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Doctor Who "Cold War" Review: That Icy Feeling Not Even Duran Duran Can Fix

Doctor Who S07E08: "Cold War"

After all the Clara character setup in the second half of Series 7, we're now ready to delve into the business of being Doctor Who; in that sense, "Cold War" was a bottle episode of sorts, because we finally got to follow the Doctor and Clara on a normal day together. But without the crackle of the pair getting to know each other, a huge bizarro world to explore (the entire episode took place inside a Russian submarine), or a high-stakes, complex story, "Cold War" left me a little cold.

We joined a Russian nuclear sub running nuclear drills at the bottom of the ocean. On the sub were the noble Captain Zhukov (Liam Cunningham, a.k.a. Davos Seaworth from Game of Thrones), the power-hungry Lieutenant Stepashin (Tobias Menzies), and the daffy Professor Grisenko (David Warner), among others. We found out from the Professor's questionable music tastes that we'd landed in the 1980s. The sub's drills hadn't been going so well, but the crew did manage to find a creature encased in ice. As it started to melt, we realized it wasn't a mammoth in there, or Brendan Fraser, but rather a reptilian monster in a heavy suit of armor. That's right, lifelong Who fans, the Ice Warriors of Mars were back. Evolved to live in extremely cold temperatures, this proud Martian race of biomechanoid cyborgs first appeared on the show in 1967, and they've turned up a handful of times since then. This one in particular had been in the freezer for 5,000 years, and was understandably cranky when it woke up. In the ensuing fracas, the sub was breached and started to go down. 


So of course that's why the TARDIS landed in the middle of the sub. The Doctor and Clara had been on the way to Vegas, but there was too much humanity to save. And since the TARDIS disappeared almost immediately after they disembarked, they were stuck at the bottom of the ocean, their oxygen was running out, and there was a monster on board (kinda like Vegas, but not really). The Doctor explained the long, proud history of the Ice Warriors to the bewildered crew and attempted to talk to the veritable Encino Man, named Skaldak. He appeared to be making some progress when Skaldak fell, tased from behind by the sub's Lieutenant. Skaldak, it turned out, was the greatest, gnarliest hero the Martian race had ever produced… and the sub's crew had just declared war on him. 

I love it when monsters from Doctor Who's past are brought back—it's a wonderful nod to old fans and to the gads of history this show brings to the table. And the Ice Warriors were good candidates: They're warlike, rational, and cool-looking, making them excellent opponents for the Doctor. Rather than looking clumsily dated, Skaldak was just bulky enough to seem menacing. 

This was Clara's chance to earn her keep around the TARDIS, as she was sent in to talk Skaldak down. I thought the writers could've done a lot more with this scene to hit some of Clara's defining characteristics—the loss of her mother, or her sass in the face of danger, for example—but she only got to hear a story about Skaldak's daughter being lost to time before he escaped. His skittering around the ship, out of uniform, was the episode's only truly creepy moment. Despite my disappointment with her first big negotiation session, I did like that Clara wanted to check in with the Doctor and other crew members about "how she did," and I liked even more that he reminded her that this isn't a game, but just life with time traveling. The idea that Clara is sassy but also in need of reassurance is pretty compelling, and I like that we're getting to know those qualities at the same time as The Doctor. So often, companions seem incredibly confident in their alien reasoning skills. 


The situation just ratcheted up from there, with Skaldak discovering there were nukes on board and threatening to destroy humanity with them. The Doctor tried to talk some sense into Skaldak, while also promising to destroy the sub and everyone on it in order to keep those missiles from launching. We were faced with a nice moment with the Doctor, again, having to offer up everything he's got (himself and Clara) in order to save his beloved humanity, but oddly, the stakes didn't feel that high. Yes, he was willing to destroy himself to keep those missiles from launching, but I didn't for a moment buy that they were actually in danger. Skaldak was eventually rescued by his own people (surprise, they were still alive!), and showed that he'd rather have his legacy be mercy instead of murder by not dispatching the nukes—even when he had a chance to launch them from the safety of his own ship. The day was saved. Clara had gotten a taste of the reality of adventuring, and it perhaps knocked some of the brashness out of her. Then it was off to find the TARDIS, which had fled at the first sign of trouble. 

This episode somewhat missed the mark for me. I love a good horror movie set underwater, but "Cold War" didn't feel nearly claustrophobic or scary enough to be truly frightening. Plus, as much as I loved seeing the Ice Warriors again, I felt like we just scratched the surface with them. The episode had a similar setup to the Series 5 episode "The Hungry Earth"—meeting one member of a proud, warlike race and trying to figure out how to respectfully deal with them—but in "The Hungry Earth," I felt like I understood the Silurians much more as a people, but then again, that was a two-parter. Perhaps more two-parters would help shake the feeling that we are just racing through every episode, skimming the surface of some potentially amazing storylines and aliens and characters. There was so much interesting ground to cover with respect to the actual Cold War, and humanity's warlike tendencies, Skaldak's brutish logic, and the Doctor's willingness to sacrifice himself for humanity—even if it meant sacrificing Clara, too—but none of that was even touched. 

There were some things I did like, though: I did like Matt Smith's performance, especially near the end, when he was staring down the Ice Warrior. I liked the way Skaldak looked, both in and out of uniform. I liked the way Clara started putting her spin on things by interrupting proceedings to add some heart and humanity, a practice the Doctor is supposed to excel at but often forgets about in moments of stress. And I liked the Doctor and Clara's interactions, brief as they were. But something didn't gel in this episode for me, and it left me feeling a bit uninspired. My hope is that next week's haunted house episode will provide a plot where the stakes feel a bit more immediate, and as a result will inspire Clara and the Doctor to banter a bit more.


NOTES


– I loved the Doctor putting his aviator glasses back on once the sub came to a halt, as if the problem was completely solved. 

– Best quote of the episode: "Hair, shoulder pads, nukes—everything is bigger." 

– Lots of Alien references: dripping water, skittering creatures hiding from our heroes…

– The Ice Warriors changed a bit from their first appearance on Who, but not too much, which is cool. According to the Wikipedia page for "Cold War," Millennium FX's Neill Gorton said, "My problem with the old ones is they had Lego hands and weird, spindly arms but a bulky body and these strange saddlebag hips, almost feminine. They had fur sticking out everywhere. So all of that together didn't suggest 'ice warriors.' They should be much beefier and stronger. We gave it more of a bodybuilder physique, changed the hands and styled the body to make it look more like armour-plating, even though it's reptilian."

- Good gracious Clara is gorgeous. 

– The conversation about the TARDIS's translation abilities, explaining why everyone could understand each other, was clearly for new Who fans, and for new Who companions. It got a chuckle out of me.

– This was an interesting exchange between the Doctor and the Captain:

Doctor: He won't talk to you, you're an enemy soldier, he'll smell it on you. 

Captain: And he wouldn't smell it on you, Doctor?

I love the idea, explored in previous series, that the Doctor is really just a mercenary, and I'd love to see that explored more.

– Anytime anyone on a TV show vehemently insists that someone must not do something, the next shot will always be of the warned person doing that thing. It's a rule. Case in point: Clara going to negotiate with Skaldak. 

– The exchange between the Doctor and Clara, when she asked whether she'd done okay and he told her it wasn't a test, was the only flirtation I really noticed between the two of them, and it was adorable.  

– The scene between Clara and the Professor felt a bit off to me. I liked the tense moment when we thought that perhaps he'd been taken over by Skaldak, but the payoff was just a joke (albeit pretty funny) about Ultravox. Plus Clara's reaction to the two bodies she saw torn apart—"It's all got very… real"—was somewhat bland. 


What'd you think of "Cold War"?

Comments (117)
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I can't seem to really get into the 7 part b for the moment, but this episode was definitely not it. I don't like how the new episodes start and end, we don't have time to get used to clara and the doctor, we don't feel anything between them, no relationship at all, or TOO subtle and in this episode we just see them arrive in the sub naturally ... I didn't find the story compelling at all, the characters of the crew were not interesting... well. I didn't like it at all. And it's very new for me , not liking a single episode of Dr Who!!
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As a long time who fan (Baker-Smith) who has tried very hard to never compare previous Doctor's to the new ones or companions with new ones i find i must say; CLARA IS NO AMY! The back story, the personality, chemistry with The Doctor, scene stealing gorgeousness (that first shot of her the in the cop out fit) Karen Gillan will be my favorite companion of all time.

It seems as though the balance between random Tardis Adventure episodes with quality information regarding underling story arcs carefully woven together like we've seen in the past is not present in this current run with his new companion. I cant blame Clara for (or the actress for that) but being Matt Smith is as good as ever it doesnt seem as though the blame can go to much farther, *cough*writing*cough*. Why Moffat doesnt write all the episodes himself i dont know i think we can most people can agree his are of some of the best written episodes of this new who series.
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I don't wanna blame it on Clara but the last couple of episodes haven't worked for me.
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Clara's starting to get on my nerves, like a high school girl pretending to be all wide-eyed, sweet and innocent, with voices just a tad too high. And I didn't care too much for this week's episode either.
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Yawn.
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Clara felt younger, more naive in this episode. It seemed before that she was level-headed and down-to-earth, but the bounding back asking how she'd done made it feel as though she'd lost all of that and was just playing a game. It also felt like she and the Doctor almost had a more father/daughter relationship, which I'm in favor of because love interest companions are beyond boring.
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I'm totally falling for Clara. And she is gorgeous. If I were a gay woman, I'd be gay for her. But more than that, I like how everything is new to her. She's tough, of course, but she's not a copy of other companions, specially Amy.

Amy met the Doctor as a child, she saw the whole thing coming when she finally started to travel with him. The way Clara reacts is how I think I'd react: wanting to be tough, wanting to help and terrified at the same time. Still making sure that the whole thing is actually happening. She feels very real to me.

And how awesome was to see an Ice Warrior out of the armor????? So cool!!!
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So... teasers for next week make it look like they're still in the 80's (or there-abouts). Though I guess it could be the 70's -- hard to tell with the clothes unless you see people wearing neon.

Could the next episode or two have them traversing South to the pole, getting caught up in adventures on the way down?



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The slide projector, the clothes, the camera, I'd guess 1970. While it's possible they could have stumbled on a house-full of the tragically unhip, I don't think that's the same time.
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I figure I'm in minority but I do not get any sense of 'flirtation' between the Doctor and Clara. In this second part of the season it seems much more like paternal behavior on the Doctor's part to me.
Having said that, I agree with you about this episode missing the mark. Difficult to pinpoint exactly what, but something from the Doctor Who spirit seems to be missing in the last few episodes.
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I felt he was flirty with the first two incarnations he met, before he knew there was anything strange about her. This one he's handling with kid gloves, like he's afraid she'll break. He's paternal in a protective way, I just get the sense he's afraid she'll die again. Yet he keeps putting her in danger!
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I agree, more paternal than flirty.
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I think the word we're all looking for is "avuncular" - like the way the Doctor was in the Classic series... a favorite uncle taking his niece on a day out. He intends to buy her too many sweets and deliver her home to her parents after he's indulged her all day, but something goes horribly wrong.
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As there can never been enough Doctor WHo in my humble opinion I had a great time, as did my kids. The episode was a wee bit to pedestrian in my opinion but showed some great moments of Britishness that an American show would lack. And those aspects are the soul of the show.
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It wasn't one of my favorites, not to say I thought it was bad, just bland. I'm not a fan of submarine movies (I get a claustrophobic feeling) so maybe that was a big part of it, but for some reason this episode just didn't grab my attention. This is the 3rd episode this series that was just kinda "meh" and I'm beginning to think it's because this idea of making a bunch of mini-movies is over-reaching. An hour doesn't seem to leave enough time to have anything more than a shallow movie v. having a complex TV show. (I'm not sure I'm expressing myself well here)
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Um, so I guess the TARDIS likes her now since it's letting her hear translated languages? Continuity please!
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...add to that, the fact that the Tardis wasn't even on the submarine, it was at the South Pole! And the Tardis is meant to translate both spoken and written language, but the signs on the sub were all in Russian. It's as if the writer and director have never seen Doctor Who before.
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YES! I was thinking both things. The TARDIS wasn't even THERE.

I was expecting the Doctor to say "wait a tick" during his back-and-forth with Oswin about how she can speak in Russian without the TARDIS nearby.

Perhaps she really WAS speaking Russian and didn't know it?

So... mystery? Or writing-fail?
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The Tardis was "there" for some finite but arbitrary but value of "there". Each adventure takes The Doctor a fair bit away from the Tardis. It was in the same solar system, even on the same planet, and it was in the same time. We don't know what the range is. Up to this episode, all we knew about the Tardis's translation range is that it was exceeded iin "Planet of the Dead".
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KayWatkins is right... my issue is that the previous episode a bunch of us were wondering W T H when it wouldn't translate the barks for Clara but (presumably) translated the other people (assuming they weren't speaking English). And that's with the TARDIS in walking-distance.

Here it was literally on the other side of the planet and yet Clara was translated which I GUESS means it could still be in range. And, while I didn't notice... others state it failed to translate the written language on the sub which it's supposed to do.

So in MY opinion, but begs the question... was this a writer's fail OR perhaps a clue to something even more curious about Clara. Perhaps she was understanding Russian without the TARDIS's intervention via some weird explanation tied together with her origins?
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I can accept that. My issue was picking and choosing when it's going to translate for anyone. Choosing to translate here vs. the previous episode, I just don't know why and it wasn't addressed, alluded to, nothing...
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Based on my watching of Last Resort, I'm fairly certain that you can't fire nukes from 700 metres below the surface.
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LOVED it, loved the atmosphere, loved the writing, loved the acting, loved the nods to the past.... just everything :)
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I don't know what is going on lately, but Doctor Who is just feeling a little off to me
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When The Doctor asks for a lift to the TARDIS and the captain laughs, matt smith's imitation laugh of the captain is SO CUTE and funny. just had to say it. haha.

Overall, I agree with the feeling that something was missing and I think it is the fact that this episode feels like it didn't delve into the story enough, There's so much more they could have done with the Ice Warriors, I hope they come back! Half way through the episode it felt like it just started...I hope they change that, or do more two-parters. Never gonna stop loving Doctor Who though! Wasn't my favourite episode, but in my books Doctor Who can do no wrong! Love Clara too.
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Not a massive Who fan. I've followed the show a little and watched it when I was very young. But I have to admit that I might be following it a bit more now. That must be the nice thing about new companions..they give ppl like me a chance to jump on board. Clara is awesome.
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I agree that Jenna-Louise Coleman is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. I am a straight gal and I can't take my eyes off of her!

As for the translation explanation, I needed it, too. I watched Doctor Who back in the Tom Baker days and I've watched all of the episodes with Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith, yet I forgot about the TARDIS translator business. The first thing I thought was that this was one of those situations where a show has everyone speak English with no explanation, no matter what country they are in. Silly me!
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Is it just me, or is this second half going down hill in general. Where is all the big budget look and great stories of the Tenant years? I will never stop watching, but hope it gets its writers back up to par.
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Yes great stories like "New Earth" "Love and Monsters" "Journey's End" and "The End of TIme"? Cause in fact...those sucked.
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I think it was a decent episode with things pointing in the right direction. Big step up from the first, and the second, episode.It's still surprisingly disappointing how, three episodes in, it feels a little bland and uninteresting so far.
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"The Tardis is at the pole", "Not far then...","the south pole", "Ah.","Could we have a lift?"

brilliant!
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I really liked this episode. Like, a lot. I think it was definitely one of the better episodes this season, and I went into it expecting to not like it at all (read the beginning of this review before I started - particularly the bit that said "'Cold War' left me a little cold."). And yet, once the story got going, I was actually pretty hooked. Sure, there were problems (the uniforms, I think, were not so accurate? Plus the guns - would you really have readily available guns on a submarine? Maybe you do, I don't know, but it doesn't seem like a good idea). But overall, problems aside, I thought it was pretty good character development for Clara. I think it's these relatively low-stakes episodes (despite the threat to destroy Earth) that make it possible for us to get to know the new companion without her getting lost under a weighty story. Her interactions with the Doctor and the professor seemed really honest. Plus, if there is a big mystery about her, I'd bet that a hint was hidden somewhere in this episode. How many times did "Bad Wolf" appear in episodes that didn't add to Rose's arc?

Also, her "It's all got very...real" line was great for me. I don't remember anyone else really acknowledging that it's REAL and people can really die. In her last episode, no one died and while it would have been a tense, frightening situation, they came out of it okay and everything was happy. She would have no reason to expect anything awful to happen. It just seemed like an adventure to her. But when she saw the bodies, it was a jolt back to reality. Real people don't remark with eloquent, beautifully phrased statements when they're in a life-threatening, high-stakes situation, so her simple response of "It's all got very...real" was actually a very REAL response.
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My understanding is, subs have an Armory. In case they ever need to storm some place (a boat, a harbor, etc) or for defense.

Though, as you can imagine, issue with firing weapons inside a sub and have to worry about leaks

So, I don't know if they do anything special... like low-velocity soft-lead or something instead of full-blown full-metal-jacket.
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So Clara tumbled into the water that was maybe a foot deep and sees the sonic screwdriver. There's no indication she was in any real distress. Then she's waking up in a Russian officer's uniform, and The Doctor's asking if she's okay?
What happened there? Felt like some weird 'Clara died again' moment and I wonder if there's going to be more things like that with some timey-wimey explanation. (unless they just made a really weird cut of action for the BBC America broadcast)
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This wasn't my favourite episode by a long shot!
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I've been really disappointed with series 7.5 so far.
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All talk no examples. Im getting real tired of these Pseudo Critic who enjoy these strict antiquated cutthroat storytelling...
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I never claimed to be a critic. I'm just a fan of the show who is not enjoying it as much as previous seasons. Though I'm interested to see an example of this "strict antiquated cutthroat storytelling" as it applies to recent seasons of Doctor Who.
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For those like me who thought that the episode was boring/lame/bad dialogue...there is an easy explanation. Mark Gatiss. He writes some of the worst episodes ever - The Idiot Lantern, Night Terrors, Victory of the Daleks. ARGH. What's the point of getting excited about a new season that's not actually a new season despite premiering at the time of the new season but is actually the second half of a season so there are less eps left and yet everything is just bleaaah? I know if I try to think about episode numbers we've just done 6, 7, 8 and those eps are usually mid-ish fillerish eps, and I probably wouldn't be so harsh if the season aired as it normally does, but it didn't, and as a "new" season with a new companion, start doing better show, please.
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am i the only one who is glad that amy is gone.
with her and rory it was even worse than a kid's show
it was a show for baby's

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The Silence: for babies. Yes we should move a show where the entire human race commits genocide against the silence, brutally murdering one at first sight. Possibly by hand. Lets put that next to Sesame Street.
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A lot of people made the complaint that the Amy era wasn't dark. I do NOT agree with that sentiment.

While I agree some of the episodes were silly, some were dark and-or more mature than a kid's show tends to be. Besides the solution for "The Silence" here are some other Amy episodes that were not kid's shows in no particular order.

Time of the Angels / Flesh and Stone - fairly dark, creepy, and violent. One Angel talking about how it ripped out the spine and part of the brain of a soldier so it could talk to them.

The Beast Below - somewhat dark, humans torturing a star whale by shooting electricity in its brain, and feeding the random Londoner to it. Granted we had silly robots, but they were dangerous.

Any's Choice - While the concept was kind of silly, the ALIENS VAPORIZED AN ENTIRE PLAYGROUND OF CHILDREN INTO ASH. We then saw Rory also turned to ash. Pretty dark when you think about it. Sure ultimately it wasn't real but still.

The God Complex - fairly dark in general. Being killed after they realized their greatest fears and becoming zealots.

Rebel Flesh / The Almost People - starts out kind of silly, but gets pretty dark and violent and some people die horribly. Also, many morality issues AND a festering pile of semi-conscious flesh that was discarded. And ends with "Amy" vaporizing into a puddle of white goo.

A Good Man Goes to War - decapitations, deaths, and a "baby" vaporizing into a puddle of white goo. Plus, one heller cool intro with Rory as the Last Centurion, but that's neither here-nor-there.

A Town Called Mercy - mature plot lines: torture, genocide, mutilation, and the duality of one's life. Some on screen deaths, and humans acting like tools.

Asylum of the Daleks - just in general, fairly mature. On one hand, KIND of silly watching them transform. On the other hand, kind of gross when you think about it.

The Girl Who Waited - Amy lives a nightmarish existence, fending off robots that want to inject her an an acidic vaccine. De-claws a robot and lives with it. Ultimately older-Amy accepts her fate and accepts being injecting with the acid compound after spending a lifetime alone.

The Angel's Take Manhatten - people dying, tortured statues, locked in a cellar with feral statue babies, and the main characters ultimately dying.

Hungry Earth / Cold Blood - mostly cheesy, but the humans acting all angry and paranoid when locked in with the reptile were quite decent. Human nature == horrible. Also, Rory dying for reals.
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You do realise that this programme goes out at 6pm in the UK, don't you. It's kids' TV, why should you expect it to challenge cynical adults?
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It's obviously not just aimed at kids. It has viewers of all ages.
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Right...don't ever try to challenge kids. Kids are dumb and will watch anything. Great criteria for low standards!
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I never said kids shouldn't be challenged. Dr Who has always challenged kids, for example to recognise that alien cultures should be treated with respect since they might have something to offer that we don't understand. Since Stephen Moffat resurrected the doctor, he's directly addressed a whole raft of issues, including sexuality. You didn't get that in the TeleTubbies.
I also know that there is a wide audience. I've been watching it from Day 1 (I am THAT old). However many layers you try to put into a narrative, though, you can't ignore your target audience and in the UK, it's kids. You can't reasonably expect Dr Who to operate at the same level as a primetime show.
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If it was a kids' show it would be broadcast at 4.45pm on weekdays. It's always been family viewing - grown up TV that kids can watch. Your posts imply that the plots need to be kept simple so that kids can understand. I think kids can readily understand complex plots, and DW has used some very complex plots - the whole story about the Impossible Astronaut, the Silence, Amy's baby, the Flesh and all that, for example. 'Cold War' was simply a bloody awful story for kids and adults alike.
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the ending was such an anticlimax....even the effects where a bit of a let down..

other wise was ok...
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...And another thing. If they were trying to push the TARDIS translator angle, why not set the whole episode such that you can't tell whose submarine it is. That way, the professor singing 80's songs would lead you down the garden path of "oh, US sub."
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The uniforms make that impossible for anyone who has seen a cold war movie.
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I hate to be a wet blanket, but for me, this episode stinks from stem to stern and then it sinks like a turd. It sets a series of goals; and the dialog or acting fail to support it. Hamfisted pandering makes me ill. They use actors we love and then make them say stupid things. The dialog as written failed to set the russian tone. Oh, right, they're russian because they say comrade...and that doesn't get translated. Clara being brave but scared felt incredibly forced. The mindset of a warhawk that is willing to launch the missile isn't "mutually assured destruction" it's preemptive destruction. Having forgettable number two evil guy persuade skaldak on that basis was ridiculous. Skaldak doesn't change from, "hurt one, hurt all" to "hurt one, hurt me" which would have been some character depth. If the professor was going to ask if a band is going to stay together, he could have asked about a better band...like...the beatles or The WHO? Telling Clara to sing a song just filled script space AND was dumb. Added to the list of crappy ideas in this episode a passing comment of "he's in the walls" is patently laughable in a submarine. Added to the list of promises, "he's studying your weaknesses" after completely vivisecting a guy in five seconds and then not ever utilizing or demonstrating an understanding of the "weaknesses" he found. Having a crew member decide to thaw skaldak out instead of just letting him thaw out on his own had no purpose other than to demonstrate that russians are selfish idiots? Good morning skaldak, you've awakened to a new season of doctor who where there's no difference between you and any other enemy, and the dialog is crap. If I were you, I'd hitch a ride back in time to when they didn't try to shoehorn in as many dumb jokes as possible.
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Comrade wouldn't be translated as it's a word in English - it derives from French. The Russian word for comrade is товарищ - tovarish. So logically the Russians would have called each other that and it would have been translated to Comrade.
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01 - Re: The Tardis not translating the word comrade. The word comrade exists in the English language and means exactly the same as in Russian.

02 - What on earth is preemptive destruction?

03 - Re: Ultravox. The story was set in 1983. the Beatles split up in 1970, the Who split up in 1982 and didn't officially reform until maybe 10 years later.

04 - Re: "He's in the Walls" So you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the design of every cold war Russian submarine?

05 - The Russian sailor who thawed Shaldak did it out of curiosity and had reason to presume the creator inside would be alive.
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Re: the bands
Because the year was 1983.
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I enjoyed this episode. The redesign made the Ice Warriors, up to now the goofiest looking monsters of Doctor Who (besides the original Cybermen) look genuinely menacing. The problem with warrior aliens on Doctor who is that even though their designs are different, their personalities are almost identical. During the first half of the episode I could imagine a Surulian or Sontaran soldier in the Ice Warrior's place, since their motivations (war is glorious) are exactly the same. Only after the Doctor talked to Skaldak about mercy did the Ice Warrior actually seem to have a personality of his own other than "War is cool because it's in our culture."

As always, I am in love with Jenna Louise Coleman. She and the Doctor, in my opinion, have the best chemistry since 10 and Donna, and I love the subtle flirtatious sessions that the two have (I honestly thought she was going to kiss him after the nukes were disarmed, but no, just a hug.) PLEASE WRITERS, LET HER BE THE DOCTOR'S COMPANION AS LONG AS AMY! DON'T KILL HER OFF NEXT SEASON!
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I would like to point out that prior to being pulled up to the surface, there was no way that a successful launch would occur at a depth of 700 meters. The water pressure would have caused the missiles to implode. Ballistic missile submarines have a typical launch depth of around 50 meters or so. Also, it appears that the sub was directly under the ice pack so that would have been a non-starter as well.
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also when the sub was on its way to to surface, wasnt it movie too fast to accomidate pressure changes?
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very good point on the depth, but I did a little research and a ballistic missile can break thru ice how thick I cant answer that!!!
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I don't think it was a common practice with the Soviet Navy, certainly not then. There were successful under ice firing test conducted in 1984 with a Delta class sub that I know of. The ice thickness is certainly a factor. The general tactic was to surface, break through the ice, and then launch. Even the later generation Typhoon class operates this way.

Another little detail they overlooked was that the dive planes would have to be in the vertical position so as not to be damaged when the sail breaks through the ice. Which is why a lot of boats in under-ice operations have the dive planes located in the hull instead of the sail. Note the SSN688 Los Angeles class submarines - the later boats, the 688i series, relocated the dive planes to the hull for this reason. In fact, all newer generation US submarines have the dive planes located in the hull.
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all I said that it was possible!!! the Soviets were testing back in the 60's and this matter, if I had a to guess for the reason Cuban Missile Crisis now all your facts that you stated I will not dispute !!
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"or her sass in the face of danger"
I think Clara has a nice sass, regardless of the amount of danger it's in :D
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It was a solid episode and I prefer the tense "horror" type Who compared to the type of last week, this was the best of 7b that we've seen. I think they put a bit much into Clara's character after 3 episodes though, plus she feels a bit like Amy. I dont think this series will mount up to it's own ending, I think it will lead into the 50th anniversary!
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Clara is nothing like AMY, the whole point of 7b was to find out about Clara (the girl who died twice) only in Bells of Saint John was their a hint they need to direct more attention to Clara and to her development!!! by far the weakest companion as for the Cold War very good episode
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IMO she came across as Amy in the first few episodes. Young, attractive and curious and ignored the Doctor about everything. I was in the Cold War where she started listening to The Doctor and took him more seriously about what dangers are tip toeing around the place.
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One big problem. Why is this episode only 40 minutes long, and we get so few episodes? This show needs to be closer to the hour mark if we're only going to get a handful of shows each year.
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Here in the UK, the budget isn't great. Whats more, if they did increase the budget, most tax paying citizens would ramble on about how much the BBC spends on shows. Cant win!
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I actually thought this was a big improvement over last week. Like I said, I prefer DW when it's about a tense situation our characters are trapped in. I agree that it wasn't the strongest one of these, but there's something very pleasantly retro about having the show confined to a single environment against a single monster.

So sure, it was a little bit bland here and there, but I think at least the template is right here. Now if the ending weren't a deus ex machina we'd be rolling.
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I don't know what it is, but this episode didn't feel right. Perhaps the story was too limited. One thing I think R T Davies did well with the David Tennant era was realise that to stay popular once more, Doctor Who had to go somewhere special, become something more.

With Tennant, and then after with Amy and River, the stakes were much higher (universe, the doctor himself, time and space). Although the thing in this episode was saving the world, it wasn't believable. Maybe because it was too close to home?

Also, I think they need to be clear about how time works. It's too convenient that sometimes time is fixed and sometimes it's not.
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Not so much. I appreciate what's been said in the show, but look back to Amy and New York, the book, the submarine and changing history. I'm not saying they are getting all wrong, but at times the way time travel restrictions or not are used is starting to feel a little convenient.......
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They're very clear on how time works in this show. People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect, but actually, speaking from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff.
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they are quite clear IMO on time think of the movies MR Destiny and Final Countdown plus the story was not limited at all
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What the bloody hell is wrong with you people, this was the best episode of Series 7b so far. I seriously don't know what you guys are expecting from the show if this wasn't a good episode to you. Maybe the fans who've watched the new series and the classic series are better equipped to appreciate episodes like this.
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I haven't watched the classic but I still agree it was the better episode of 7b so far. Also why hasn't anyone mentioned the "I spoke too soon" crack the Doctor made, I was laughing so hard
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I for one prefer Matt as a doctor, this is what Dr Who is all about, childish, frightening and alien. Matt is also much better actor than David, I have seen David in some other works and he is basically the same core character everywhere. People tend to forget that in seasons 2-4 plot was even more nonsensical and boring than now, but now they just don't bother with hiding it and insulting the audience. Dr Who was always hit and miss, from the first to the last episode. Also, it seems that people prefer melodrama over the pure fun ride. I was extremely bored after two seasons of Tennant, now I am eagerly awaiting new episodes. This was not great episode, but it was good, even very good. I much prefer when things are more closed and claustrophobic. People also do not like the change, dynamics with the new companion is different.
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Also, the main target audience are kids, do not ever forget that.
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So it's ok to write a boring storyline and let Matt Smith overact? Kids demand quality as much as adults. Possibly more so.

Part of the trouble with Matt Smith's doctor is that he's neither frightening nor alien. He's a bit silly. When he gets all angry and threatening with Ice Warriors and the smiling star thing from the Rings of Akhaten, he just seems ridiculous. As someone who grew up watching classic Who, Pertwee, Tom Baker and Peter Davison were more like Tennant. Smith is turning into early Sylvester McCoy: a bit of a silly clown. Why? Because someone at the BBC has decided that it's a kids' show and that whats kids want.

Except it's not.
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Yes, I realize that but even the people that make Who acknowledge that a sizable portion of the shows audience are people who grew up watching Classic Who, the same as it was in the later years of classic Who's run.
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Doctor Who is a Family show not a "kids" show and there is a wealth of difference between the two. Don't ever forget that.
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I watched some footage of Dr Who promotional tour in UK, school halls were filled with tiny ones, that really opened my eyes. As with any quality kids show, it is also family show, on that I stand corrected. But really, the show is much much better when you try to look at it through kids eyes, just mine 2 cents :)
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@bkyle2429 Pedantor has come to terrorize the comments section. Will no one be safe?
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Family show implies the kids watch as well SO "family" is also wrong Teen to adult is more correct
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This episode sucked. The story, the alien, and everything else about it was boring. The ice warrior's reason for wanting to kill as many humans as possible was stupid: They melted the block of ice he was in, and one of them got scared and zapped him with a taser thingy. And how did The Doctor handle it? First he just chased the ice warrior with his screw driver. What was he going to do if he found him? Screw him? Why are his plans always so stupid? (That particular complaint applies to a lot of his plans. He often just puts himself in a position where there's no escape and he has no way to defend himself). The doctor didn't do anything useful other than beg the ice warrior to not kill them. Clara could have handled that as well as he did, but she didn't even get to choose the words she spoke to the ice warrior.
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To be fair, they are aliens, they don't have to react in an entirely realistic way.
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Exactly my feelings. Ice Warrior gets poked with a stick and reacts by wanting to annihilate the human race - that's one hell of a hissy fit.

In the last 2 episodes, the Doctor's plans are simply to have a chat with the bad alien and in neither case does it work. Then there's this ridiculous overuse of the sonic screwdriver. Clara should grab it and shove it where the sun don't shine.
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I liked it as a stand alone episode. And I think that is what it was intended to be. They need to introduce new viewers to the regular world of Doctor Who at the same time they introduce the regular viewers to the new companion. And this is the type of episode that does both. And I agree, Clara looked hot in this episode. Maybe it was being soaking wet, but damn, she was looking good.
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I think the best part of this episode by far was when the Doctor told Clara to stay where she was and not go anywhere, and she actually did that. It was great to see the Doctor's surprise that, for the first time ever, a companion actually listened to what he said and stayed put. It'll be interesting to see if Clara changes her tune over time, and starts to do more of what we'd normally expect of a companion, or if she actually continues to do the smart thing and do what the incredibly old time lord tells her to do.

In response to Emily's point that when, on a TV show, a character insists that someone not do something, the next shot will be on them doing it, normally I would agree with this. However, as I mentioned above, in this very same episode there was a scene where someone vehemently insisted that someone else do something, and they actually did it. However, this would seem to be the one exception to that rule, which otherwise seems to be pretty much set in stone. If anything, Clara agreeing with the Doctor played off of this rule, to great effect.

As for this episode as a whole, I enjoyed it, and didn't feel like it was a bad episode. While I agree that it wasn't as good as the past several episodes, this is mainly because the last several episodes have all been major finale, special, or introductory episodes. I mean, it's still been only five (or five, depending on if you're counting the Christmas special, which you really should) episodes since we last said goodbye to the ponds, and since then every episode has been necessarily special for some reason. Even last week's episode was the classic "show the new companion lots of aliens and space stuff" episode, which always contain that wonderful mix of the outrageous planets and aliens we've come to expect on this show, and a character who's completely new to all of these things. In comparison, this episode, which falls into the classic "now that the new companion has seen a bunch of cool space/future stuff, let's remind her that this thing can go backwards in time as well" category of episodes. While in the past, some of these have been great (the Shakespeare Code, for instance), they generally tend to be less interesting than the future/space episodes.

And regardless of what kind of category this episode fell into, it was inevitable that we were going to have to dip down into "regular" Doctor Who episodes again. It's just that, what with this season being as unusual as it has been, it's been a really long time since we've seen one of these "regular" episodes. So while I agree that this episode was the worst we've seen in a while, this is only because we've been seeing a lot of crazy cool infused, "special" episodes, and I think this has temporarily raised the bar, in some ways, for what makes a Doctor Who episode good. Now, I'm not trying to disregard anyone who believes this episode wasn't good, but in my opinion this episode was only bad by comparison. As a stand-alone episode, I think it did just fine. It's certainly not in the top ten, but I didn't feel like it was missing a "spark," or that it lacked anything to a degree that it ceased to be good and enjoyable. The only thing that I really would have liked to see, but didn't, was some sort of reference, or preferably a clue, to Clara's mysterious existence. Even something like the suggestion that her mother is still alive, and watching over her in some way (as she promised in that voice-over) would have been nice. Still, it was a good episode.
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"Seeing those bodies torn apart in there, this just got real." So, the gruesome body parts fazed ya a bit Clara, but now you're good... really?! And that wasn't the only cringeworthy dialogue. Duran Duran was never that great, but being sung badly by a 'Russian' David Warner in a wet suit is much worse... I wanted the ceiling alien hands to take him out and anyone else casually accepting wet Martians are real, cuz... of reasons.
It was almost boring. I kept waiting for there to be more of a conspiracy, why did Capt Sean Connery so casually accept the Doctor being in charge? Especially since he all he did was yell "I"m a timelord take me seriously!" What really happened to the TARDIS? Oh, she just got scared and ran off. Why is David Warner trying to get Clara to sing, does he want to start Russian Idol? What happened to Lieut Missile Launch? Didn't he want to help sexy green fingers really start a war? Nah, green fingers can feel up the sub and launch on his own, probably had his way with the Lieut first before making body part soup.
This was disappointing... again. I could go on, I just expect more from Who. Steven Moffat where are you?!
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The episode was fine but didn't excel. It had great elements like The Onion Knight and bringing back Ice Warriors (they and The Great Intelligence bring some nice connections to the Troughton-era which was one of the best of the classic series) and some interesting moments for Clara but it didn't maximise its potential. I found it sort of claustrophic, sort of creepy and sort of exciting but not more.

I have to think that Mark Gatiss episodes are a bit hit and miss, as this episode reminded me of his Churchill episode which was similarly unsatisfying, I'm surprised by this as you would expect nothing less than perfection from the genius writer of The League of Gentlemen AND Sherlock. He has another episode coming up in a few weeks so I'll be very interested to see how that one fares.
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I didn't like this episode, I didn't even feel rage towards it, it just wasted my time and made me feel like all of the Moffat series has been a waste of time. There's no emotional depth, there's no real story, there's no magic or unique take on anything at all. Ripping on Hunt for Red October and the Cold War in general landed flat. Clara delivered nothing, and especially after the way things were left in the previous episode there should have been repercussions, not to mention character growth. The "monster from the rafters" was ineffective and utter nonsense since a submarine wouldn't have a place above anybody for it to hide. I had no attachment to the Ice Warriors so that wasn't particularly mind-blowing, but the Ice Warrior's argument felt pretty thin anyway. The TARDIS just up and disappearing was super cheap, but at least the all-powerful Sonic Screwdriver remained behind. David Warner's character felt a bit cliche as well. And none of the episode actually made sense, why was the Ice Warrior not melted in the original timeline where it was here? Why did the engineer guy melt the Ice Warrior early? Just stupid stuff there to move the plot along I guess, but like too many Moffat-run episodes it's so light on thought that the stupid stuff weighs down the episode more than the complicated explanations needed to carry an idea through that they're excising.

I think what bothered me most was how clumsy and dead-eyed they made Clara. This episode felt like a reflection on the 9th Doctor episode "Dalek" except Rose had real emotions driving her choices and the villain ran through the emotional range required to get it to the anger point - none of which happened here.

This wasn't even shot especially well. As you said, it didn't feel claustrophobic.

Literally the only thing I could I say I felt worked was the use of an actual model for the sub, looked pretty good, way better than the dodgy CGI spaceship.

BTW, The Doctor isn't wearing Aviator-style sunglasses, he's wearing Elvis Presley rockstar-style sunglasses from thinking he'd be in early '80s Vegas. They have shorter lenses and much fatter frames.

What bums me out about reading that Wiki page you linked to on this episode is that the IDEAS for bringing back the Ice Warriors should have held up, the society from which he came being uniquely different to our own and a driving force in who he was and why he was doing these things, but none of that was written into this episode, instead taking cheap shortcuts, gimmicks and "kill all humans" behavior.

Clara's read on talking about seeing death felt like the conversation of a person who has lived around gore and death a long time without seeing its cause, and had that been this character her read would have worked. Sadly, that's not who she is so it was another pothole instead.
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I agree with a lot of what you said about this episode, and unsurprisingly, Mark Gattis is not my favorite Who writer. But I do disagree about one episode making the entire Moffatt series feel like a waste of time. I didn't last last week's or this week's either, but that doesn't take away from s5 (my personal favorite of any of the new show) and a not-quite-as-good-but-still-very-good s6-7.5. Even if the rest of this season is terrible, it at least started with 6 good episodes and an enjoyable Christmas special, which already puts it ahead of s3 (seriously, I liked Martha and loved the 10th Doctor, but that season was unwatchable outside of Blink and the 2-part Family of Blood. Dr. Who would have to sink pretty low to ever match that season again).

Two bad eps in a row doesn't have me overly optimistic about the rest of it, but I really don't know where you're coming from on Moffatt-run episodes being light on thought. There's just differences of opinions, I guess. Everything I've seen people knock the Moffatt tenure for, I think exactly the same thing about Davies tenure. The 9th and 10th Doctors were portrayed brilliantly by great actors meant to play the Doctor, I thought, but were so often given junk to work with. Davies had themes, and I liked them, but it always felt like he was beating me over the head with them. Nothing subtle about his shows, and I'm not much for things being over the top. I much prefer Moffatt's more understated way of getting across his themes, and I don't think his show has been devoid of thought at all. That said, I think that's part of why I'm not enjoying the past few weeks. I don't know what the theme is anymore post-Amy/Rory. It needs to establish something soon, and I don't mean a over-arching plot, I mean an actual theme, which is what has really made Moffatt/Smith's seasons so far for me. That, and for as much as I like the 11th Doctor and Clara, I'm still not liking them together. The characters work for me by themselves, but together they don't seem nearly as right for each other as Amy and Rory did. I think I would've liked Clara with the 10th Doctor.
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I hadn't really paid much attention to the writers of the modern series, aside from Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, but in looking up Gattis' run, I am not sure I've liked any of his episodes. I barely remember The Unquiet Dead though.

Series 5 had a sweeping arc to it which made it more watchable and real dangers set up from the start. But it was uneven for me as well, Victory of the Daleks wasn't the only misstep, there was also Vampires of Venice and a few others. But then series 6 really disappointed me aside from The Doctor's Wife, and series 7 so far has left me feeling, as I said, more and more like I've been wasting my time with this whole run, that series 5 didn't have enough to warrant the time I've invested.

Series 6 is where my mom dropped out after 5 decades of Doctor Who.

Series 3 was pretty dubious, but I felt at least like it had something to say in Gridlock and The Sound of Drums arc and 42. Had Evolution of the Daleks carried forward better I would have gotten more out of those episodes, I liked the underlying ideas but the execution didn't land so well.

As for this series, I liked the first Christmas special, and The Power of Three worked right up until it completely fell on its face at the ending. Everything else has felt like a misstep by being hollow, trading story arcs and thoughtful unique takes on things for big action and location shoots. None of the stories this series have felt like they needed to be longer, they're not epic TALES, only trying to be big dumb Hollywood stuff.

Clara to me feels like a cut-n-paste companion, instead of writing a true character first they made her spunky and mysterious and flirty and smart, and I think it shows, there's just not enough driving her and this episode especially leaves her flat, a cardboard character without backstory to drive her. I feel like that doesn't quite cover what I mean, but I've run out of drive to describe what's not working with me and Doctor Who lately.
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Cut and paste companion....that's a pretty good way to describe her. Which is a shame, because it seems like Jenna Louise Coleman could be pretty good if her character were handled right. For the time being, I'm still optimistic. As I said, s5 was very good for me and s6 was also pretty good. This one is floundering, but we've got a Neil Gaiman written episode coming up, and I have high hopes for that one at least (I liked his previous work on the show, and I like his books and movies as well). I think Moffat needs to get back to doing what he does best, which is really creating a broader story and being goofy with the Timey-Wimey sci-fi leeway afforded to a show like Dr. Who. I don't think he excels at Davies' more character moments-driven approach, and sometimes I feel like that's what he's going for right now, only failing at it. Davies' time was really good at it, and it worked for him. I think Moffat has a whole different gift with what's available for a show capable of many faces like this one, and I think he's at his best when he sticks to what he knows.

Oddly enough, I don't think either of them match the tone of the original show in a lot of ways. I actually recall in 2005 when it first came back that although I was liking it on its own merits, it distinctly did NOT feel like Dr. Who that I grew up with. But.....that's the difference in 1988 television and the 2000's I suppose. There's more to be said for romance on TV these days, and less to be said for witty British dialog. Which reminds me......a huge thing I haven't like about the last two episodes is it feels like they were trying to make a show for an American audience. Dr. Who is just something I would rather keep way out of our hands. Don't know if you caught the 1995 movie, but somebody foolishly put Dr. Who in the hands of Fox/American producers, and it was disaster imo. Paul McGann did a decent job with what he had to work with, but it was a travesty-ending for the Sylvester McCoy (one of my favorites ever) and the plot, dialog, tone.....pretty much all of it.....reeked. That's kinda what the final scene atop the surfaced submarine at the end of this last one felt like, some cheesy American final scene. Please God, don't let my country infiltrate Dr. Who.

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I honestly don't know what Moffat does best, I look back at his work during the RTD era and I see "The Empty Child" and "Silence in the Library" arcs, two of my favorites, but I also see "The Girl in the Fireplace", one of my least favorite of that era, and "Blink" which is a lot of interesting ideas for a horror expression but not adding a lot to Doctor Who (the Doctor barely being in the episode) so it's more of an experiment. I think back to Moffat's words at last year's San Diego Comic-Con and he's SO hollywood, he's SO full of himself when talking about these crazy ideas like "dinosaurs on a spaceship" carrying the whole medium. To me, his edict over the last 2 series has been crafting a show more towards American mentalities, and yet by doing so he's sucked the life out of what made Doctor Who what it was in the first place. Nobody wants another Hollywood Doctor Who, the '96 one was bad enough - I watched it when it aired here and wondered why they had gotten it so wrong.

To me, Eccleston really set this new series off on a great tone for the modern age, it cast out a lot of the slower filler and longwinded stuff while retaining the flavor of the mysterious time-and-space-traveling alien seeing all sorts of stuff through the eyes of his companions, and the whole thing looked good unlike the cardboard sets and rubber masks my grandma would watch on PBS. Tennant carried that torch and built on that foundation marvelously, but with ol' 11 here (I'm not trying to blame Matt Smith, more the thinking behind his casting and how they've written for him) we had a mixed message and a lot of shortcuts that would appeal to shorter-attention-span American audiences, and series 6 with its "amazing trip to America" with The Impossible Astronaut started to be nothing but shortcuts and broad Hollywood stuff with little carrying message. That's how I've seen it anyway.
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It just didn't look or feel like a submarine--it looked like a set, and felt like a set. Nobody seemed "Russian." For me, the Ice Warrior looked a little silly--does every alien creature have to be hell-bent on destroying the Earth? Does earth always have to be in jeopardy for the episode to be "good"? I think the best episodes are the quiet ones, the ones where the Doctor or his companion are in jeopardy but it doesn't necessarily have to be WWIII.
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So that's what an Ice Warrior looks like. Well they do have a cool Space Ship. Cant say I liked it yeah think it was a filler episode, but do have to say that I'm glad that we are seeing old enemies of the Doctor they where great. Im currently watching all of the Original Doctor Who episode at the moment I'm in Season 15 or 16 cant recall I'm actually in the last 2 missions of the Original Romanadvoratrelundar I.

I do wish tho that they brought back K-9 he was such a good companion lol still laugh at the episode where K-9 asks the TARDIS computer for the location of the Doctor and when it does not respond K-9 tell it you are a stupid computer lol.
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lol "or Brendan Fraser." I missed the first half of this episode, unfortunately. Gotta catch up on On Demand tomorrow. But I did enjoy the final half of it. And yes, even soaking wet, Jenna-Louise Coleman is still ridiculously beautiful.
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"Even?" I think you meant "especially when."
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Sorry, my mistake. :)
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Moffat and his sexy women!! Pathetic!
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well this is the second episode I have been able to catch this season (and im too lazy to check out the other S7 episodes right now), the other one being Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (I think that's what its called) and man I hope I just caught two bad episodes and the others this season aren't as bad/dull. I thought this episode could of been really good but the outcome was way to cliché and easy.
I just found that the story wasn't really engaging
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Dinosaurs on a spaceship is not bad in any sense. I watch this show with my son, and that episode hit every mark. We laughed at the dinosaur chasing a ball, and talked seriously about genocide afterwards. I watch science fiction to look at the world in a different light, and to be able to share that with a 4 year old is a treasure. I
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ah but see you watched it with your child. I just wonder if you watched it first by yourself without your son if that would changed your opinion (I don't mean to start arguments but I do think that is a factor that plays into your opinion). I think if I too was watching with a small child and not my friend that I would have enjoyed it more too. But when it came to that episode I thought the premise was good just that too many really childish things were sprinkled into it (yes yes I know It is a family show).
and yes I agree with AndrewOchwat It is more the tones of the episode that are throwing me off
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It isn't necessarily bad, its tone is just extremely uneven.
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I think those two episodes have specifically been used to introduce new viewers to the whimsical side of Doctor Who. Don't judge the season from them. The story arc for the first "half" is a good one.
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Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and this one are two of the lesser episodes of the season, the least being "The Rings of Akhaten."
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ok so its mainly just been bad timing, good to know
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It was boring. I don't think I've ever said that about a Doctor Who episode before. This Clara, I hope there are some big plans for her, because I'm really not warming up to her. There's no chemistry between her and the Doctor, in any form. My least liked companion, Martha, is starting to top her.
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I don't think Martha was really so bad, so much as her season was just horrible. For my taste, there were only 3 good episodes in her season, and I don't know that she really got a fair shake as a companion on that show. Plus, the whole "Doctor keeps her at arm's length because he's still hurting over losing Rose" thing was not something I cared for, and kind of threw a wrench in her works.
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I agree with ben45. don't bad mouth Martha. She helped cleanse the pallet after Rose left. 2 Doctors fell in love with Rose, and she with them. Martha helped get away from that. She may have been in love with the Doctor, but when he didn't follow suit it was clear not only did he really love Rose, but the writers weren't going to keep throwing a companion in as a romantic interest and instead would use the pretty girls as actual friends and partners. Also Freema is hot. And as an active member of UNIT, she can come back any time. And also she's hot.
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Death to the Martha haters!
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