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This review is from: Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors [DVD] (DVD)
Although I watched 'The Ice Warriors' when it was released on VHS, I feel as if I have just watched it for the first time. The picture quality, which was pretty grainy on tape, has been radically improved and with the addition of the two animated missing episodes, the story is complete at last.
It took me a little while to get used to the animation. The characters' movements seemed at little 'Mary, Mungo and Midge' after just watching the real actors, but the team behind the animation have done a really good job, superimposing cartoon figures on the original backgrounds in a way that is faithful to the episodes. With an audio track that has been superbly restored by Mark Ayres, I soon became completely absorbed by the story and forgot that I was watching a cartoon.
Indeed, the quality of the animation in 'The Ice Warriors' and 'Invasion' has reached a level where I think that it would be viable to release a whole story in this format. I'm sure that most fans of this era would rather rather an animated 'Evil of the Daleks' than nothing at all.
As for the story itself, I was amazed at how much the production team had achieved on a low budget. The sets and costumes were stunning (I'll turn a blind eye to Peter Sallis's very fake beard and the door on the Ice Warriors' space ship that only half shuts) and the cast give an imaginative script everything they've got.
It seems to be a given that the 'Classic' Doctor Who stories were much slower in pace, but 'The Ice Warriors' is anything but, plunging the viewer into the action from the very beginning. What this story does have that many modern episodes lack is that 'behind the sofa' feeling of menace. The claustrophobic setting of the base and Dudley Simpson's wonderfully evocative music create a real tension and nearly 50 years on, the story still excites.
The Ice Warriors are at their scariest, although they do have a few little quirks that were wisely dropped in subsequent stories, including a strange, laughter-like "Ssss ssss sssss" (indeed, there's a lot of hissing, which very occasionally makes the dialogue hard to follow). Also at one point, after shooting a man with their sonic guns, two Ice Warriors appear to do a 'high five',which is unintentionally amusing (thankfully, nobody did high fives in 1967). But high fives and hissing aside, these malevolent, warlike Ice Warriors are a far cry from the noble warriors that Jon Pertwee encountered in his first Peladon adventure.
The extras are up to the usual standard and include a 'making of' documentary, a feature about the animation and the video links that were featured in the VHS release. I particularly enjoyed watching Sonny Caldinez's entertaining recollections of his time as an Ice Warrior and Frazer Hines's fond recollections of Wendy Gifford's sexy outfit.
To conclude, this is a story that ticks all of my boxes: a base under siege, a Dudley Simpson score, women in outlandishly sexy outfits, thoroughly merciless aliens, Peter Barker and Peter Sallis, Shughie McFee from Crossroads (or Archibald Ives from 'The Great Escape'), Jamie and Victoria and, most of all, the wonderful Patrick Troughton.