Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilssson Brosss get animated over thisss ssspecial edition ssstory...
Season six of Doctor Who saw two of The Doctor's enemies (the Cybermen and the Yeti) attempt to wreak all sorts of nastiness twice during that season. In the midst of these monster mashes, a new enemy would emerge that would make such an impression, that they would return to menace the Second Doctor before the end of his reign and would also bother the Third Doctor a couple of times, before finally reappearing in 2013. They were Mars' greatest export - the Ice Warriors!
Earth: The distant future; the climate has changed and is having a devastating effect upon the continents of the Earth. Bases have been set up to slow down the inexorable movement of vast ice glaciers that threaten to roll over and destroy the human race. The TARDIS materialises near the Brittanicus base and The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) arrive in time to hear that something has been found frozen in the ice and that it is not nearly as dead as originally thought...
In a time before Jon Pertwee's first season, the opening of The Ice Warriors saw a different way of presenting the credits that occur after the title sequence, with an ethereal soprano voice over shots of a frozen landscape and a close-up of icicles. This sets the tone nicely and provides a wonderfully eerie and surreal way of presenting the episode name, number and writer.
The story flies straight out of the trap with a dramatic scene - lasting roughly six minutes in total - that shows an impending glacial disaster being narrowly averted by the dedicated crew of the Brittanicus base. Doctor Who started seriously exploring environmental themes during the Barry Letts era, but there are several interesting eco-themes touched upon in The Ice Warriors, most notably the population explosion, the problems that could be caused by building upon areas that could be used for agriculture and ultimately the impact that serious climate change could have on the planet. The function of the Britannicus base is to use an ioniser to slow down the inevitable march of the ice glaciers and can be looked upon as almost Canute-like in it's effectiveness, and - as the late Mr Letts would certainly have agreed with - you cannot stop the march of time or nature.
Patrick Troughton once again brings that mixture of impishness, seriousness and childlike glee to the role of The Doctor, the best example of which can be found when Victoria is wary of the impending situation the trio find themselves about to enter "let's leave it" moans Victoria, to which The Doctor replies, with an impish grin on his face "no let's go in!"; it's a little moment, but it pretty much defines Troughton's Doctor. There is a moment during episode five when The Doctor is allowed access into the Ice Warrior's vessel and as soon as he claps eyes upon the enormous, hulking creatures, he exclaims "oh my word!" and does an immediate 180 to try and leave the way he just came in, only to be greeted by the sight of the doors sliding shut; this is only a little moment (quite possible something unscripted and devised by Troughton himself, but it's these little moments that really show why Troughton was so loved not only by fans, but also by his peers and so many subsequent actors who would take on the role.
The chemistry between Troughton, Hines and Padbury is undeniable as they interact like old friends and do some things in the name of subtle comedy that no other Doctor/companion combination would have dared to attempt (well, maybe with the exception of Sylv and Sophie); the classic Three Stooges "heads-appearing-around-the-corner" gag is a perfect example of this and brings a smile to the lips but does not detract from the drama inherent in the situation - Troughton, with his appropriate haircut, is obviously Moe Howard in this little homage. The materialisation of the TARDIS at an unusual angle presents an opportunity for physical comedy that neither Troughton nor Hines can resist and their painful scrambling to get out of the Type 40 capsule is amusing to watch.
The guest cast are an impressive bunch; Peter Barkworth is great as Clent - a man who really isn't a leader of men - he is referred to as "an organiser" - and certainly doesn't have the respect of those under his command; Clent is more of a middle-management type rather than a leader and is painfully aware of his shortcomings and his confidence is not helped by others around him constantly mentioning the name of missing scientist, Penley. Barkworth give an honest speech at one point about doing the best he can" and the actor manages to combine arrogance, insecurity, anxiety and overconfidence to create a character that perfectly brings to life the character originally envisioned by Brian Hayles, whilst injecting little nuances of his own that probably weren't in the script.
Bernard Bresslaw is great as the towering Ice Warrior, Varga; the man who had come to be associated with the Carry On series was more than just physically suited to the part (though his 6'7" frame certainly helped him in the role), Bresslaw no doubt relished the opportunity to play something other than the slow-witted sidekick to Sid James or Kenneth Williams. Bresslaw brings a sibilant menace to the part, even snickering at the fate that he has planned for the present population of Earth. The Ice Warriors (or just The Warriors as they are referred to in this story) are magnificent creations, and are nastier and more sadistic in this story than in any of the subsequent ones, with scant disregard for the human race, seeing them as a form of pestilence that must be eradicated in order for the Ice Warriors to achieve their objective.
Peter Sallis and Angus Lennie make for a great twosome in the mould of a more sensible Don Quixote and Sancho Panza; Sallis' Penley is the very intelligent member of the duo, with Lennie's Storr being the wily one who sees things in a more down-to-earth manner than his more highly-educated companion. Their partnership would later be echoed in Colin Baker's story, Revelation of the Daleks, which had bounty hunter Orcini and his trusty servant Bostock taking on the Dalek's creator, Davros. There is an interesting similarity between Penley and The Doctor, in that both of them are highly intelligent antiauthoritarians, they are also outcasts and both have more than a slight distrust of computers and technology - the difference is that The Doctor is more willing to eagerly jump in and help a situation, whereas Penley is someone who is almost scarred by previous experiences that he has to be cajoled into action. Sallis certainly proves here that there is more to him that watching his stunt double take part in daredevil stunts on Yorkshire dales or saying "Gromit, lad", giving a pleasing performance of a character who is remarkably self-assured (in stark contrast to Norman Clegg on Last of the Summer Wine) and has shunned technology, choosing to almost pity the people on the base he left behind. Oh, if you ever want to watch a film with Peter Sallis giving a great performance, try Hammer's Taste the Blood of Dracula, which is hands-down the studio's best vampire film - in our humble opinion, of course.
The mid-to-late sixties saw fair amount of experimentation when it came to computer voices, with all manner of electronic tweaking to present something that spoke human words, but did so in a very artificial way. The eponymous bad guys in Tomb of the Cybermen might have sounded like they had a combination of hot chips and bees in their mouths, but a least you could just about understand them; the computer in The Ice Warrior (with a voice furnished by the late Roy Skelton) sounds like it comes through a blown-out speaker, with heavily modulated high frequencies and no mid-range or low frequencies, making it pretty hard to understand. The advent of big-budget American films saw experimental computer voices eventually become more human-sounding and this eventually filtered down to Doctor Who, where you eventually had the mellifluously operatic tones of B.O.S.S.
There are some vaguely disturbing scenes where the inhabitants of the base blindly put their trust in the supposed infallibility of the almighty computer. This brings to mind episodes of The Simpsons where the television is hugged as if it were a member of the family and Clent's unwavering loyalty to the machine is the cause of much of the unfortunate events that transpire over the course of this story. Out of all of the Doctors over the years, it is the Second Doctor that is most distrustful when it comes to computers and emphasising the infinite superiority of man over machine encapsulates what Troughton's Doctor was all about - the often-quoted line about logic merely enabling one to be wrong with authority from The Wheel in Space certainly backs this up.
There are some who would accuse the story of being as slow, plodding an lumbering as the titular creatures themselves, but that's a little unfair, as Brian Hayles' script moves along at a fair pace and allows for more character moments than you would see in a four-part story. The continual - and almost deity-like - references to Penley from some of the most senior officers, right down to the lowliest leg-men give a build-up to the eventual reappearance of the man at the base that would also not be afforded in a shorter story. There is a great deal of expository dialogue during the first episode that is shared out amongst several members of the cast to set the scene and establish the situation that the characters find themselves in, but this is done in a manner that doesn't batter you over the head with it and helps largely to bring the audience up to speed before the TARDIS crew materialise.
Derek Martinus brings an impressive directorial panache to the film sequences, which give the cinematic feeling to them, as well as making the frozen landscape actually FEEL cold. The sequence where the first Ice Warrior is found is reminiscent - possibly deliberately - of The Thing From Another World, with the blurred opaqueness of the form of the titular creature being seen through the block of ice being particularly memorable. The avalanche sequence is very well done, convincingly blending stock footage of real avalanches with material filmed in the studio. The panning shot of the icy landscape that ends with the TARDIS materialising is most effective and must have been a sod to achieve, so you can't help but admire Martinus' ingenuity and creativity. There is also a sequence that involves Victoria hiding from/being chased by an Ice Warrior in a series of ice caverns; the contrast between the nimble, diminutive Victoria in the foreground and the huge, slow, lumbering Ice Warrior in the background has the feel of a Grimm fairy-tale brought to life and is simply spellbinding to watch.
The Ice Warriors was another sixties Doctor Who story that fell victim to the short-sighted archiving policy that existed within the BBC up until the mid-to-late seventies. Of the six episodes in this story, only four survive - they were found during as the BBC Enterprises were clearing out of Villiers House in 1988. Quite why they were there, how they came to be there and why episodes two and three were not with them appears to still be a mystery.
The previous attempt to bridge the missing episodes came in 1998, which saw the video release have a condensed omnibus version of episodes two and three, omitting a couple subplots and presenting what was effectively a window-boxed version of telesnaps to accompany the original soundtrack. A CD of the unedited soundtracks were also thrown in to pacify the purists.
For this story's DVD debut, the two missing episodes have been animated - the style takes a little getting used to, but once you accept it, it's pretty good. The pacing of the animation is something of a halfway house between the overly-stylised Reign of Terror and fairly true-to-the-original The Tenth Planet. The characters are well-represented (although a friend of ours took one look at Victoria and exclaimed "that doesn't look like Deborah Watling!", but we think she looks fine.
There are some nice little directorial choices made during the animated episodes - these might have been based upon stage direction in the script or may have been something added by the animators; the best example of this comes in episode two, where the flippant suggestion that the Ice Warrior helmet may be some sort of ancient drinking cup sees a little smirk on Clents' lips. It's just a little touch, but it really helps sell the animation in the missing episodes. Speaking of creative choices in animation - it's nice to see that the on-camera fluffs have been retained, when most of them could have been easily and seamlessly removed; if they HAD been taken out, then there would have been an army of angry Doctor Who fans accusing those concerned of George Lucas-like revisionism.
We may have said this before, but the biggest compliment that can be paid to an attempt - be it animation or recon - to bring a missing Doctor Who episode to life is that the viewer felt as though they had actually watched the episode; the two animated episodes here certainly achieve that objective and you come away feeling most satisfied that you have seen a pretty faithful representation of what was filmed nearly forty years ago.
The surviving episodes have been cleaned up even more than they were for their original VHS release. The great work that was achieved back in the nineties has been surpassed by the advances in digital clean-up technology and the results are pretty impressive, given the materials that the Doctor Who Restoration Team had to work with.
Though the materials do not offer the greatest amount of image detail, there is still much to like here, including the amount of detail you can see in Patrick Troughton's fur coat and the prints have been cleaned up to the usual high RT standards. The film sequences look pretty good, with a suitably "filmic" - and some natural grain - to them.
The two animated episodes are, as you might expect, pristine, razor-sharp and only have the occasional instances of haloing that is quite common for computer-generated animation.
As to be expected - a clean-up has been performed and they sound as good as the limitations of the source material will allow. Everything's fine and the sibilance of the Ice Warriors' diction will send a shiver down the spine of the dedicated Classic Who fan.
A clean-up of the soundtracks to the missing episodes has also been performed, and due to the off-air nature of the recording, it's not as solid as the rest of the episodes, but still perfectly audible.
Audio Commentary: Well, this is a bit of a departure from the usual commentaries we are used to, but without deviating too far from the system which has served them well for such a long time. For the existing episodes, we get as many remaining members of the cast as crew as humanly possible in to watch the show, including Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, Sonny Caldinez (Turoc), Designer Jeremy Davies and Grams Operator Pat Heigham. To gather all these guys together is quite a feat, but for the animated portions of the story, they really break new ground this time around.
For the remaining ones, it’s business as usual, but with business as good as this, it comes as a reassuring guarantee of quality. Hadoke gets things off to a cracking start by taking Hines to task when he makes a “Turoc and roll” gag, to which our moderator almost sternly informs him: “That’s £1 in the pun jar from Frazer this early! Children in Need are going to benefit today…” It’s suffice say that Mr Hines should have his wallet on standby for the rest of this particular outing.
Deborah Watling often comes across as rather snooty about her time on the show, but it seems that her advancing years is adjusting her perspective on it all, leaving her not quite as cold as the vistas in his particular story, especially when it comes to the younger generation of fans. “The interest is still there,” she marvels, “…especially at conventions [when] people come up to you -little children come up and say ‘Hello, you played Victoria and we like you’. How do you know about this? It’s usually the father introduces them to the old classics”. At this point, Hines jumps in to explain part of the appeal, being that: “The kids love black and white”. All involved leap into the fray to give their opinions on the appeal of monochromatic broadcasting, bandying about terms like “atmospheric,” “dramatic” and anything else which might trigger repeat fees.
We all know of the hardship faced by those playing the reptilian rascals, but you have to feel very sorry for the lady-pleaser of poor ol’ Sonny Caldinez, which found itself between a cock and a hard place when it came to popping his onscreen clogs. “The body of the Ice Warriors was fibreglass,” the hulking actor almost winces, “and the legs rubber, and it was bolted between the legs. Now, when I got killed in that, I was wondering: ’shall I fall back, or shall I fall forwards?’ If I fall back, I want to know where I’m falling - so I decided to fall forwards, but this [indicates part of costume at crotch] gripped on… oh come on!!!” You have to wonder if the terror of it all left him with a turtlehead poking out…
Both of the production guys have a lot to say, and all of it fascinating, including a rather sheepish apology from Heigham to Watling when he one time he hadn’t cued-up the pre-recorded half of a conversation she was supposed to be having, leaving her with a horrified expression when she realised that she was talking to herself when the cameras were rolling. He expresses his admiration for all those playing our the material he was providing the technical for. “What struck me,” he says, nicely summing up the lasting appeal of the show, “…was how incredibly professional they all were. Yes, it’s a children’s series, but it was never sent-up: it was always played absolutely straight.”
Discussion of the shows’ budget was inevitable, but Jeremy Davies is keen to point out that the money spent on it was quite unlike a contemporary studio-bound drama. “The difference between Doctor Who and Z-Cars for instance,” he points out, “…is that if there was filming on Z-Cars it was outside and it cost no money at all. Filming on Doctor Who was at Ealing, and it did cost a lot of money, so you stretch your budget”. As the depressing state of soaps being the nation’s favourite will attest, humdrum is cheap and popular - imagination is expensive and to be shunned.
When racking up yet another coin in the pun jar, Hines plays his defence that “…I’m getting them in before Sonny does - he’s more corny that I am!” This is another really fun track, with everyone having a good time about fond memories, with Hadoke employing his almost Betazoid-like empathic abilities to draw out happy emotions and keep things firmly in the constellation of fun. Hines is the rubber-ball of pre-pubescent mischief he usually is, and when paired with Hadoke, it’s always going to generate a sense of warm humour which permeates all around it.
Episode 2: Covering those unable to attend the recording though being elsewhere at the time or on another plane of existence, this is a track using archive recordings and actors reading our published interviews to fill their place. It’s a pretty bold move, but one which is perfect for giving a wider perspective on The Ice Warriors, to the point where it’s a shame that they didn’t think of this earlier!
Though being located in France at the time she was asked to be present at the commentary recording, Wendy Gifford (Miss Garrett) was tracked down and interviewed by Hadoke at her home, where she is found to have happy memories of the writing on The Ice Warriors, a moment to be savoured, as many actors brought in rarely had a good word to say about the quality of the scripts, “I thought it was a very good, strong script,” she enthuses. “…and everybody did have a chance to give a character performance. It wasn’t just blandly speaking the lines serving the plot - it wasn’t that at all, it was much more interesting, actually”. Another of the fine ladies involved with the show to be interviewed later on is Makeup Supervisor Sylvia James, who remembers just how huge those chosen to play the frosty foes: “They were all very big guys,” she marvels, “…almost knocking their heads on the makeup room door as they came through”.
We‘ve all heard lovable old Bernie Bresslaw talk about his time on the show before, but it‘s great that he is represented on the commentary, here talking about how he began to suspect that the Ice Warrior duds might not be all that comfortable, “I remember first being asked to go to my costume fitting by the BBC,” he recalls when only asked, “…but to my surprise, I was directed to go to a company that moulded to the hulls for yachts out of fibreglass. Of course, instead of being measured with a tape measure in the normal way, I was measured with callipers.” To prove how well-spoken he is, one us played a bit of this interview to the wife - partial to Carry-On films - and she didn’t realise who was speaking! Ah, good ol’ Bernie - the man who can substitute two of the “r”s in the word “warriors” for “l”s merely by pronouncing them.
Now, the only real problem we had with the story Cold War was Nu-Who’s annoying trend towards bringing back previous baddies and explaining away their original design by saying that it was some form of costume or armour. This is bollocks, pure and simple. To this end, we are indebted to Costume Designer Martin Bough for setting the record straight on this one, that the design was like “…a crocodile with a shell,” he recalls. “If you think of these people fighting their way through ice, then they’ve got to be uncrushable… like lobsters or turtles. The armour wasn’t meant to be something they put on in the morning, it was intended as an integral part of them, like turtle-shells”. Not a pissing suit you can slip out of to indulge in a rip-off of Alien.
A thespian reads to the memories of writer Brian Hayles, where he muses on just why the enemies he created are more enduring and have more resonance than some of the more obviously popular ones: “I think it was because, out of all the monsters, they were slightly more emotional,” he concludes, “The Cybermen and the Daleks were mechanoids, or al least computerised - the Ice Warriors were animals; they could have emotion, they could latch onto people, even though they were essentially Martian, they could relate to people.”
Some of Hadoke’s interjections are typically amusing, and delivered with dynamite timing. When an archive reading of an interview with director Martinus delivers criticism of the production, it ends with “I’m sure the shoestrings would show if you watched those episodes nowadays. Some of them have been found, haven’t they…?” to which our mediator responds with 20/20 hindsight: “…err, yes they have, but not all of them - hence this [animated] bit”. Malcolm (Walters) Taylor was due to be on the commentary, but died suddenly, but his presence is still to be found, as Hadoke reads out the thespian’s rather witty, self-penned obituary. We also get a very brief interview with Peter Barkworth, with the man who was Clent enthusing that: “…I’ve still got the stick upstairs!”
Episode 3: To have a lone-person get a commentary track devoted entirely to them is the kind of egotistical thing demanded only by someone like John Levene, but this time around, a very special guest is none other than actor Michael Troughton, interviewed by Tobe Hadoke, shedding light on the shadowy life of his father after the extensive investigation he carried out. You have to hand it to Troughton Jr for really summing things up with a delicate touch when he says: “I really thought: I’m going to discover an awful lot about my father I didn’t know…”
Hadoke is the perfect person to interview the younger Troughton on the life and career of his father, doing it with tact, good humour, research and a genuine interest about it all. We have all read the bitter and resentful things said about the man who portrayed the Cosmic Hobo, including the almost callous disregard of the consequences of this actions to those closest to him, so the lighter touch employed by Hadoke is the right one for the task.
With information about Troughton as scarce as it is, fans with be enraptured with every little which comes to light. One of the very best is when Hadoke asks if ‘ol Pat was an intelligent man, or if he was just able to bluff it for playing the Doctor. “He had a very inquiring mind,” Troughton Jr reveals. “He loved science. He was fascinated - in his middle-age, really - with religion. He was constantly searching for a religion which would suit him but, unfortunately, I don’t think he ever found one. He’d pick one up and have a go… and the next week it would be something different.”
It’s a delight to hear things said about the mysterious actor who is many a fans’ favourite, and to come from a source so (genetically) close is almost a privilege. With material this scarce, there is no way we would want to spoil any more of the stuff to be discovered here, so you’ll just have to dig in and get your Troughton fix on your own!
Production Subtitles: Words are powerful things. They can be used to turn a scumbag into a hero, and the most hallowed of persons into sinners. As of writing, the front cover of The Sun is running a patriotic, chest-beating campaign about their love of Britain, alongside a declaration of its principles, at a time when most other papers are going with how a bid by the disabled and the vulnerable against the hardship to be brought upon them by the Bedroom Tax was defeated in court yesterday - funny that. In these days where it’s hard to trust anything you read, straight, concise facts and details are refreshing a dip in the waters of sanity, and the guys putting together another comprehensive Doctor Who Production Subtitle Track once again have us all putting our towels firmly on the sunloungers in anticipation of another definitive inside look.
We’ve come to expect a detailed list of ideas, concepts, scenes and dialogue which were nixed at some point during the production, and with this one, we are still waiting for the microscopic possibility that we will walk away disappointed. It’s a veritable fountain of snipped stuff, with lines removed from the final script being the most bounteous, and helps to cast a new light on some of the more one-dimensional characters, as well as clearing up some of the more opaque plot-points which might have left the less imaginative viewers flapping like fish in a net.
There are many instances of how everything possible was geared around the limitations of the Ice Warriors costumes, from the little things like the script asking for impracticalities like having them turn their heads, right through to having the cast use shooting sticks to rest standing up, as the suits were too bulky to remove or even sit down in. Whilst on the subject of all things unwieldy, we even get the theory that the notoriously temperamental lift a Lime Grove studios was the culprit behind a particular prop being wrecked on its way through storage - we won’t say which one, but just think something rather elaborate and glass-based!
The human factor of the production is also examined with this most studious of information tracks, particularly the punishing shooting schedule - which included the pre-filming at weekends - brought into focus, with the toll it was taking on Troughton’s personal life not going unchecked. We learn that at one point during said additional shooting, ‘ol Pat grumbled: “What a way to earn a living…” to a visitor to the studio. Oh, did we say “private life”? We meant “private lives…”
How else are you going to find out that The Ice Warriors racked up 1,622 feet of film in the final edit? Or that the bear confronting Clegg and Jamie was scripted to be a Polar bear, but was deemed to be impractical. How about that although the prescribed production cost was usually capped at £2,750 per episode, it all went flying out the window with this particular story, as the (admittedly impressive) computer consoles/desks cost a whopping £1,000 alone! You want obscure? Then did you know that the designers originally wanted to use the triangular desk from The Celestial Toymaker for Clent’s office, but it was no longer available? Well, you do now!
The whole business of Production Subtitles is certainly a learning experience for all wise enough to engage them, but not only on the subject of Doctor Who: when the script allows Clent to inexplicably gets some rather fundamental science wrong, our guys at the keyboard jump right in to correct the errors trotted out. Jesus, and we thought that everybody knew of the properties trees had when it came to the whole oxygen/carbon dioxide issue, let alone writers with knowledge to burn!
It’s another treat, and when quality is maintained to this high standard, you know that the folks behind it are possessed of burning passion for the material, and this quality is passed onto anyone smart enough immersing themselves in it, just through the process of osmosis. The sad truth is that you can count the amount of these incredible, multi-media experiences there are left to come out, so those which remain undiscovered are to be savoured.
Cold Fusion: Ah, another Doctor Who DVD, another excellently-produced look at a story which the BBC didn’t give a dead rat’s arse about for so many years. Here we get up close, personal and in some cases emotional with all involved with The Ice Warriors, including interviews with Deborah Watling, Frazer Hines, Producton Designer Jeremy Davies, Sonny Caldinez and a special guest, but to find out who, read on!
Davies sets the ball rolling for his very blunt perspective about all things Doctor Who when he opening with: “When I got the script and read it, it was clearly going to be a bugger of a thing to do”. This really sets you up for his parade of negativity about trying to produce something elaborate on the money they gave him, but aside from one rather harsh thing said about one the guest-cast (more on that later), he give a good account of how to achieve a glacial environment on a Lidl-style budget.
How could there be a look at this particular story without going on about loveable ol’ Bernie, and there his participation is widely covered. Deborah Watling fondly remembers being his faithful seeing-eye companion: “Dear Bernard, in the Ice Warrior costume,” she recalls without humour, “…he had problems just like Sonny [Caldinez] did, and his eyes weren’t very good at all, so he couldn’t wear his glasses in the costume. And I had to guide him in places, and he used to bump into things, etc, etc”. Such fondness is really pissed on when Davies rather flatly states that he: “…saw no reason whatsoever to use him, frankly”. Well, perhaps he was just annoyed that paying for a bigger name on the show came out of his production budget…
Bresslaw‘s son James also shares his memories of his father at work for the BBC, as well as his personal experiences of the reptilian rapscallions; “At the time I was filming it,” he recalls, “ …I was only six years old… I do remember that we went along for the publicity shots, and I saw him in the dressing room. All I saw was this seven-foot green monster, really, and I have to say that I had to be persuaded it was my dad. But eventually… I was persuaded to do the photos with him. My brother refused to be photographed with him until he took his mask off. But it was great fun to do, and of course…it was great to be able to go into school and brag about it, really”.
Actors are curious beasts, none more so than the classically-trained thespian, and these are the ones who usually take whatever work they can get, bitch about it when not in front of the camera but gratefully piss the money they make from it up a wall. To this end, Davies gives the impression that he knows something about a lack in commitment to the show by Peter Barkworth, citing things like “excitable gestures“ and others as to why he might not have been taking it that seriously; “To me,” he confesses, “…it always look as though he was about to burst into laughter every time he spoke”. Watling is more measured about the work done by the actor, remembering: “I used to watching him thinking: ‘He’s worked on this. He really has worked on this one’. And it did work, didn’t it?”
Ironically, there is a lot of warmth to be found here from such a chilly tale, including how Caldinez would randomly come up behind Watling, wrap his arms around her and lift her off the ground during coffee breaks. Watling remembers how everything with the travelling trio getting out of the TARDIS was improvised, and being rather put out that Troughton and Hines merely told her to be the straight-man in the proceedings. “We ended up ad-libbing all the way through,” Doctor Who’s new Syd Little admits, “…and laughing a lot!” Hines turns his libidinous attentions to one of the female guests, and makes little secret of why she made the old sporran reach a 45-degree angle. “Then of course, you saw Wendy Gifford in that wonderful…” pauses Hines, as he almost fantasises of her PVC miniskirt; “…I’m so glad we did our show in the sixties!”
With things drawing to a close, it‘s almost startling that for all of the venom Davies spent pouring onto the production, his final assessment is a rather fond one; “Watching it now, I’m rather surprised.” he probably chokes; “At the time, I was pretty depressed by it - I thought it wouldn’t come out well, didn’t look very good. The fact that it was low-budget stuff just ruined it. We should never have attempted something like that, but watching it now, I look at it and think: actually, it doesn’t look all that bad. I’m really quite surprised, and I’m really quite convinced by some of it.” Best of all is Caldinez’s look back at The Ice Warriors, when he gets almost tearful in that it was the only production he has ever properly felt a part of, and he dilutes his own happiness at returning to play the creature again when he notes that: “The reason why the called me back, I think personally, is because my costume couldn’t fit anybody else. And in my costume, it had my name on it!” We've always had a bit of a soft spot for Sonny.
With The Ice Warriors able to change the lowest of opinions over time, this is a fitting look at the story of the story which brought us possibly the most neglected baddies to grace the show. There are fond memories from all levels and angles on the programme, and is a damned shame that bringing in the relatives of guest actors could have been more extensively employed, but you’d be hard-pushed to find someone as personable and upbeat about the whole thing as James Bresslaw. It’s another example of why we’re all going to miss the guys who make these fine documentaries like rotten once it’s all over, so be sure to appreciate them right now!
Beneath the Ice: This is an extensive look at the animation process used to accompany the missing episodes, and it gives you all you’ll ever want to know on the subject. You have to admire the balls of a documentary which starts off with one of the lead people saying: “Before working on this, I had absolutely no knowledge of Doctor Who,” but whilst there are fans out there who would hang animation director Chris Chatterton by his balls from a Christmas tree for just uttering these words, but the end of this piece, you’ll be won over by the sheer level of commitment to getting this story into a more viable option. There are some who are unfamiliar with the older shows, but give it 100% to deliver the best product they can, and all come under the careful guidance of Doctor Who uber-enthusiast Chris Chapman, who knows the show so thoroughly it’s scary: what better person is there to figure out the onscreen action when all you have is just a “clunk” on the soundtrack? The personable producer’s love of the show is infectious, and the processes shown in getting it done fascinating, and you can tell that this really was the best team take charge of the project. It’s a relatively short look, but akin to staring into an abyss - it’s not how long you glimpse into it, but the depth you see within. OK, slightly poetic, but this is great shit!
Blue Peter Design-a-Monster: This is a ten minute segment from the UK's longest-running kid's show, featuring a competition that ran in 1967, which tried to bring out the creative side of viewers by getting them to come up with an adversary for the good Doctor. Usually, these things have a certain "oh-dear-God-please-make-it-end" factor to watching it, and this is no exception. Brief snatches of this have turned up before in Doctor Who documentaries, but the full horrors of this sort of thing are presented here for you in much the same way that the full details of the multiples injuries that a stabbing victim are read out during a murder trial. Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and former Doctor Who companion Peter Purves all try their utmost to look professional and not laugh as they introduce the competition, show some of the designs and ultimately announce the winners' designs in 3-dimensional form. What's interesting is that one of the creatures looks a little like one of the beasties seen in the William Hartnell story, The Rescue (well, it's operated in the same way, anyway - which was probably harder on the wrists than a world championship soggy biscuit contest). This will bring about a sense of nostalgia for those old enough to remember it an and sharp sense of disbelief to those who aren't.
Doctor Who Stories - Frazer Hines Part Two: As the title implies, this is the second part of the interview with Frazer Hines filmed for the 40th anniversary documentary, The Story of Doctor Who. It covers the latter part of his involvement with the show, speaking of the fun he had with Wendy Padbury and the harrowing experiences that he suffered at the hands of a baying mob of screaming teenage girls (Hines stresses that even though it sounds an enticing prospect, it REALLY isn't). Hines is always an entertaining interviewee and this collection of anecdotes from the tail-end of this time on Doctor Who makes for a great listen and his self-deprecating sense of humour makes him even more likeable.
The subject of Hines' attempt to release a pop single is also covered and there seems to be a hints of pain and regret in his voice, as he recounts how his original simplistic version of a song about Jamie and a time-machine was axed in favour of a more complex and heartfelt one (written by the people who penned smash-hits Delilah and The Last Waltz, no less) that bombed spectacularly. Hines learnt the hard way about the actorly urge to unleash their musical abilities (or lack thereof) onto a disinterested public - William Shatner was probably experiencing a similar thing around that time. Read-throughs, the perils of climbing up a ladder in a kilt and his returns to Doctor Who in the eighties are all discussed in something that will be sure to put a smile on your face when you watch it.
VHS Links: This is a compilation of all the material from the video release of The Ice Warriors, including introduction with Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling, and obviously the cut-down versions of the recons which accompanied it. If you want comprehensive, how about the BBC logo, the old message about using your tracking control, and even the card advertising the two Doctor Who books. It's a nice touch of nostalgia, especially if you had to order the tape from Canada because it was a damned sight cheaper than buying the UK edition, but we’re not bitter about that…
Original Trailer: Back in the day, some stories had special previews shot in order to set up the story, and this is a tradition we particularly like. Here we have the one for The Ice Warriors, albeit in animated form, as the original material is sadly lost, but it’s still pretty cool. Barkworth and Sallis each address the camera and tell you who they are, and what their take on the unfolding story is, and it’s bloody ingenious! The animation is in the same style as the two missing episodes, but we have to report that the sound is pretty ropey, but with certain episodes only surviving with audio equally bad (or worse) then it’s not worth griping about. Fun stuff, and we have to speculate that the reason why the one for The Dalek’s Master Plan was half and hour was because of its sheer twelve episode length!
Photo Gallery: As comforting, rewarding, fulfilling and warming as pissing into a milk-bottle when you can’t be bothered to go to the lavatory, we have a deeply cool selection of images from The Ice Warriors, and when it kicks off with two of the classic colour shots of Troughton hunched over a console, you know that there will be some really great stuff, including lovely cast portraits, group-shots, mid-scream snaps of Deborah Watling and a load of ones of Bernard Bresslaw getting suited up for the cameras. Throw in some gorgeous COLOUR costume reference photographs of the Ice Warriors and you have a terrific set to either admire or set as imagery for your desktop.
PDF Materials: As well as the reliable charge of nostalgia given off by the reproductions of the original listings, with a nice side-bar focusing on the new story, and the baddies within. It utilities one of the photos in the gallery, and it’s nice to see just how some of them were employed by the media at the time. We are also treated to a similar sidebar about the Blue Peter Design-a-Monster competition, complete with a picture of Noakes, Purvis and Singleton messing about with a trio of Daleks. Wonderful stuff!
Coming Soon: Up next is the animated Scream of the Shalka, with Richard E Grant as The Doctor, and an early appearance from David Tennant. It will be a chance to see again the Ninth Doctor who was elbowed out of canon by Christopher Eccleston.
The DVD releases of Doctor Who may be coming to an end, but leaving The Ice Warriors this late in the schedule has allowed new life to be breathed into to via two very enjoyable animated episodes. This may stick to the "base-under-siege" format that was utilised quite a bit during the Troughton era, but there are one or two nice twists and some great performances from the regulars and the guest cast.
The extras on this set are entertaining and plentiful and the work performed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team have presented this occasionally-maligned story in the best way possible. Sssplendid ssssstuff!
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 26th August 2013
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Audio Commentary, Cold Fusion - Making The Ice Warriors, Beneath The Ice, VHS Links, Blue Peter Design-A-Monster, Doctor Who Stories - Frazer Hines (Part Two), Production Notes, Photo Gallery, Animated Original Trailer, Comine Soon Trailer, PDF Materials
Easter Egg: No
Director: Derek Martinus
Cast: Patrick Troughton, Fraser Hines, Deborah Watling, Bernie Lugg, Norman Clegg
Length: 148 minutes
Follow our updates
OTHER INTERESTING STUFF
Valiant UK - DVD R2 Octagon, The UK - BD RB Hole, The US - BD RA Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space UK - DVD R2 San Andreas US - BD RA
Criterion Collection May Announcements US - DVD R1 | BD RA Patriot's Day US - DVD R1 | BD RA Vixen: The Movie US - DVD R1 | BD RA Bye Bye Man US - DVD R1 | BD RA Office Christmas Party US - DVD R1 | BD RA
Wild Beasts US - BD RA Wax Mask US - BD RA Arrival US - BD RA Jack Reacher: Never Go Back US - BD RA Queen of Katwe US - BD RA