Spit in the teeth of Winter
For he always dies in the Spring
- Harry Harrison, West of Eden
Me: Weirdly enough, I owned this one but I lost it. And not in the way that the BBC did.
Him: Really? On video? Or do you mean the book?
Me: No, I picked the Target up from my favourite charity shop fairly recently – just before it got reissued... Yeah, I had the box-set with the CD and the video. I’ve no idea what happened to it. 1
Me: A bit. This was during the time I wasn’t supposed to be following Doctor Who, but I think my memory’s cheating. I had The Crusade as well. Don’t know where that went either.2
Him: You lost a lot of stuff.
Me: I did a lot of moving.
Him: That’ll be why.
Me: It didn’t help.
Him: Maybe it’ll be around somewhere.
Me: It might be in the Nostalgia Mine.3 Anyway, shall we?
Him: Yeah, sure.
And we’re off.
The credits fade to lots of lovely stock footage/rostrum shots of someone’s disastrous holiday. The opening shots of an unforgiving, refrigerated landscape are followed by ice, more ice, ice and some snow and then ice. These images are overlaid with a scary, haunting wailing that reminds me of Helen Mirren in Excalibur for some reason.
|We’ve discussed this particular conflict of interest before...|
Him: Great start.
The title announces itself with bold capitals and more than a little pride. Good show.
Me: That’s different.
The camera suddenly lurch-zooms on a particularly interesting bit of ice in the middle of a photo of some ice frozen in ice aaaaaaaaaaand…
Noise and panic around a giant, half-eaten polo. A voice declares that the first phase of a base evacuation should take place whilst ladies in white flit from place to place. Then there’s a cameo voice-over.
Me: Sounds like a Mechonoid.
Him: It reminded me of that voice in the TARDIS.
Him: ‘Silence-Will-Fall” – oh! That’d be ace! If it went all the way back to The Chase and turned out there were Silence in the Mechonoids!
Me: You could pitch that to Big Finish.
Me: It’s no less likely than some of the ideas floating around. And not just mine.
A door opens and Clent - who appears to be disguised as a tiger - storms in, walking stick at the ready. The stress levels are rising with the siren. Shouting takes place until the danger subsides. Miss Garrett, a lady wearing what looks like Google Glass, says:
Miss Garrett: We need scientist Penley.
Clent reminds her that Scientist Penley isn’t working there any more and she’ll have to make the machine work without him.
Clent asks the Mechonoid Voice for a damage report. It runs through a list of glaciers that have been held - the list covers the whole of the Earth, rather than just the bits you’d expect. And Scotland.
Me: For some reason I can actually remember reading the Target of this in the back of a car. It was a library book.
Him: Sweet memories?
Me: Ummm… Yeah… Why not?5
Clent and Miss Garrett – rather stylishly – exchange exposition as the camera pans up to an old BBC ident hanging on the wall.
A voice that’s not a Mechonoid declares the onset of the second phase. Clent panics and hobbles over to a communicator to bellow at Scientist Arden - a gentleman working at the glacier face elsewhere and therefore probably about to become a statistic.
In the middle of a snowstorm at the glacier face, Arden – who’s dressed like he lost a bet – directs a young man called Davis to drill into the ice. The Excalibur music’s back.
Davis says he’s found something, and Arden grumbles about the surplus of mastodons they’ve been uncovering recently – thus allowing author Brian Hayles to gently acknowledge the article that first prompted the idea that eventually hardened into the basis for this fantastic story.
Arden clears some of the snow away, but the shape is still indistinct. It almost appears to be a man…
Telecommunoprompter: Ping! Ping!
The wind rises and the signal’s lost. Arden decides they should press on anyway, Clent’s computer schedule be damned. He rubs more of the ice away as Sutekh’s Organ Sonata of Evil in G makes an anachronistic appearance.
Him: “Let’s use our bare hands – that’ll be quicker!”
Back at the base, Clent’s less than happy that his Skype’s crashed at such an important moment. Say what you like about this story’s warnings about technology in general - and computers in specific – some of it’s still on the money.
Miss Garrett announces that we’re not far from total disintegration, which doesn’t sound good.
Outside the base the snow’s drifted up the walls. A wolf joins in on the Excalibur chorus…
Me: It feels very different. The music and the sound effects help.
|The TARDIS materialises at what might optimistically be described as "a jaunty angle".|
Him: That’s a terrible landing.
Me: It’s not the best.
Victoria emits her first sonic blast of the story as the TARDIS sledges to an abrupt landing. The doors are opened.
Him: And the doors on the inside still look nothing like the doors on the outside.
The Doctor, still wrapped up in Yeti fur, clambers out after some business.
Me: Reminds me of The Eleventh Hour a bit.
Victoria points out all the snow.
Jamie: Oh no, not again.
Me: “It’s actually Cornwall.”
The Doctor and Victoria climb out of the TARDIS. Victoria points at the giant wall just out of shot. Suddenly, the Doctor emits a pained cry…
Having managed to get Jamie off his hand, the Doctor explains to Victoria that the wall is in fact part of a massive plastic dome.
Victoria: I wonder what’s inside…
Behind them a door opens -
The two rush off into the blizzard.
The Doctor manages to get the door open and our heroes venture inside.
Elsewhere, Miss Garrett’s got the Skype back online. Clent’s delighted. Arden relates his discovery of what he’s hoping to name ‘Arden Man’, or, failing that, ‘Metaltron’.
Our heroes poke their heads round the wall.
The interior of the dome seems to be done out mostly in Worthy Sunday Period Drama. An urgent voice announces the third stage of evacuation as Jamie finds an opportunity to flirt. Further down the corridor, the Doctor is distracted by the distant sound of a dot matrix printer.
Victoria suggests that they leave as it might be dangerous, but in a wonderful moment of true glory, the Doctor says:
The Doctor: No. Let’s go in.
Beyond the door, Clent is shuffling around the Control Polo offering advice and corrections, none of which appear to be helping. The Doctor shadows Clent, growing increasingly concerned. Clent finally notices our chums and tries to have them ejected as scavengers. Or "Scavengers", as it’s pronounced onscreen.
The Doctor: In two minutes and thirty-eight seconds you’re going to have an almighty explosion!
The Doctor bounds from technician to technician, offering corrective bafflegab, whilst Clent blusters. Peter Barkworth’s a class act, and we already know how good Patrick Troughton is, so this scene’s a treat.
With the Doctor vindicated and the excitement ebbing, Clent is struck with a sudden stress headache. Miss Garrett offers an interesting suggestion.
Me: ‘The Vibrochair’?
Evidently, paracetamol has been outlawed in this fearful frigid future.
Elsewhere, the origins of ‘Arden Man’ are being speculated upon. Viking maybe? Hard to tell really – probably prehistoric, and lawks! He’s a whopper!
Walters: Proper ‘ice warrior’, isn’t he, Sir?
Me: And we have a name.
As the wind rises, the two bearded gentlemen we saw earlier are watching this glacial excavation with interest.
Him: Cool! His beard wiggled!
Me: It’s very windy.
There’s a sudden avalanche and Davis is swept away to the strains of Excalibur. The two scavengers are also buffeted, with the exceptionally-bearded one (who’ll turn out to be the descendent of a Tullock landlord and probably named after a Sontaran) thinking his arm’s broken.
Me: The tension’s building.
Back in the dome, Clent asks the Doctor to explain how he knows so much about computers and nothing about the state of the planet.
The Doctor: Well – er – as a matter of fact we’ve – been in retreat – in - in Tibet.
Clent suggests the Doctor undergoes a science test. The Doctor agrees and Clent springs an unexpected general knowledge question that goes some way to filling in the back-story (it’s another ice age – I’m not going to say which one in case there are any Radio Times readers lurking nearby).
Me: Pole shift, eh?
The Doctor gets it right. Clent explains that the problems stemmed from the environmental disaster caused after world famine was conquered. Humanity has developed an Ioniser that melts the ice but it’s not as reliable as you’d hope.
Me: Reminds me a bit of The Moonbase. And The Enemy of the World.
The glacier's in check for the moment, but one small error and everywhere’ll look like the freezer compartment of my fridge. Clent had been relying on the scientist Penley who was mentioned earlier, but for whatever reason he’s not around right now. Clent offers the Doctor the position of Scientific Advisor, and in a brave and unexpected move the rest of the series is set in the dome, with Jamie flirting relentlessly with everything in a skirt.
The Doctor is introduced to his new mentor, Miss Garrett. She’s a computer specialist.
Miss Garrett: Here, we are completely computerised.
The Doctor: Well, never mind.
The block of ice containing ‘Arden Man’ is wheeled in. The Doctor has an excited look at it, but doesn’t mention Minnesota or John W. Campbell. Arden expresses a certain amount of understandable professional jealousy when the Doctor points out that the helmet’s all wrong.
Arden: Well, I say it’s an undiscovered civilisation. Think of the implications!
Me: It’s like a cross between The Thing from another World and the Fortean Times letters page.
Clent blusters away with Arden to have a meeting. As the ice starts melting, the Doctor spots something that really shouldn’t be found in anything as old as this and looks rather flustered. Leaving Jamie to flirt with Victoria, the Doctor dashes off after Clent.
Jamie hops into the vibrochair and reveals he’s quite taken with the dome’s dress-code.
Jamie: You – ah – don’t see yourself dressed like that then?
Him: Why is Jamie imagining Victoria dressed as an Ice Warrior?
Me: Well, it’s cold.
As the puddle beneath the gurney deepens, ‘Arden Man’ suddenly flexes his twitchy pincers and starts to gasp for air.
The credits slide.
As the DVD isn’t out at the time of typing, it’s johnnyfanboy to the rescue once again.
There’s a deft flourish of Carl Heinz Clayderman and we’re back into the ice-holiday slideshow.
Me: Oo – nice. That looks good.
‘Arden Man’ is still defrosting. The warm air of the dome’s interior has brought about a change of costume and a haircut.
Rather grumpy after oversleeping and probably missing the train, ‘Arden Man’… Umm… Well, not sure really. Victoria fails to release a sonic blast and other than that it sounds like someone drops a fork they’ve just used to puncture an inflatable mattress. Yes, I‘m sure that’s what happens.
Anyway, back at the Control Polo, things’re hotting up. Pardon the pun.
Me: It’s a bit of a cautionary tale against technology. And the perils of defrosting seven-foot tall, reptilian Martian invaders.
The Doctor bursts in on his appraisal with some alarming news for Clent and Arden.
The Doctor: It’s the helmet. It’s – it’s not what we thought it was.
Him: “It’s an axe-head!”6
The Doctor: It’s a highly sophisticated space helmet!
Me: Copyright Terry Nation 1965.
Although Clent feels the Doctor is yomping to conclusions, our hero panics on. He’s convinced that there must be a spaceship buried deep in the giant mint currently advancing over the Earth. And Scotland.
Clent, with some help from Miss Garrett, deduces that whatever powered this ancient futuristic craft is probably based on atomic energy. Consequently, using the Ioniser to defrost it might cause all sorts of apocalyptic problems. Clent’s all for asking the computer what to do, but Arden points out they might be low on yer actual facts.
Clent: Well, furnish me with facts then!7
Jamie comes barging in. ‘Arden Man’ has taken Victoria on a mystery date somewhere (so that’s what was going on), and our dashing young Scot is somewhat concerned.
Back in the room Victoria isn’t in, the Doctor points out that the table itself has been burned. It’s hard to tell from the telesnaps but with the amount of ice that isn’t there anymore, I hope everyone’s wearing waders.
Clent issues an alarm and decides he’ll ask the computer what to do next.
Me: “++HELLO++MY NAME’S MAX++”8
Victoria and ‘Arden Man’ have found a romantic cupboard elsewhere in the dome. The romance theme from The Legend of Zelda plays gently from the giant’s internal speakers. The two are getting to know each other.
Victoria: Wh-where are you from?
‘Arden Man’: ssssss frrrom the rrrrred planet ssssss
‘Arden Man’ doesn’t answer, perhaps he’s ashamed of his roots? Anyway, ‘Arden Man’ totally blows his chances with the shivering Victoria at this point by threatening her with a teeny torch, little realising she’s just toying with him – one sonic blast from her could totally destroy the stunted Alien rip-off along with the massive tank it’s walking around in.
I should at this stage say that whilst I personally didn’t mind Cold War as such, it would have been immeasurably improved by having a) a different/new monster and b) a different/new writer. Save the fanboy reimagining for Big Finish, if you don’t mind.4
Me: Victoria’s not having much success with reasoning.
‘Arden Man’ decides to dig out the rest of his chilly chums and we leave the cupboard for a moment and return to the Control Polo.
Max, the computer, has come up with a bit of a plan along with a casualty forecast. Neither are great. Jamie picks up on a key term.
Jamie: A spacecraft! Hey, d’you reckon that’s where the warrior’s gone back to?
The Doctor: Well, he didn’t come by Shetland pony, Jamie.
Max decides that Arden, having tried to name this new companion-abducting discovery for no reason other than profit and recognition, should be the one to go and start negotiations, with Jamie acting as back-up muscle.
Me: Bit of the ‘I am the Victorian’ motif there.
Elsewhere, the two bearded gentlemen are - Oh, alright – the one with the knackered arm is called Storr and the other one’s the much-mentioned Penley and played by National Treasure™ Peter Sallis – who everyone knows as either Don Enrique, from perennial pensioner sit-com The Curse of the Werewolf, or his heart-warming turn as Man in Coat in the BAFTA-bait classic, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning - so let’s just get that obligatory observation out of the way.
Right, in a greenhouse elsewhere, Penley’s attending to Storr’s rapidly-spreading infection whilst the two discuss how lovely the garden’s looking.
Me: There should be a bear in this. Filmed specially.
There’s a bit of a problem, however. Easily fixed.
Penley: I’m going for drugs. And if I don’t get them, you’re as good as dead.
Victoria and ‘Arden Man’ are still in the cupboard. It’s quite hard to work out what’s going on as the mattress is still deflating. ‘Arden Man’ wants to visit the ‘power unit’, whatever/wherever that may be, and has decided he’ll kill anyone who gets in his way.
Victoria asks what the penlight’s for.
‘Arden Man’: sssonic gun ssss it’ll burrrssssst your brrrain with noissssse sss ss s
Little does this tiny wannabe-Xenomorph-in-a-tanksuit realise that young Victoria is herself equipped with devastating sonic capabilities. I guess she’s biding her time and all the whimpering’s an act.
Jamie and Arden (who’s popped on a very fetching red top in the interim) seem to be trying to play golf with a novelty club. Clent Skypes them furiously.
Clent: That was not the purpose of your mission. Please report correctly.
Arden reports that they can’t get a reading from the ice. As you’ll no doubt have noticed, both of Us are absorbed in the story. That’s because it’s excellent. Unfortunately, this means that I have do the irreverent stuff largely on my own. Oh well.
Clent aborts the mission, ordering the two to return.
Penley has made his way into the dome. Hearing a steady deflating, he hides in a locker, narrowly avoiding ‘Arden Man’ and Victoria, but watching as they wander past on their way to this power unit thing.
The Doctor and Clent are talking, and some lovely character beats go by. Clent’s totally reliant on the impartiality of machines, but acknowledges that Penley would be useful to have around.
Me: It’s been confusing me for a bit, but I’ve worked it out. Peter Barkworth sounds a lot like Patrick McGoohan. Well, in this anyway. He’s a class actor.
Victoria and ‘Arden-' Oh, alright. He’s called ‘Varga’. Happy?
Victoria and Varga are… Um… Well… They’re- they’re… I’ve no idea.
Me: Is Varga inflating something?
Him: Sounds like it.
Varga announces he’s taking Victoria on a holiday to the Ice Mountains. Just then, Clent bursts in. There’s a sudden noise and Varga zaps Clent with Mirrorlon – I imagine, it’s hard to tell.
Clent falls to the floor and Victoria emits a brief sonic blast – unfortunately her aim’s off and Varga stands unaffected.
Varga: s s s s ss ss ss sss
Me: I think Clent’ll need more than pumping.
Penley watches from inside his locker – clambering out when the alliterative couple have vanished. The Doctor arrives and catches Penley standing over the prone Clent.
Penley: I… I was going to give him this.
The Doctor sniffs the small glass bottle that Penley hands him and starts coughing before using it to wake Clent – who’s just been stunned. Penley explains the situation to the Doctor, including the whole business with Varga and Storr, and then heads off with the drugs he’s acquired. The Doctor stops Penley and tells him how much he’s needed. Penley pauses and considers - but still leaves to help Storr.
Me: Lovely scene.
Him: Do you reckon they’ve found the rest of The Ice Warriors and it’s just playing in the BBC Canteen?
Me: Nope. But I’d be surprised if the DVD isn’t released at a coincidentally optimum time. Say, next year…4
The Him looks baffled.
Miss Garrett and Jamie arrive just as Clent recovers. Varga’s managed to get out of the base, armed with the power pack thing. The Doctor gets rather worried by this as it’ll allow Varga to wake others of his kind. Arden’s sensible enough not to claim credit for the way things have turned out.
Me: The script’s ace. The acting’s ace. The music helps. I’m impressed. We’re really on a run of classics here and this story’s excellent.
Penley treats the unconscious Storr, name-drops a Christopher Eccleston story and announces to his reflection that he’s going to do some hunting of his own. His first name’s Elric by the way. No, not that one.
|The lesser-known Elric of Penley (and Scotland) confronts his evil twin.|
In the Ice Mountains, Varga’s bored of his romantic break and prepares to awaken the rest of his gang for some proper laddish larks. Puddles of terror begin to form…
Me: That went by quick.
Him: It did.
We recap. Postcards of the Ice Mountains…
Me: I don’t know what to draw for this one.
Him: One of the guns? Keep with the circle theme.
Me: Could do.
Varga’s lads are still defrosting. According to the telesnaps, Penley’s watching all this take place.
Back in the dome, Jamie and the Doctor share some brief words while Arden tries to get his shiny red pullover on. The Doctor tells Jamie to keep his wits about him.
Me: Nice banter.
Clent and Arden exchange a final back and forth, allowing Arden the chance to set up the reasons for a potential noble sacrifice later on, which would be a shame, as I don’t think the Foundation gives the Nobel posthumously. If they still give it out at all in this nightmare future.
Jamie and Arden head off and Clent assigns Miss Garrett to the Doctor. If this was remade today Clent would probably be following Health and Safety regulations.
Storr’s made a marvellous recovery. Penley tells him about the various adventures he’s been having. They’re very at ease with one another.
Me: I wonder if these two are a couple.
Him: I think it was illegal back then.
Me: Doesn’t mean that they aren’t a couple.
Storr hears someone moving outside. Penley hides him just as Miss Garrett makes an appearance. It’s all swirly. Miss Garrett tries to persuade Penley to come and help with the Ioniser, but he stands his ground. In fairness, the message is a bit hard to miss, even without comedy parp-parp music underlining each dramatic beat and drowning any subtlety in a bucket.
Him: These episodes are going by really quickly.
Me: Good, aren’t they?
Having exhausted negotiation and diplomacy, Miss Garrett pulls a tranquillising torch on Penley.
Penley: You must be desperate.
Storr appears from nowhere, grabs the torch and everyone starts being polite to each other again. Penley still refuses to help, but offers a suggestion in case things go south(er).
Penley: Look up my notes on the Omega Factor…
Miss Garrett leaves. During the intervening episode gap everyone seems to have decided that ‘Ice Warrior’ is the correct name for the tall green lumbering machines, but then there’s a fine divide between nominative determinism, synchronicity, morphic resonance, steam-engine time and the path of least resistance.4
Me: Storr’s hamming it up a bit. It’s hovering close to Python but it still just about works. It’d be fine usually but this is so well-cast otherwise that he stands out-
Him: “Beardy Weirdy!”
Back with Victoria and Varga and the air’s thick with testosterone.
Him: “sssssss sssssssss sssssssssss ss ss ss ss”
Varga directs the first of the unthawed to head off and set some traps. Victoria’s having a terrible time – she’s gone from love interest to peril monkey in barely an episode. Penley, true to form, appears to be watching.
Back in the dome and the Doctor’s probably going through some sort of montage involving calculations, crumpled paper and chewed pencils.
Me: Dudley’s gone a bit Tubular Bells II dance mix there.
Miss Garrett comes rushing in with the cheat sheet Penley hinted at earlier.
The Doctor: ‘Omega’. Well, what does he mean?
Me: With a bit of retconning I guess you could argue-
Him: “A HERE OH?”
Me: Yes. That.
Obviously you couldn’t – unless you were preparing a pitch to Big Finish or - wait, pretend I didn’t say that. Hmmmm…4
Dudley does something I’d never let Murray (“Itsa me!”) Gold get away with as the Doctor gets very excited about the ‘Omega Factor’.
Clent: That’s fantastic!
The Doctor: Well, when you’ve been at it as long as I have…
When the topic of peer review is raised, the Doctor leaves in a huff.
Elsewhere, Arden Skypes the dome to inform them that the Ice Warriors have carved a new cave using just their tusks. And possibly futuristic carving tools.
Me: Speleogenesis, that’s what that is.
Arden’s discovered a series of large circles that seem to make up a door.
Me: It’d be nice if the new series would try some more experimental music from time to time.
Him: It does.
Me: Yeah, but not for a whole bar.
Him: “This is BBC 1.”
Me: That’s no excuse. In fairness, it has been a bit less constant-Tom-and-Jerry since Matt Smith arrived.4
Him: ‘The Sun’s Gone Wibbly.’
Me: Damn straight.
The Ice Warriors spring their sneaky Mirrorlon trap and Jamie and Arden fall to the snow. Victoria’s truly unhappy at the way this adventure is turning out.
The Ice Warriors head back into their hiding place to wait for the next batch of inquisitive scientists – in the interim, there’s fiddling with a propulsion unit to be done.
Back in the dome, the Doctor’s getting worried that Jamie hasn’t been in contact. They check, but the Skype’s just showing snow. Miss Garrett announces that the Ioniser’ll work after all – but they need Arden’s report to know if it’s safe to go ahead.
|Me: In the future everyone’ll dress like a Howlaround|
Penley has taken Jamie back to Storr’s greenhouse. Arden’s dead but Victoria’s alive...
Him: “Victorian Watercress…”
Victoria tries calling the Doctor on the dropped Skype, unaware that she is being observed.
Varga: sssshe hass courrrage sss but sshe isss alsso verrry ssstupid sss
Me: They’re pretty creepy.
Him: Uh huh.
Victoria’s found a signal and manages to connect to the dome. She’s truly terrified. In fact, the whole scene’s fairly full on.
Victoria: Arden’s dead and Jamie’s disappeared! Don’t you understand? They’re ruthless killers and they’ll stop at nothing!
Varga prepares to emit a sonic burn/Like a healing hand…
An inverted avalanche of credits cascade upwards.
Me: That was excellent.
The Him sings along with The Greatest Theme in the History of Forever.
We’re off again.
A piano trills over fifty shots of snow…
Me: Was that a…?
In a sudden and surprising change of tactics, Varga decides not to boil Victoria’s brain but instead use her distress bleat to draw their enemies in.
Still on her teary Skype, Victoria is attempting to describe the engines when the connection becomes more sporadic. The glacier is moving…
Varga decides enough’s enough and sends a couple of the lads out to bring Victoria back in to answer some questions. Namely, why is Clent so interested in their engines? During Varga’s speech the camera zooms right up close…
Victoria’s in trouble. Having familiarised herself with the Companion’s Manual, she gathers up everything she needs to, and legs it toward the base with an Ice Flunky lumbering after her.
|Him: “i can ssssee you with my giant head sss”|
Victoria ducks into an ice passage, there’s a sudden snowfall that lands on her head-
- and the pursuit’s back underway.
In the dome, the Doctor’s dialling up some chemicals.
Me: Oh. It’s a phone.
Having dialled up a quick drink, the Doctor runs through the problems facing them and orders something a little stronger for later.
Me: Here comes the science.
The Doctor plans to leave for the spaceship, armed only with ammonium sulphide. Clent eventually agrees to the Doctor’s plan, but under protest.
Victoria has been cornered by the Ice Flunky and is forced to emit a sonic blast – it brings the roof down.
Him: “Is there/Ice on Mars?”
In the greenhouse, Jamie’s got a headache. Penley treats him with a damp cloth and some exposition.
Jamie’s delighted to meet a fellow Scot, but unfortunately he’s legless.
Him: Just like Ian.
Varga fills in some time with his number two. Basically they’re stuck until someone turns up with some fuel or something. It’s approaching a bit of a zugzwang. Varga’s so disheartened that he retreats into his shell for a bit.
Victoria’s trapped under the icefall. The Ice Flunky’s still holding her wrist, so she’s not going anywhere for now.
Storr’s experienced a sudden sharp drop in his IQ and wanders off to ask the Ice Warriors for help. It’s a very strange thing to do. Luckily, he hears Victoria’s gentle distress honks echoing up the chilly arteries, and clumps off in the general direction of the noise to see if he can help.
The Doctor and Penley stumble across each other and strike up a brief alliance. Penley takes the Doctor to see Jamie at the same time as Storr finds and frees Victoria.
Me: Really quick cuts there. Quite disorientating.
There’s another icefall – Storr pulls Victoria off into the tunnels.
The Ice Warriors are passing the time before besieging the base with bafflegab.
Storr’s misguided notions lead him straight to the ship. Within moments, Victoria’s recaptured and Storr’s undergone a fatal dose of rudeness and Mirrorlon.
Him: “nasssty sss”
Me: He was a bit misguided.
The Doctor and Jamie fill each other in. Jamie’s going to walk again (although, from the Doctor’s expression when he turns away, it isn’t convincing that he believes this). Suddenly, the glacier makes its presence known by breaking bits off the greenhouse.
Greenhouse: CRSHSSHMSHtinkle tink
Me: I’m fairly sure that’s the same sound effect of breaking glass that makes a cameo when the Martian capsule flattens Parson Nathanial’s house in Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.
Him: These are going by really fast.
Me: Good, isn’t it?
The Doctor reaches the Ice Warriors’ main door, mostly unscathed. He knocks and the door opens. The Doctor strides into the reception airlock and stares confidently down the Ice Warriors’ security vidcom, refusing to show them any identification. It’s a bold move for a man who could easily be mistaken for an encyclopaedia salesman.
Varga mistakes the Doctor for an encyclopaedia salesman and starts counting up to the moment when he’ll remove all the atmospheric pressure and cause a poor cleaner an awful lot of overtime.
Him: What an interesting ending. It didn’t go all black and we’re just waiting for Patrick Troughton to explode.
Varga: ss ss ss
We recap with the now familiar slideshow and then the countup continues…
Me: Bit different there.
The Doctor: I don’t think much of your hospitality.
Varga: ss ss ss
The Doctor identifies himself as being as scientist. Varga flicks the buzzer and the Doctor enters the base and sees what he’s up against.
The Doctor: Oh my word.
The glacier does a little rumble and shuffle and Varga calls for Victoria. He’ll want to keep an eye on the sniggering; it’s traipsing dangerously close to hubris. The Doctor and Victoria are reunited.
Meanwhile, Jamie’s being dragged through the snow-filled woods by Penley. A wolf howls, which isn’t the sort of thing that you really want to hear. They stop for a quick break to give Jamie a chance to misquote Dean Lennox Kelly. Unfortunately, there’s an unexpected cameo at this point.
Him: It’s a bear!
Me: Filmed specially.
The Doctor has explained the situation to Varga. It’s all a bit of a mess really, with both sides being in a tricky situation. The Doctor’s managed to leave his Skype on throughout this – which is trusting to fate even more than Clent, if you ask me – and the whole conversation has been relayed back to the base. In order to maintain some mystery, I’m not going to tell you what Max recommends.
Me: That’s Roy Skelton there. You almost met him.
The Him says nothing.
Jamie and Penley confront the bear, armed only with a tiny tranquilliser. It’s an excellent moment.
Me: That was pretty tense.
Back in the dome, trouble’s brewing and the acting’s hotting up. It’s superb.
Jamie and Penley are okay, bar a mild clawing. They hurry on, before the bear wakes up and finishes off mauling them into pink strips.
Back in the Ice Warriors’ ship, the Doctor has been shown the reactor. It’s made of Ion and guarded by a door that doesn’t seem to obey Varga’s orders. Interestingly, it turns out that an i(ce)Pod appears to be a standard piece of kit for these proud Martian warriors. Yeah, yeah – stick with it, they’re definitely from Mars now. Maybe they had amnesia from the long nap. The Doctor offers to help, but Varga’s still after fuel. They threaten Victoria and the Doctor admits that Varga will almost certainly find what he’s after at the base. But Clent won’t be easy to convince when it comes to handing it over. Varga disagrees.
Varga: ss ss ss he will lissten to our ssonic cannon ss ss sss
The Warriors prepare to besiege the base. And it’s about time.
Clent has been reunited with Penley and Jamie. We’re watching it again.
Me: It’s Wallace.
Him: And Gromit.
Him: Is it?
Me: Yeah, it’s Peter Sallis. Same actor.
Him: Cool. What are the odds against that?
Me: There aren’t any: it’s a certainty. It does seem strange that no-one’s ever noticed that before. I’d better update all the usual sites with the info…4
Clent finally starts to snap under the horrendous pressure. After a heated argument, Penley and Jamie are stunned and dragged away. The tension’s rising appreciably.
|Me: That reminds me.|
The Ice Flunkies have reached the base.
Varga: sss take tarrrget rrreadingsss ss
Varga begins to line-up the sights to blast chunks out of the base. In order to cause a (noisy and very effective) distraction, the Doctor makes Victoria emit confusion-inducing sonic blasts. She’s had a hell of a day, so it’s not as difficult as you’d think.
The Doctor produces their tiny phial of escape attempt.
The Doctor: Ammonium sulphide.
Victoria: ‘Ammonium sulphide’? But it’s only a stink bomb!
The Doctor: Ah yes, the benefits of a classical education…
It’s hard to tell what the Doctor actually says there, as he’s drowned out by Victoria's sonic blasts. I’m looking forward to being able to select a subtitle option for this section, to see what the dialogue really is.
The Doctor eventually gets the lid off and struggles desperately to hold Zondal’s deadly pincers away from the firing switch. It’s a tense moment, made even more thrilling by the addition of-
The Him sings along again.
Some more scenes from South to get us in the mood and...
Varga’s hissing commands, Zondal’s gagging on stink bombs, the Doctor’s grappling with prosthetic pincers and Dudley’s pulled out his congas of fury. It’s all very exciting.
Elsewhere, the base in the dome starts falling apart. It’s almost undoubtedly, probably symbolic of what I’d like to refer to as Whobris, but promise not to.
In other news, the outstanding Peter Barkworth also appeared in Silver Blaze – which has had a mention on the blog already. The Daleks’ Master Plan: Devil’s Planet, trivia fans.
Varga puts through a personal call to Clent, telling him to surrender. Clent – to his massive credit – points out that at the moment their hands are rather full, but he’ll see if he can make an appointment for Varga to come in for a chat. Gosh, with all this mutually assured destruction hanging over both sides I wonder if it could be argued that this story’s alluding to what Orwell referred to as the ‘Cold War’? Someone should do a remix.4
Varga fades back into a flurry of static. The Control Polo resonates with bellowing. Penley is mentioned, the computer is disrespected (to the max, no less) and Walters ends up on the floor.
The Doctor and Victoria are no further forward, so we’ll leave them there and return to the peace talks – the delegates from Mars have just arrived, y’see.
Clent attempts to get things moving, but his position is made awkward when Walters attempts some aggressive negotiations of his own. Varga counters with the Mirrorlon defence and everything gets set back a few cliff-hangers.
Varga: sso much for yourrr worrrdsss
Varga requires mercury. I’m saying nothing (mostly because I’m watching it) but I doubt the Him’ll let this elemental development go by without a comment.
Clent: This reactor does not use mercury.
Him: Ah. But we all know what does use mercury, eh, kids?
As stand-offs go, this is mighty fine. Varga doesn’t believe Clent and prepares to let his Ice Flunkies mash the reactor. After all, even if Clent’s telling the truth then the Martians can just have a kip until the spring.
The Doctor has been eavesdropping and tinkering. He’s come up with a plan to turn Varga’s gun against the Warriors.
Clent tries to reason with the impassive Cold Warrior. It’s just not happening.
Clent: Listen, Varga. The power source is locked in directly with the Ioniser. If we cut the power before it is safe, the feedback effect could blast this building into a state of ion flux.
There’s a hissy pause as Varga takes this new information on board.
Me: “you jusst made that up”
Varga: rrrun it down to ssafety level ss but no trrricks ss do it now ss
Miss Garrett and Clent exchange the briefest of looks and she begins to adjust something.
Carelessly, Varga lets slip that his ship would explode if the heat was turned upon it.
Clent: Would it?
There’s an interesting moment where the debate of value versus worth (or something) gets an airing. There’s no time to explore that after Varga’s schoolboy error – we’re galloping to the end now.
The Doctor and Victoria meanwhile are discussing vibrations amongst other things. The Doctor believes that the Ice Warriors are composed of a ‘far greater fluid content than human beings’ and that means-
Me: “They’re like water balloons. And what happens to water balloons when you drop them on a hot spike?”
Not really, that would be hideous. He’s basically going to microwave them, which is, to be fair, just as horrible.
Elsewhere, Jamie awakes but can’t find anyone to flirt with.
Penley has recovered and made his way to the Control Polo. Working out what’s going on, he sneakily turns the thermostat to somewhere between Unexpected British Heatwave and Flashback Commencing.
Him: We’ve been watching this for a long time. Doesn’t feel like that.
The Doctor turns on the Bafflegab which doesn’t discriminate between species.
Him: “Ah, it killed everyone. Oh well, next adventure.”
The Ice Warriors recover quickly and Varga’s not happy, to say the least. He sets off towards his ship, followed by his woozy Ice Flunkies. It’s time to administer the Doctor’s, long-overdue, damn good thrashing.
The Doctor sets off some fireworks in the ship’s control panels, before pulling Victoria in the general direction of somewhere that isn’t here.
Luckily, the two groups miss each other during their respective jogs between locations. Varga finds his massive gun’s not working - he’ll punish Zendal later - and the Doctor discovers that he’s failed to kill all humans. Which is lucky.
The Doctor uses Chekhov’s Stink Bomb to revive Penley just in time to fix Max’s eleventh hour (not that one) problem with indecision. It’s a hell of a scene.
Clent asks Max the following poser:
Clent: Problem: Alien spacecraft is powered by an ion reactor. Dare we use the Ioniser? What are the alternatives? Answer.
Max crashes. Penley takes manual control of the Ioniser.
Penley: At full strength the Ioniser will melt rock.
Him: “But it will roll.”
I’m guessing the Him misheard Penley’s announcement but I might be wrong.
The Ice Warriors prepare their final doomed escape attempt.
Clent’s very upset about the turn the day’s taken.
|The Ice Warriors find themselves lost in a fog. They fall into a dream sequence.|
Him: Why not make that your drawing?
Silence on the base. There’s a slow pan around the relieved humans.
Penley extends an olive branch of sorts to Clent and gets this in return:
Clent: Penley. You are the most insufferably, irritating and infuriating person I’ve ever been privileged to work with.
Penley: Thank you.
Clent: Can’t write a report though, can you?
Me: That’s brilliant.
It’s only then they notice that our chums have gone. With a wheezing, groaning sound the (now upright) TARDIS dematerializes, leaving only credits and a gallery of lobby cards from The Thing from another World.
Him: That ended rather suddenly. Action – action – action - action - stop.
Me: Yeah. We should have a trailer for The Enemy of the World now.
Him: That’s a tricky one. I don’t like answering that.
Me: Well, you don’t have to.
Him: I like it, yeah.
Me: Was that because it moved?
Him: Yes. Mainly.
Next: The Enemy of the World. And Scotland.
1. I’ve got a horrible suspicion that I might have sold it during my Tom-Baker’s-the-Best-Thing-Ever period, otherwise known as my twenties. Idiot.
2. See 1.
3. If this is the case – and there are a great many seams yet inviolate, so it might be – then don’t see 1. Or 2. These footnotes are becoming a bit complicated…4
4. You think?
5. One of the weirder things I remember about the Targets is that the ones I didn’t have always looked and felt wrong. If I borrowed one I didn’t own from someone else it created an odd gap in my tiny consumer urges after I’d read it, almost like it didn’t count anymore. I was an odd boy.4
6. On our recent trip to the Colony we found a friendly Museum which had a small section devoted to local archaeological finds, most of which appeared to be slightly-different-sized rocks all labelled ‘axe-head’. If this was the case then I posit that the beach we were camped next to is the most important scientific and historical resource in the whole of Western civilisation and should be instantly acknowledged as such.
7. I chickened out of quoting The Day Today and howling “Fact me ‘til I fart!” you’ll have noticed. Obviously, this is because farts have no place in Doctor Who.4
|Scans from the Ghastly Back From the Depths.|