Monday, March 02, 2015

The Cracks Start to Show - The Ice Warriors

I think the Ice Warriors are the only iconic monsters I've not yet met in Classic Who. While I've not seen any of the Sontarans major arcs yet, they were in The Two Doctors so I'm claiming that done.

This run through I'm actually watching three of their four original serials. Four serials? Is that all?How did the Ice Warriors become so iconic. I know they're B-List icons, maybe even C, but they're not Ogdons or Krotons. People outside of the fanbase have heard of them. Yet their design is terrible.

They look exactly like men in rubber suits. Thanks to the wide hips they have no range of movement and they all seem to waddle everywhere. The hands are unwieldy, and look like someone decided that Lego had a good design. When Victoria is running from them it's meant to be dramatic, but it's painfully obvious if she got a move on it would be no problem at all. I can understand that when Moffat reintroduced them he immediately removed it from it's suit and made it a lot more scary.

The episode itself is relatively interesting. We arrive at Earth during the start of the Second Ice Age. No mention of an exact date, which is probably safe since that's not likely to happen before we hit space and they never really address that obvious solution. Unless it's all a case of saving 'home' but humanity is safe. Not that makes much sense because when there's a possibility of accidentally causing a nuclear explosion everyone's acting like it's the end of humanity. Anyway, in order to stop the Earth freezing over humanity seems to have thrown a quick plan to re-ionise the atmosphere. And I mean thrown together as half the the problem presented in this serial is that only one person knows how to use it, and he's buggered off.

Actually scientifically the story makes next to no sense. It's the start of an ice age, but a constant problem throughout the serial is the ice is cracking and shifting, which becomes more of a problem the longer they don't use the ioniser. Except ice cracking and shifting would mean it's melting, which is what we want. Admittedly it'd still be dangerous for everyone, but, what?

Also if it's getting stronger and thicker, how come Arden has now found a Warrior buried so deep in the ice. I know he was burying sensors to track, but did they really go that deep?

I like the sense that humanity is a little boned and the majority of the population has become so used to computers that they rely on them to make any meaningful decision. The tension at the end not only focuses on the Ice Warriors finally marching into the base, but that it's crunch time to activate the ioniser, but no one is still sure whether the Ice Warrior's engines will cause an nuclear explosion when it's hit by it. The computer can't compute, because it's all down to chance, and everyone falls apart, unsure what to do. It's Penley, who refuses to let a computer run his life, that decides to roll the dice and see what happens, because at least this way they're going for the five percent chance that they live.

Except, the screen writing has a blip. In the middle of episode 5 Clent and Miss Garrett, the two most vehement about the virtues of the computer, make a great speech about how the computer is flawed because both scenarios are likely to end with death, and it can't make the decision between a possible quick death, and a slow one. But at the end they back right of that line of thinking and just decide to go along with it. Which is just after they've had an argument between themselves.

Oh and speaking of Miss Garrett, I'm not entirely sure what the point of her character was. It seems early on like she's the one who actually has faith in Penley, and is arguing for Clent to allow him to return and get the ioniser up and running. Later, when the computer starts sticking on no solution, she starts arguing that maybe they just need to do something. It seems like she's having real character growth. Then she gives that speech, and she's reverted right back to where she was at the start, and doesn't shift from it. In fact she's the one who takes the computer completely failing the hardest, actually breaking into hysterics and cuddling the damn monitor.

Storr, the scavenger, is another waste, with his distrust of scientists but knowledge how to survive in the frozen wastes. Again it felt like it was setting up a big moment for him. Instead he makes a ridiculous Heel Turn, just because the Warriors don't like scientists, tries to join them and promptly gets killed off.

On the flip side, back at base, Clent does a rowsing speech, nods to a security guy about how proud he must be to volunteer, only to rather embarrassingly find out the guy was drafted. That's the guy who obviously argues to sod the computer and get on with stuff before the Doctor or Penley return. Where was that writing for the others?

It's also our second venture into restored through animation missing episodes. What happened? Invasion was the first attempt, and it was great. This is later on and it's just not as good. Why have we gone with a different studio that is doing a worse job? While the faces are good, the rest of the drawings are a bit shit. The arms and hands are awful. When Jamie fights an Ice Warrior it's awful. There's some interesting angles that once again make me wonder if there's some improved direction going on

Despite all this, somehow Ice Warriors is pretty good. It certainly isn't a bad Base Under Siege, and puts enough of a spin on it to feel a little different. Some sloppy writing gives it a few moments that leave you wondering what's going on, but overall it does pull it off. The main issue throughout is the Ice Warriors themselves, who just don't look as bad as they're made out to be.

I'm just amazed that somehow, these creatures became classics. They don't have the iconography of the Daleks or the Cybermen, but they are up there. Somehow.

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