So far, the return of Doctor Who has been a spotty venture, with some fun Doctor/companion material but unmemorable storylines, and last week’s rather confused ending. But this week, we have seasoned Who/Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss, as well as the re-introduction of old school villains: the Ice Warriors!
Well, just one in this particular episode. Still, could be interesting. Let’s see how cold we can get. And spoilers as ever, watch on iPlayer first if need be.
Dalek Vs Ice Warrior
I’m reminded of Dalek here, the series one episode which reintroduced the deadly pepper pots to modern viewers by trapping the Doctor and Rose in a confined space with one. That story was great, one of the best Christopher Eccleston episodes, so it’s not necessarily a huge put-down to say Cold War isn’t quite as good.
Here, an Ice Warrior defrosts on an eighties nuclear submarine, in the middle of the actual Cold War, and when the humans attack it out of fear, decides to take chilly vengeance. Fortunately, the Doctor and Clara tumble out of the TARDIS at around the right moment.
There are the usual high-energy performances from the main cast, and Liam Cunningham (aka Ser Davos in Game of Thrones) can always be relied on to provide gruff gravitas. The submarine set looks good, and the claustrophobic atmosphere works well, especially when new companion Clara realises that, yes, sometimes this adventuring lark can be dangerous.
The Deadly Caress
Like all Gatiss episodes, it’s very solid on the fundamentals: the story has a clear direction and ending: the Doctor is about to do his Hard-Bitten Warrior thing, when the companion leapt in and reasoned with it using Love. We’ve seen this before, but at least it’s consistent.
It doesn’t quite stand out as amazing, but the human co-stars (especially the Professor) get a lot of good moments. The scenes where the Ice Warrior is out of its armour and the camera is avoiding showing it get kinda awkward after a while – especially when it becomes clear its prime mode of attack seems to be face-caressing with vague threats.
Nonetheless, after a woolly Doctor Who moment last week, this is fun enough, if not life-changing. It does the job of setting the Ice Warriors up for future use – who knows whether that’s actually planned. Also curious whether the odd TARDIS behaviour here is part of some wider plan or just a quick-fix to get it out of the way for this one. So, a decent episode, and next week: ghosts or something!