Technology has brought about many wonderful things and when we were kids we watched shows like Buck Rogers, The Jetsons and the original Battlestar Galactica thinking maybe, just maybe in our lifetime we could see those fantastical things come to life. Well, that obviously didn’t come to pass, but one this technology did help with was bringing back some lost pieces of sci-fi history.
“The Ice Warriors” is a six-part story in the Doctor Who annals originally broadcast at during the last months of 1967. While the BBC was actually moving out of one of their properties, the original tapes were found, except for episodes two and three. In this DVD set those episodes are animated using the original audio recordings since they were still put to tape back then. During the animation process, the artists paid specific attention to what types of shots you were likely to see back in the late sixties, how it would be edited, how long each shot would hold. Care and details like that make the animated episodes feel very close to the originals and you almost forget you’re watching a cartoon version. So thanks to the hard work and incredible leaps in animation we’ve made fans of the show can now enjoy the entire six-episode series.
As part of my education through the Doctor Who universe, this was my first interaction with Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor. He has a certain charm that comes not only from his performance, but also from his nearly bowl-cut hair and oversized coat. He’s like a child playing in a dangerous adult world, which for many moments in the Doctor’s life, that’s exactly how he acts. The main plot of this story is the Doctor and his traveling companions, Victoria and Jamie, find themselves on a version of Earth where ice is taking over the planet due to a lack of carbon dioxide. As a team of scientists are working feverishly to slow the movement of deadly glaciers, they find an alien race buried in the ice. Once awoken, the ice warriors are hell-bent on destroying the scientist’s base and using the pieces left to fly their ship away. Obviously, this is not something the Doctor can let happen.
This is without a doubt a very dated production. The outfits of the ice warriors are big rubber suits and the actors moved so slowly that they were far from threatening. Yet, certain elements hold up quite well. The performance not only of Troughton, but also Peter Barkworth, who played Clent, the leader of the base, gave a layered and passionate display of a character caught in between his own addiction to glory and a situation that provided him with none. Also, all the people at the base are hooked into a global computer which tells them what to do and they swear by it. Watching it today, it rings oddly prophetic when mirrored against our increasingly interconnected and Internet-heavy world.
As for the bonus features, there is a documentary about the making of the animated episodes and all the efforts that went into making them feel authentic. There is another featurette about the production of the original episodes and refreshingly the people involved talk about the issues they had with budgeting, feeling like the script was too ambitious to pull off and setbacks they had with various pieces. Instead of looking back on it with completely rose-colored glasses, they admit sides of the production that don’t hold up, but take pride in the pieces that do.
I enjoyed “The Ice Warriors” and I look forward to catching up more with our frumpish and quirky second Doctor.