Doctor Who #185: The Ice Warriors Part 4

"Doctor, if you go to the warriors you'll be their prisoner." "Their guest I hope, Jamie."
TECHNICAL SPECS: Because the DVD still isn't out, I've used the Internet for my watching needs. First aired Dec.2 1967.

IN THIS ONE... Victoria escapes from the Ice Warriors and screams up an avalanche that kills her pursuer.

REVIEW: The big set piece in this episode, shot on film and everything, is Victoria's escape through natural tunnels between the advancing glaciers, and it's a great little sequence. The camera looks like it was cramped into various nooks and crannies, and there's real depth to the set. That bobble-headed Ice Warrior chasing Victoria can be seen coming from way in the back, while we stay on Victoria's beautiful - and terrified - face. The geography keeps changing and the ceiling collapsing in on the characters, as Martinus creates the effect in several ways, including one interesting shot where you can actually see the ceiling. And it's fun to think Victoria's screams are responsible for the cave-in that buries her pursuer. She really does have the most useful scream in Doctor Who! Too bad stupid, stupid Storr has to ruin all her hard work by bringing her right back to the Ice Warriors.

Speaking of which, this is the first episode where we can see the Ice Warriors in motion. Disappointing mouth movement, their lips fixed in a single expression and not successfully moving in every shot. However, the actors in the suits try and keep some animation going, and manages a couple of reptilian tics, like a turtling gesture that sinks their heads into their torso, and hard swallowing that evokes mice going down a snake's gullet. The speaking Ice Warriors look cool, but the minions, with their giant helmets, are rather silly. I should mention the ship as well, which is an odd mix of technical and organic, not unlike the Warriors themselves. Organic rounded shapes on the walls and door give way to square screens and humanish gauges.

Though Victoria is most definitely the featured character, it doesn't mean the others don't get to do anything. Poor Jamie comes close, effectively paralyzed from the waist down by the sonic weapon (that boy isn't out of the woods yet!). The Doctor aims to extend the Warriors an olive branch and has a small comic bit when he uses the dial-a-chemical to get a simple glass of water (well that's a silly machine!). Clent experiences a deep anxiety at the mere thought of having to make an intuitive decision. And one of his opposite numbers, Storr, dies at the end of a pointy sonic stick. I'm not sad about it. In an ensemble of mostly interesting characters, he was the broad, even silly, exception. The problem is that he's too extreme. He's against science, I get it, but he's BLINDLY against it. Everything he hates is "scientifically designed" as if his shelter (an old plant museum) wasn't, and he's ready to throw in with the Ice Warriors just because they're against the base's ionizer, no questions asked. He wasn't a character, he was an opinion made flesh and given an annoying voice. Thanks, Varga.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The key sequence looks really good (with only one choreography flub), but does get us away from the story's main theme, which is by and large what's most interesting about it. And of course, it's all undone as the dreaded "middle episode" syndrome rears its ugly head.

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