Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Doctor Who A Show Review: Cold War

By: William G. Muir

It is as if I am outside myself. I can feel the icy air slam against my body, but when I look down I see I have no corporeal form. It is as if I am only a thought, a manifestation of pure energy. I wish I did have a body so I could use my hands to pull the lapel of coat closed. I do not wish to freeze to death.

I am soaring high in the sky, gray clouds spread out above me as far as my eyes can see. No sunshine to warm my nonexistent body, no blue sky to lift my soul. Below me a field blue, no an ocean of blue rushes beneath me. I fly among the white mountains of ices. Are these icebergs responsible for the chill I feel.

Suddenly the I am falling from the sky as the surface of the oceans speeds towards what would have been my face. I slam into the freezing liquid, as I crash through the membrane that separates horizon of the ocean blue from the hazy, forever winter, cloud full skies.



Deeper and deeper I do sink. I can feel the pressure of the ocean walls pressing against the flesh I do not have. My mind screams out in pain as I am being crush with every new foot I descend. How can this be? Someone please help me. Dear God I am begging for your mercy.

What is that? It looks like a cigar floating below me! The closer I get I see that no it is not a cigar, it is much to large. It has a hull constructed from steel, ensuring it will not succumb to forces that wish to implode the fragile vessel.

In the blink of an eye I find myself no longer feeling the ocean waters constricting me. I am now safely aboard the submerged vessel. I am dry and no longer feeling the chill that was biting away at my being. I praise God for having delivering me from such torment.

It is then I discover I am aboard a Russian submarine. Seconds away from what looks like the launching of a nuclear nightmare. World War III is just a simultaneous key turn away.  

There you have it my friend, my interpretation of the opening few seconds from Cold War. Unfortunately the competence of this excellently shoot opening scene only lasted so long. Once the silence was broken with the sound of human voices things began to take a dip. I counted four points in this episode that really bugged me, so let us take a look at them now.

Clara doesn't emotionally respond correctly at all.

Is there a reason why Clara never seemed to have an emotion that should corresponded with the
situation she found herself in this episode? I can only think one of instance in this episode that she actually responded like a human being should have, and that was at the end when they were all waiting for Skaldak (the Ice Warriors) to shut down the the arming of the nuclear missiles. Clara being to sing Hungry Like The Wolf, a call back to earlier in the episode when the professor was telling her that he sings when he frightened.

Finally she showed the correct emotion, but there's problem is, it left me scratching my head. This might have worked if we had a tough guy type character who we knew was frightened of nothing. Then you could get the feel for how bad the situation had become. When the likes of Hercules begins to crap his pants you know that things just got real.

But that isn't what is going on here. Clara never seems to understand the serious of any moment she finds herself in. It is as if she is not even connected in anyway to the events that are taking place around her. I was talking about this episode with a friend and they observed that ti looked as if Clara was always over thinking things. To quote my friend.

Clara acts like she is thinking and never moves on any real thoughts...
I have to concur with my friend on this. It looks as if Clara is in deep though...it doesn't seem to do her any good, cause she seems to never quite have a grasp of what is going on. It's like she is some what off by a few seconds. I am beginning to think that she just might not be human.

With that said I do not fault Jenna-Louise Coleman for this. I think she is doing an excellent job. It is the writing I take issue with. It is as if whoever is writing her character has no clue. I don't see how that can be. There is only one writer this season that has not written for Doctor Who before. So I got to think that rest of the writers are familiar with the show and the vision Steven Moffat has for the season.

Could that mean the story is building to something? Are there clues that I am just not seeing? Once this season is over will I look back and see how things all fit together? I sure hope so! Or could everybody's attention focused on the up coming 50th anniversary episode and that season seven has been set on autopilot.

I guess we will have to wait and see.


Skaldak kills the second in command. 

If I was an alien solider abandon on an alien world with no hopes of being rescued, or seeing my home again, what my first move? If I wanted to get revenge on those that had attacked me I would be looking for an ally. Who would I ally myself with? Why I would seek to join forces with the paranoid second in command who has an itchy trigger finger.

That is who I would seek out to be my partner.

For a while there this looked like the direction they were heading in. When Lieutenant Stepashin was talking with Skaldak, trying to convince him that they should become partners I could see merit in what he was saying. If Skaldak is suppose to be this master tactician I can't help but thinking he would see the advantage of recruiting someone like Stepashin. If I was in Skaldak's place I would want a native, who I might not fully trust, who knows the lay of the land and the way my enemy thinks.

That just seems like common sense thinking. Skaldak could always dispose him once he had conquered/destroyed the Earth.

That isn't what Skaldak does though. He kills Lt. Stepashin instead. Why? After having gotten two bits of information, info that he couldn't have fully understood since the concepts seemed foreign to him, he kills the guy that could have helped him understand them. And not only did he kill Lt. Stepashin, he did it off screen. The first time I saw this episode I thought they just forgot about Stepashin in the second half of the episode. I had to rewatch it to find out he was dead.

Honestly this was just a waste of all our times. There was no big payoff here. This subplot did nothing to further the storyline. It was unnecessary and took time away from other parts of the story that could have used it. 

The CG head of  the Skaldak looked like crap.


I'm not going to go into to much detail here, I don't know all that much about special effects. I just have to say I didn't not like CG when it came to Skaldak's head. To me it didn't look real at all. I would have much rather had something that looked like a sock puppet rather than what we got. It just looked so fake.

I know someone is going to say it's CG it is not real. That's not the point, I know it is fake, I know all the aliens on Doctor Who are fake. But the majority of those monster were done practically. They use make-up and prosthetics to create something that looks like it might be possible. Heck even the little CG Adipose looked like real creatures compared to Skaldak.

They could have done better. The Ice Warriors deserved so much more on their return to the series.

They should have all froze to death when the existed the sub. 

Just before the Doctor, Clara and the Russians exist the submariner, into the cold Arctic air, they are soaked from head to toe. The whole episode they have been inside a vessel that water leaking into it. They have been standing in at least a foot of water if not more.

Even if there were not soaking wet when they decided to exist the sub, it still wasn't a smart move. They were all dressed in normal everyday clothes. As soon as they took a few steps onto the Sail they should have frozen into place. The temperature goes from the winter low of −43 °C (−45 °F) around the freezing mark. (0 °C(32 °F)).  They should have turned them into instant icicles.

Being fair and saying this took place during the summer months does them any favors. They are still 
going to freeze to death, just not as fast. 

Final opinion

Despite the above mentioned points I rather enjoyed this episode. Sure it once again suffered from a 
timing aspect. It seems like they are trying to fit to much story into a 45 minute episode. I would have 
liked to have seen more development with Lt. Stepashin, Captain Zhukov, and Professor Grisenko. And what purpose did the death of the two crewmen serve? We could have found out the same information about the way Skaldak killed them by coming across Lt. Stepashin body. 

I did like the layout of the submarine, the set designers did a good job of making it feel confined and closed off. Having the actors standing as close as they could the whole episode helped play into that atmosphere. You add on top of that of all the creeking and groaning noises you really did get a sense of the danger they were in.

I also like the whole look of the controls and computers on board the sub. It really did give this sense 
of being back in the 1980's. That was the time in which I grew up. The mention of the Cold War, 
mutually assured destruction and Soviets brought back a small sense of fear I felt growing up during those 
uncertain times. And the walkman and Duran Duran were just the cherry on top of my 80's sundae. 

So do check out this episode. There is a lot of nostalagic elements for those of us who are old enough to
remember what it was like to live during the Cold War. I give this episode a thumbs up.
 

  


 


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