There’s a moment in the episode where Clent is frozen in inaction, awaiting fresh information. Which is very much like the experience of watching this episode. Although it survives, it’s as static as watching the previous Tele-snap reconstructions. We’re now in a holding pattern of people wandering back and forth to the glacier, while Britannicus Base worries about the Martian propulsion unit (same discussion as a fortnight ago), and the Ice Warriors think about possibly doing something to the base, at some stage.
Director Derek Martinus does his best to inject some dynamism – there’s a sequence of Victoria being stalked by an Ice Warrior through ice caves, all on film, which is pretty tense. But even this, when repeated several times for Storr, Penley and the Doctor, becomes tiresome. The Ice Warriors are among the least dynamic monsters to date, stiffly lumbering about, and painfully hissing at one another, and since Clent is meant to buttoned up and staid the whole story just feels utterly constipated.
Like Martinus, several of the actors are doing their best to inject a bit of life. Troughton gets some cute business with the automatic chemical dispenser, making himself a cup of water then tossing the empty aside to Clent’s evident shock. His decision to abandon Britannicus to try to break the logjam is a lovely scene, and Barkworth’s performance – half awed, half exasperated by the Doctor’s pig-headedness – belies his initial hamminess.
Similarly, Bernard Bresslaw does his best to make Varga a character rather than a pile of fibreglass and latex. He takes a grim delight in tormenting Storr before gunning him down, and then torturing the Doctor, and the way he ducks his head into his shell like a giant chelonian when he’s thinking. But for all the effort that’s going in, the script just isn’t good enough. The story has barely progressed in a month, and this is one of the least engaging instalments so far.
Next episode: The Ice Warriors – Five