary Time Lord, an issue which he happily skirts, leaving Ace wondering. There is reference to one of the Doctor's earlier incarnations. One of Ace's belongings gets an upgrade.
The main villains are seemingly wiped out for good after the Doctor tricks them into using the artefact, after going out of his way to ensure that they get hold of it.

No - not a repeat screening Remembrance of the Daleks, though you will certainly get a sense of deja vu watching this. When you consider that they only had space for four stories in these seasons, you'd really think that they would try not to repeat themselves too much (especially considering this was broadcast only three weeks after the Dalek story.
It's pretty much a retread, albeit an inferior retread.
Instead of the Hand of Omega, we have a living metal called validium, which was created as a defence for Gallifrey. The implication is that the Doctor took it with him when he first went on the run from his people. As with the Hand, it's terribly hard to square this with what we've always known about the Doctor. In the 17th Century the validium fell into the hands of a woman named Lady Peinforte, who fashioned it into a likeness of herself posing as Nemesis, goddess of retribution. The statue only has critical mass when complete with its bow and arrow, but these were removed before the Doctor launched it into Earth orbit in a rocky shell. This orbit takes it close to the Earth every 25 years, which coincides with a period of great upheaval. 
It is actually hard to tie the statue to momentous events if you go back beyond the couple mentioned here.
Lady Peinforte (who derives her name from a form of torture / execution where the prisoner has a heavy wooden board placed on them, atop which are then placed other heavy items to slowly crush them - peine forte et dure) does not recognise the Doctor but her description of the one she encountered suggests the Troughton incarnation.
Over the centuries the bow has moved about and ended up in the possession of a Nazi named De Flores, who has been living in exile in South America since 1945. Peinforte has the arrow.
The Cybermen then turn up seeking to grab statue, bow and arrow when the Nemesis comet's decaying orbit finally brings it back down to earth - on the very spot from which it was launched, which is handy.
For their appearance, the Cybermen helmets were given a special silver coating. Unfortunately this oxidised very quickly, turning them a golden colour.

The setting is Windsor. JNT wanted to film at Windsor Castle, and hoped to bag a genuine Royal for the story as a massive publicity gimmick. Prince Edward was showing signs of theatrical leanings at this time, and had recently been instrumental in organising the It's A Royal Knockout charity event. He would later join Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful Company for a time.
We don't know exactly how far up the court ladder JNT's approach went - it has been claimed the Queen herself vetoed it - and no filming was allowed at Windsor either. The director chose Arundel Castle instead, and an appearance from a QEII lookalike was arranged.
The TARDIS materialises as a group of tourists are being shown round. This group includes Nicholas Courtney and a number of writers and directors. Clarke is there, and is also seen on the street as Lady Peinforte and Richard walk down it.
There is another link to the origins of the series. Playing the old 17th Century mathematician is Leslie French. He was Verity Lambert's first choice to play the Doctor back in 1963.
Anton Differing accepted the role of De Flores purely so that he could be in England for Wimbledon fortnight. He was on oxygen off camera, and died soon afterwards.
Once again in the McCoy era, music plays an intrinsic part in the plot. We see the Doctor and Ace watching jazz musician Courtney Pine, and later Ace's enhanced ghetto-blaster is used to block the Cyberman signals with jazz music. 
Next time: the greatest show in the galaxy visits the greatest show in the galaxy...

Jeremy Bulloch (1945 - 2020)

News today that actor Jeremy Bulloch has died at the age of 75. Best known for his role as Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he appeared in Doctor Who on two occasions.
The first was back in 1965, when he played the young Xeron rebel leader Tor in The Space Museum.
He returned to the show during the Pertwee era, when he played Hal the archer in The Time Warrior. Apparently he was considered for a regular companion role at this time.

Other franchise work included two different characters in three of the Bond films. He played Q's assistant Smithers in For Your Eyes Only and again in Octopussy.
Another regular role was as Edward of Wickham in Robin of Sherwood.
His iconic Star Wars role may have come about through his half-brother, who was a producer on the two films he featured in. He also had a cameo in Revenge of the Sith.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Story 236 - Hide

In which the Doctor and Clara pay a visit to Caliburn House in Yorkshire, one of the country's most haunted places. The year is 1974. The house has been bought by Professor Alec Palmer in order that he can scientifically investigate the famous "Caliburn Ghast", also known as the "Witch of the Well", which is said to haunt the house. It has been seen, and photographed, many times over the years. Palmer has invited the noted empathic medium Emma Grayling to stay with him for a while, hoping she can make contact with the spirit. The Doctor is familiar with the work of both. He pretends to have been sent by the government on an official survey of the professor's work, which Palmer resents. He had worked in military intelligence during World War II and has now turned his back on government work, unhappy that he used to send young agents to their deaths. The Doctor suspects his new eagerness to explore the supernatural is a reaction to his wartime experiences. 
The Doctor notes a strange similarity in many of the images he sees of the Ghast. As he and Clara wander round the old building they hear odd noises, and experience cold spots. They are sure that they are being watched. 

Acting on a suspicion, the Doctor retires to the TARDIS, accompanied by Clara. He dons a spacesuit then travels back to the site of the house many thousands of years in the past. He takes some photographs. He then repeats this through time, visiting the same location and taking photographs, into the far future. Back in 1974, the Doctor develops the photos and the Ghast is seen in all of them, frozen in the same movement. A closer inspection reveals a young woman wearing a white spacesuit. The Doctor realises she is trapped in some pocket dimension linked to this place. A few seconds for her mean centuries here.
The Doctor has a blue crystal in the TARDIS, originating on Metebelis III. He will use this, and a subset of the Eye of Harmony, to help Emma make a psychic link with the woman. When this link is created they see a strange spinning disc materialise in mid-air. This is the well - a gravity well. The Doctor will pass through this to find and rescue her, whilst Emma uses the crystal to keep the well open.
The Doctor finds himself in a forest, whose borders are being eaten away. Soon this pocket dimension will cease to exist. He finds the woman, whose name is Hila Tacorien, who is a pioneer time traveller from Earth's future. They are not alone here, however, as a misshapen creature appears to be stalking them through the trees. 

Emma loses contact and the well closed after Hila has managed to escape through it. With the Doctor still trapped, Clara goes to the TARDIS to rescue him, only to find the ship actively unwilling to help her. She finally succeeds in talking it round and it travels to the pocket dimension where it picks up the Doctor. Back at Caliburn House, the Doctor tells Palmer and Emma that they have a personal connection with Hila. She is a future descendant. They are in love with each other but have not had the nerve to reveal their feelings towards each other. 
Emma takes the Doctor aside and tells him that she cannot sense anything unusual about Clara, having worked out why the Doctor came here in the first place.
The Doctor spots another misshapen creature in the house and realises that Palmer and Emma are not the only couple. The creature in the forest has been cut off from its mate, which is trapped here in the house. He takes to the TARDIS again to rescue it and reunite the pair.

Hide was written by Neil Cross, and was first broadcast on 20th April, 2013. Cross was best known for creating the detective drama Luther. This was his second script for this half season.
He originally intended the Professor to be Bernard Quatermass, the character created by Nigel Kneale. Copyright issues prevented this. He also claimed to have been inspired for this story by Kneale's The Stone Tape, which was broadcast at Christmas, 1972. The "stone tape" theory is an explanation for ghosts and other supernatural phenomena, where powerfully emotional events in a building can become attached to it, like sound recorded on a tape. Kneale's teleplay involved a scientific investigation of a haunted house, with a psychic as part of the team.
It should be remembered that Nigel Kneale was no fan of Doctor Who, thinking it too juvenile and constantly stealing his ideas (see Spearhead From Space, The Daemons and others).
As well as references to Kneale, and a 1974 setting, the episode also features the return of a blue Metebelis III crystal, which played a vital role in mid-1970's Doctor Who.
Although broadcast fourth in the second half of Series 7, this was the first episode recorded by Jenna-Louise Coleman as a regular cast member.

There are only three guest artists for this story. Portraying Palmer is Dougray Scott, who I first encountered in BBC Scotland's adaptation of Iain Banks' The Crow Road (which co-starred Peter Capaldi). Scott would later be considered as a potential James Bond. As Emma Grayling we have Jessica Raine. Best known for Call The Midwife, she would later in 2013 appear as Verity Lambert in "An Adventure in Space and Time", the 50th Anniversary docu-drama. She would also appear alongside Matt Smith in a Midwife / Doctor Who crossover skit for that year's Comic Relief.
The other guest artist is Kemi-Bo Jacobs, who appears as Hila Tacorien. The "Crooked Man" creature is played by Aidan Cook, who would become a regular monster performer.
As far as the season story arc goes, at first it looks like this has few connections. We have the TARDIS once again demonstrating a disliking towards her, but it is only much later on that we discover that the whole point of the Doctor's visit here was to see if Grayling could "read" her and see if there was anything strange about her.

Overall, it starts off as quite an effective little ghost story, but then the science kicks in and it further mutates into a love story. A middling 119th place in the DWM 50th Anniversary poll.
Things you might like to know:
  • An early draft had the pocket universe the prison of a renegade Time Lord, known as the Revenant of Anathenon - the Lost Lord. The dimension was known as the Hex, and the story title was "Phantoms of the Hex". A later story title was "Hider in the House". It only became Hide quite late in the day.
  • Cross named the house after King Arthur's sword Excalibur.
  • There is a running "Cumbrian" theme in the first few episodes of this half of Series 7. The Bells of Saint John had started with the Doctor in self-imposed exile in Medieval Cumbria, and the Doctor and Clara are later critical of the town of Carlisle. This story mentions Kendal Mint Cake, named after the Lake District town. If fans thought this significant, they were wrong, as the references simply petered out.
  • There is a serious plotting issue, which I recall raising when I reviewed this story at the time. It is 1974. Palmer is supposed to have been a "Baker Street Irregular" - the Special Operations Executive who planned espionage missions in occupied Europe. However, if Palmer is supposed to be around the same age as the actor portraying him (in his 40's) then this would mean that he was only a young boy when he was supposed to be in the SOE, sending agents to their deaths on the continent. This must be a leftover from the earlier idea that the Prof would be Quatermass, who was already an older man in the 1950's.
  • Matt Smith mispronounces "Metebelis". He got it right in rehearsals but stressed the wrong syllable (the -teh- instead of the -bee-) on the take.
  • It's never explained how the Doctor got hold of another blue crystal, or why - as the last one led to him losing a regeneration.
  • I went right off Clara from this story onwards. She dismisses homeless people as "dossers" and thinks whiskey is disgusting.

Sunday 13 December 2020

Day of Reckoning / DALEKS!

The fifth and final instalment of the animated Daleks series is called "Day of Reckoning" (which just happens to have been borrowed from an episode of The Dalek Invasion of Earth).
The last two Daleks - the Emperor and the Strategist - return to Skaro, but are closely followed by the Mechonoids. Turns out that they aren't the last Daleks after all, as their are a few more hidden in underground bunkers. Despite coming to wipe the Daleks out, the red Mechonoid scientists still wants to be friends with the Strategist, but it has plans of its own. It looks like it is conspiring against the Emperor, but is really working on a scheme to send the Mechonoids through a portal to that big green lighting effect from the first few episodes. The Daleks win, only to be warned that another foe is coming for them - thus setting up either another run of animated episodes, or a tie-in with the books / audios / comics which make up the rest of the incredibly expensive 'Time Lord Victorious' franchise.
One gets the impression that a punch-up between the Daleks and the Mechonoids was always one of the main points for producing this series. It kind of feels like the first four episodes were just treading water to get us to this point. Once again some nice CGI, but also a lot of very poor quality work, sub-cheap gaming level. Daleks and Mechonoids fighting each other should have been exciting, but it isn't. 
Richard Martin achieved far better results with just three Mechonoid casings and four or five Daleks - without any fancy computer generated assistance - back in 1965, in The Chase.
If they do do another short, free to view, animated series, I'll give it a whirl. 
I am certainly not tempted to pursue the TLV series any further after this.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Temporary hiatus...

 Unfortunately I'm a little under the weather this week, so am taking a short break. Hopefully back with you at the weekend.

Monday 7 December 2020

I is for... Ixta

Ixta was the warrior captain who had been chosen to lead the Aztec warriors into battle, and to represent their army in various civic duties and ceremonies. Only one warrior was selected for this role, and Ixta had to fight and defeat many challengers to attain it.
When the TARDIS arrived in the Aztec city, cut off from the Doctor and his companions after becoming trapped in a sealed tomb, Barbara Wright was hailed as the reincarnation of the town's occupant - a High Priest named Yetaxa. Ian Chesterton, meanwhile, was invited to challenge for Ixta's role, and was sent to stay at the warriors' dwelling. This had been suggested by the High Priest of Sacrifice, the sadistic Tlotoxl. He was a friend and ally of Ixta, and hoped to see him defeat and kill Ian as part of his efforts to undermine Barbara. Ian was able to overpower Ixta using just his thumb, applied to a pressure point at his neck. Shamed, Ixta sought the help of the Doctor in winning a rematch. His father had been the architect of Yetaxa's tomb. 
He visited the Doctor one evening, wearing his jaguar mask to conceal his identity, and making sure not to reveal that Ian was to be his opponent. The Doctor told him about a plant sap with soporiphic properties, which could be delivered with a thorn. During the subsequent combat Tlotoxl encouraged Ixta to make it a duel to the death once Ian was scratched by the thorn. Barbara was able to prevent this.
Later, Ixta attacked Autloc, High Priest of Knowledge and close ally of Barbara, in an attempt to frame Ian and further discredit Barbara. As the time travellers made their escape into the tomb to retrieve the TARDIS, Ixta and Ian fought for a final time. Ixta fell from the summit of the tomb to his death.

Played by: Ian Cullen. Appearances: The Aztecs (1964).

I is for... Ivo

Headman of a village on an obscure planet in the pocket universe of E-Space. Ivo and his wife ran a tavern, where they lived with their son. Above the village stood a tall tower, which was the seat of power of the "Three Who Rule". Ivo was forced to cooperate with the Captain of the Guards in the frequent selections which took place, when a number of the younger and fitter villagers were picked out to go to the tower to serve the lords. However, those selected were never seen again. Ivo understood that his son would be exempt from the process, but one day he was taken.
Ivo was secretly involved with a rebel group who were determined to overthrow the Three. He would pass on information to them about what the lords were up to. This group was led by an old man named Kalmar. He had amassed various pieces of technology which had been found in the area, and was attempting to get it all to work.
When the Doctor and Romana arrived on the planet, they helped with this - discovering that it belonged to a crashed spaceship from Earth named the Hydrax. At first suspecting that the Three were the crew's descendants, they discovered that they were in fact the original people, their lives prolonged as they were vampires. Ivo's son, and many other villagers, had been taken so that their blood would feed the Great Vampire which had hijacked the spaceship generations ago, and which now lay dormant beneath the tower (really the Hydrax itself). It was soon to arise, however.
The death of his son prompted Ivo to take more positive action and to join Kalmar's attack on the tower. The Doctor offered K9 to help with this, but Ivo was rather scathing of its abilities. He was proved wrong when it helped defeat the Three, and was forced to make a grovelling apology.

Played by: Clinton Greyn. Appearances: State of Decay (1980).
  • Greyn returned to the show during Colin Baker's tenure, playing Sontaran Group Marshal Stike in The Two Doctors. Soon after he portrayed another Sontaran, Grand Marshal Nathan, in the Jim'll Fix It sketch 'A Fix With Sontarans'.

I is for... Ital, Tarak

Karachi-born Tarak Ital was a crewmember of Bowie Base One, the first human settlement on the planet Mars. He was the base medic. On 21st November, 2059, he was called to the base's biodome after fellow crewmember Maggie Cain raised an alarm. She was found unconscious, her colleague Andy Stone missing. Looking for him, Ital was attacked by him and deliberately infected with a virulent water-borne parasite known as the Flood. Ital and Stone then attacked the others. As more and more of the crew were taken over, Commander Adelaide Brooke elected to activate the base's self-destruct mechanism - determined to prevent the infection ever escaping back to Earth. Ital and the other infected crew were destroyed in the explosion.

Played by: Chook Sibtain. Appearances: The Waters of Mars (2009).
  • Sibtain had previously played the villainous Mark Grantham in The Warriors of Kudlak, one of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

I is for... Issigri, Dom & Madeleine

Dom Issigri was one of the founders of a hugely successful mining operation in the outer galaxies. He set up business in partnership with another miner named Milo Clancey, basing themselves on the planet Ta, which was rich in a metal called argonite.
A few years later Issigri and Clancey had a falling out, which led Clancey to set up his own operation on the planet Lobos. Issigri disappeared soon after and his daughter Madeleine, who took over the running of the business, suspected Clancey of being involved. She was encouraged in this belief by a man named Caven, who led a ruthless pirate gang. Ta was beginning to run out of argonite supplies, but Caven proposed to Madeleine a scheme whereby they could capture and break up space navigation beacons, which were constructed from the metal. To anyone on the outside it would simply look like new seams of argonite were being mined.
Madeleine was happy to form a partnership with Caven, and go along with efforts to have Clancey framed as the pirate leader.
The Doctor and Clancey, along with Jamie and Zoe, were captured by the pirates and locked up in an ornate room in the bowels of Ta. Here they found an old man also being held prisoner, and he was recognised by Clancey as his one-time partner Dom Issigri.
Caven had abducted him as he knew that would never cooperate with piracy, whilst his daughter might be duped into doing so. Once she discovered that her father was still alive she turned against Caven and helped the Space Corps defeat him. She then accepted arrest and whatever punishment might follow for her collusion with the pirates.

Played by: Esmond Knight (Dom) and Lisa Daniely (Madeliene). Appearances: The Space Pirates (1969).
  • Very few images exist for The Space Pirates. There are only a handful of publicity stills, and no telesnaps covering the five missing episodes have ever come to light. Dom Issigri only features in the latter part of the story, for which no images exist.
  • Esmond Knight was a sailor on HMS Prince of Wales when it was attacked by the Bismark. He was hit in the face by shrapnel, losing one eye and badly damaging the other. For two years he was totally blind, yet continued his acting career. In 1943 he underwent an operation and regained partial sight in his surviving eye. He carried on working right up until just before his death in 1987.

Friday 4 December 2020

The Deadly Ally / DALEKS!

The fourth instalment of the DALEKS! animated adventure is "The Deadly Ally".
Last week's episode had ended with a rather underwhelming cliff-hanger, as the Dalek Emperor told the Mechonoid leader that it knew that the big green lighting effect had followed them to Mechanus. It was all a ploy to get the Mechonoids to help them. They deliberately wrecked the planet's defences last week just so, er, they could help them create planetary defences this week...
Getting your entire force wiped out just to get help to create something which you already had seems to me like a very stupid idea by the Daleks - or just very bad plotting by the writer. "We need an extra episode, so let's waste some time here".
The idea of the Mechonoids having personalities, talking like human beings, just seems totally odd. They may have done it in the comic strips years ago, but this bears no relation to the robots which actually appeared in the TV programme. 
The Strategist and the red Mechonoid scientist turn the defence grid into a device for sending the big green lighting effect back to where it came from. The Mechonoids then kick the two surviving Daleks off their planet, threatening that someday soon they will come and destroy them...
Some of the animation in these episodes is actually quite good, but this is balanced with some very basic, cheap video game quality work.
There's only one more instalment to go in this series, so it will either be very rushed or simply leave things set up for other parts of the Time Lord Victorious saga. Will I be tempted to find out? No way. Anyone planning to experience TLV in its entirety will need to spend a few hundred pounds, what with all the books, comics and audios (and there are action figures, T-shirts and other merchandise). All this for something which has very little to do with the TV series.

Wednesday 2 December 2020

What's Wrong With... The Underwater Menace

The Underwater Menace remains one of Doctor Who's least loved stories. Very few people have anything nice to say about it - and that includes the people who made it. Even the discovery of a missing episode, which is far better than the existing terrible one, has failed to lift its reputation.
It had a troubled genesis.
Troughton's third story was at one point going to be a contribution by William Emms (Galaxy 4) called "The Imps", about strange goings-on at a space-port. Geoffrey Orme's "Doctor Who Under The Sea" was being developed at the same time, but the production team favoured Emms' story. 
Hugh David, who had been a successful actor but who now wanted to work behind the camera, was offered this slot as its director. (David had been approached to play the Doctor back in 1963 by the series' temporary producer Rex Tucker, but didn't want another long-running role).
When "The Imps" collapsed, "Under The Sea" was promoted to replace it. David took a look at the script and decided that he'd prefer not to do it. Noting the maritime setting, he had spoken to a friend who had worked on the James Bond movie Thunderball, and was told that, on a BBC budget, the Doctor Who story just couldn't be done.
Refusing to direct the Orme story - which became The Underwater Menace - he was instead offered the earlier story The Highlanders.
Director duties were then passed to Julia Smith. One of Story Editor Gerry Davis' first tasks was to include the new character of Jamie into the proceedings. His addition as a regular cast member had come late in the day on the Culloden story, and the next few stories didn't include him. Dialogue and plot roles intended for Ben had to be shared with Jamie, which annoyed Michael Craze.
Troughton hated the script, and made his feelings known. He also failed to hit it off with Smith. The companion actors followed his lead and were also openly negative about the story and its production, which upset Smith and reduced her to tears at times.
As far as the story goes, the biggest problem with the plot is... the plot. Or rather Professor Zaroff's plan. He plans to blow the up the planet for the sole reason that he can - even though it will mean his own fiery destruction. There's absolutely no reason given for this, like some sort of suicide-inducing trauma. He is just mad. His plan involves digging down towards somewhere beneath Atlantis, to reach molten magma. Whether this is the Earth's core, or just the magma chamber beneath the island's volcano is never specified. There's no evidence on screen for either of these options. Once he's drilled his hole, he will drain the ocean into it, and this will supposedly crack the planet in two. This simply wouldn't happen. You'd just create the world's biggest steam whistle.
To demonstrate what the Professor is intending, the Doctor gives the example of a sealed vessel full of water being heated. This is a bad example, as the Earth would not behave like a sealed vessel.
Then we have Joseph Furst's performance. This is the story where the cliffhanger to an episode is Zaroff exclaiming: "Nuzzink in ze vorld can shtop me now!". Zaroff also gets to deliver the following lines:
"So, you are just a little man after all, Doctor, like all ze rest", and "Help me stand at your sides so that I can feel ze aura of your goodness". The dialogue is pretty atrocious throughout.
Opinions are split on the underwater ballet of the Fish Workers in Episode 3. You'll either love it as a bit of 1960's surrealism, or stare fixedly at the various wires holding the performers up. (Personally I love it. Dudley Simpson's electronic score is wonderful).
Zaroff gets hit by an absolutely massive boulder, but just goes "Ooh!", then gets up moments later as if nothing happened.
The temple set is so small that it looks impossible that the Doctor and Ramo could just get up and walk away when they are about to be sacrificed, and the congregation have their heads bowed. They even talk while they're doing it. Yet High Priest Lolem thinks they've been supernaturally spirited away.
One criticism I've read is that Jamie seems to know the words to "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond", when it post-dates him. It wasn't published until well after his time, and the song dates to the 1840's, but the original poem does date to the Jacobite era from which Jamie comes.
One of the biggest mysteries is how Atlantis - an island - can run out of food so quickly when it's surrounded by ocean, full of fish. Even with the Fish Workers on strike, what's to stop everyone else getting their fishing rods out and popping up to the surface? Zaroff is about to blow up the planet, so why is he bothered?

Monday 30 November 2020

Inspirations - The Happiness Patrol

When Andrew Cartmel was interviewed for the post of script editor on Doctor Who he was asked about what he would like to do with the show. He said he would like to use the programme to bring down the government. At the time, this referred to the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. The Happiness Patrol is very much intended as a satire on Thatcher and her -ism.
It shows how little the media were paying attention to the programme at this time, that it took them about 30 years to notice this.
The popular press were interested in when the Daleks might be reappearing, or whenever some Light Entertainment luminary had been cast in the series, but they obviously weren't actually watching the show.
Helen A, the ruler of the planet Terra Alpha is obviously based on Mrs Thatcher. She rules with a rod of iron, has little regard for the planet's society, and certainly doesn't entertain industrial unrest - even employing snipers to assassinate demonstrators. The Thatcher era in Britain saw various industrial disputes, the biggest being the year long Miners' Strike. Mrs Thatcher once claimed that there was no such thing as "Society", so she couldn't see what damage was being done to it by her policies. How can you damage what doesn't exist? Helen As methods don't really match those of Maggie T - more her good friend Pinochet of Chile and his ilk.

If Helen A is Thatcher, then Ronald Fraser's Harold C is the Iron Lady's husband Denis. Seen by the general public as a tipsy, somewhat brow-beaten man, thanks to John Wells' impersonations of him.
Some have also seen a gay subtext to this story. Harold C runs off with the rather camp Gilbert M at the end. Cy Town plays a moustachioed man who is executed by pink fondant. Moustaches went out of fashion with heterosexual men in the 1980's, but did become popular with gay men. The leather scene had a subset known as "Clones", for whom a moustache was obligatory. The way that agent provocateurs entrap the sad members of this society mirrors the entrapment of gay men in cottaging stings by the police.
And let's not forget that the TARDIS gets painted pink.

We have said before that Cartmell gained a lot of his inspiration from comics and graphic novels, including the hugely influential 2000AD. A Judge Dredd story revolved around a sweet which killed people - Umpty Candy - "the sweet that's too good to eat", created by a character called Uncle Umpty. The Kandyman makes sweets which kill people. The bowler hatted Trevor Sigma looks like Max Normal, another character from Judge Dredd.
The exterior scenes, filmed in studio, are so obviously studio-bound that it looks like a cartoon feel was intended.
The design of the Kandyman is, of course, more than inspired by the Bertie Bassett character which advertises such sweets as Liquorice Allsorts. Back in the 1970's, Tom Baker swapped Jelly Babies for Liquorice Allsorts, even though he still described them as Jelly Babies. Most people think that Jelly Babies first started with Baker, but they were first seen being offered by Troughton's Doctor.
Once again music plays a significant role in this story, as it has done more recently in the series (see Delta and the Bannermen). Earl Sigma is a Blues musician - the blues being synonymous for feeling down / depressed, which is what Helen A wants to stamp out. His harmonica playing even leads to the death of Helen A's pet, which prompts her personal revelation about grief.
The director wanted to record this story in black & white, as he felt it had a film noir feel.
The story title - "The Happiness Patrol" - conjures associations with "Joy Division", a band who were, ironically, famously miserablist.
Next time: it's the Silver Anniversary story, so the monsters most closely associated with silver are back...

Sunday 29 November 2020

Revolution News & Trailer

A trailer has been released for this year's festive special, Revolution of the Daleks. It confirms the rumours that Chris Noth would be reprising his role as the Trump-like Jack Robertson, last seen in Arachnids in the UK. A lot of people hated that story (it regularly came in second from last in season polls), and many of these were US fans - so it'll be interesting to see what the reaction to this news will be.
Also joining the cast is Harriet Walter, who appears to be playing Britain's latest Prime Minister.
The trailer depicts several scenes set on the prison world, which some fans think might be Shada, and these are the only ones to feature the Doctor. Graham, Yaz and Ryan are left to defend the world, still in possession of the TARDIS they used to escape from Gallifrey. It looks like they team up with Captain Jack for much of the story. I had assumed that the Doctor would have been broken out of jail by Jack in the pre-credit sequence, but perhaps she only turns up near the end to resolve the problems posed by the Daleks. 

The new black Dalek, first seen on location and currently starring on the cover of the Radio Times, is seen. We also see Yaz attacked by a casing-less Dalek mutant. The black Dalek is a repurposed version of the remote control one seen in Resolution.
From the trailer it looks like the Prime Minister has been duped by Robertson into accepting Daleks as "defence drones" - shades of Victory of the Daleks' Ironsides.

It has also been confirmed that this will be the final story for Graham and Ryan. Of the three companions, Yaz was the most underdeveloped - and yet she's the one they are sticking with.
Will a new male companion be joining, and if so will it be in this story or in the opening episode of Series 13? If he's joining in this story, then might it be Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, who appears in these images with Noth?

UPDATE: It's now confirmed this episode will be broadcast at New Year, rather than Christmas, as with the last couple of Specials. 

Thursday 26 November 2020

Planet of the Mechanoids / DALEKS!

The third episode of the Daleks animated series sees the Emperor head for Mechanus, seeking assistance from the Mechonoids (although they're named Mechanoids in the title).
While it has a lengthy chat with the blue Mechanoid leader, the Strategist insists that a scientist helps repair the planet's defence screens - despite the fact that it was the Daleks who broke it in the first place.
Whilst these two characters have their lengthy chats, the rest of the Daleks throw a wobbly and decide to attack the Mechonoids for no real reason - resulting in them all being wiped out. Stupid Daleks.
The Emperor then tells the blue leader that the green lighting effect extra-temporal entity has followed it.
And that's it. A rather pointless one-sided battle, and some robots talking to each other.
It was basically a retread of the conversation between the Emperor and the archive robot in the first instalment. The Mechonoids on screen were one-hit wonders, who featured only in a single episode. They were simply servo-robots left to get on with their mission, and weren't hot on conversation.
The ones in this have been taken from those '60's Dalek comic stories, where they have a rival space empire. Having a Mechonoid, with a female voice, chat about beauty, just didn't look or sound right at all. The only way they can make these things - Dalek and Mechonoid - interesting is to change everything about them.
I'll stick with this, but it's not something I could ever see myself revisit.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Season 8 Blu-ray Boxset - Confirmed

News today that Season 8 will indeed be the next one to be released as a Blu-ray box set. There's a rather nice video trailer for it which you need to check out, featuring Katy Manning and Stewart Bevan as Mrs and Mr Jones, under attack from carnival-masked Autons.
Lots of extra material is promised, and the picture remastering looks great - including on the technically challenging The Mind of Evil.
Terror of the Autons is given the optional new special effects treatment, with a CGI troll doll appearing in the trailer.
The Mind of Evil has a feature in which three Doctor Who directors visit its location of Dover Castle - Tim Coombe, Michael Briant and Graeme Harper, who all contributed to this season (Harper as Briant's PA on Colony In Space). 
The Claws of Axos has an extended version, presumably using elements from the studio footage of the first recording block. 
Nothing extra mentioned specifically for Colony In Space, but The Daemons is presented in a feature length version, and we have a feature called "Devil's Weekend", which sees Manning and John Levene visit the Devil's End location of Aldbourne.
Two other features of note are an in depth interview from Matthew Sweet with Manning, and a tribute to the late, great Terrance Dicks, fronted by Frank Skinner.
There appear to be three "On The Sofa" sittings. As well as Manning and Bevan, we also have Janet Fielding paired with Sarah Sutton, and Anjli Mohindra with Sacha Dhawan. It'll be interesting to hear the latter's thoughts on the original Master, who features in all five stories. 
No sharing of Fielding's blanket this time, as the sitters have a perspex screen between them - so maybe they need to temporarily rename these segments "On The Armchair". I'm assuming that Covid-19 restrictions are the reason for the most obvious panel not being present - Manning, Levene and Richard Franklin, who together appear in four of these stories.
No release date yet on Amazon, though Zoom have it as 31st December 2099. Clearly something wrong with the year there, but the day and month may be correct (though these usually come out on Mondays), as the US retailers had a February 2021 release date and they usually have to wait a couple of months longer than the UK. In some ways the release date is immaterial, as they frequently get pushed back in the schedules, sometimes more than once.

PS: if you want to hold out for the steelbook of The Web of Fear, according to Amazon you'll have to wait until June 1st - 2022!

Tuesday 24 November 2020

News Update

Hope you had a lovely Doctor Who Day yesterday - the 57th anniversary of the programme. I rewatched the More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS documentary to mark the occasion. 
Very little from the BBC itself, other than a promotional image for the forthcoming Christmas Special (above), and a tiny teaser clip with Captain Jack, and therefore final confirmation that Barrowman is in the episode - something we've known for the last 8 months thanks to the BBC themselves issuing a photo with him in costume in the background. So much for their obsession with spoiler avoidance.
Still no word of when Revolution of the Daleks will actually be broadcast, though many people think it will be Christmas Day rather than New Years Day. This will be known at the beginning of next week.
The people who make the Blu-ray box sets gave us absolutely nothing.
The people behind the animations at least gave us the news I reported earlier about the rerelease of The Web of Fear, with the missing third episode animated. Great news - until I saw the teaser for it.
I sincerely hope that the whole episode isn't as awful as this.
One other release due next year will be a steelbook of the 50th Anniversary Specials - The Day of the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor and the Hartnell docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, along with all the associated extras, such as the McGann mini-episode Night of the Doctor.
Specific dates for the Troughton story and this steelbook are yet to be released.

The Web of Fear Special Edition

Just browsing website to look at their Black Friday deals, and came across a new release scheduled for The Web of Fear, which is going to have the missing third episode animated. The release date is still TBC. DVD, Blu-ray and Steelbook versions will all be available. 
We all hoped that that missing episode might have been obtained, as we know it exists, but this suggests that they don't expect to see it back in the archives any time soon.

Sunday 22 November 2020

Story 235 - Cold War

In which the crew of a Soviet nuclear submarine discover a figure entombed in the ice near the North Pole. The year is 1983, and the Cold War between East and West is at its hottest. One of the crew decides to thaw out the figure, but it comes to life and kills him. It then sabotages the vessel, causing it to sink, out of control. In the middle of the emergency the TARDIS materialises on board. The Doctor and Clara had been aiming for Las Vegas, but the ship has gone off course. Shortly after they emerge, the TARDIS dematerialises on it's own, leaving them stranded. They are confronted by Captain Zhukov and his crew, who assume them to be spies. The Doctor gives Zhukov some advice on how to stop the submarine sinking further, by moving itself laterally onto a rocky shelf. He then discovers the reason for the emergency, as an Ice Warrior storms onto the bridge. It identifies itself as Grand Marshal Skaldak, who is known to the Doctor due to his fearsome reputation. One of the crew uses an electric prod, intended to ward off polar bears, to disable the Warrior.
Stepashin, the submarine's political officer, wants the Doctor and Clara locked up, but Captain Zhukov decides to trust him due to his saving of the vessel, and his knowledge of the alien. A scientist named Grisenko, who had the icebound figure brought on board in the first place, also wants the Doctor and Clara to remain free. Clara finds that he is more interested in western pop music than their current predicament. The Doctor is concerned about the attack on Skaldak, as this will automatically trigger a response. To do any less would be dishonourable to the Martian.

He advocates a parlez with Skaldak, who is now chained up. He and the submarine crew will be regarded as enemies, so it is agreed that Clara should be the person to negotiate with him as a neutral figure. She goes to see the Ice Warrior and speaks with him, but the Doctor becomes suspicious. Clara discovers that she has been talking to an empty shell. Skaldak has emerged from his armour and is now running loose in the vessel. The Doctor warns that this will make him even more dangerous.
Skaldak runs amok, killing anyone he encounters. Stepashin attempts to forge an alliance with him, but fails and also dies. When he captures Grisenko, however, Clara manages to talk him into letting him go.
The Ice Warrior regains his armour and takes control of the submarine's nuclear missiles. He plans to trigger a full scale war in retaliation for his treatment. He has attempted to call on his own people for rescue, but has received no response. The Doctor succeeds in convincing him that starting a war which would kill millions of innocent people could never be an honourable course of action. 
A Martian spaceship suddenly arrives above the submarine, and Skaldak is teleported away, but still has control over the missile launch sequence. This deactivates after a few minutes, and the Doctor realises that Skaldak had taken on board what he had said about honourable actions. 
He, Clara, Zhukov and Grisenko see the spaceship depart. The Doctor receives a signal from the TARDIS. He had set the HADS - the Hostile Action Displacement System - and it had automatically relocated to the Pole when it found the submarine on the point of destruction. Unfortunately it is at the South Pole, rather than the North. The Doctor enquires of Zhukov if they can get a lift...

Cold War was was written by Mark Gatiss, and was first broadcast on 13th April, 2013. It marked the first appearance of the Ice Warriors after an absence of almost 4 decades (their final on screen appearance having been in The Monster of Peladon, which was on screen exactly 39 years before). At the time, this was the only Ice Warrior story not to have been written by their creator, Brian Hayles. (It's also the first Ice Warrior story not to feature Sonny Caldinez).
Gatiss, a big fan of the Pertwee era, had asked Steven Moffat about bringing the Ice Warriors back, only to be told that the showrunner wasn't too ken on them. He regarded them as stereotypical big green monsters, who could be easily outrun as they were so slow and cumbersome. Gatiss managed to convince him, and resolved the mobility issue by having Skaldak able to emerge from his armour and move quickly around the submarine.
The Ice Warrior first appeared in two stories during Patrick Troughton's era - and this is reflected in some aspects of the script. Skaldak is found entombed in ice, just as the original Warrior Varga had been, and the HADS is mentioned. This had only appeared once before - in The Krotons.
The submarine setting came from Gatiss' love of movies set on such vessels - especially The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, which have a Cold War setting.

The story has an impressive cast list, though some of the actors are poorly served. As Zhukov we have Liam Cunningham, who was one of the strongest contenders for the role of the Eighth Doctor back in 1996. As Grisenko we have David Warner, a friend of Gatiss. He had portrayed an alternative Doctor on audio. Stepashin is played by Tobias Menzies, who took over from Matt Smith as Prince Phillip in The Crown, and who, like Cunningham, had appeared in Game of Thrones. In a minor role, as a crewman named Onegin, is James Norton, who was just about to become a big TV star thanks to his role in 1950's detective drama Grantchester.
Playing Skaldak is Spencer Wilding, who had previously played the Minotaur in The God Complex, and the Wooden King in The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe. He would go on to play Darth Vader in Rogue One. The Ice Warrior is voiced by Nick Briggs, meaning he had now voiced the "top three" monsters.

Overall, a reasonably good story with a strong cast, the return of a fan-favourite monster, and a claustrophobic setting. However, fans have never really warmed to it.
Things you might like to know:
  • One reason why fans might not have taken to this story is the way the Ice Warrior is represented. The controversial thing is Skaldak's abandoning of his armour and running around like Gollum. Original costume designer Martin Baugh stated in interviews that, as far as he was concerned, the armour wasn't something which the Warriors could remove - it was part of their body. The creature's elongated hands don't fit with the claws of the armour, which are no longer large clamps as in their previous appearances. The fur sticking out of the joints is also missing. It does seem rather pointless bringing back the Ice Warriors, to then not show the Ice Warriors for most of the episode running time. Why not just have a new monster for this story?
  • Grisenko's love of music is mainly a devotion to what was known as the New Romantic style - Ultravox and Duran Duran.
  • Skaldak is a Grand Marshal. One Ice Warrior of this rank was seen in The Seeds of Death, but then he was of the "Ice Lord" design, like Slaar, Azaxyr and Izlyr.
  • Many aspects of the Ice Warrior' s background come not from their original creator but from subsequent books and comic strips.
  • This is the first story since 1978's The Power of Kroll to have no female characters other than the Doctor's companion.
  • An original draft had Skaldak not being found in the ice, but travelling back through time from the 31st Century to destroy the Earth in 1983 and prevent a future human invasion of Mars. Grisenko was a villain in this version, and the Doctor and Clara would have been rescued by a British submarine at the conclusion.
  • Stepashin gest his name from Sergei Stepashin, Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin. Zhukov led the Russian European forces during World War II, and Onegin comes from the novel Eugene Onegin, by Alexander Pushkin.