Monday, December 16, 2013

"The Ice Warriors"

Aired Nov 11 - Dec 16, 1967


6 episodes

Story 39

Written by Brian Hayles

Directed by Derek Martinus

Synopsis

The TARDIS arrives on Earth at the time of a new ice age and the travelers make their way into a base where scientists commanded by Leader Clent are using an ionizer device to combat the advance of a glacier.
A giant humanoid creature, termed an Ice Warrior by one of the scientists, has been found buried in the nearby glacier. When thawed, it revives and is revealed to be Varga, captain of a Martian spacecraft that landed on Earth centuries ago and is still trapped in the glacier. Varga sets about freeing his comrades and formulating a plan to conquer the Earth, now that Mars is a dead planet.

The scientists fear that continued use of the ionizer on the glacier could cause the alien ship's engines to explode. Their trusted computer is unable to advise them without further information, and it seems that disaster is imminent. A scientist named Penley, who recently defected from the project, is persuaded to return by the Doctor. They eventually decide to risk activating the ionizer. There is only a minor explosion, which destroys the Martians and, at the same time, checks the ice flow.

Analysis

Season 5 is almost always referred to as "The Monster Season" for the obvious reason that every story bar one has a monster to terrify the kiddies. While it is called this with fondness, it's a nickname that implies that this is Doctor Who at its most basic. There's a little bit of truth to that, and certainly the base-under-siege setting that goes hand in hand with these stories is already becoming tiresome, but there's plenty of complexity on display as well.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"The Abominable Snowmen"

Aired Sept 30 – Nov 4, 1967

6 Episodes

Story 38

Written by Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln


Directed by Gerald Blake

Synopsis

The TARDIS arrives in Tibet in 1935 and the Doctor visits the remote Detsen monastery in order to return a sacred bell, the ghanta, given to him for safe keeping on a previous visit.

There he meets an Englishman, Travers, who’s on an expedition to track down the legendary Abominable Snowmen or Yeti.

It transpires that the Yeti roaming the area are actually disguised robots powered by control spheres, which scare away or kill anyone who approaches. The High Lama Padmasambhava, whom the Doctor met hundreds of years earlier on his previous visit, has been taken over by a nebulous alien being, the Great Intelligence, which has artificially prolonged his life and is now using him to control the Yeti by way of models on a chessboard-like map.

The Intelligence's aim is to create a material form for itself and take over the Earth. The Doctor banishes it back to the astral plane, allowing Padmasambhava finally to die in peace.

Analysis

The Abominable Snowmen is both an unusual story for its era and a typical one at the same time. It's the second story in the "Monster Season", an era infamous for its reliance on the monster of the week format as well as the base under siege setting. Both of these decisions for this season came from the production team in order to capitalize ratings (viewers loved a good monster) and to save costs (fewer sets and smaller casts mean more money elsewhere), but they did reduce the show to its most simplistic premise; Doctor Who fights monsters. In that regard, this story is typical of the ones that surround it.