REVIEW: Doctor Who - Cold War

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Our office ‘Whovian’ Darren Sykes gives his view on the latest episode...

Doctor Who continued on Saturday evening with chillingly titled Cold War.

After a couple of slightly below-par opening episodes, a lot was expected of this story, as it featured the re-introduction of the Ice Warriors – a classic foe from the Troughton and Pertwee eras of the show.

Such anticipation can sometimes leave you disappointed. But happily, in this instance, it wasn’t the case and the adventure left me far from feeling ‘cold’.

With the current Eighties revival, the recent death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and a spot of Ultravox and Duran Duran - as favoured by David Warner’s affable professor - watching Cold War evoked several memories of that time.

After, his previously disappointing Victory of the Daleks, here writer Mark Gatiss handles the return of another classic enemy with aplomb.

His re-imagining of the Ice Warriors not just as lumbering reptilian foes with a bad case of asthma, but stealth-like creatures encased in cyborg armour, is both considered and effective.

During the classic era of the show, this was implied but never stated on screen.

However, given the budget of ‘60s and ‘70s Doctor Who, the realisation of the creature inside would have been either prohibitive or not very convincing. Happily, effects have moved on.

By confining its appearance to the shadows, this added greatly to the suspense of the episode and we now have a realistic interpretation of the naked Martian inside.

Meanwhile, director Douglas McKinnon does a great job with this episode.

The tight shots, askew angles and often gloomy lighting added wonderfully to the claustrophobic nature of this ‘base-under-siege’ episode.

The story effectively maintained the tension throughout, with all the cast putting in solid performances.

My only slight criticism, concerned Liam Cunningham’s casting as the submarine’s captain, Zhurov.

Good actor though he undoubtedly is, his mid-Atlantic accent did take me out of the story, and on a number of occasions I had to remind myself we were on a Soviet, and not an American, submarine.

Though it’s been well established, the TARDIS crew – and hence us – hear languages in their own tongue, having a Russian captain speak with a vaguely American accent, just seemed a little odd.

The conclusion, once again relied a little too much on a good speech and a flick of the magic sonic screwdriver.

Yet, ultimately this week everything seemed to be wrapped up in a more satisfying manner.

Hopefully, the appearance of the Ice Warriors’ spaceship and Skaldak’s rescue suggests there is more to come from the Martian cyborgs in the future.

All in all, a great addition to the Ice Warriors’ canon and a return to classic Doctor Who story-telling.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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