One of The Doctor's reoccurring enemies is introduced in The Ice Warriors, a fun, if a
little overly long, adventure with Patrick Troughton playing the
ageless Time Lord. Unfortunately the entire serial no longer
exists, two chapters are missing. The audio tracks for those lost
shows are still around, luckily, and so the animation (using the
original script as a guide) was created and matched to the soundtrack
to recreate the missing sections. It largely works, and while
it's obvious that there wasn't a large budget for the animation, it's
nice to see a whole adventure.
The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria arrive back in England once again, but
it's not what they were expecting. In the far future the world is
going through another ice age, but this one was brought on by mankind
after nearly all of the plants were killed and the levels of carbon
dioxide started to rise. (Yes, they get the science woefully
wrong in several places but what can you do?) Glaciers have
started advancing all across the globe and a worldwide project has been
implemented to push them back by using a device called the Ionizer to
melt them at several key places.
One such place where an Ionizer is trying to save humanity is
Brittanicus Base. The place is run by Leader Clent, and officious
and unyielding administrator who will not issue an order without having
it approved by the base's computer.
Things aren't going too well at Brittanicus Base however. The
lead scientist, Penley, has left; he's had had enough of Clent and just
walked out on the project and is living in the ice and snow, and the
Ionizer isn't nearly as effective without his knowing touch. The
ice has been advancing more rapidly since he departed and there doesn't
seem to be anything that anyone can do.
To make matters worse, a scientist out in the field has discovered a
creature entombed in the ice. He chips out a block containing the
large humanoid creature that vaguely looks like a Viking and brings it
back to the base.
That's about the time that The Doctor and his companions arrive at
Brittanicus. Initially thought to be refugees, after The Doctor
adjusts the Ionizer to prevent an impending overload that would have
destroyed the base, he's named as the new lead scientist. It
looks like The Doctor will be able to get the project back on track
until the Ice Warrior thaws, kidnaps Victoria, and frees both his crew
and downed spaceship from the ice. With his four soldiers, the
leader is sure that they'll be able to take over the world, starting
with Brittanicus Base.
There is a lot that works with this story, and a good deal that
doesn't. On the down side, the story is slow and plodding, quite
like the Ice Warriors themselves. That's a common occurrence with
the longer adventures, and this is no exception. There's a good
deal of exposition in each episode, someone will explain the problem
and bring viewers who missed the earlier installments up to date, but
there is also a lot of talking that feels like padding. (The
discussions about the problems of blindly following a computer's orders
are so frequent someone could make a drinking game out of it.)
It's too bad that this came at the cost of action scenes, of which
there are too few.
There are some plot holes too. I can't understand why the five
almost invincible Ice Warriors don't just march to the base and kill
everyone inside. And why did Penley think that leaving was a
viable alternative? Yes Clent is an ass, but was he so bad that
he'd doom humanity? It's a minor complaint, to be sure, but a
little tweaking of the script could have solved it.
On the positive side, Troughton is great, as always. His mixture
of bumbling incompetence and genius is fun to watch and makes his
character quite appealing. His expressive face gets a good
workout in some of the cliffhangers too.
The sets are very impressive also. The ice caves that Victoria
wanders through are quite expansive and much larger than the usual
Doctor Who set and that adds a lot to the feel of the show. The
antique-filled house where the base is located was a very nice touch
too. It makes the situation feel more dire, knowing that they
just commandeered someone's home since there wasn't time to build a
It was great fun to see the Ice Warriors too. Yes, their costumes
are large and clunky and it's hard to understand what they're saying
from time to time due to the hissing whisper that's used for their
voices, but they were rather menacing and ruthless. I especially
liked when The Doctor was being difficult so the leader started to suck
the air out of the room he was in. These aren't creatures you can
As mentioned earlier, the two missing episodes, numbers two and three
out of six, were animated. There wasn't a huge budget allocated
for the project, and it shows unfortunately. The animated
characters don't move smoothly, they have a tendency to bob around when
walking and are pretty stiff in general. They reminded me of
puppets, and move rather like the characters in Thunderbirds.
Their faces are rather expressive, but they only animated the mouth and
eyes and superimposed those motions over a rigid face. That
created an effect similar (though not nearly as cheesy) to Clutch Cargo
which didn't help the presentation. While it's not actually as
bad as it sounds, I wish they could have spent some more time on
it. Alternatively, using telesnaps to reconstruct the missing
episodes may have been more cost effective and the results would have
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits the show
just fine. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but
the dialog is generally crisp and clear and there is no background
noise, tape hiss, distortion or dropouts. There are optional
subtitles in English.
The Restoration Team has worked their magic once more and the full
frame B&W image looks very good. I was really impressed with
the sharp and clear picture. The level of detail is excellent,
the blacks are deep, and the image is stable.
This double disc release has some nice extras. First off is a
commentary track featuring actors Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines for
the first episode, and Patrick Troughton's son, Michael, on episode
three. The second chapter has an interesting audio track pieced
together from interviews with cast and crew members who are no longer
The video extras start off with Cold Fusion, a making-of featurette
that's very informative. They discuss the trouble the actors had
getting in and out of the Ice Warrior costumes, the fantastic sets, and
some of the difficulties the production faced. There is also the
second part of a look at the actor who played Jamie, Doctor Who Stories - Frazer Hines (Part
Two) where the long time companion talks about his time in the
TARDIS and how much he enjoyed it, as well has his musical career
(which is quite entertaining). There's a featurette on the
creation of the animated episodes (I was disappointed to learn that
most of the people who worked on it were not Doctor Who fans), the
original abbreviated telesnap recon of the missing episodes that
originally appeared on the VHS release of the adventure, and some clips
from Blue Peter. These were all very good bonuses.
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option which is very
informative as always. It does give some dry statistics,
like how many people viewed each episode, but there are also some
interesting notes such as script changes that were made and background
information on the supporting characters. The extras are rounded
off with, a couple of photo galleries, and the listings from the Radio
Times in .pdf format.
A decent story marred by being a bit too long, this is still a fun
adventure. I haven't seen a Troughton story that I haven't
enjoyed, and this will be fun for fans of the original series. Recommended.