Nice to ssssssseeeeeee you again. First thoughts on "Cold War"

Blue Box Bill's picture

Blue Box Bill - Posted on 20 April 2013

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: You have been warned! Interesting twist to the return of the Ice Warriors. Armor!

The TARDIS Translation Circuit seems a bit far reaching in this episode. That it functioned from the other side of Earth, given that the Soviet sub in which "Cold War" takes place was at the North Pole and it (the TARDIS) had relocated to the South Pole just after the episode began by way of the H.A.D.S. (Hostile Action Displacement System) was pretty amazing. More than amazing, in fact quite unbelievable was how the TARDIS Translation Circuit translated Russian into English BEFORE it arrived on the sub! The opening scenes would have been far more believable with English subtitles and Russian speaking actors.

That Professor Grisenko (who was brilliantly portrayed by David Warner) believed a mammoth was encased in the ice which in fact encased Grand Marshall Skaldak seems a bit silly. Mammoths were quite large, sometimes 13 feet tall at the shoulder. I don't believe the sub would have accommodated a full grown mammoth, let alone a tomb of ice large enough to keep it frozen for the duration of the return trip. It would have been a simple script edit to indicate that what was in the ice was an immature mammoth but that's not what were were led to believe.

Otherwise a rather good episode.

Happy Travels!

Agreed. I said the same thing while watching this episode. I would had the crew speaking Russian with subtitles until the TARDIS arrived. That would had been my preferred way of doing it if indeed I was doing it. Perhaps they had thought of it as well but the time and budget wouldn't allow for it? I don't know. It could also be argued that they don't do that with other scenes that may take place on other worlds (where presumably they are not speaking English) in which there are scenes and dialogue prior to the TARDIS arriving.

I thought the size difference between a mammoth and an Ice Warrior was a bit glaring for one to be mistaken for the other as well. I sort of wrote it off as perhaps they thought it was part of mammoth instead of a whole one or as you suggested, one that was not fully grown yet. Perhaps there was something recorded that made it clearer, but was edited out for pacing. 

All and all, I thought it was a good story and episode. It did have some problems as you pointed out. I think they could had gotten the TARDIS out of the way (so that they would be trapped in the sub) in another way other than relocating it half-way around the world, but then again, we don't know the range of the translation circuit. We probably can point to various other stories where it continued to work while the TARDIS was well out of sight and range (what we may guess the range might be). 

I believe it was also a bit of a nod to the 1979 ALIEN film in certain scenes as well. While I appreciated it, they may not had worked as well as I would like. 

So while there was possibly a mammoth size error, I don't believe as a whole there were any mammoth sized errors that would had taken the enjoyment of this episode away for me.

There have been countless stories where the characters have been speaking English long before the TARDIS arrives. I didn't think it was important. I assumed that because the translation circuit was tied in to the Doctor (The Christmas Invasion) that it sort of worked all around him. Maybe I made that up to satisfy myself.

Blue Box Bill's picture

Journalism 101: It's always a good idea to confirm your sources. Yes, one source can be as incorrect as another or yet another, etc., but there is some safety in numbers... well, except when it comes to U.S. Presidential Election results.

There aren't enough hours in the day to verify every fact of fiction that is Doctor Who but I can honestly say that there are at least 2,345 words in I hasten to add that said article is not the definitive work on the subject. Why? Time can be rewritten and canon evolves.

As to the accuracy of such a resource, here's a snippet from the article, "The Fourth Doctor identified the mercenary trader Garron as originating from Somerset simply by hearing his accent, despite the fact that he was on the planet Ribos at a time before it had become aware of other worlds and hence would have no reason for an Earth native to visit it. (TV: The Ribos Operation)." This particular excerpt is nested within a paragraph which begins with, and I quote, "Multilingual individuals were sometimes capable of identifying what language was being spoken."

Why is the Doctor's ability to deduce the origin of Garron's Somerset accent even in an article about the TARDIS Translation Circuit? Is there any evidence in the whole of the story that English wasn't the native language of Ribos? Planet Earth is home to some of the Doctor's best friends. Don't folks in Somerset speak English? What was being translated? Garron's accent certainly may have given the Doctor cause to question his presence on Ribos but to imply that the TARDIS Translation Circuit was responsible for the identification makes no more sense than the magic wand the sonic screwdriver has become.

A show of hands for everyone that remembers what the "sonic device" was first used for when it appeared way back when. To me, the TARDIS Translation Circuit is not unlike the magic screwdriver, uh, sorry, sonic wand...  The Circuit is "unseen" but just as magical, no?

Time is sometimes rewritten inside of a single episode like Rose. Canon often evolves from episode to episode, however sometimes it lies dormant for a very long time. Prior to Cold War, the last time we saw an Ice Warrior on screen was in The Monster of Peladon, some 40 years ago! Another show of hands... how many of us imagined the green exterior of this particular species was little more than armor?

The point is that no matter how well the lore of Who is explained in a given story, it can be unraveled and reconstituted in the next. I just wish the writers, directors and producers held fast to certain bits of its history in the same way the Doctor stands firm with "fixed points in time" otherwise the lure of the program suffers. How? I've heard and read remarks made by members of other fan groups concerning the way in which Doctor Who has been "Americanized" and while they haven't defined exactly what that means, I get their drift... but get this... it isn't produced in America! At the end of the day it remains a British program. Americans have as much control over Doctor Who as Brits have in deciding US Presidential elections. Sadly, at times one makes about as much sense as the other.

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