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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
The Ice Warriors


Starring: Patrick Troughton
Distributor: BBC DVD
RRP: £20.42
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 26 August 2013

In Earth's distant future mankind is being pushed back towards the Equator by the encroaching glaciers, a consequence of mans destruction of the planet's plant life. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive at the same time the crew from Brittanicus Base discover a frozen man in the ice. When thawed the man turns out to be a Martian, an Ice Warrior, whose ship had crashed and was trapped in the glacier. Due to the unknown type of drive the Martians spaceship uses, the base cannot use the equipment which drives back the glacier, for fear of setting off a nuclear reaction. With distrust and paranoia on both sides time is running out for either the Martians to escape or the humans to drive back the ice...

The Ice Warriors was the third story of the show's fifth season. Starring Patrick Troughton, the story was written by Brian Hayles and directed by Derek Martinus. The six part story originally ran from 11 November to 16 December 1967. Although not completely wiped, episodes two and three remain missing, but now through the magic of animation the two have been recreated for this DVD. The show is presented on a two disc DVD set.

It’s odd re-watching the show now, the term Ice Warrior was employed because that was where they were found and yet the name continued to be used throughout the show's history. This is the first story of another iconic Doctor Who antagonist; I wouldn’t call them villains as through their history they have also been portrayed as sophisticated and civilised.

Deadly though they may be in this story, the narrative is a wonderful exercise in shades of grey. The warriors distrust the humans and given our normal reaction to anything different, they have a good point. Also from their perspective the humans seem altogether too interested in their buried ship and the warriors fear that the machine which keeps the ice at bay is in actual fact a weapon aimed straight at them. The humans react in their normal way, Victoria spends a lot of time screaming, to the point it starts to get on your nerves and she is not the only one. Instead of being met with understanding and help the warriors are met with suspicion and fear.

The design of the show was Who at its best. The Warriors look like chubby, armoured reptiles, although one of the suits looks like it was built from leftovers and not as sophisticated as the others. The clothing of the base personal is striking and very funky psychedelic sixties in its look.

For once the show had a fine cast with Bernard Bresslaw playing Varga, Peter Barkworth (Clent), George Waring (Arden), Peter Sallis (Penley), with the usual companions Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Deborah Watling (Victoria). Depending on your point of view, one of the only deficits the show had was the decision to have the Martians hiss and whisper their lines. They are understandable, but occasionally you have to concentrate to get what they are saying.

There are full length commentaries for all the episodes, by various people. Episodes one, four, five and six involve Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, Sonny Caldinez (Turoc), designer Jeremy Davies and Grams Operator Pat Heigham. Episode two involves writer Brian Hayles, Director Derek Martinus, Costume designer Martin Baugh, Bernard Bresslaw (Varga), Peter Barkworth (Clent), Wendy Gifford (Miss Garrett) and Makeup Supervisor Sylvia James. The remaining episode, Three, has a commentary by Patrick Troughton’s son Michael. The only other thing on the first disc is the production information.

The second disc is where the main extras are. Cold Fusion (24 min, 34 sec) is the Making Of, which includes contributions from surviving cast and crew. Their recollections build up the story of how the show came about. Beneath the Ice (10 min, 36 sec) looks at the creation of the two animated episodes. VHS Links (19 min, 22 sec) contains the original linking material shot when the show was first put out on tape when the missing episodes were accompanied with stills taken from the story. We have another Blue Peter Doctor Who segment in Design-a-Monster (B&W - 10 min, 07 sec) it all takes me back to a childhood dominated by sticky backed plastic tape. As the original trailer is also missing you can now see an animated version of it (1 min, 24 sec)

The last substantial extra is Doctor Who Stories: Frazer Hines - Part 2 (13 min, 52 sec) wherein Frazer beguiles us with more ephemera from the show. Both discs come with subtitles, the second disc also includes a photo gallery, the surviving colour shots make this more interesting than most of the galleries. You can get the PDF materials and the Radio Times Listings by placing the disc in a computer and the whole thing wraps up with the Coming Soon (1 min, 20 sec) for the animated Scream of the Shalaka.

So, another classic story gets a digitally restored picture and sound. It’s one of Who’s better stories and so well worth adding to your collection.


Charles Packer

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