Doctor Who #183: The Ice Warriors Part 2

"The trouble with Clent is that he's not a proper scientist, he's an organiser. He should've been born a robot."TECHNICAL SPECS: The first of two missing episodes from the 6-parter. I've had to use a reconstruction (Part 1, Part 2). First aired Nov.18 1967.

IN THIS ONE... Varga the Ice Warrior wakes, takes Victoria hostage and starts to free his men from the ice.

REVIEW: It had started out so well, it's really a shame we're already into missing episodes again (4 through 6 still exist, I'm thankful for that). As we get to know the guest characters, the theme of technology vs. nature is solidified. Clent is described as essentially soulless and limited, and the man gives up his decision-making power to a computer. He puts no trust in human beings unless he has to, and even then, has been disappointed every time. The individualistic Penley makes the point that Clent isn't creative because he's an organizer, not a scientist, which is a very Doctor Who thing to say. Science is not the enemy (because the Doctor is all about science); technology is, or at least, automation and the replacing of human beings with machines. Perhaps that's why the Ice Warriors look to be cyborgs - like the Cybermen and Daleks, they've sacrificed their "humanity" on the altar of progress. And there's more extreme than Penley in the form of Storr, a technophobe scavenger Penley is nursing back to health after the events of the previous episode. I'm already sick of his nasal voice and accent, but he's strongly linked to the story's theme, so I'll grin and bear it.

Varga the Ice Warrior is a fearsome specimen, showing the virtue of casting short actors in the regular roles. He's HUGE next to Victoria, and we know Jamie and the Doctor aren't much taller. "Ice Warrior" is our term, coined by the men who found Varga in the ice (and by the title), but they're really Martians - a notion that seems at once retro and bold. Trapped in ice during the first Ice Age, Mars can be a barren wasteland and still allow for an older civilization to have thrived there. Varga does a lot of hissing, possibly because the atmosphere isn't well suited to him more than because he's reptilian. And Deborah Watling once again proves she's quite good at showing terror in her voice.

It's sweet how Jamie keeps thinking of Victoria while the guest cast care only about their project, and the Doctor about a potential alien threat. He and Penley are the voices of true humanity, concerned with their fellow man/woman, but somewhat oblivious to the bigger picture. Clent and the Doctor's concerns are important ones, globally important, but in a human drama, we may well care more for the characters we come to know. The episode offers a debate on its theme, not an editorial.

VERSIONS: The recent DVD release adapts the episode to animation. On the surface, its look reminds one of the series Archer, but the articulations are so simple as to look comical.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - While it continues to explore its theme with maturity, the missing video means we're missing the nuanced acting of the opening chapter.



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