Doctor Who #184: The Ice Warriors Part 3

"Science! Och, it wasn't science, it was just good plain doctoring."TECHNICAL SPECS: The other episode missing from the archives. I've thus used a reconstruction (Part 1, Part 2). First aired Nov.25 1967.

IN THIS ONE... The Ice Warriors seem to kill Jamie before Victoria's eyes, while the Doctor works out math problems for Clent back at base.

REVIEW: I really like those title card sequences, all ice and snow, and under it, remember, that's Britain! The incidental music in the episode is dirge-like, mournful, a reference as much to the frozen Earth as it is for dead Mars. But it's the performances that maintain a tense, desperate atmosphere best of all. Deborah Watling makes us believe Jamie has really been zapped dead by the Ice Warriors (along with Arden), just by her reaction. Even after he is rescued by Penley, and Victoria has reason to believe he might have survived, she's still sobbingly finds a way to speak through pure fear. She's so effective, she had me feeling quite bad for her. Clent is also quite effective, understanding of Arden's disobeying of his orders, and embarrassed to tell him so. He's a man playing an important role, but a man nonetheless. The bureaucrat is just a job, if one he takes very seriously. Everyone's on edge in this though, even the Doctor, petulantly insulted that Clent feels the need to double-check his math with the computer.

If the Doctor is more of a pencils and paper man than a computer geek, Penley and Storr are downright technophobes who gave all that up. I don't know if it's my 21st-century brain reading too much into it, but am I the only one who sees Penley and Storr as Doctor Who's first gay couple? There seems to be a hint of that in that Penley has chosen an alternative lifestyle that his colleagues don't accept or understand. I'm ok with a completely platonic reading of the two men's living arrangements, of course, but it did make me wonder if the writer or director (or actors) saw it. In any case, Penley is the spokesman for the story's theme, and an eloquent one, condemning Bureaucrat Clent in particular, even though Barkworth's performance asks us to take a critical look at Penley's statements. And I kind of love that his surname is Elric. It speaks to the kind of counter-culture, hippie thing they're going for with this character. Plus, being called Elric is just badass.

A final note: The Doctor almost blurts out that he's not human, the clearest on this he's ever been. But we're still at the hint phase, and I can't believe it'll still a season and a half before the term "Time Lord" comes up. The Doctor Who team have obviously decided this is the case, but they're playing things close to the vest.

VERSIONS: The DVD includes an animated adaptation of the episode.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Dripping with tension, even without the video (or maybe especially without, the animated movement is rather too silly for the mood the episode tries to achieve). Had I seen it back in November of '67, it would have made me think Jamie had really bought it for a few minutes there. Scary!



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