Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors

Director - Derek Martinus

Cast - Patrick Troughton, Frazier Hines

Country of Origin - U.K.

Discs - 2

Distributor - BBC Worldwide

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

Date - 10/03/13

The Serial (3.5/5)

 

     The Ice Warriors was the third serial of Doctor Who's 1967 5th Season. It is also one of the many 1960's Doctor Who serials to fall victim to the notorious and tragic BBC tape purge of the early 1970's.  Due to those purges episodes 2 and 3 of this serial have been missing since that time causing prior home video iterations of this serial to go incomplete. There have been fan made reconstruction’s using the original audio combined with telesnaps from the episodes, but until this release there has not been a way to watch the story "in motion" since the episodes were lost. This has been corrected with the addition of animation for the missing episodes.

 

   The Ice Warriors is a typical Troughton base-under-siege episode. The episode begins when the TARDIS finds itself in the far future Britain at a location only known as Brittanicus Base.  The world is on the cusp of a second ice age, and the crew there are working to ensure that doesn't happen. Unfortunately, while one of the crew is thawing a portion of the ice, they find a spaceship, and the sleeping Martians contained therein, The Ice Warriors who will stop at nothing to escape the Earth, and will wreak havoc on the Doctor, The TARDIS team of Jamie and Victoria, and the crew at the base, and possibly the world to obtain their freedom.

 

   The Ice Warriors like the Zygons are a Doctor Who Villain who is more famous through reputation rather than frequent usage.  They appeared in this serial, and 3 more throughout the 60's and 70's, and were not even given another mention until David Tennant's (Tenth Doctor) penultimate episode The Water of Mars. They have finally made a return opposite Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor in the excellent Alien-esque episode Cold War.

 

   The episode as stated earlier is a typical Troughton base under siege affair. The Doctor arrives, and the Ice Warriors threat begins, and the Doctor and crew must fend off their threat.  Considering the sheer volume of these episodes throughout the Troughton years, Ice Warriors would typically be considered a rather dull affair.  However, a number of attributes raise my overall opinion of this one considerably.  The first of which is the Ice Warriors themselves.  They are simply a great villain from their design, costumes, voices, to the simple, but effective writing of their characters. Yes, they are a tad cliché for a Sci-Fi villain, but they are AWESOME, and it should be said a great genre story be it fantasy, horror, or science fiction is always lent a great amount of entertainment value by simply having a fantastic villain. The set design for the base and the surrounding areas is quite excellent for the era and budget is interesting and well utilized, and the costume design for the characters outside of the Ice Warriors is also interesting in it's own right.  As usual the performances from the main trio of performers is quite excellent, and the rest of the performances I found quite effective as well.

 

     Because of the typical narrative setup of the episodes the six parts does feel quite a bit overlong for the story presented. This is an issue present in many Doctor Who Six Parters which either feel perfectly paced or overlong. The animated episodes 2 and 3 are a nice addition to the story.  I have always found recons to be a decent substitute for an episode, but an absolute bore to watch.  These episodes offer a good alternative to recons, the downside of which is, the animation is not that great. The character movements are not very fluid, and appear very stiff at times.  I will say that the animation presented on this disc is a step up from the Reign of Terror disc from a few months ago so the upcoming Underwater Menace, Tenth Planet, and Moonbase disc, may also improve on what's presented here. Also, it should be mentioned that these are done on the slimmest of budgets, and I am plenty happy that they are included at all.

 

   The Ice Warriors is a fun, but flawed serial from Doctor Who's 5th season, at it's center it has a series of great performances, a decent story, and an excellent and memorable villain. The addition of animation to a serial that has previously been incomplete due to tragic circumstances make this a near must have release for Who fans.

 

Audio/Video (3.5/5)

 

   The Doctor Who Restoration Team has once again done an excellent job in restoring a classic Who serial to it's original (and possibly better than original) look. Doctor Who - The Ice Warriors has been released in it's original 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The serial looks really fantastic, detail is excellent, as is contrast. The animation having been done recently looks quite sharp, with a clear detailed image.

 

   The audio is presented in the usual Dolby Digital Mono track present on these releases. The audio on the existing episodes is quite good, with dialogue music, and effects coming through clear and crisp. The audio in the animated episodes due to the fact they were taken off from off air recordings is of much a lesser quality and is much more difficult to discern at times. Nonetheless, it is audible at the worst of times, and with optional English subtitles included with all episodes it makes those moments much easier to take.

 

Extras (4/5)

 

   This 2-Disc edition of the Ice Warriors has some decent extras scattered throughout it's running time. The set opens with a commentary track on the existing episodes with the cast and crew including Frazier Hines, Deborah Watling, Sonny Caldinez,  Pat Heigham,  and Jeremy Davies.  The animated episodes feature some commentary tracks consisting of interviews with cast and crew members no longer with us.  The third episode also features an alternate commentary track by Michael Troughton. The second disc contains the video extras, and kicks off with a making of documentary called Cold Fusion.  We also get From Beneath the Ice which details the making of the 2 animated episodes. There are also VHS links, which are what were included to cover the narrative for the missing episodes for the VHS release.  There is also a Blue Peter segment on designing monsters.  This is followed by Doctor Who Stories: Frazer Hines Part 2 which is an excellent interview with the actor who played the Second Doctor's most famous companion Jamie McCrimmon. The disc is rounded off by an animated version of the trailer, production notes, coming soon trailers, PDF extras, and Photo Galleries.

 

Overall

 

   An interesting, but slightly overlong addition to the Doctor Who canon.  The Ice Warriors has an excellent memorable villain at it's core.  The episodes look great, and the addition of the animation really helps make this one a must recommend.  There is also a slew of informative, and interesting extras included. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.