Doctor Who S07 E09: Cold War

doc1Crimson Tide and The Hunt for Red October are terrific films, time capsules of the tenuous relations in the US/USSR Cold War with great performances and amazing direction. They’re only missing one thing, well, two actually. A malevolent alien force and a meddling Time Lord.

Who? That’s right, The Doctor. Check out my recap and review of this week’s episode of “Doctor Who,” called appropriately “Cold War,” right after the jump, warning, spoilers abound.


North Pole 1983, nuclear war, and Ultravox. Awesome. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Last week we had Fun Boy Three, and this week Ultravox. And the world was saved not by either The Doctor or Clara talking the monster to death, but by Duran Duran. Squee!

doc2I absolutely love the Professor’s love of new wave music. David Warner is great! He is one of those characters that you wish The Doctor would invite to come along after the episode’s adventure is done. He has great camaraderie with Clara, and he’s got a cattle prod.

Oh, and I know I might be a couple weeks late in this one, but I love the TARDIS doors opening as the opening sequence ends and starts the story. Nice touch.

doc3The Thing on a Sub

The Thing on a sub. I mentioned two other movies at the start here but that’s not what it is, it’s The Thing on a sub. The claustrophobia and the paranoia that made submarine movies of all genres from all times a certain type of experience are working full force in this episode. It also helps parallel that great science fiction classic, The Thing. Mark Gatiss, showrunner Steven Moffat’s partner on “Sherlock,” wrote this one. His is beginning to be a name I look forward to when I see he’s written an episode.

The stories are much the same, this episode, and the first appearance of the Ice Warriors, and “The Thing from Another World from which The Thing is drawn. A thing is found in the ice, it eventually gets out, and tries to wipe out our heroes, while first pulling them into a spiral of paranoia. Gatiss’ script is at its best in this whirlpool. Love it.

doc4Ice Warrior

Though hinted at indirectly in “The Waters of Mars,” this is actually the first appearance of the Ice Warriors, archenemies of The Doctor, in this second series. They first appeared in 1967 in “The Ice Warriors” facing the Second Doctor as portrayed by Patrick Troughton.

I was first introduced to these huge humanoid monsters in a “Monsters Who’s Who” book I had as a child. At the time, before I was even aware of “Doctor Who,” these huge shelled turtle-like creatures frightened me in still photographs. It would be years before I actually saw them in action on the small screen – still scary. This was an excellent updating of the original design, in my opinion.

Unique, just one Ice Warrior, similar to the first appearance of a Dalek in the new series, in “Dalek.” This is Skaldak, serious powerful hero leader of the Ice Warriors, so not just any Ice Warrior, this is a major Ice Warrior. And the Russians found him frozen in the ice (see, The Thing), where he’s been for 5000 years.

doc5Two, Two Monsters in One

The scary part starts when the Ice Warrior is taken prisoner and chained up, Skaldak leaves his armor. The Doctor confesses he’s never seen what an Ice Warrior looks like out of their armor. This is an excellent opportunity for the special effects folks to not only update an old monster but also create a new one as well.

The sounds Skaldak makes from the shadows and off-screen are very disturbing, similar to the sound of the giant spider in 1955’s Tarantula. It just runs up your spine, just the way a good “Doctor Who” monster should. Skaldak’s native form is fearsome and nightmare worthy, but not quite at the level of say, The Silence.

In Conclusion

I loved this episode, and I certainly loved it more than I ever would have expected after seeing the previews from last week. It surely felt like The Doctor meets Crimson Tide from all indications. And while I knew there were new Ice Warriors coming, I didn’t expect them so soon, a pleasant surprise.

Clara is a bit subdued this episode, but well used. Based on the Matt Smith Doctor’s penchant for hanging out with little girls, am I the only person that finds it creepy that he’s carrying around a Barbie doll?

4 Replies to “Doctor Who S07 E09: Cold War”

  1. This is my favourite Doctor Who story in quite some time. The Ice Warriors have always been my favourite DW aliens (after the Time Lords, Cybermen and Daleks, mind you) and I love the Second and Third Doctor’s stories involving them.

    In fact, I liked the Ice Warrior so much that, as a teenager, BEFORE I’D EVER SEEN A SERIAL WITH THEM IN IT, I used to write the closest thing to fan-fic I ever created – the adventures of a Time Lord called The Baron and his companion, an Ice Warrior!

    So, yeah. This episode rocked my socks. David Warner, Liam Cunningham and Tobias Menzies? That’s bases loaded right there. Homages to the movies you mentioned (plus I couldn’t help but feel they were invoking GREY LADY DOWN, a classic sub movie that I love), plus the Ice Warriors? This was a grand slam for me.

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