Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors (Story 39)
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New to DVD! Digitally remastered Doctor Who classic The Ice Warriors! In the distant future, Earth faces a new Ice Age. While a dedicated team of scientists battle to hold the approaching glaciers at bay, a startling discovery is made deep within the ice… an alien warrior, frozen for millennia. When the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive they soon discover Earth is under threat from the Ice Warriors – fearsome Martians intent on conquering our planet for themselves.
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Seriously, I was absolutely fascinated with the mouth movements and neck gestures done by lead baddie, Bernard Bresslaw. The poignant gestures and lip articulation is dazzling considering the general history of all Dr. Who and the "Rubber Suited Monster". In terms of production value, this early episode from 1967 frankly puts to shame a slew of much later Dr. Who productions. Honestly, if you have to get just one serial from Troughton's era, then this would be in hard competition with THE TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN (Story 37).
Oh, and Deborah Watling was one intensely cute companion. ;)
Anyway, The Ice Warriors is an interesting adventure in the Second Doctor/Patrick Troughton's era with Jamie and Victoria traveling with him, soon after The Abominable Snowmen featuring the Yeti/Great Intelligence and before The Enemy of the World. An interesting time period in my mind when the Second Doctor is really 'warming' (ha, ha) up as both a comedic and dramatic character with a great ensemble cast, both Jamie/Frazer Hines and Victoria/Deborah Watling and the guest actors playing characters like Clent, Storr, Penly (Sallis), Miss. Garrett and the Ice Warriors.
The Second Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria, wind up with the TARDIS lying on its side near an underground (ahem) base with encroaching glaciers creating a worldwide Ice Age. Inside the base, which has a comfortable sitting room and a 'futuristic' computerized headquarters manned by a handful of technicians, they are controlling an ionizer to destroy the glaciers with assistance from human scientists and an intelligent computer.
Of course, there's some conflicts between the technicians who trust the computer's judgment in terms of handling a difficult situation and the more humanistic scientist and scavenger who believe that humans are far more capable of judging the reality of the situation than a computer. However, then some archeologists discover an Ice Warrior frozen in a glacier and things get even hairier...
A couple of the episodes are missing and have been animated by one of the better teams to handle such an assignment, as they do showcase a lot of the characters/actors' expressions. They get some play out of the scenario with Two trying to solve a problem with a pile of paper surrounding him and Victoria being menaced by one of the Ice Warriors.
It's a six-part story, so the actors' dialogue might be a bit repetitious at times in restating the problems/ideas that their characters are struggling with. Bear in mind that this story originally aired over six weeks and viewers might have forgotten what happened/what was said a few weeks ago. Other than that, it's not so bad. It doesn't drag as badly as other stories have.
Overall, it's a great, interesting story and I liked it quite a lot. And the special features are great as well, but it's sad to think about that this and The Tenth Planet might be some of the last newly released classic Doctor Who stories with special features. The Web of Fear and Enemy of the World, which had been recently discovered and were released later, had no special features. And The Moonbase, while not the greatest of Patrick Troughton's stories, really only had one documentary. Oh, well.
We go inside to a strange console room. Over the loudspeaker, we hear, "Prepare Phase 1 evacuation procedure." Leader Clent comes in bristling, "We certainly will not evacuate. We've beaten its tantrums before."
"It" is the ionizer, and Miss Garrett, worrying around her controls, tells Clent, "Within 2 hours, the ionizer will be useless." She mentions more than once that they need Penley, Penley and his expertise.
But maybe they can make do with someone else. The TARDIS lands, sideways and slipping on the snow. The Doctor, Victoria and Jamie are taken to the Leader. Clent offers the Doctor a test. Answer a question, and they can stay. If not, they are obviously scavengers instead of scientists, and the three of them will be sent to the African Rehabilitation Center.
Clent: "All the major continents are threatened with destruction under the glaciers' (glass-ee-ahrs, I love British pronunciation) of the second Ice Age. How would you halt the ice surge and turn the climate back to normal? 45 seconds, starting now."
The Doctor, anxious, paces while he answers, "Possible causes - the reverse of the magnetic field!"
Leader: "No such change has occurred."
Doctor: "Ahh, interstellar clouds obscuring the sun's rays? An excessive burst of sun spot activity? A severe shift of the Earth's angular rotation?
[25 seconds gone ...]
Gigantic heat loss, eh?...
[the answer is no]
In that case, the answer's simple. A severe drop in the carbon dioxide level in the Earth's lower atmosphere. Is that it? I would use ionization!"
Answered in 45 seconds on the dot.
In the meanwhile, scientist Arden and his crew return from their outside work on the instruments. They bring with them a block of ice containing with a frozen man. Jamie thinks it's a Viking warrior with his helmet. The Doctor is puzzled, though: "When this man was frozen to death, only primitive cavemen existed." Not to mention that the Vikings didn't have electronic connections on their helmets.
On no! An ancient space arrival, which means a nuclear-powered spaceship. If the ionization sets off its nuclear reactor, this post won't just blow itself up, the fallout will contaminate the whole planet.
New problem: The Leader must decide between stopping the glaciers with ionization or killing himself with a nuclear blast.
If life were that simple. Very new problem: The ice block melts and the reanimated Ice Warrior Varga forces Victoria to get the powerpack that restored him. He bursts out of the pod with Victoria as hostage. He will find his spaceship, restore his crew, and "return to the red planet." Or, maybe they'll stay and conquer this planet. Decisions Decisions.
"The Ice Warriors" is a black & white 6-part series, which originally aired Nov/Dec 1967. I like the series, in spite of its mangled science. This is a review of the 2013 2-disc DVD release of "The Ice Warriors", the first time on DVD. The video for episodes 2 & 3 are long lost, but the BBC does have the original audio. Both the visual and audio have been digitally restored. Subtitles are available in English.
[Updated paragraph on animation after receiving and viewing DVD] For the DVD, the British company Qurios animated episodes 2 & 3 to the original audio track. See Disc 2 extra, "Beneath the Ice", for a look at the decisions Qurios had to make. For the finished product, they went with 2D animation, as more true to what could be done in 1967. The animation is in grayscale to match the B&W video. I think Qurios did a better than average job. Though it may be close to impossible to catch Patrick Troughton's manic qualities when excited, they did a pretty good job of matching mouth movement to words. And characters, especially Troughton, are instantly recognizable.
I still like the animation on "Reign of Terror" better, it is more edgy graphic-novel-ish. But to each his own - and it didn't stop me from buying and enjoying the "The Ice Warriors" DVD. And, it appears that the choice to do something different was deliberate. Dan Hall, BBC DVD producer, has said, "Doctor Who has had many different visual styles thanks to changing directors, designers and production methods. We wanted to mirror this in our choice of animation partners."
Extras on disc 1:
1. Commentary for episodes 1, 4, 5, 6, moderated by Toby Hadoke. Commentators include Frazer Hines (plays Jamie), Deborah Watling (plays Victoria), Pat Heigham (grams operator) and Sonny Caldinez (plays Turoc, an Ice Warrior).
2. Commentary for episode 2. This is made up of original archive recordings, readings of interviews or phone interviews. Represented are Brian Hayles (writer for "The Ice Warriors"), Derek Martinus (director), Martin Baugh (costumes), Roger Jones (plays Zondal, an Ice Warrior), Peter Barkworth (plays Clent), Wendy Gifford (plays Miss Garrett), Malcolm Taylor (plays Walters) and Sylvia James (makeup). Many of these people worked on more than one Dr. Who series together, so they talk about more than "The Ice Warriors".
Hadoke notes that Jones, in an interview recorded several years ago, was "frank, but not bitter, about how the role virtually marked the end of his acting career."
3. Commentary for episode 3 is by Michael Troughton (Patrick Troughton's son) Michael was 12 years old when "The Ice Warriors" was filmed. Having his Dad play Dr. Who was a great treat. Of his father's role as Doctor Who, he says "I think he was 95% character."
4. Subtitle Production Notes (Info Text).
Extras on disc 2:
1. "Cold Fusion" (25 minutes) This making-of feature has commentators Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, Sonny Caldinez, Jeremy Davies (designer), and James Bresslaw (son of Bernard, who plays Varga), and Bernard Bresslaw from an old interview. Hines says "It was Bernard's idea to have this reptilian sound, because it wasn't, the hissing sound, in the script."
James Bresslaw was a very well known comedy actor at the time. Both he and Sonny were wanted for the parts due to their size, both 6' 5".
2. "Beneath the Ice" (11 minutes) A making-of feature for the two animated episodes. Commentators are from Qurios, and include Chris Chapman (producer), Neil Bushnell (producer), Chris Chatterton (animation director) and Nick Patrick (animator). They initially tested several styles, and show us 3D realistic and 3D stylized animation, as well as different styles of 2D animation.
Not everybody had seen any Dr. Who before getting the job. Chris Chapman, however, was a fan of the classic and the new series. When he found out he was going to work on Dr. Who, "I think it was the single geekiest moment of my adult life!"
3. "VHS Links" (20 minutes) "The Ice Warriors" was released on VHS in 1998. This feature has the VHS introduction and linking material that was used to cover the two missing episodes (BBC calls it the "telesnap" version). It even includes the BBC Video "Adjust your tracking control" caption.
4. "Blue Peter: Design-a-Monster" (10 minutes) Blue Peter was a children's show. In 1967, it held a Design-a-Monster competition during the time "The Ice Warriors" was originally aired. We see two excerpts, from when the contest was launched, and from when the winners were announced. From over 250,000 entries, the winners from three age groups were sent to BBC Special Effects Workshop. BBC didn't just build the winning monsters, they created short films of them.
5. Original Trailer for The Ice Warriors. All that survives of the original is the audio. Qurios added animation to complete the trailer.
6. "Doctor Who Stories - Frazer Hines Part Two" (14 minutes) Frazer Hines shot an interview in 2003 for the 2004 TV special "The Story of Doctor Who". Part One was issued as a bonus on the 2012 DVD of "The Krotons".
As always, Hines has a sense of humor. He mentions his one foray into pop music, where he got his own single, which spectacularly flopped.
7. Photo Gallery (4 minutes) This includes stills of Bernard Bresslaw getting into his Ice Warrior costume. Some rehearsal/stills are in color.
8. PDF: Radio Times Listings
9. Subtitles in English
10. Coming Soon Trailer for the fully animated series, "Scream of the Shalka"