Doctor Who series 7: Cold War review

Review Simon Brew 13 Apr 2013 - 18:42

A classic foe returns in Mark Gatiss' latest Doctor Who episode, Cold War. Here's our review, with spoilers...

This review contains spoilers. Our spoiler-free review is here.

Cold War

"This means nothing to me. Ooooooh, Vienna"

Mark Gatiss' Cold War sees Doctor Who on surer, less risky ground than last week's The Rings Of Akhaten. Given that the response to The Rings Of Akhaten has been, er, 'varied' (culminating in The Sun penning a piece quoting people saying it was the worst episode ever), Cold War is likely to be a lot more unifying. Certainly, amongst the episodes of series 7 (in both its parts) thus far, it's the one that spans Who fans of different eras the most successfully (the hostile action displacement system!), and a rare sighting of an Ice Warrior is responsible for a good deal of that.

Gatiss is a long-time fan of the Ice Warriors, and his re-introduction of them is effective. The episode also brings to the mind Rob Shearman's superb 2005 story Dalek (which, of course, did a similar reboot job for sci-fi's favourite pepperpots), and while Cold War isn't up to that standard, it's just as reverential and respectful towards its key foe.  

In this case though, we meet the Ice Warrior nice and early (we got a bit of a starter guide to him in the first ten minutes), and there's also the inspired setting of a claustrophobic, broken Russian nuclear submarine to set it loose on. That's the staple of many a good horror movie - a monster versus a crew in a confined location -  and Gatiss has a nice tip of the hat to one or two of them. He certainly knows the horror genre inside out, and that's clear for large parts of the episode.

And if you can overlook the bizarre moment when someone decides to thaw the creature out and set it free right at the beginning (necessary perhaps, but nonetheless a not-very-believable act), the Dalek parallels continue. This is a deadly foe that the episode gets us to sympathise with after all, and whose motivations for doing what it's doing are explained. Furthermore, it also, by focusing in, shows us just how effective one monster can be, rather than lots of them. It all feels just a bit more tangible a threat, in or out of its armour (although it looked better in it).

The Ice Warrior himself looked in good shape, too. This is an effective modernisation of a classic enemy (Matt Smith's reaction to seeing him for the first time was just brilliant too), helped by armour that actually looks look it might deflect something were a projectile aimed in its direction. And in an episode that drips with a feel of older Doctor Who, having the Ice Warrior was a treat. We suspect this may not be the last that we've seen of Grand Marshall Skaldak - in spite of the E.T.-a-like moment near the end - and we certainly hope not.

It was the Ice Warrior that gave us the slight twist in the story, too. His escape from his armour was something that allowed Gatiss to both drop in a useful rug pull to set up the middle part of the episode, and then inject some fresh threat near the end when the armour started walking, RoboCop-like. Cue corridors washed in blue, tense music, and an ongoing, albeit quite short, game of hide and seek in the midst of it all.

It all left less room for some of the other supporting players. There was most definitely a redshirt feel about some of the faces that the aforementioned Warrior disposed of. It was left to Liam Cunningham's submarine captain (we'd have handed over a Toffee Crisp instantly to hear him utter the line "Comradesh, we shail into hishtory", Connery-style) and the 80s-loving professor, played by David Warner, to add some gravitas to things, and both duly delivered.

And, if you'll indulge us, the episode also wove in a thread that's been continuing for the second half of the series thus far. Namely, Jenna-Louise Coleman's Clara appearing to be treading in Rose Tyler's shoes a little again.

The show has already taken her to a vast alien world, and spent some time establishing her contemporary backstory. Here, just as it was Rose that brought the Daleks back to life, it's Clara who gets to go face to face with a Who enemy of old for the first time in decades. Given casting announcements that have been made for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary episode later in the year, this is either leading up to something, or it's us taking our barmy paranoid speculation medicine again. Both are plausible.

Either way, Jenna-Louise Coleman is putting across a convincing mix of fear and bravery in her performance. This is the final episode in what Steven Moffat described as effectively a trio of series openers, and Clara is very firmly established already.

The bulk of the episode itself proved to be a decent one in all, once again choosing to establish the year in which it was set - 1983, we're seemingly treading slowly through Clara's life - through music. And also once more, a bit of a sing-song was in order, albeit with Duran Duran on the stereo this week. We suspect that won't garner quite as many complaints, although we can't imagine the otherwise wonderful David Warner getting many requests to headline a karaoke party.

Still, the wrap up, once more, was a bit disappointing. It feels as though there's a continual over-reliance on a good speech and some sonic screwdriver waving at the moment to conclude Who stories, which may be a little disingenuous to Mark Gatiss' script. Yet it didn't, when everything was finalised, feel wholly satisfying. Granted, there was plenty to enjoy beforehand, but endings are tricky things, and that's where Cold War arguably struggled the most.

That's a pity, as the episode itself had atmospheric moments, and the tight, controlled setting of it injected a welcome sense of claustrophobia. The result was a solidly entertaining adventure, and one with a broader appeal certainly. But with Dalek as the obvious comparative touchstone, it seemed to fall just slightly short. Enjoyable though, and we do suspect it's going to get a more positive response than last week's episode...

Read our review of The Rings Of Akhaten, which we, er, seemed to like more than most people, here.

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Top stuff. Mark Gatiss should write all the episodes. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hungry like the Bad Wolf?

A mash-up of Red October, Alien & E.T. for sure, but for me a really enjoyable episode.

much improvement on last week and I really enjoyed the subtle homage to Alien. I agree with the review, the only letdown was the Grand Speech from the Doctor saves the day again.

Certainly the "Dalek" similarities were there, and the sound effect seemingly stolen from a Predator was distracting, but otherwise it was the most solid Doctor-Who-like episode in a long while. Probably the best in season seven so far and definitely Mark Gatiss' best script to date. I really enjoyed it.

Ice warrior - and they didn't kill him:)

Certainly the best episode since Dinosaurs on a Spaceship :)

Who is at it's best when "referencing" sci-fi greats. Seeds of Doom was just "The Thing/Avengers ep/Quatermass" . Great episode and the best reboot of a classic monster so far

Really enjoyed that episode Claras reaction to seeing the bodies was spot on you would be terrified David warner was fantastic in the scenes trying to calm her afterwards, great stuff!

Pretty damn good! Better than last week's yawnathon

Miles better than last week, and to be honest I felt the ending made a lot more sense than most who episodes of late, he called for his buddies to pick him up and they did, off he went. Clara is perfection of late, I don't think I've ever warmed so quickly to a companion.

That screwdriver did more than ever.

Surely there is a finite amount of times in which the Doctor can give a big hero speech, wave the sonic screwdriver and save the world from destruction? A disappointing show which initially had much potential- yet saying that, anything was better than the disaster of last weeks Rings of Akhaten. Clara is sweet, if a bit quiet this episode.

I disagree with your review. Worse episode of the series so far.

If i was to rate them-

The bells of saint john- 4/10

The rings of Akhaten- 2/10

Coldwar- 0.1/10

This series seems to be getting worse as it goes along

Rubbish. Oh well. Hungry like the Wolf any link to Bad Wolf? i hope not. Can we move on?

couldn't take this alien seriously kept thinking of Oscar the Grouch

Thank you, thank you. Just goes to show what Dr Who can do when it eschews the tiresome modern-era device of ramping up the "everything that has ever existed and will is screwed", then two minutes joining hands so wuv can save the day and never mind the eh-whatery.

Legacy stuff, really - base under siege, the return of a Trout-Pert classic monster, lots of lovely corridors. But it works, and well. Nailed it with its choice of setting and apposite use of the concept of MAD, particularly faithfully referencing the intriguing moral ambiguity of the big green men(?) from Mars. Warriors - clue's in the name. Hide the shark - it's more effective. Satisfying pastiche nudges and winks. For some reason I'm starting to get something of an SJS vibe from Clara - welcome after too much shrill swaggering geezerness from the new era companions. Well, for my liking anyway.

More like this please.

One small gripe though. If anyone's interested, the guy with the blowtorch in the precredits calls the "specimen" "milaya moya" - it means "my dear", if anyone's interested. But his pronunciation was as comically wrong as Comrade Connery ever managed. It really wouldn't have taken five minutes to sort that out.

Well for me that was MUCH better than last weeks offering! That said IMO the episode started better than it finished....for example Skaldak's actions from dismembering 2 crew members who didn't fire a shot to saving David Warners old man who did fire at him because Clara asks him to seemed a bit disjointed to me. On the minor niggle side I didn't like the Ice Warriors spindly hands!! Still a lot to like here, Clara's fearful realisation that this is all too real, the Ice Warrior himself (spindly hands aside) and some great acting from the regulars plus David Warner and Liam Cunningham. Overall I would give it 7 out of 10 on first watch....that may well go up when I watch it again later! Roll on next week when I hope Neil Cross redeems himself :)

While I suppose I can see your point in Cold War being less ambitious then last weeks, this was for me a far better written effort then last weeks, with the whole emotional objects as currency or weapons or just about whatever the plot needed to be. Overall Rings felt very rushed and perhaps filmed a few drafts to early. This weeks adventure on the other hand had no such problem.

Mark Gatiss for me has never been a great doctor who writer in the past. His plots feel rushed and over stuffed, as if he's writing his episodes with aspirations of it being a black and white six part Trougton serial. However, his better episodes have always been with a good solid antagonist that he could lather up in his own unique blend of horror and Doctor Who's long running theme of ideology clashing. This was most evident in The Unquiet Dead when The Doctor and the gelth rejecting what, in their alien eyes, is a rather romantic notion of respecting dead hunks of meat that used to be people when they could serve another purpose.. Here he repeats the formula fantastically with Skaldak, an alien who wages war on the planet simply because, when it gets down to it, the Russian crew of the sub chose to fight dirty. Coming from the mouth of a human antagonist would have sounded silly, but Skaldak, with his fantastic design and brilliant voice (courtesy once more of the frankly flawless Nick Briggs, is there anything the man can't do?) allows, for me anyway, his threats and motivations to carry real dramatic weight and realism that villains such as the Master or Davros lack most of the time.

Aside from some pacing problems, this weeks Doctor Who was fantastic. Brilliant visuals, fantastic performances (David Warner for the 12th Doctor anyone?) and fantastic comeback for one of the shows best monsters makes this, for me, the gem of the series thus far, as far as regular episodes go anyway, still think the Snowman was a little bit better. Sure, the ending was a little tension defusing, and it seemed a little out of character for Skaldak to just let them go but I can forgive that for the amount I enjoyed the rest of the episode, which is the most I've enjoyed Doctor Who for quite a while. If Moffat has managed to get this good a script from Gatiss, one of the shows lesser writers (not that he's bad as I LOVE his work outside of Doctor Who) then the Neil Gaimen penned Cyberman story should be something really be something tha will need my jaw removing from ground via crane.

As a huge hater of Moff-era Who, one of the numpties, hahahahh, I would just like to express that THAT WAS, HANDS DOWN, THE BEST EPISODE OF MOFF-ERA WHO SINCE THE BEGINNING OF HIS TENURE. I am amazed that it was so well written. It was almost a perfect example of what Dr Who should be in the modern age. Outstanding. Mark Gatiss for showrunner please he understands how to write Who, not like Mr Moffat. That episode has almost singe-handedly restored my faith in Who. Well blooming done to all involved. Here's a quick list of the things I liked, normally I would spend hours ranting about all that was wrong, not this time. See, Who can be good. It occurs to me that the better episodes are not written by the genius Moff, they are written by others, Gatiss, Gaiman, even Chibnal.

The Ice Warrior!!!!!!!! Cannot stress how fantastic it was to see the old nemesis return. I was worried that they might have made yet another classic villain turn out to be a weak afterthought, easily defeated by a crying baby or two, not so. I was a bit miffed that the BBC showed the IW in the ads before the episode aired, I thought, well done, way to go on ruining the suspense, but they pulled a blinder in revealing that IW we saw, was only the armour. The creature within was menacing, in the shadows. A bit underwhelming when you saw i's face, but hey, no complaints from me, as all the good stuff was more than enough to fill in anything that I felt let the episode down. I loved the diplomatic interplay between the Doctor and the IW. That, is what Who should be. No big bangs, fancy explosions, cgi, intricately woven nonsensical wibbley wobble happenings. Almost a throwback to what made Dr Who great, the Dr defeats a deadly nemesis with nothing but his wits, and ability to talk the tyrant into seeing sense. Not a screwdriver plot point resolution in sight. That, Steven Moffat, you blinking genius, is how you write Dr Who. Ice Warriors rule!!!! x Infinity.

The story was set in 1983, the year I was born, liked it

The story, while being fairly simplistic, was written well. It kept me hooked, throughout. The characters were interesting, and the dialogue was not great, but was a massive improvement over the onslaught of wibbly wobbly chin boy shenanigans we have now come to expect from Who. For the third week running, the characters spoke like real people. Gatiss even managed to get in a very subtle "gay" reference, remarkable, it wasn't over blown or seedy, as we have come to expect, these days.

Matt Smith, for the third week in a row, he really is acting like a Doctor now. I could almost grow to like him. Keep it up, Matt. I knew he could be great under the right writer. Mark Gatiss was able to write him in a believable, and likeable manner. Well done, Matt. Even the subtle sexual context "breaking in the tardis" reference was executed with aplomb.

The production values were sound, nothing to write home about, the exterior shots of the sub, you could easily tell it was a model, but still well done. The cgi IW craft wasn't remarkable, but was serviceable. The sound quality., was good. No overly loud, distracting music drowning out the important dialogue. Perfect.

Did I mention the Ice Warrior? A single, stranded, Ice Warrior took out a sub and almost brought the world to it's knees, but the Dr was able to talk him out of it, Just like old times. Fantastic. The new, improved IW did complete justice to it's older counterpart, not like the dreadful Siluriain Lesbian lizards. Praise Phobos.

Clara, I like the subtlety to her, after the dreadful screaming in your face "please somebody punch me to shut me the heck up" attitude of Amy Pond. At moments she is very understated, which, is great. The companion should never take centre stage over the Dr. The "Ultravox" karaoke moments with the old sailor boy were good. I liked how his main concern of learning about the future was not what were next weeks lotto numbers? Who won the grand national? What year did the iron curtain fall? When did maggie thatcher die, etc? but his main concern was knowing whether Ultravox stayed together as a band, golden moments like those are what make this show in it's modern incarnation.

The Ice Warrior ******* rocked!!!! He showed more nobility and dignity in his hook claw than every member of the so called honourable mp's of this country, put together, will ever show. I want an Ice Warrior PM, and I want it now!

After this episode, I was really excited, next weeks looks a bit, humdrum from the trailer shot. I have never been a big fan of ghosts in Dr Who. But even if it proves to be the worst episode ever, this weeks more than makes up for it.

Ice Warriors are cool, exceedingly cool.

Moffat, bring back Sutekh, Great Intelligence who?, and I will forgive you completely. I don't know if it's the fact this nation breathed a huge collective sigh of relief, this week, or that the thrill of seeing this country the most united it's ever been since I was born, over the death of Davros, as affected me, but that was an awesome, awesome episode.

Go on Thatcherites, vote me down, you know you want to:)

I don't really love episodes of Dr Who the same way I love the thing that is Dr Who (which I realise is silly but hey), but this was pretty solidly enjoyable I thought. My favourite of part 7b so far. David Warner felt underused, praps they'll bring him back...or perhaps I should just be happy that a supporting character actually had a bit of, well, character. I don't really understand episodes of Who that don't properly establish the supporting cast (like Asylum of the Daleks. Hated that. And Oswald doesn't count in that one as she was too f*cking annoying to care about) - seeing as we know the main cast aren't going to get randomly offed mid series, DW only really works if there's a few supporting members we care about. Luckily this ep managed that :)

I was disappointed that all the Ice Warrior really did was skulk naked in the walls, and when he did get into his suit and kick some Russian ass, it was fleeting and poorly directed. I was disappointed that we never saw the Ice Warrior gun effect, which was the most memorable thing about them. Plus the comparisons with 'Dalek' were depressingly obvious. These last three episodes have been rather poor in my opinion. You can really tell that, under all the hype of 'series 7B,' these are episodes are basically run of the mill mid-season episodes.

You are not a true fan.



My god you really hate this show. I'd stop watching :P

Post of the week!

I agree!

As much as I rant about moff Who, I loved this episode. I mean, what;s not to like? Ice Warriors!!!! No Who fan could ever hate an episode that featured the IW's in for the first time in eons.

Wow. You were positive about Doctor Who! Glad you finally enjoyed an episode!

Generally I agreed with most points - though Moffat wrote some excellent episodes during the RTD era, Blink, The Girl in the Fireplace, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead. Also Doctor Who has always been an inconsistent beast. With both Classic and New, RTD and Moffat, you can point out some classics and some stinkers.

Not too sure about next week's episode either. But looking forward to Neil Gaiman's Cybermen episode and the next Gattis episode.

Also wouldn't say it was the best episode of the Moffat era, or even the best of the season. But a lot of fun and very enjoyable.

Seems you should give a reason ...

Don't forget he wrote the Idiot Lantern. :(

I know, I'm amazed myself. It's not like I take any pleasure at all in hating on my favourite show, I jut hope they could make all the episodes like that. Then I would be a very happy bunny.

I thought the point of that scene was that Warner's boffin was deliberately and artfully using humour to snap Clara out of a freak-out.
Mind you, if they'd wanted historical accuracy, a tolerated Soviet bohemian at the time would probably have been more into Deep Purple...
Incidentally, for me the timing is unintentionally cute. This episode is absolutely shot-through with anti-them-and-us sentiment.

Doctor's wife was also ok:)

I enjoyed this one a lot. In fact, I've found all three enjoyable on a basic level, conceptually. But something NEEDS to be done about the pacing! There's no room for character and no satisfying conclusion in any of the three episodes. My other problem with Rings was that there were two great-looking, very 'alien', very creepy antagonists (the gas mask things and the mummy) that were cast aside with barely any explanation in favour of a planet with a face that just sort of ripped off the living sun in '42'. That episode needed to pick up somewhere with a chase or a horror piece and it had two monsters to help it, but they were inexplicably disregarded. Mark Gatiss did NOT make that mistake here. Right to the end, this was a very atmospheric mix of old and new Who, doffing its cap to the Ice Warriors of the classic series while trying something new by having him slink out of his armour. My only problem is the rushed ending, which seems to be a favourite thing to do this year. In fact, it's been present since the start of Moffat's tenure. Pacing, Steven, PACING! Give the man 15 more minutes!!
But I'm especially looking forward to 'Hide' next week. Continuing the atmospheric horror theme with a fantastic guest cast ensemble! I'm hoping for a pick-up on this one. The episodes are all potentially great, but the big problem is the pace. I hope they can fix it soon. Before the 50th at the VERY latest. But by next week, preferably.

That wasn't half as bad as people reckon. It was a snapshot of vintage british life, during that time. Fair enough, the wire sucked, but you have to admit, her TV head was quite frightening:)

wow you have a lot of advertisements on this site. the writing was a tiny thin column in the middle

I think the reason people enjoyed it is because it was a standalone, and felt a bit like an old Jon Pertwee episode. Sometimes the over reaching series arcs just leave everyone confused and bewildered, and the resolutions can be a bit meh. And this goes back to the RTD era. Series 1 had some amazing moments, The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances (Moffat written) but the Big Wolf ending meh. And then last season - we all knew the Doctor wasn't going to die, and guessed he would either be using a plastic Doctor form, or the robot to escape it. And the wedding to River Song? meh. I think Doctor Who should go back to standalones using a variety of talent to write them.

Someone's gotta pay for the fake "10 out of 10" reviews:)


So do I. Steven overextended himself with the arcs. I often criticise his writing but as you said, his standalone were competent I think he is over ambitious at times, and tries to cram everything in that pops into his head. Which simply does not work. That's why we end up with dropped plot threads, probably because Steven can't remember what he wrote previously, as there is just too much of it. The simpler stories work best, because they can focus on the character building then, instead of trying to make everything fit together, but making a pigs ear of it in the processes.

It's just like IGN.

It's always 10/10 these days isn't it?
They never used to trot out everyone from leads to key grip to breathlessly gush about how xing wonderful/insightful/witty/breathtaking/groundbreaking the next ep or series is.

Moffat's standalones are more than competent, all the ones he did during the RTD era were outstanding, though he has been a bit inconsistent since taking over as the show's main writer. Be a bit careful calling for Gattis to take over, he has been very inconsistent so far. Tonight's episode was good, but he has done some real stinkers as well, Idiot's Lantern for one. But Doctor Who should be a show you can drop in and out of. Story arcs have never really worked - even in the classic days. The Trial of a Timelord? A Doctor Who story should never go beyond say 3 episodes. Return of old foes or allies with nods to past meetings sure, but not a season or three long mystery. I just know the questions that should never be answered will be a disappointing resolution. And for the love of God! Don't give him a name!

He wrote that dull episode about dolls from the last season.

No need to get carried away, old chap:) I agree about the name. If ever that question is answered, the whole mystery of the show, will evaporate in seconds and there will no longer be any point watching. And you can bet with the way the bbc is, these days, it will be a nice pc name that keeps everybody happy, something like Doctor "Arnold Ibrahim David Zeta" lol They will have to appeal to every group in the country, lol.

Well, he does have other commitment, which is the excuse used every time by Moff fangirls:)

Tom Baker used to knock guy out almost every week one time, Colin Baker took down an entire crew of cybers. I have only seen Matt punch that android bloke from Victory. Although he did take a good hook from Roricus the Roman.

What was up with the barbie doll??

Really enjoyed. Fave of Mark Gatiss's stories so far. But word on the street is Hide and Crimson Sky are the best scripts in this run.

Brilliant, well done.

My god the episode was amazing, great pacing, atmospheric, no expense spared on the set and the dry Ice, actual suggested gore (little Blood), Creepy monster, picture quality was amazing, only complaints was I could nearly make out what was being said and the cgi was-Meh. Gotta give it 8/10 Brilliant, Season 7 part 2 is the best Yet. And Hide looks MondBlowing (let's hope it's a s good as The unquite Dead) Can't wait great ep I (did anyone notice the "Rose" referneces The Babrie Doll and The Song about the wolf" give Cold War 8/10

A bit medicore in the resolution, but the Ice Warrior was decent when he was in his suit. Not really a blockbuster though.

I LOVED The Idoits Lantern, such a great story, Like this one it was well paced, coherent and Atmospheric, Mark Gatisi is good and the Idiots Lantern is an Underated episode.

Night Terrors was an Amazing episode, full of emotion and a nice message of accepting people. I loved the whol child alien thing,.

The doctors wife was utter trash and should be blocked from memories

Really? If I was t rate them I would have:

The Bells of Saint John- 9/10

The Rings of Akhaten- 7/10

Cold War- 8/10

nice solid run so far IMHO.

Each doctor is different. Can't see Matt Smith as an action man.

Did the sonic do anything at all other than falling on the ground and bing waved around for no reason.

If Mission to Magnus had been filmed it would have been very very easy to hate, believe me!

We differ then. :) That's the good thing about having a variety of writers, you can appeal to different people. Mark Gatis is best at horror. Great for 2 episodes a season, but you don't want a whole series infused with that much horror!

I don't like how she delivers her lines, glad she shuttled up

No need to attack Moff fans. Sorry, but if you are hired to write an episode - write the very best you can, And that is aimed at Moff too.

Question of the night - what was the deal with the doll? Blonde? Is it Rose?

That's what I mean, it was waved around an awful lot, despite being lost for a while. The Tardis thing was a bit of a cop-out too.

What do the Sun know about anything?

Thought the reaction was poor - needed an old skool scream imo.

Modern Who should revert back to multi-episode stories with cliffhangers rather than these standalone one episode stories that they've had since coming back. How can you build real tension and atmosphere in 45mins? - it didn't work in Colin Baker's era and it doesn't work today. It just leads to rushed, uninvolving runarounds filled with gaping plot holes, too much shouting and the over use of music to plug the lack of tension and atmosphere in the scripts!

So looking forward to this and so disappointed on so many levels. Very worried about the rest of this season and the 50th.

Was better than most of the eps over the past three years.

It was one of my favourites of Moffat's run.

I would also love to know this.

Reminded me of The Horror Of Fang Rock and also the bit in Resurrection of the Daleks where the Kaled Mutant escaped from it's metal shell.

More hints of Rose Tyler perhaps?

Yeah, I know what you mean. Partly because I think a more action Doctor was needed after David Tennant's Doctor quickly became pacifist to the extreme after his "fightin' hand" scene in The Christmas Invasion. I like the variety of violence tolerance in Doctors.

Also, I was watching the Romans this morning. I still love that scene where the Doctor is beating up the Roman assassin and giggling like Yoda because genuinely enjoyed doing it.

But this time the Grand Speech was from Clara making the Ice Warrior feel warm and tingly inside with compassion.

Very good points makes you wish that Mr Moffat was reading this site!

It would've been great if they'd kept the Ice Warrior as a surprise. Could've been this generation's Earthshock.

I thought the closing was far better this time. The exchange between the Doctor and the Ice warrior was a genuine exchange rather than the one-sided talking to the jack o'lantern plant of last week. And, more generally, it was an entertaining, intelligible piece

Doctor Who meets Alien. Really good fun. I've really enjoyed every episode in this run so far (yes, including Akhaten). Who seems to be better without the Ponds, as much as that pains me to say.

"I don't really love episodes of Dr Who the same way I love the thing that is Dr Who"

I know exactly what you mean by this. I love Doctor Who, but it's been a very long time since I loved a single, isolated episode.

I am not alone! Strange though isn't it? I get far more excited about DW than I do for, I think, any other drama, but I'm very rarely satisfied by each episode when it's done. I guess it's cos the stories are so colourful and dynamic that they draw people in enormously on what might be (and this sounds harsher than it's supposed to) a superficial level.

I will never stop loving DW; it is better written than 90% of what's on telly and it is a force for good in the world; it makes sci-fi palatable to the masses and, let's not forget, kids bloody adore it. However, I'm sure it's lost some of the dramatic oomph that it used to have (some of the series 1 eps feel a lot more powerful even now), and I guess perhaps I'm just getting a bit old for it.

Still, long live DW! I don't think I'd ever stop watching, even if it got genuinely bad (which it is a huge way away from ever doing)

Thought it was really rather boring. As with far too many recent episodes, inconsequential and unmemorable. Especially disappointing for a Gatiss episode.

As with all Who I enjoyed this lots, but compared to the last two weeks it fell flat on me. I enjoyed the previous two much more. This just felt.... lacking, somehow.

You're making me think I ought to rewatch it. I found it completely boring. Completely non-existent characters, boring plotting and a not particularly memorable return of a great baddie. Thought the setting and cold war tie-in was interesting but overall very dissatisfied.

I've had a great time with this run so far- Cold War was the best of the three but Bells and Rings were both 9/10 tales for me. Who's episode quality is still pretty consistent without the Ponds, but I agree that Jenna has breathed fresh air into Doctor Who again.

'I don't really love episodes of Dr Who the same way I love the thing that is Dr Who'
Exactly how I feel too. Quite a few other people I know have a similar response. I can't imagine ever stopping watching it but I really hope it regains something of the 'event television' thing it had about it soon after RTD brought it back.

I'm going to wade in with my own ratings. Just because.

The Bells of Saint John 6/10
The Rings of Akhaten 7.5/10
Cold War 7.5/10

I always found Pond era quite bumpy. Clara's episodes so far have been hugely consistent.

They used to have 10 more minutes with the old BBC running times. They needed it.

Genius,genius, genius! An earlier review mentioned that this episode was ‘less ambitious’. I was in the minority that though last week’s ‘Rings…’ episode was a bag of old pony (as was ‘Bells’ if I’m being honest). If alien kids singing arias to a smiley/frowny sun is ambitious, then I’ll take ‘classic monster running rampage in the claustrophobic setting of a Russian nuclear sub’ premise any day of the week thank you very much. Sorry, but when I was a kid, I wanted to have the bejezus scared out of me and so did everyone else I knew. Its an aspect that seems to have been neglected in the last couple of years. There’s been chattering abound about who should take over from Moffat as showrunner once he decides hand in the keys to the Tardis. My vote goes to Gatiss because he just gets it! You don't have to be big or clever, or reinvent the wheel. OK, maybe we have seen it all before and this episode was nothing new, but it works terrifically. Tension, drama, horror. Three words that Gatiss understands brilliantly and knows what made Dr Who fantastic in the first place… and in this anniversary year, what’s wrong with that? Oh... Jenna Louise Coleman... I love you!

Funny you mention Deep Purple, I'm sure I read somewhere in Ian Gillan's autobiography (yes I've read it) something about Child in Time having been adopted as an anthem by some dissident Soviet group way back when.
Agree with you about the anti us-and-them subtext too. ALSO: It's probably just a happy coincidence, but did anyone else find that Warner's presence almost seemed to undeline the Troughton-esque-ness of it what with him having played alongside the great man in The Omen?

Why would the Barbie doll hint about Rose?

I keep thinking the 45 minute length of Doctor Who is stifling good storyline. I am not saying we need a return to 4x25 minute episodes however it is interesting that so many drama programs today are around 60 minutes long.

Maybe the time has come for the BBC to have two lengths - one for the non-Commercial (ad-free) market and one for the Commercial market?

This also harbors back to a point I have raise before, in that the 50th Anniversary special is said to be 90 minutes in length...if it is a "movie-length" episode then maybe it should be like most movies made these days, in that it should be 110-120 minutes long.

I suspect some commentators and viewers are getting concerned that Doctor Who maybe losing its interest with the general public. Well I would suggest truncated and rushed story lines may have something to do with these fears. But is anyone listening?

Supposedly, we were to get three "intro" episodes to this season- just letting us get used to Clara, etc. Then later we'll get arc episodes, starting Sat. I think Bells was great, Rings and Cold War were average. I like Clara. I think the 50th will be OK. No way it can live up to the hype, but it'll be fine. The show has always been inconsistent. It works best when you watch a whole season in a short period of time rather than when you wait for it week by week because the beauty of the show is in the larger DW universe- not in the individual episodes. They are frequently disappointing as stand alone episodes.

Yes this is what I was asking too. I guess we don't know yet because no one has any answers. That's good because I thought maybe I was just missing something. What would the doll have to do with Rose? Someone else said that too. Maybe we'll find out later, like with the cowboy hat.

Have to agree. Loved the episode and the pacing up, until the last 10 minutes, was great, then it just seemed like it was rushed. Fantastic other than that with great visual references to Alien and Predator.

Did anyone else think that there was more to the David Warner character "Boffin"? Like perhaps he didn't really belong there? Could he be the Meddling Monk returning?

Yes, there was something about him who seemed other-worldly wise.

again...WOLF anyone?

Baker rarely got into fisticuffs - it was Pertwee who was constantly taking guys out with his 'Venusian karate', and they deliberately ceased that for Baker because whilst they were happy for the Doc to be theoretically a very capable fighter (given that he spent a century or two studying Venusian karate, and can train his swordsmanship by dropping in regularly on whoever happens to be the best trainer of all time in the entire universe), they didn't want it to become an 'easy escape method' for the doctor like it was for Pertwee (who would just knock the guard unconscious every time he was being guarded). Baker's doctor would talk his way around the guard, or confuse him with his inane wit - they don't so much retcon his fighting abilities, as much as the fact that the villains are designed such that there's barely a single villain in the entire Baker run that's susceptible to a direct melee assault.

Trust me - I was nerdy enough to drive my wife mad by watching every single episode from 'An Unearthly Child' to the end of McCoy, and even listened to the recovered audio from the missing Troughton episodes. Pertwee and Colin Baker (not Tom Baker) were the only doctors to routinely engage in direct violence (though McCoy certainly liked setting up others to do his violence for him).

Oh, and if you want a good example, see Genesis of the Daleks. One of the greatest Who serials, and it's Tom Baker vs an entirely humanoid set of enemies (the Daleks are still in the process of being made during the serial). There's numerous occasions where he gets imprisoned or put under guard, or needs to get past a guard, and every time it's done through his wit and fast tongue. Not a single fisticuff in the entire serial, despite it being one of very few Tom Baker stories to feature enemies that are susceptible to being punched.

Great ep! Some great insights about Ice Warrior culture. Makes me think this is not a one off. As for the comments about Rings being the "worst episode ever", Did these people actually see Love and Monsters? Or worse, Creature from the Pit?

It's just the Doctor being the Doctor. The 4th Doctor was known to go around with cricket balls in his pockets along with yo-yos and a Corgi model of the 1960s Batmobile. Just a bit of fun!

A terrific episode. Only two things I can think of to pick at: first was that at the conclusion, everyone seemed to forget that there were several men lying around the sub, torn to pieces. With that in mind, It seemed wrong when the Captain had a jolly good laugh when the Doctor requested a lift to the South Pole. Second, David Warner was vastly underused. Wasted, really. Why didn’t they just cast him as the Sub Commander? Although Liam Cunningham absolutely KICKED as the Captain.
I was a little put off by the thought of the Ice Warrior scampering/slithering about out of his armor, and his “witch fingers” took a bit of getting used to. But I did get used to them and I thought the entire episode was brilliant. And the reveal of the Ice Warrior’s face – Fantassssstic!
Bells of Saint John-7.5
Rings of Akhaten-4.5
Cold War-9.0

An extra 15 minutes would make a massive difference and save the endings being rushed....not going to happen whilst the BBC need to sell the show to America though.

I didn't really think this episode was anything special... Hopefully I'll find it better on a second viewing.

"Viva Las Vegas!"

That was a lot more like it. What a fun episode. Kind of like Doctor Who meets The X-Files (with a bit of a Sov Crimson Tide thrown in for good measure), though 11 is a lot more Mulder than Clara is Scully. She's something else entirely, perhaps the best companion in a long time, and I've liked them all.

It was better than last weeks episode.
But what kind of praise is that?
There is a condescension that pervades the storytelling and with Mark Gatiss excelling in shoehorning other films into this story it only serves to become a cliché driven exercise.
Doctor Who can and should be much bolder in it's approach. Originality must be the key to quality .
The Sonic Screwdriver has to go.

Other than seeing the Cold Warrior's face and yet another hokey overly optimistic ending, I though it was a really good episode. By far the best of the season. Even my calling the ending "hokey" may be too much, I mean the Ice Warrior's decision to destroy Earth was more based on desperation and feeling of being the last of his people, so when finding out otherwise, why not be the bigger serpent?

Also - did you spot - cue the appearance of the "red setting" on the sonic screwdriver.

Maybe I missed it through all the running and shouting, but was it explained why the Doctor and Clara traveled to the inside of a nuclear submarine?...

I'm a bit tired of endings being nice. Let's have some good old alien bashing for a change. It's only the mechanical monsters that get really beaten these days, everything else gets rhetoric until they change their minds.

At least this episode didn't have a 40 minute first act, even if the third act was still squeezed in at the end.

Over all it lacked suspense and at times defied logic (again).

The IW in the suit couldn't escape the chains, but the suit by itself *could* escape them.

This season's really going downhill which is a shame.

This was a weak episode that recycled the already hackneyed Alien plot and added Close Encounters of The Third Kind ending. David Warner was totally wasted. I kept expecting him to do something, anything, but no.

The resolution to the problem was so lame - look into my eyes! Really?

And did the doctor seriously say that mankind was just getting out of caves 5000 years ago!? The writer should seriously brush up on his human history and timelines before making the doctor sound like a fool!

The Doctor emerged from the Tardis saying 'Viva, Las Vegas', so presumably it was yet another instance of the Tardis taking him where he needed to go, not where he wanted to go.

He's either going to pop up again or there's a few scene's on the cutting room floor from this week's show. It was fairly strange, maybe he was just in for (failed) comic relief.

I agree, we need more time for some stories. Too much gets shoe horned in at the last moment.

That said the show is still longer than an hour of commercial TV and American shows seem to be able to provide decent storylines in their 42 minutes.

The thought behind one-off episodes is presumably that ppl/kids don't have the memory or attention to recall what happened last, which is pretty patronizing.

That same 'dramatic action' music is still being used in a variation of its original incarnation. It really grates for me. Why does there have to be so much music (in most shows) to tell me how to feel?

And did they slip in another 'death' for Clara? She certainly passed out, which doesn't usually happen and there was no real reason for it.

Surely a toy monkey would have been more apt if it was a hint about Billie's return?

Oliver - use adblock

I really enjoyed the last Christmas episode, before that, the last one I really, really liked was the first Stone Angels episode.

I don't mind, I just hadn't seen so many all at one time.

Anyone notice that they were singing "Hungry like the WOLF" ... maybe that's just paranoia on my part, meh.

ah yes, i'd forgotten that from 'The Doctor's Wife' - thanks.

Anyone else getting the idea that the quick/rushed ending makes sense if we consider 'Bad Wolf'? - with the 50th coming up, and Billie and David confirmed (especially in light of other things in the recent episodes: Clara told the doctors number by a 'shop girl', Barbie Doll dropped by Doctor after the Russian sailors threaten to kill him and his companion, Rings of Arkhaten directly calling on the Doctors past......) Seems very much to be a underlying plot to this second half of the season, unrelated to "Doctor Who?" [the question which is getting irritating] and "Who/what is Clara?" [which also has not being stressed enough (Sarcasm)].

But anywhom; With Clara singing a single line from a song, about a wolf....just seconds before the world would supposedly end......I think that some girl is altering the time lines, and each time she does so her presence is made known. ("How can I let go of this? I bring life"..."I want you safe.")

I mean its got to be a possibility

They made a right mess again! I hate the over reliance on the sonic screwdriver and the sentimental triteness did my head in!

On the Rose Tyler comparison ... was the singing of 'Hungry Like A Wolf' coincidental or are we being reminded of Blaidd Drwg (Bad Wolf?)

This was the best episode of series 7 hands-down; it was Doctor Who at its finest; creepy enemies, unseen threats, a great rendition of a classic enemy- and the risk to "reveal" the inside of an Ice Warrior really paid off, it looked brilliant. The CGI was brilliant, both the underwater sub shots and the Ice Warrior ship at the end. More episodes like this please, effing brilliant. And bring on next week too, if it is half as ood as the trailer suggested, I will be the most satisfied fan in Time and Space.

Just gone back to Christopher Eccleston series ... wow, I'd forgotten just how good, great, fantastic those episodes were. Come back Russell Davies and Julie Gardener.

Not sure you were in a minority re the two earlier episodes!

Crap, better than last week but still a waste of my time. For example, remind me why the Ice Warrior bothered leaving his armour when he could have just walked out of the chains? Or, why didn't submarine commander allow the Doctor to interrogate the alien but did allow his female companion? I could dismiss my thoughts as over-analysis and use the George Lucas excuse 'it's just for kids' - but then even my kids thought it was lame.

My first encounter with an Ice Warrior, but I already want to see of them.

To make it something! One of the Harry Potter DVD's had an extra where you could put different music on a scene. When you play around with that for a couple of minutes, you know why a soundtrack is so important to a movie of TV series.

That's harder to do than you think. I don't currently hate the show, I loved series 6, liked 5, really mediocre feelings for the current season (dissappointed) but I hated much of the show during the Tennant years but I stayed on as a fan of Doctor Who. Not saying it was all bad but out of 13 or 14 episodes per season only about 4-6 were worth watching the rest were embarrassingly bad. It's also how I feel about Walking Dead, I keep watching out of love for the comic, but it's a burdensome chore. I didn't even finish the season finale and think I'm finally done all together with it.

I will say this, Cold War is a really good Doctor Who episode, though, the best of series 7 so far.

I say best of the season so far. As for best of the Moff era. I do love The Wedding of River Song, though my favorite is probably the The Rebel Flesh 2 parter, it felt so much like old school Who it makes me giddy watching it. I can look past the bad cg, I usually don't like cg period if I can notice it.

Finally, someone else isn't head over heels in love with The Doctor's Wife, I don't hate it as much as you, but I don't particularly like it. I just have a problem with having to put the TARDIS into a "human" to make people realize the Doctor's love for it. It's obvious and much more touching in small moments of how he shows it off and gushes over it. Though I do like the character of Home, the look of the episode and Uncle.

No, Baker's Doctor did a lot of fighting. Pertwee was more karate, Baker's style was more pub fight. He was also the Doctor who killed with guns the most. I'm not saying he enjoyed doing those things, but many of his scripts called for the Doctor to be violent to save his own life.

loved it. LOVED IT.

seriously? I bloody loved that episode.

Disappointing chance for Jenna to be shown in a wet top.....wasted

you've seen room at the top right? because well...

Well, I was never one not to join in the fun.

The Bells of St John: 7/10
The Rings of Akhaten: 6/10
Cold War: 8/10

Lovely consistent run so far. Bit of a dip with Ring's, but looking like it's going to match up with the first half of series seven. My biggest hopes so far are for Hide, The Crimson Horror and Nightmare in Silver.

In reality, while I quite liked the episode, there wasn't all that much to the story.

I was checking my watch midway to see how long it would take to the inevitable wrapping up. The conclusion was very logical and satisfying and I saw it coming from several miles away.

Adding another 15 minutes to that episode would have absolutely killed any sense of momentum. Padding is usually not a good idea.

have now ;-)

Wait, is this the first good Mark Gatiss episode, or am I missing something?

Personal experience of that - I was never much of a metal fan before I lived in the USSR. Not a raging fan now, but I have a healthy appreciation as a result.
Incidentally, I've seen a few snide remarks around about how ridiculous it is that an '80s -vintage Soviet scientist attached to the military would know Western music and possess a Walkman. Perfectly possible, honestly, particularly on a navy boat - although not sure he'd have flaunted it the way Warner's chap does.
One more gripe - I loathe it when graphic designers turn letters upside down or back-to-front to make them look "Cyrillic".
Also find it rather ... something ... that the gist of the cold war needs to be Janet'n'Johned like this episode did. Suppose I'm just getting old.
(Think you might be reading too much into the Omen connection, but everything's so archly postmodern these days, so p'raps.)

There wasn't a grand speech from him. Clara gave a speech but I wouldn't call it grand.

Great Ep tho. After last weeks worst ever although as with Who, the worst Who is awesome in comparison to other stuff. We are lucky people.


I haven't loved an episode of Doctor Who since the end of Moff's first series.

But I love the idea of Doctor Who.

Was thinking just the same as I watched this episode. Not just tension and atmosphere at stake, but development of the story-specific characters too. All would benefit from he extra space offered by two or more episodes.

I must have missed something, because I thought it stank. The story made no sense to me. The plot was propelled by bad decision after bad decision. How am I supposed to sympathize with people who do things so dumb that an ordinary non-time-traveling guy like me would never do them? The Russian characters were cardboard and their actions made no sense except that they did what they had to do to move the story from plot point to plot point. Why did the Russians trust Clara to be alone with the Ice Warrior but not trust the Doctor? They didn't know either of them from Adam. Just seemed like a jumbled mishmosh with no logical or emotional through line. If this is as good as it gets, bring back Russell T. Davies and his over-the-top, overloaded stories because they were FAR better than this.

This episode definitely worked in many ways. Terrific atmosphere, love the Cold War Soviet sub setting, great re-boot of the Ice Warrior and two superb supporting cast roles from Cunningham and Warner (actually, count Tobias Menzies in that too, so make it three). And the reviewer said, it's the endings, dammit! Seems no threat is so great that it cannot be resolved by a speech from the Doctor, some singing and a bit of sonic screwdriver work. Are you an aeons old alien entity about to destroy your solar system - listen to the Doctor and reverse your polarity! Are you a 5,000 year old warrior dedicated to war - the Doctor can talk you out of it in seconds! This is removing the tension of resolution, and as some commenters have already mentioned, it might just be down to the frenetic pacing of everything. Would it be too much to develop character and situation with a little more deliberation?

If you've been following Den of Geek's reviews of DW lately you should realise that there are lots of possible allusions to Rose Tyler in these last few episodes.

Blink is still my favourite episode of DW ever.

I loved it - for reasons presented below.
Now, spectacularly off-topic, but something far more interesting (at least to me). Has anyone else noticed the Tardis-Matrix-type correction facility worked into the latest MS upgrade?
Not sssssure how I feel about this. It's been around for a while on iPads, and I can usually spot them, but I do suspect it's going to make it harder to identify the nutters and fraudsters at a glance. We'll probably have to keep an eye open for odd construction of argument and use of grrrrrrrrammar - somewhere out there Ace, someone is mangling a prrrrrepositional clause...

I LOVE EARTHSHOCK! I'm 29 and it was on BBC Radio 4 recently. Epic.

Mumbling Duran Duran to save the world is even worse than throwing an orange at a button on Christmas day. I want to love it but these three eps have just gotten worse and worse :(

Thank you. I thought I was the only one who sat there waiting for it to not suck.

The cold war is now a distant memory for some, and predates the birth of younger members of the audience, so maybe it needed some basic explanation.
You know you're getting old when your child comes home from school and says "we did history today - about some bloke called Gorbachev".

There really isn't enough story to this episode to drag it out to a two-parter. It barely had enough story for the 45 minutes.

I just dont like the Coleman. She comes across to me as smug. As for the episode. it was ok. 6/10. Compared to last weeks ep, it was shakespeare, but that;s not saying much. Next week's looks like a complete 'The Others' rip off. Let's be honest Dr Who has gone to the dogs.

I know there have been hints about Rose. Many have not been subtle, so you don't have to keep up with Den of Geek to notice. What I'm asking is, why would a Barbie doll be a hint about Rose any more than a ball of string or pair of sunglasses or a vacuum cleaner? What does a Barbie have to do with Rose?

American TV shows seem to manage a LOT more with the 45 minute format than the producers of Doctor Who. Just think of The X-Files, Breaking Bad, Millennium and The Wire to name a few, to realise that American writing teams can fit more in AND write a satisfying ending. Even classic shows like The Twilight Zone manage to satisfy with only 25 minutes. I do like Mark Gatiss's sensibilities though.

Bring back the radiophonic workshop.

Either that, or there is something inherently powerful about Clara that she (and the Doctor and the audience) don't yet know about but which the "god" was able to recognize. Possibility since Clara is shrouded in mystery.

It was a good episode. Simple story, good monster, nice feel to the submarine. The problem was with the writing. As commonly happens in Who, we had a cast of excellent actors but there was very little chemistry because of the limitations of the dialogue. Even between the Doctor and Clara- who usually have great chemistry- they had no lines to deliver. Doctor and the Captain could have had major chemistry. The confrontation between them, when the Captain was slamming him against the wall, was the only time they explored their relationship. They are both clever men of action who are used to being in charge, and the Doctor normally has great chemistry with smart military men. But no interesting dialogue. Likewise with the professor- quirky smart old guy who is simultaneously aloof and wise- could've been a great friend to the Doctor. They had almost no exchanges. It's like the show forgets sometimes that it's about what the characters actually do and say onscreen- not what we are told they do and say. I enjoyed it nonetheless though. It was a fun, throw away episode that establishes for Clara that this is real, people die and she is brave. Hope the bigger arc episodes start Saturday!

But would Gatiss have written it differently if he'd been told he could take 2 episodes? I'd imagine he'd have had several ideas on how to bring the Ice Warriors back. A different story that fit over two episodes could have been paced a lot better than this one, although they did very well with the constraints they had.

That's a totally different story, isn't it?

This one barely had enough story for 45 minutes. I don't see how another 15 minutes is anything than padding.

Yes, it would be a different story, but it would be paced better overall. And I feel that pacing is part of what makes the difference between a good episode and a great episode. Even so, I feel like that story could have done with another five minutes leading up to and around the will he/won't he moment with the button.

It sounds like a bloated, unnecessary two-parter.

This worked fine as a single episode. Fans sometimes get too caught up into wanting to see more of a wowser monster that the more casual viewer doesn't care nearly so much about.

If anything, the problem with the pacing of this episode that I found is that it was too slow for the relatively slight story it had to tell. This episode could have been shorter.

Making it longer would have made it worse, not better.

Nothing more than young, female with blonde hair. That was enough to evoke Rose in my mind during the episode.

Would you have made Alien shorter? Because this had virtually the same premise, same number of characters, its just we didn't care about their deaths because we hadn't been given anything about those characters to care about. Written well, with strong characters this could easily make a good two parter.

I feel like you're arguing based on the strength of previous Moffat era two parters which I admit have felt bloated. That's not a problem with the format though, it's a problem with the writing.

Oh, please, there is NO comparison to Alien, other than a few atmospherics "borrowed" by Doctor Who.

There is no mystery, no suspense. The Doctor immediately knows who the Ice Warrior is and exactly what he is about.

That's what I mean though, it wasn't necessary for him to immediately know other than "because it has to fit in 45 minutes" or "it wouldn't be fun for real fans because they'd know from spoiler sites".

There isn't really a comparison to Alien because Doctor Who as it is now would never allow for anything that brilliant, anything paced so well because the kids would get bored.

And that's ok most of the time, Doctor Who is a family show, but it would be nice one in a while to get an episode that's paced differently than "run in, get a quick explanation of what's going on, poke round for a bit, epic conclusion". I know that's a drastic simplification, but some episodes its really how it feels.

This episode worked very well.

What you want is a totally different story, twice as long, about the mysterious Ice Warrior whom the Doctor practically knows personally.

It's totally unlike Alien because the Alien is threatening because it is totally unknown, very powerful, and can't be negotiated with.

There aren't many episodes of a TV show that can't be told in 45 minutes.

X-Files, West Wing, they all did it, week in and week out.

How about Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones? They're one long story with weekly installments, there really is nothing wrong with that format if it's written well.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this episode as it was, I felt like an extra five minutes would have helped it as it was and I would have been interested to see it in a slightly different form than what was shown. But I did enjoy it, I just don't think 45 min single part episodes have to or should be the norm.

Can't we mix it up occasionally?

There's also Mad Men, which I write about.

Doctor Who just emerged from a long slog through arcs which never properly resolved.

This was a perfectly good stand-alone episode. The story simply didn't support anything so elaborate, or even another 15 minutes.

I can see where you're coming from, I'm still not happy so many things have been unresolved. I'm really hoping Moffat will pull the rug out from under us and actually explain what blew the TARDIS up at the end of this run, but I'm not expecting it. If he'd just give us that I think I'd be happy and forget all the million other things he's left unresolved.

I'm actually the other way, I got a bit bored with the single episodes from last year, I felt there wasn't enough character building with the side characters. They've just started to feel like Ensign "never seen before and likely to die very soon" from Star Trek.

I just thought that out of the episodes we've had so far, this could have been made in to a two parter. If the Ice Warrior hadn't have just walked up to the Doctor at the start (and we hadn't have seen it on screen) we could have had a tense 10-20 mins where the Doctor tried to work out what was causing the ship to sink while we learnt a bit about the crew so I actually cared when Russian X,Y and Z died.

I suppose the issue is a little bit about character v action. This was a rapid, fast paced action film with atmosphere but little suspense. A two-parter might have allowed greater levels of suspense to build up. Also, the other TV programmes mentioned - West Wing, X-Files etc - have larger regular casts which helps with character development, and they are more considered in their plot development. At the moment, Dr Who is very frenetically driven, as if there mustn't be a single moment for reflection or build up.

I get that Who seems to have become entirely action based lately and I don't even mind that most of the time, the mad dashing about should never go away.

I'd just like an episode once in a while that doesn't seem to speed past. It seems like in the last three seasons the only episode that hasn't was Vincent and the Doctor and that episode had its own problems. If it had a monster as mysterious and dangerous as they'd tried to make it out to be I think that could have been a real classic.

I liked the episode, but just when we've finally got a companion who can DO something other than pout and complain, she's just made to stand there looking scared! Bloody Gatiss...

Liked it a lot! Gatiss's best script since Unquiet Dead too. Definitely my favourite so far in series 7-whatever.

Sorry, I love Doctor Who, but season 7 so far is poor. Think back to a REAL gem like the two parter with the Family of Blood. If that's a solid 9/10, the recent episodes of Doctor Who are no more than 5/10 at best. Need new writers, and if necessary a new Doctor. I watch out of habit, not excitement any more.

Because Murray Gold has no idea how to compose Incidental Music...especially for a show like Doctor Who. He has no taste. I can't think of any other show off-hand where the music is so inappropriate for the material. Sure the man can write good music for cranking up on your stereo, but "incidental music" it is not. It has been like this since the series returned, and will continue until they get someone who actually knows what the word "Incidental" means. They need to get someone who is actually interested in enhancing the show instead of continuously showing off their musical ability. Occasionally, Mr. Gold is able to tone it down to 1 or 2 instruments, but more often than not, he bombards us with an onslaught of inappropriate, bombastic junk. Why does everyone love this guy? I just don't get it.

Considering that Series/Season 5 STILL has not been properly resolved, why would you want Moff to start up still more dangling arcs?

You should be happy this episode actually worked.

As for a two-parter about Ice Warriors, why bother? I doubt most of the viewing audience is that interested. My interest was exactly satisfied by the episode, which was quite satisfying for what it was.

And with so few Doctor Who episodes actually being produced, why commit such a big chunk of an actual season/series to a relatively arcane storyline which doesn't build to much of anything in the overall conception of things?

I wasn't asking for arcs, not at all, Moffat's good at a lot of things, but series long arcs are not one of them. It doesn't have to be about the ice warriors, I'd just like the occasional two parter like from the Davies era e.g. The Empty Child/Doctor Dances (ironically written by Moffat).

Just a self contained, well paced adventure. I feel like Moffat's just given up on two parters because they've mostly fallen flat in his run. It's a shame because I think The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone were really good if you can ignore the fact that the angels moved while her eyes were open. That just removed all that made them scary.

I enjoyed this episode much more than "Rings of Akhaten", but still felt that it wasn't up to the standard of series 5 or the majority of series 6. The three episodes of 2013 so far are all suffering from being too short. There is too much going on to fit into A 42 minute programme. The fact that Clara was dropped home at the end of episode 2 but was already in the TARDIS at the beginning of episode 3 tells me that they are having to cut down episodes to fit everything in.
Previous series have had the odd episode (since series 4) that have been extended out from their normal running time. They would never have tried to fit "The Eleventh Hour" into a 42 minute episode, so why do so with episodes like this, that would have been better served with a 50-55 minute show.

The idea is to make it more cinematic. It doesn't always work, but for the most part it feels different to anything else on TV. Incidental music has traditionally been cheap and tacky... just look at classic 'Who' episodes, where the music was clichéd. At least with Gold, you get a stirring score from a musician who is obviously passionate about what he does.
The only improvement I can think of that does British TV shows would be David Arnold (Sherlock, Little Britain, James Bond).

Dudley Simpson blows Murray Gold away in every facet!! are you out of your mind? Your comment is beyond ridiculous. It's not to make the show more cinematic; it's to satisfy Murray's ego. Watch a Hinchcliffe era Who and tell me Murray's music is better. You're on another planet. Murray's music seldom even goes with what's on the screen. It's like he's composing songs and just presses play when the show starts.

No cinema composer would compose music that doesn't go with what the viewer is watching. It's like Murray hasn't even seen the program.

I certainly agree that episodes so far this year feel rushed, but multi-story episodes I'm not sure about. This episode could have done with an extra 5 to 10 minutes, but not much more than that.
Modern Who has advantages over Classic Who by having one series arc rather than lots of short ones. Over 13 weeks, you get a story that climaxes at the end, but without having to stick to one location. Personally, I am not a fan of the Cybermen - I would hate to get stuck with them for 4 weeks. But using them minimally amongst a whole host of other stories kind of works.
Plus of course, viewers don't seem to be able to return for 'part 2' of an episode, let alone 4 episodes (or even the 6 - 12 episodes of some Classic serials).

Incidental music is about tone and pace. A lot of 80's episodes had no music for long stretches of the episode because they didn't have the skill to fit the music to the episode. Or worse, they would use a synthesiser. FOR EVERYTHING. Gold's music is, for me, a low budget version of Hans Zimmer. Someone who can match the music to the tone. As I said in my original reply, it doesn't always work. But for the most part the instrumentation and arrangements are selected according to what is on screen.

The work required for the series is so much different for the composer to anyone else on a tv series. A writer or a director gets one, maybe two episodes. Gold writes music for every episode. To complete the series in a timely manner, there must be some use of alternate arrangements of a recurring theme, rather than completely new ones for every episode.

"I Am The Doctor" may be one that is frequently overused, but it is the Doctor's theme. If another character was to take centre stage, it would be their theme instead.

The Unquiet Dead was also a very good episode.

You couldn't be more wrong. Incidental music is not about tone and pace, it's about enhancing what's on the screen whatever that may be...without interfering with it. It means to accompany something without being a major part of it. You starting to get it now?!?! Tone and pace?!?! Wow!! Thank goodness you're not scoring for this show; I can already hear the banjo music. You obviously have no clue about how incidental music works. During most of the 70's, Dudley Simpson used musicians and synthesizer. Go back and listen, Jed. He always had at least 4 musicians playing. Then he would go to the radiophonic workshop and enhance it. The reason there were stretches without music is because they used to impose limits on how much music could be in the show. I'm not going to bother delving into this further. You have already shown your ignorance by saying Simpson didn't have the skill. ????? You are totally clueless.
The only good thing I will say about Murray is that since Moffat took over, the volume has been turned down a little, and the arrangements are slightly less bombastic....still inappropriate for the show though. And to make matters worse, Murray Gold might just be one of the most cocky "full of himself" individuals I've ever heard speak....

Dudley Simpson didn't compose for Who in the 80's, Jed.

Speaking of arcs, I'm afraid I'm out of time for this one.

"It means to accompany something without being a major part of it." - What you are referring to here is underscore. At least if you are going to be condescending, please at least have the good sense to understand the basics of the terminology. Incidental music is everything from themes, such as character themes or love themes, to overtures. To say that incidental music is not about tone and pace goes completely against the whole point of a theme! If a love theme does not reflect the tone, I don't know what would!
You complain that Murray Gold doesn't drop down to just 1 or 2 musicians enough, yet you state that Dudley Simpson (someone you admire) always had at least four musicians.
And what the hell is "Jed" all about?

Perhaps I should've complained that Murray isn't subtle. One or two musicians...3 or 4 ...whatever. Just cause Dudley had 4 guys doesn't mean they were always playing at the same time. Look up Incidental in the dictionary, my friend. You're out to lunch. I am a musician; you are not. I know what I'm talking about. At least I can back up my argument with some real points. Murray's music is intrusive, and in the early seasons it actually blotted out the dialogue. If you like intrusive music, then good for you. I do not! Sorry to be condescending, but your comments were, and are, beyond ridiculous.

You should not make assumptions. I am welled versed in music theory and play a small selection of instruments.

My knowledge of the English language also teaches me not to make assumptions about the usage of words in different contexts. Just because 'Incidental Music' contains the word incidental, you should not take that as the sole factor in its etymology. 'Incidental Music' is the term that applies to the accompanying music in a play, videogame or television show. Although the name that cinema uses may be more appropriate: 'Soundtrack'.

I advise that you replace your dictionary with an encyclopaedia. Within it's pages you will find that Incidental music covers far more than mere 'incidentals'. The term, once upon a time, would have been literal, but that is no longer the case.
As a musician, you should understand that a composer is not the entirety of the story in creating a piece of music. As with many classical or soundtrack composers, Gold does not perform on the soundtrack. Therefore the intrusive nature stems from either the performers/conductor at the BBC National Welsh Orchestra or more likely, the sound mixers that balance the levels of audio to create a harmonious soundtrack that balances the dialogue with Foley and background music. Saying that it is Gold's fault that the music drowns out dialogue is like blaming Smirnoff for bartenders putting too much ice in your vodka and coke.

You're a so-called musician and yet you say Dudley doesn't have the skill to fill in the empty spaces. Sorry, but I don't buy that. You discredited yourself. If you were a musician, you would recognize the immense talent of this man and his ability to fully enhance the mood of any piece. Watch Genesis of the Daleks or Pyramids of Mars or Talons of Weng-Chiang. This man is supremely talented. Murray isn't even worthy to be a pimple on Dudley's ass when it comes to composing for TV. If you look back at my original post, you will see that I did say Murray was talented, but just the wrong man for the job. Are you also well versed with musical taste? I guess not. Eddie Van Halen is an amazing guitar player, but that doesn't mean I'd hire him to play in a jazz band. Do you see what I'm saying? Yes the volume of the music was to blame, but so too was Murray's music. Why would you compose a piece of music with 20 instruments in it when there's a dialogue scene? Like him all you want; he still has no clue IMO. Perhaps if he sat down and watched the show like a viewer, he would start to understand.

Your arguments, admittedly in the same way that mine do, come from a stylistic point of view rather than one of the composer themselves.
The amount of music and the style of the music in both cases is representative of the time that the episode aired.
The fact of the matter is that in cinema an television, the trend is to go for the style of composition that Gold does. The last Star Trek movie, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, the style and the quantity are similar to what Gold does.
As a man of 25 years of age, being used to modern television, I find Classic episodes a culture shock. The episodes of the series that I am familiar with (Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy) haven't got a fleck of the skill that you so ardently push.
I never stated that Simpson was not talented. I only said that the epsiodes of the 80s failed to deliver. The lack of music was indicative of the lack of skill.
I assume that your username refers to your love of Douglas Adams, which would go some way towards explaining your viewpoint, as nobody is that big a fan of the 2005 movie. My point there being that your view comes from a tendency to be nostalgic about the past.
I would be interested, however, to hear your view on who would be able to replace Gold, in terms of a modern composer... Someone who can create film score quality music that fits a series like Doctor Who. Let's not forget that this is not just a sci-fi series. The same music can't work in the same way in an episode set in the distant past as it does in one of the distant future, or vice-versa. That is where Gold can fall down. Some of the music that worked in futuristic episodes was used in 'Cold War' that were a little jarring, but going to a previous point - when you are writing in the quantity that he has to for DW, can that not be forgiven?

No, it cannot be forgiven. Dudley Simpson composed almost every single Who episode of the 70's and he managed to get the job done. Anyways, off the top of my head, better composers by FAR are: Michael Giacchino, Bear McCreary, Sean Callery...anyone for that matter....
You think all 80's Who Incidental Music has no skill because it's created electronically. There's an open mind at work for ya. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Would you like it if it was played on real instruments? I've got news for you, bud, Murray's score in the first couple seasons was created with really bad synthetic instrument sounds....
By the way, the 2005 HHGTTG movie is not even worth commenting about. I guess you're not aware that it started as a radio play, and then novels, and then a tv series....oh dear oh dear.....
Anyway, like you said, you're 25...I could be your father....I've got about 20 years on you, so I'll end the conversation because the fact is, you don't know what you don't know.

You're right, I didn't know that was Gatiss. Also, that episode tends to be overlooked by people.

I totally enjoyed this ep. I was even scared at some points and I have never really been able to say that for doctor who. Although i do agree that the ending was...well, horribly done, I still love this episode. It was so intense for me and the prof., clara, and the dr were just great to watch

I'll add my piece, just because people who give 8/10 to Cold War must be very easily pleased:
The Bells of St John: 7/10
The Rings of Akhaten: 4/10
Cold War: 0/10

I'm not a fan of this half of the series overall buddy, much as it tears me to say it. I really, really want to :(

I thought "Cold War" was exceptionally weak at the time, and after viewing it again, I still dislike it. The villain's motivation is nonsensical at best, and the resolution is very poor.

I think you completely misunderstood him in regards to Hitchhiker. He was saying that, since you appear to be a fan, you probably AREN'T referencing the 2005 movie. From that, he drew his conclusion that you are nostalgic for the past. He then acknowledged that much of the Classic Who soundtrack has a very strong 80's feel to it, as is given by the high synthesizer priority (note that this is NOT saying music played on synth is bad), whereas the soundtrack today is essentially representative of the modern aesthetic.

He was trying to offer an (incredibly reasonable) explanation as to your differing opinions, and it seems to have gone completely over your head. As though "you don't know what you don't know."

I'm on board. The best Doctor Who stories were the well-written four-parters during Classic Who. The Tenth Planet, The Ark in Space, etc.

Actually, Richard, I think it went way over YOUR head. This conversation is a year old, by the way. Way to be quick-witted!! Apparently, you didn't read much of this discussion.....and no, the only Classic Who that has an 80's feel to it is 80's Who, you arse. It's nice to have your ignorant uneducated opinion though. Perhaps if you watched some Classic Who you'd realise the much Classic Who had Dudley Simpson's session guys playing "actual intruments". You have no idea what you're commenting about, so disappear. You're perhaps not as much of a tool as that other guy, but you're a legitimate tool in your own right! As for the HH I said....tool!

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