Cool, So To Speak, Things About “The Ice Warriors”
(And 24 Stupid Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 401/2
1. The base crew wear Sixties-tastic costumes visibly based on circuit boards. It looks like an explosion on Carnaby Street.
2. It’s not a million miles from the Gerry Anderson series UFO either.
3. “Oh, not another mastodon!” is one of those lines which is even better out of context.
4. The production looks very expensive, with a convincing ice base, a lot of costumes, and a full complement of monsters.
5. Jamie complains about the snow, saying “Tibet was bad enough, I think you’ve put us down just further up the mountain!” However, “The Abominable Snowman,” filmed in North Wales, famously featured no snow whatsoever.
6. Penley is played by Peter Sallis, who would go on to ruin his career with far too many episodes of Last of the Summer Wine.
7. There’s so many high-pitched noises in this story that dogs go crazy listening to it.
8. In the 1960s, “the Vibro-Chair” probably didn’t sound as dodgy as it does today.
9. The term Ice Warrior is coined by Walters. This is quite clearly not the name of the race, despite the fact that they use the name themselves in “The Monster of Peladon.”
10. Nice juxtaposition of the Georgian country house with the sophisticated Sixties-futuristic technology of the base.
11. Angus Lennie played a character called Shughie McFee in Crossroads, who went into a fridge to get some pork chops and didn't return for four years.
12. “He uses scientists’ craniums as stepping stones for his ambitions.” Block that metaphor!
13. The solution to the Ice Age, according to both the Doctor and Leader Clent, is to increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere… mirroring the old joke about how the coming ice age will be counteracted by the coming greenhouse effect.
14. Although the climate disaster which Clent’s team are combating is man-made rather than natural, he exults “science triumphant over nature!” when it succeeds.
15. Sixties concerns include: solutions for world famine, environmental degradation, overreliance on computers, cold logical women in white plastic knee-boots.
16. Also anti-technology dirty hippies who act as fifth columnists, trying to find common cause with the enemy invaders and getting gunned down for their pains.
17. The Warrior who appears in episode 2 is wearing a quite different helmet to the one who wakes up at the end of episode 1.
18. More seriously, the one who wakes up is Rintan, but by the next episode he’s turned into Varga.
19. “The Omega Factor!” The Doctor exclaims, reading Penley’s notes and anticipating developments in British television SF over the next fifteen years.
20. The Ice Warriors names are Varga, Zondal, Turoc, Rintan and Isbur.
21. The gun built into each Ice Warrior’s forearm is actually a battery torch.
22. They were also originally supposed to have lights behind their eyepieces, until someone realized how much heat that would generate.
23. Victoria’s entire dialogue is spoken in a tone of mild to extreme hysteria, with her performance at the end of Episode 3 reaching the point where Zondal loses it and attempts to blow her head off with a huge sonic cannon, before that killjoy Varga intervenes.
24. The Ice Warriors roll their heads when they talk.
25. Nice design on the Ice Warriors generally, with their armour making them look like Elizabethan tortoises.
26. They also make for an original twist on the usual little-green-men stereotype of Martians.
27. Under it all some of them are unbelievably dumb, with Turoc spending all his time during Episode 4 chasing Victoria, who’s hardly the sharpest tool in the box herself.
28. The fact that she shouts at the top of her lungs during a cave-in, bringing yet more ice down, can be taken as evidence of her general mental aptitude.
29. However, Turoc’s is exemplified by the fact that Victoria actually has to scream at him at one point while he’s pursuing her to let him know where she is.
30. The rest of the Warriors seems to have noticed Victoria’s lack of brains, as Varga says that they need Victoria “to draw an intelligent being from the base.”
31. Penley looks like his beard has been put on with burnt cork.
32. This story has the entire base-under-siege checklist: Piece of all-controlling technology which proves less than reliable; dotty commander who spends half his time talking to a disembodied voice on a speaker; base covered in plastic dome in a hostile environment; alien invader arriving; the Doctor talking the base crew into accepting him as an expert in something vague; alien menace planning on using piece of all-controlling technology to destroy humans; humans using piece of all-controlling technology to destroy aliens.
33. Brian Hales also originally had the Ice Warriors being cyborgs; had the design crew decided to follow through on this, the similarities to the early Sixties Cybermen adventures would have been complete.
34. The Doctor asserts that if Varga takes the atmospheric pressure in the airlock down to zero, he will explode. NASA experiments have indicated that this is a complete and total myth.
35. Plus it’s the most contrived cliffhanger ever: since the Doctor wants to get in to the Ice Warrior ship, why stand around inside the airlock antagonizing them?
36. On the episode 4 cliffhanger, Varga counts to four without the Doctor giving in; at the start of episode 5, the Doctor gives in at the count of three.
37. Ice Warriors laugh with a kind of percussive hiss, like Cartoon Head in Ideal. Sadly, they never did this again.
38. We hear the sound of wolves howling and see wolf footprints in the snow, but what Jamie and Penry are finally confronted with is the smallest and least threatening-looking bear in the Northern Hemisphere.
39. Which has the result of making Jamie look like a total coward for screaming like a girl at Penry to shoot it.
40. The bear in question was actually filmed in the studio, hired from a company called Zoo-Rama at a cost of 70 pounds.
41. “Bet you didn’t think you’d have ice monsters and things like that when you volunteered for the job, did you?” (pause) “Well, did you?” (pause) “I didn’t volunteer.”
42. “Zondal, you shall man the sonic gun.” Shouldn’t that be “Martian the sonic gun”?
43. It livens up the story considerably if you watch it thinking that Clent and Penley are ex-lovers, and Clent hasn’t got over Penley walking out on him.
44. Which makes Clent’s remark that he’s come to think of the Doctor as Penley’s replacement more than a little dodgy.
45. “You’ve got to wave your splendid ionizer about to prove that it works!” Penley accuses Clent of overcompensation.
46. What the hell does “blast this building into a state of ion flux!” mean?
47. All 1960s SF technology seems to involve radiation, ultrasonic waves or mercury; this story scores some kind of hat-trick by featuring all three.
48. The Ice Warriors’ way of dealing with painful high-frequency sound is to beat themselves about the head.
49. It says something that this story is actually, at one point, outpaced by a glacier.
50. However, in the final analysis, “The Seeds of Death” was worse.