Thursday, November 14, 2013

Doctor Who-Cold War

                            On route to Las Vegas the doctor and Clara find themselves aboard a Soviet submarine in 1983,during the height of the cold war. The crew has captured what they believe to be a Mammoth but one of the crew of the submarine has thawed it prematurely-causing the systems on board to begin malfunctioning and the submarine to begin sinking. This coincides with the initial appearance of the TARDIS,and now Submarine commander Captain Zhukov immediately suspects the doctor and Clara of being Western spies. Before this can be resolved the submarine buckles and Clara is knocked out. When she awakens she find the submarine has sunken,oxygen and power on on minimum and the TARDIS has disappeared. Before the doctor can convince Zhukov and his crew of his good intentions they end up confronting the source of their troubles-not a mammoth as Zhukov had suspected but what the doctor instantly recognizes as an ice warrior. Said Ice Warrior introduces himself as Skaldak as a member of the crew attacks him out of fear. 

                     The doctor insists,due to the Ice Warriors Martian code of combat,should be locked up or the crew will be in danger of destruction. Not to mention Skaldak is one of the most revered Ice Warriors in Martian history. Wanting only to speak to the doctor,Zhukov only agrees that Clara be allowed in to negotiate as a neutral. Believing she is successful at first,the doctor and the submarine crew are petrified when Skaldak escapes from his protective armor,threatens the life of its crew and than the entire planet by swearing to begin a tactical nuclear strike with all Earth nations by launching the subs compliment of missiles. In  the end the doctor convinces Skaldak that human kind is evolving the same way his world had and,if he destroys them now,that won't be able to continue. When a Martian space craft comes to retrieve Skaldak,the doctors lesson in mercy pays off as he releases the ships power back to itself and disarms the missiles. Meanwhile the doctor and Clara hitch a ride back to the TARDIS,whose metaphoric panic button took it to the opposite pole, with the now jocular Zhukov.

                 Very much in the history of stories such as Tom Baker's Horror At Fang Rock or David Tennant's Midnight this is a very claustrophobic  bottle story that strong emphasizes character interaction. This story however has a far stronger sociopolitical back round than either. The sense of ever present danger doesn't come so much from Ice Warrior Skaldak-a triumphant return for the second/third doctor era alien adversary/sometimes ally,as it does from the atmosphere of the cold war as it reached its fevered pitch. The one character that really helps ease the high tension level is Professor Grisenko who,brilliantly realized by David Warner (a favorite actor of mine being a Star Trek admirer in particular) who is very Western oriented and whose love of new wave music by Ultravox and in particular Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf" provide some lightly comedic comfort to an understandably frightened Clara. This element,as well as Captain Zhukov's willingness to negotiation with Skaldak,provides for the doctor to witness Soviet Russian culture as it was about to enter the era of Perestroika. 
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