15
Apr
2013
Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 9
Cold War
Sam
Thanks to a particularly unkind scheduling of work the last two days, this review is hitting your eyeballs considerably later than I would have liked. Since it's late enough, I'll try to keep things relatively brief, though I may go on an insane tangent, but I'll try to stay on target.

This week marked the first episode written by Mark Gatiss to appear this season. I think Gatiss is in an interesting position in that he isn't likely anyone's favorite writer (at least for Who, he seems a bit better suited for his other show with Moffat, Sherlock). He's delivered a mixed bag at best, and I'd comfortably say that "Cold War" is in the upper tier of his work, mostly for how much it evokes what was done well in the Russel T. Davies era.

The formula of bringing back an old Who character, this time an Ice Warrior, and letting them loose in a cramped environment usually leaves me feeling satisfied, if not elated. In some ways, "Cold War" reminded me a lot of "Dalek" in which we're introduced to the Doctor's greatest enemy. Instead of being in an underground bunker, we're in a Soviet nuclear submarine led by Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham.

The episode hit all the key notes for me, leaving me satisfied, if not blown away. Clara trying to work over the monster was a nice bit of development, showing her bravery. We get some nice "Alien"-esque scenes as characters run through corridors trying to avoid the alien scurrying about. We also get a final scene where Clara, not the Doctor, provides a strong enough dose of humanity to keep the Ice Warrior from starting a Nuclear Holocaust.

As the season progresses, I'd be surprised if this is the episode that stands out when it's all said and done. Made up of strong moments of tenderness and thrills, this was a solid episode through and through, which seems to be the best we can expect from Gatiss at this point.

Grade: B-

Random observations:

-I enjoyed the design of the Ice Warrior, which immediately looked like something taken from the old show.

-What bugged me was going back and forth with the alien regarding practical FX makeup and CGI. The show's done a pretty great job with makeup FX in the past, and making his head CGI was a bit distracting and took away some emotion.

-Who line of the week: "Do Ultravox split up?" David Warner stole the show, also pointing out the big questions we have about the future.

-Gatiss' next episode will feature Diana Rigg, who's also appeared on Game of Thrones (among many, many other things)
Tags: Doctor Who
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