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05 May 2013 @ 04:20 pm
Cold War  
My first thought, after watching Cold War was that it represented a departure for Gatiss whose scripts, and even more so whose novels, tend to hark strongly back to Classic Who. My second thought was surprise at my first, since Cold War was a base under siege story straight out of the Troughton era.

The best explanation I can offer for my sense that Cold War was something different was the comparative age of the supporting cast. Both Liam Cunningham as Captain Zhukov and David Warner as Professor Grisenko gave convincing performances with a gravitas that younger actors often struggle with. Doctor Who, understandably, has a tendency to fill the screen with the young and pretty and I think I was reacting to the fact that the supporting cast here both looked and behaved in a more mature fashion.

I also think Cunningham and Warner lifted a rather disappointing script to a higher level than it would otherwise have had. The scenes which focused on the close quarters of the submarine, and the tense and potentially deadly international situation were very effective. On the other hand I wasn't really sure that turning Ice Warriors into deadly fast alien-esque creatures outside of their armour really added much to the monster. I also despaired a bit at the whole "attack one of us, attack all of us" rule - because it is a mind-numbingly stupid rule to have, and an even more mind-numbingly stupid rule to apply in the particular situation in which Skaldak found himself. Given that Who lore establishes the Ice Warriors as a rich, war-like, but not necessarily evil culture, it was disappointing to have one of their greatest heros reduced to some sort of mindless rule-following idiot.

This was also another script that highlighted the ways that 45 minutes changes the dynamic of the show. In classic Who the hard line societ Lieutenant Stepashin would have had a much greater part to play. There would have been a struggle between Stepashin and Zhukov for command of the submarine with the Doctor and Skaldak acting as catalysts for the human drama. We had none of this and, instead, Stepashin was reduced to Ice Warrior fodder and an excuse for Skaldak to pick a nuclear war as his chosen means to end the human race.

I liked this episode, but I liked it because of the atmospheric setting and the performances. I disliked pretty much everything about the re-introduction of the Ice Warriors as a monster, and that is a shame.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/96422.html.
bookwormsarahbookwormsarah on May 5th, 2013 03:44 pm (UTC)
I found the episode thoroughly dull and predictable, and was astonished by the rave review on the Grauniad website. I spent most of it thinking "Oh just get on with it"... I probably need a rewatch when I am in a more receptive mood!
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 5th, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure it will improve on re-watching, to be honest. I was just reading a review which pointed out several largely unexplained idiocies in the plot which I suspect I missed on first viewing because, as I say, I was enjoying the setting and performances. However I'm fairly sure they would irritate much more second time around, especially once I know what is happening and so know what will be explained and what won't.
Gabby: fezgabcd86 on May 5th, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
Even without having any knowledge of old Who (aside from BT Tower goes mad and attacks London with a lorry-robot) I think what you said about the limited time each episode has rings very true on this run - all the secondary characters have seemed too under-cooked for me to care about them, and all the plots get really rushed. But the episodes weren't any longer before, so I don't know what's changed really.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 5th, 2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
You've forgotten the multiple Mona Lisas in Paris. You must come and visit again sometime and I will expose you to more classic Who. There's a whole fish people ballet sequence that you probably* should not die without having seen. I'm not sure NuWho has ever been all that comfortable with the 45 minute time slot but I think it's more obvious now when the writers are, I think, more overtly influenced by the structure of classic Who.

* for a very low value of probably.
bunnbunn on May 5th, 2013 06:13 pm (UTC)
I too felt that this episode felt rushed, didn't really hav the time to explore the characters and settings as well as Id have liked.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 5th, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC)
It is odd that I like, overall, Moffat's version of Doctor Who a lot more than I liked Davies', but on some level it does feel a lot more constrained and uncomfortable. I'm not sure Moffat is the moderniser that Davies was, and that Doctor Who clearly needed.
reggietate: daleksreggietate on May 5th, 2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
I liked it, and enjoyed the updated Ice Warrior more than I thought I might, but I think that if each adventure was two episodes long (with one single as an opener, or attached to the end to make a three-ep finale) the show would be much improved. 90 minutes isn't that much short of the length of a Classic Who four-part adventure, and you also would get a cliffhanger in each story as well as more time to develop the characters and plot.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 6th, 2013 08:00 am (UTC)
I think I felt that it was a shame that the new things they brought to the Ice Warriors were new ways to make them scary rather than more depth to their background. Why not just have a new super-fast alien instead?