By Mark Gatiss
“Harm one of us and you harm us all. By the moons this I swear.”
Cold War became a highly anticipated Doctor Who episode once it was announced that the Ice Warriors would be making their return to Doctor Who in that episode. I know I was looking forward to it and seeing how they updated the classic Doctor Who villain. The Ice Warriors have been one of those monsters that have a history with The Doctor and were a staple of the 60’ and 70’s most notably in the Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee eras.
They weren’t as iconic as The Daleks and Cybermen but the Ice Warriors are one of the classic villains and deserved a comeback and to be updated for the new show. So will Cold War make the classic Doctor Who fans all excited that an old classic is back and will it also make the newbies enjoy the natives from Mars? Well read on if you want to find out what I think of Cold War.
Well to first answer the question I in the above paragraph I answer with a big YES! Cold War is be far and away the best story Mark Gatiss has written for Doctor Who since his New Adventures novel Nightshade. I thoroughly enjoyed Cold War. I enjoyed it immensely and I believe it is one of the top five stories so far in the Matt Smith era. I do it just feels like a classic story and has all those elements that I enjoy and this story is a classic in my opinion.
Some of the best Doctor Who stories have been the base under siege stories. Stories like Dalek, The Ark in Space, and Tomb of the Cybermen. Like the mentioned stories Cold War takes place in what you would call a base with nowhere to escape. The action takes place on a nuclear submarine that is in the artic in the year 1983 and it’s the height of the cold war between The Russians and America and Great Britain. This time a group of Russian soldiers uncover something in the ice that when it thaws out is a force to be reckoned with.
I love this type of story. The base under siege is a great way to tell a story in Doctor Who. What makes this all that more exciting is that there is truly nowhere for anyone to escape the Ice Warrior. The sub is stuck on a cliff 700 meters below in the depths of the ocean. Add to that Grand Marshall Skaldak is out of his armor creeping among the pipes where you cannot see him. That just adds to the tension and paranoia feel to the story. It is really well done and you get a sense of being trapped in the submarine. I really love the feel I described while watching Cold War and it added to my enjoyment of the story.
I also loved how Cold War was channeling a couple of classic science fiction movies. It had the feel of The Thing and Alien to it. When we see Skaldaks hands coming out of the ceiling area and grab the humans it was really freaky. You had these green claws latching themselves to the head of the Russian crew and then hoisting them up and killing them in the processes. That was really scary and cool at the same time. I loved the fact that Skaldak was creeping inside the air ducts and you didn’t know if he has around the corner. What Cold War did so well was return the series to the “Behind The Sofa” feel to it as I’m sure a lot of kids were hiding their eyes. Scary in Doctor Who has been under utilize in the new rebooted series and it is glad to see them come back and use it every once in a while.
I love the story that Cold War told about the old warrior who was wronged and wants to get revenge on his captures. But there is more. He ends up showing remorse as he didn’t kill Professor Grisenko. He could of but hesitated and let him go. He could also have tried to blow the world up by launching the missiles off forcing The Doctor to blow the submarine. But he didn’t as the point of the story was that even the harden soldier can have remorse and show compassion which he did as he left the Earth and the sub without going through his attack.
I loved David Warner in Cold War. His character Professor Grisenko was really different and brought a light heartedness to the story. He has a wonderful scene with Clara talking about different things and trying to get her to calm down after she sees the dead seamen. What was great was that he was more interested in 80’s pop groups than he was about the Cold War. That was pretty cool and David Warner was really awesome in Cold War.
Another thing that was pretty amazing was that we were able to see the Ice Warrior outside of his battle armor. It was pretty amazing to finally see what is inside that armor and we get to see the face and arms at least. It was really good to also find out the back story of why they wear that armor. It was pretty cool seeing the face and seeing that the eyes really do glow.
Matt Smith was fantastic as usual and more and more you can see how great of an actor he is and how well he has embraced the role of The Doctor. He has made the role his own and he sure seemed really Doctorish in Cold War especially when Skaldak told him his name and he had a look of horror as his past memories brought things to light. I also loved how he was the manic crazy Doctor running around trying to figure things out while being serious all the time. I loved how he was a bit like Jon Pertwee and how the 3rd Doctor acted with the Silurians. The 11th Doctor does the same here with Skaldak but of course humans happen.
Cold War is truly a classic Doctor Who story and is definitely in my top 5 of Matt Smith Doctor Who stories. It was so well done and really had the feel of a classic Doctor Who story that I watch over and over again on DVD. It took place in an era that I know all too well and can relate to the feelings of some of the Russians on that sub since I grew up during that era as I can really relate to Captain Zkuhov played really well by Liam Cunningham.
So yes I did enjoy Cold War, scratch that I really loved Cold War, and I believe this will go down as a classic from the Matt Smith era and it is for now the best story Mark Gatiss has written for Doctor Who.