Hot on the heels of their rather good update in Mark Gatiss’ ‘Cold War’ episode, The Ice Warriors’ first appearance on Doctor Who is given the Special Edition treatment. However, those expecting a lost masterpiece might be disappointed.
The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) land in a Britain covered in glaciers, where a team of scientists are working on an ioniser which they hope will prevent a new ice age. But when an archaeologist finds the remains of an Ice Warrior, the monster awakes and sets about defrosting the rest of his brethren.
It’s interesting to note that ‘The Ice Warriors’ aired in the same year as ‘The Tomb Of The Cybermen’, but the comparison does this story no favours. Although the Doctor’s dismissal of computers is a nice addition to Troughton’s scruffy cosmic hobo persona, there’s a serious lack of forward momentum or any real twists and turns in the plot, and Jamie and Victoria are left to be knocked unconscious and run screaming respectively.
The Ice Warriors themselves are a tricky one. Their single-mindedness makes them formidable and they’re difficult to kill but, despite the hissing, there isn’t quite the same creepiness about them as other classic-era Who villains. Still, they contrast well with the team of scientists, who are so reliant on their computer for answers that they can’t make a single decision without it.
‘The Ice Warriors’ is one of many Second Doctor adventures with missing pieces, and two episodes are restored via animation here. The best of the special features is the documentary, as the actors recall the difficulties of getting into the fibreglass suits without destroying the polystyrene sets in the process.
There’s also an interview with Hines (his brief music career is discussed), a look at the animation process, selected commentaries, and Blue Peter footage from a competition to design a new Doctor Who monster.
Light on plot but with some good ideas, this would have benefited from being shorter and with a more concrete idea of the story they wanted to tell.
That being said, it’s no disaster and it’s always a pleasure to watch Troughton’s Second Doctor.