“Cold War” – Review: Redux

Skaldak “My distress call has not been answered. It will never be answered. My people are dead. They are dust. There is nothing left for me except my revenge.” 

Cold War

“Cold War” was the latest offering from the pen of Mark Gatiss. Some have argued that there has been a gradual decline in the quality of the episodes that Mark Gatiss has written; certainly there are episodes that I do not rate as highly (e.g. “The Idiot’s Lantern”), which do not get near the high water mark of Series One’s “The Unquiet Dead”. However, I have to say that “Cold War” is a great episode. The setting, on a Russian submarine at the height of the Cold War in the 80’s, is suitably claustrophobic (despite the vessel being a little more roomy than I would imagine a real sub to be) and the accident that it has early on in proceedings means that the ever present water dripping or in some cases gushing everywhere, increases the sense of peril.

This was all about re-introducing a classic series monster and it was a job that was expertly done. Visually the new exo-skeleton for the creature was very true to the original except for all the slightly naff bits being removed. The first scene in which the Ice Warrior appears was a nice throwback to their original appearance (recently released with animated missing episodes in the classic DVD range) where it was frozen in a block of ice. I do have one minor technical problem with this, we can clearly see the Ice Warrior’s arm moving within the ice (just before it reaches out to grab the throat of the lowly Russian officer) but this movement didn’t have any impact on the ice itself. Was the ice supposed to be hollow? and if so, I wasn’t quite sure how that worked. Quibbles aside though, as soon as he was stomping around the submarine, business picked up, and it was a nice touch having the creature outside of his suit for a while, before finally revealing his face to speak to the Doctor at the end.

The lovely scene where the Martian appeared behind the Doctor without him noticing, while all the other crew stared in disbelief was a lovely one. And as soon as the Doctor did realise what was happening then the whole plot started to reveal itself. Skaldak, the Ice Warrior, sent off a distress signal for some of his people to come and rescue him, on realising that no-one is coming he simply chooses to exact revenge on the submarine’s crew. At this point, there were more than just echoes of Ridley Scott’s “Alien”. It’s probably worth mentioning the guest cast too. Liam Cunningham and Tobias Menzies, who are both plying their trade in another great programme, Game of Thrones, were both very good in their roles but it is David Warner who I’d like to mention and the reason for this is a general wondering why he was given such a relatively minor role. It’s David Warner for crying out loud, if you’re going to book him for Doctor Who give him a huge part to play and get his teeth into. Here, he was reduced to playing a harmless old uncle-figure who just listened to Duran Duran and Ultravox and acted as comic relief.

“Cold War” was definitely a step up from the first two episodes of Series Seven b, but it so far is not delivering the classics that we had been hoping for in this anniversary.

Highlight: The Ice Warrior

Lowlight: The block of ice

Talking Point: After the Ice Warriors and (next weekend’s Zygons) are there any more old monsters worth bringing back?

Demon’s Run Rating: 16 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 13th April 2013

Marathon Status: 5 to go. FIVE. TO. GO.

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