THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

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Dreams of Empire
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BBC
The Ice Warriors

Episodes 6 A rehearsal shot from episode 2
Story No# 39
Production Code OO
Season 5
Dates Nov. 11, 1967 -
Dec. 16, 1967

With Patrick Troughton, Frazier Hines, Deborah Watling.
Written by Brian Hayles. Script-edited by Peter Bryant.
Directed by Derek Martinus. Produced by Innes Lloyd.

Synopsis: Scientists battling a new Ice Age stumble upon the Ice Warriors frozen in a glacier. The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria attempt to help, but the threat from the Ice Age and the Ice Warriors may cause the end of civilization.

Note: The Ice Warriors Collection, complete with CD, is now available from BBC Video.


Reviews

A Review by Mark Parmerter 6/10/97

For fans unfamiliar with The Ice Warriors, the BBC release of this Season Five adventure due in the Autumn of 1998 (to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Doctor Who) should prove to be a welcome treat indeed! Continuing the trends established during 1967 and 1968, The Ice Warriors boasts high production values, solid scripting, well-developed characterisations, and an abundance of creative ideas.

The Ice Warriors themselves make a stunning debut, literally towering over the human cast and speaking in whispered yet frightening tones. Actor Bernard Bresslaw, although thoroughly encased in smothering fiberglass, effectively brings to the character of Varga (the Ice Warrior leader) a vivid sense of identity and menace. Writer Brian Hayles is wise not to focus his efforts entirely on the Ice Warriors, and as a result, characters such as Leader Clent (Peter Barkworth) and Scientist Penley (Peter Sallis) provide the story with the human element which it ultimately needs to succeed.

As usual, Patrick Troughton (the Second Doctor), Frazier Hines (Jamie), and Deb Watling (Victoria) work brilliantly together, and their playful exit from the Tardis in episode one is pure magic. Dudley Simpson's score is suitably enhanced by the haunting vocal talents of singer Joanne Brown, and Director Derek Martinus makes good use of scant resources in bringing to life England trapped in the Second Ice Age. The Ice Warriors is loads of fun, and its video release is long overdue. Also check out the terrific novelisation by author Brian Hayles.


A Review of the Video Reconstruction by Matt Michael 13/11/98

The long-overdue video release of this story has been well worth the wait judging by thr quality of the reconstruction that has been achieved. Episodes 1, 4, 5 and 6 of this six part story were discovered in 1988 (in the back of an old cupboard!). The missing second and third episodes are covered by a fifteen minute linking section made up of telesnaps, audio clips and narration.

The reconstruction is of exceedingly high quality. The picture and sound quality has benefited enormously for having been digitally remastered, making this perhaps the nicest sixties story to actually watch. Likewise, the linking reconstruction is superb, far superior to Nick Courtney's bridging narration on The Invasion video release. Using essential parts of the soundtrack to tell the story, with the aid of a number of very high quality telesnaps, these two episodes are hardly missed (perhaps pointing to the rather slow nature of sixties stories). And, for die hard fans, a CD with the complete, digitally remastered audios of these episodes is included with the video.

The story itself is nothing special (another Season 4/5 "base-under-siege" installment), although it is made memorable by some superb performances from both the regulars and the guest cast, and by the titular warriors themselves. In fact, this is almost certainly the most successful Ice Warrior story, and rates a 9/10 thanks to a nicely constructed script and some good characterisation.

Also included in The Ice Warriors Collection is The Missing Years, an impressive video documentary containing almost all the clips from missing episodes, such as the "final end" of the Daleks (The Evil of the Daleks), the Doctor's first regeneration and Troughton's first scene (The Tenth Planet and The Power of the Daleks) and some colour footage of the weed creature (). The tape concludes with The Underwater Menace Part 3, the earliest surviving Troughton episode. Unfortunately, it does nothing to disprove the critics who have called it the worst Troughton story. (I.e. "Nothing in ze vorld can stop me now!")

Overall, a superb way in which to commemorate 35 years of Doctor Who. perhaps we can hope for similar treatment for The Reign of Terror, The Tenth Planet, The Moonbase and The Invasion in the future. 10/10


Worth Waiting For by Tom May 30/11/98
See also Tom's review of "The Missing Years"

It was testament to the ancipation instilled in me by The Ice Warriors Collection that I purchased it during my lunch break on November 9, the day it was released in the UK. Firstly, the CD is of very clear sound, and very useful in order to fully appreciate The Ice Warriors. The booklet, while the least important part of the pack, does canonise the Virgin NAs, which is admirable, and proves a reasonable read.

Plot-wise, The Ice Warriors is nothing special -- just another Troughton "base under seige" epic. Where the story manages to excede this is in it's stark, effective sets, singular music, and rich acting. Peter Sallis and Peter Barkworth present an excellent pair of opposites. Clent, the relatively benevolent, cold, conventional leader and Penley, the idealistic drop-out from society.

As ever, Patrick Troughton is magnificent as the Doctor, providing the only light relief of any sort in this grim tale. His great rapport with Jamie and Victoria is brilliantly conveyed in their first scene, as is the way the Doctor involves himself in the story. Victoria's horror at the apparent death of Jamie is well portayed by Watling, although Victoria's role is practically the same in every story by this stage in season 5.

The loss of episodes 2 and 3 is overcame by a 15 minute linking sequence, comprising very clear telesnaps and a top notch audio soundtrack for the episodes. In other words, it's a mini telesnap reconstruction. The choice of material from the two episodes is generally good, and cuts out some padding. The voiceover, recorded by David Harley, is OK and doesn't detract at all from the reconstruction. Although I've not seen the links for The Invasion's missing installments, it's definite that this approach is miles better.

The quality of the Ice Warriors as monsters is high, and they look as imposing as any since the Cybermen. Everybody who brought them to life, from Brian Hayles, to the designers and to the actors is highly deserving of praise.

The undoubted success of The Ice Warriors as monsters, the sheer presence of Pat Troughton and the success of the Penley and Clent characters are the important factors which make The Ice Warriors stand out as an individual, differing story in the brilliant yet hardly eclectic Season 5. 8/10


They Came From Marsss... by Christopher Fare 9/1/99

This story is often acclaimed as very good, largely because of the eponymous monsters and the fact that it is from Season 5. However, I think it's only fair.

The good points about the story include the performances. The entire human cast play their characters very well, with genuine motivations and reactions. Special praise goes to Peter Barkworth as Clent -- perhaps the only actor to outshine Patrick Troughton in the series during his era. Points also to Angus Lennie as Storr, the scavenger with a mistrust of science. The scene where Storr is murdered by the very creatures he thought would help him is especially moving. Wendy Gifford is strong as Miss Garrett, but I can't really say much for the performance of Peter Sallis as Penley -- it's strong and well-judged, but I come away feeling he should have offered more.

Another point in the story's favour is the direction of Derek Martinus, especially the film sequences. The sequence where Victoria makes an ill-fated attempt to escape through a series of ice formations, pursued by an Ice Warrior, is particularly memorable. The design and direction of the whole story is very good indeed.

However, there are problems. First and foremost, apart from the Doctor, the other two regulars get very little to do. Jamie, in particular, is unconscious or injured for practically the entire story. Whereas in The Moonbase, this allowed Ben and Polly to step into the limelight again, here Victoria is no better off. A captive for most of the action, she spends most of her time hysterically yelling at the Ice Warriors or just plain screaming. Even the Doctor seems a little more "out of it" than usual, although thankfully nowhere near as much in the next story.

The other big error is the Ice Warriors themselves. Bernard Bresslaw is impressive as Varga, giving him an identity and honour that stands out in the mind. But his comrades seem faceless and forgettable. Although the design of the creatures is well achieved, they are far too slow to be truly menacing, and just don't have the same presence as they do later with Alan Bennion around to lead them.

That said, The Ice Warriors is perhaps the closest we will ever get to a Season 5 six-parter, and so we must be grateful for its existence. But I am convinced that there were better stories later in the season. That said, this story is enjoyable, but perhaps a little uninvolving for me to truly like it.


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 1/8/01

The Ice Warriors is basically a base under siege tale; although it does have that extra something. The plot is helped greatly by the man versus machine storyline, which gives it an extra thrust. Added to this are the Ice Warriors themselves, imposing both vocally and physically and actually quite intelligent. Great performances from the cast shouldn`t go unnoticed either with Peter Barkworth as Clent and Peter Sallis as Penley deserving special mention. Unfortunately the regulars aren`t given a great deal to do. Victoria is captured, Jamie rescues her (as does The Doctor eventually) but this doesn`t detract from the story as a whole.


Troughton, the unquestioned king by Mike Jenkins 12/11/01

Although some superb Mcoy or T. Baker stories (most notably D. Adams) might make me question weather the Troughton era is truly the greatest, it is stories like these that make me come around again. While it really is a toss up between these three great masters for me, Troughton always seems to come out on top when all is said and done.

Despite the fact that the Mcoy era is extremely underated and that Season Seventeen is the greatest one of all thanks to Douglas Adams, Troughton gives the greatest portrayall of the Doctor himself, despite any outside factors. This is one of the top five greatest stories of the entire series and almost the greatest of Troughton's era, second only to The Web of Fear. It seems that six parters worked better for Troughton on the whole than for any other Doctor. The regulars are all wonderful and the humans fear of the Ice Warriors allow them to take a back seat which is a plus. Great stuff


Highly promising, but overlong by Tim Roll-Pickering 14/12/01

Based on the BBC Video and Joint Venture reconstructions of Two and Three.

This is a story that starts well but gradually gets bogged down and becomes tedious at times. It also suffers from several cliffhangers which are resolved as though things happened differently, such as the one at the end of [episode] Four where the Doctor is seemingly suffering from the effects of the airlock, but at the start of [episode] Five he quickly surrenders.

Design wise this story has much going for it such as the human costumes which do look highly futuristic or Brittanicus Base itself which is convincing as a preserved stately home turned into an emergency outpost. The Martians' ship is highly functional and the Warriors' costumes are impressive though only Varga and Zondal have well designed helmets with the others' helmets looking somewhat comical. The scenes in the snow and ice are also highly impressive, though the encounter with the bear looks strongly like stock footage since the animal is never in the same shot as anything else specific to the story.

Acting wise the story benefits from the strong guest cast, with both Peter Barkworth (Clent) and Peter Sallis (Penley) providing strong conflict and aa contrasting reaction to the difficulties of the situation whilst Bernard Bresslaw makes Varga highly intimidating. Indeed the use of both Sallis and Bresslaw shows that actors best known for their comedy work (Bresslaw is best known as one of the Carry On... regulars whilst Sallis has since found fame in the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine) can be cast in the series without degrading the story in any way. However Angus Lennie (Storr) lets the side down somewhat, being over the top. The regulars are strong as ever and get some wonderful scenes, ranging from the Doctor's confrontations with Clent to the scene where Jamie starts fantasizing about Victoria in one of the extremely short dresses the female crew members wear, much to her disgust.

What lets The Ice Warriors down is that the story has been dragged out, no doubt to ensure that as few stories as possible run to less than six parts for budgetary reasons. Consequently a highly interesting tale of Earth's future under threat from a natural disaster and the restoration effort coming under threat from a discovery of an alien ship is let down by the length of time taken to tell the story. What makes the story especially interesting is that although it contains many of the hallmarks of a 'base under siege' story, both Britannicus Base and the Martians' ship are under siege from each other. The conflict between man and computer is dragged out a little too far, with Clent and Miss Garret at times treating the computer like an all-powerful deity.

Had The Ice Warriors only been a four part story it would undoubtedly come across as far stronger but at six parts it is clearly overlong. 7/10

The BBC reconstruction is the first ever professional reconstruction of episodes and in terms of quality it is vastly superior to any fan efforts due to the use of snow and flickering screen effects as well as twisting the image to convey movement. However it is let down by the fact it is only a shortened version of the episodes and the subsequent reconstruction of Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet has shown that a full length reconstruction can work. As a summary it's hard to fault, other than the bizarre scene at the start where a communicator announces that a technical fault has occurred, but as a replacement for missing episodes it cannot take the lead in the field. 7/10

The Joint Venture reconstruction is cruder due to the less sophisticated materials available, but it is complete. As with all JV recons it uses text captions to cover unclear action scenes and so it is highly watchable. As an added bonus the team have timed the reconstructions so that it's possible to watch them whilst using the audio CD that came with the set for sound. This strikes me as a good idea, but I am unable to review its effectiveness as my CD player wasn't accessible whilst I was watching the episodes. Rounding the whole thing off are reconstructions of the trailers for both The Ice Warriors and The Enemy of the World. This reconstruction is a wonderful complement to The Ice Warriors boxed set, not least because the tape also has the team's reconstruction of The Underwater Menace on it as well. 8/10


Arctic Ice, Green Warriors In Black & White by Matthew Kresal 5/8/18

Doctor Who's fifth season is an interesting one. Essentially one long series of "base under siege" stories, it was the season that gave the series many of its iconic monsters. Coming smack dab in the middle of it, and just before the monster-less The Enemy of the World, came The Ice Warriors. With the titular creatures still appearing in the series as recently as Peter Capaldi's final season, it's safe to say that they've become mainstays across TV and spin-off media. How does their debut story stand up after fifty-one years?

Thankfully, with the 2013 DVD release, we can watch the story again in full. With two of its six episodes long missing from the BBC archives, judging the story hasn't been an easy task, despite surviving audio and the stills reconstruction done in 1998. The 2013 DVD release offered up the two missing episodes as animations. The black-and-white stories suit animation rather well, especially given that Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor is well suited to the caricaturing animation requires. Unfortunately, the animation for The Ice Warriors is the weakest seen to date in the Classic Who DVD range, with characters feeling more like paper dolls with painted faces at times with odd limb movements (see Jamie being knocked out by an Ice Warrior moments into episode two). Despite that weakness, the animation completes the story and allows us a better idea of what the story was like before being wiped and junked by the BBC.

For starters, it has a solid premise. Brian Hayles' script contains a fair share of interesting ideas and themes brought nicely to life by the production team. The story, set at a base in Britain in a future time where ecological disaster threatens, is as solid premise in 2018 as it was in 1967. Even more so when one considers that the base under siege is run and populated by people using a technology that not only offers salvation but over-reliance. There's even Storr, a character that willfully denounces science as evil, despite the evidence around him of disaster (with intriguing consequences). These elements almost make this a story one thatis better suited for our time than the summer of 1967.

Where Hayles' script is very much of its time is in how it unfolds. Like virtually all of the stories from Classic Who's fifth season, it's six episodes long. Unlike, say, The Enemy of the World or Fury From The Deep, it also feels like it. There is an inordinate amount of wheel spinning going on throughout, with characters consulting computers, sojourns back and forth to the Ice Warriors' ship, and base commander Clent (Peter Barkworth) alternating between bravado and insecurity. Even watching the story an episode or two at a time (while keeping in mind viewers saw one episode a week in 1967), one can't escape the sometimes-thin plotting by Hayles.

Thankfully, the story has other things going for it, such as the titular creatures from Mars. Watching the story, it isn't hard to see why the Ice Warriors have remained as popular as they have. From the moment the warrior Varga comes out of the ice, they have an immediate presence. Towering over the rest of the cast and armed with thin but hissing voices, they exude menace and strength. Even if they have Lego hands and stomp along, that doesn't diminish their presence. Indeed, they help keep interest in a sometimes-flagging plot, which makes them all the more memorable.

The story also benefits from its performers. The casting is solid from the TARDIS crew down, with Troughton's Doctor getting to shine from the moment he climbs out of the TARDIS to various confrontations and conversations. Though the story sidelines Frazer Hines' Jamie in its back half, the upshot is an increased role for Deborah Watling as Victoria, although she is reduced once more to sobbing and screaming at times. The supporting cast is strong as well, with Peter Barkworth's leader Clent, Wendy Gifford as his willing aide Miss Garrett, and Peter Sallis as the brilliant but disaffected scientist Penley being particular highlights. They bring Hayles' script to life nicely, breathing life into sometimes-thin characterizations.

The story also benefits from being a solid production. The design work of Jeremy Davies creates settings ranging from a Victorian house overrun with (by 1960s standards) futuristic technology to icy wastelands and a Martian spaceship. While the technology may look dated, the sets do not, creating a believable setting for the story. Dudley Simpson's score is full moments of menace and intrigue, creating one of his most memorable scores in the process. With director Derek Martinus at the helm, the story is elevated as a result, though it never overcomes the flaws in its pacing or plotting.

That last sentence is as good a description of the story as I can present. The Ice Warriors has plenty of good things to say for it, the introduction of the Martians being amongst them. Ultimately, despite its strengths, it can't overcome the need to stretch things out that harms a fair few of Classic Who's longer stories. It's a solid story, but it could have been a great one.