Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Doctor Who - The Ice Warriors DVD Review

by Ken Parker

This DVD was released in the UK in August and September in the US and includes 4 of the 6 episodes of this 1967 Doctor Who story. The remaining 2 'missing' episodes were restored using the original soundtrack recording and newly commissioned animation. It is the first story to feature the Ice Warriors, who would return to the series 5 more times to date.

This is one of only a few Doctor Who stories that I have only seen once and so it was a thrill to see it again, for the first time in a few years since its release on VHS in 1998. 4 of the 6 episodes had been found in 1988.

The story is pretty basic with the usual technology vs. nature motif and base under siege theme. The idea that technology is the human races savior or destroyer is very interesting in this story and is examined in a few different ways. Not only are the humans reliant on technology to keep back nature (glaciers) but it relies heavily on computers, something that almost results in their downfall. It is fascinating to see the different sides of faith in technology from Storr, who outright hates technology to Penley, who has become fed up with it to Leader Clent and to a greater level, Miss Garrett who is so faithful to everything the computer says.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are thrown into the middle of all this but things are worse when the discovery of an alien ship embedded in the ice hampers the task of keeping the glaciers from advancing on civilized areas. Even worse, the inhabitants of the ship awaken and are not very happy.

As usual the Doctor's team is split up, interact with various characters, come back together and so on. I didn't find “The Ice Warriors” to be the most original story but it wasn't that bad. Especially of interest to me was the look and design of the serial. Everything from the Ice Warrior costume to the sets, the ice caves, the haunting music and uniforms of the scientists, everything is fairly unique and well thought out. The Ice Warriors are one of my favorite Doctor Who alien designs but I feel their best stories are to come.

There are a few shortcomings that you would think are normal for Doctor Who but stand out a bit more in this one. Victoria hiding from the Ice Warriors is almost as bad as when the Daleks pass through a doorway and doesn't see the human hiding behind it. This is even worse as she is hiding against the white ice walls.
Another silly moment is when Jamie is attacked by a ferocious baby bear.

I will have to say that I am not a big fan of any animation that has been done for Doctor Who. Certainly I have accepted the fact that several stories were released and the animation is okay but I rarely am able to keep up with the attention as I would with the real story. I know this is not the case with most, it is just a personal opinion I have – especially with this story that has two episodes animated in a row.

The animation is not bad and does what it needs to do but either those episodes were boring to begin with or the animation just was too distracting.

The video and audio quality of the restoration is superb as usual. The commentary is interesting as Fraser Hines (Jamie), Deborah Watling (Victoria), Sonny Caldinez (Turoc) and designer Jeremy Davies and grams operator Pat Heignham do the episodes 1,4,5 and 6 while interview clips are used during the animation.
The making of documentary and the second part of the Fraser Hines interview segment are interesting. The making of the animation is well done as well. A Blue Peter segment and the original VHS links with Watling and Hines are also included along with the usual production notes and photo gallery.

I enjoyed this DVD but was surprised that I was not as excited by the story. It was fairly good with some great moments but I have seen better out of all the main characters in other stories.   I will say I love the look of it though.

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