Its an odd contrast. The environmental tale of global climate change is quite groundbreaking for the mid 80’s; we take that for granted now but it wasn’t such a big deal back then. The Ice Warriors are always best as villains and they do come across as threatening. Its a brutal plan they have and they carry it out in a chilling fashion, excuse the pun. Also returning is Sil who role in the story is best left as a surprise. Its great to see him in a Big Finish audio and I hope this isn’t his last appearance.
The lofty environmental storyline is sadly coupled with a cringe worthy storyline about women being in charge. This was ground breaking when played seriously way back in the 60’s in the story Galaxy 4. Here its just an excuse for the men to make sexist remarks and the women to get indignant about those remarks. The final resolution of this plot line is ludicrous and woeful to say the least. Its especially irksome for the women to be blinkered into believing only a massively convoluted scheme involving time travel can save them from their enemies. For an advanced civilization they don’t go much for reasoning or alternatives.
Also annoying is the botched introduction of what could have been an interesting Time Lord peer for the Doctor. Anzor was a the childhood bully that made the doctors life miserable at the academy. Sadly while he starts out interesting he soon becomes just a device to slag off the women and then gets shelved for most of the story. I don’t really buy a sexist time lord. Yes he may be a bully and a spoiled brat but the sexism seems at odds with being a time lord.
As with the first story Colin Baker is channeling his 80’s self. This isn’t the more rounded doctor we’ve come to expect from his Big Finish outings but the much more harsh and abrasive doctor from the 80’s. While he does round the edges a bit this doctor goes to extremes and isn’t quite as likable; and often verging on being a bit over the top. The first encounter with Anzor is played for pantomime style laughs with the doctor transforming into a quivering coward.
Peri once more gets something to do and as always, it seems, gets separated from the Doctor. Given the planet is ruled by women with men being treated like second class citizens its odd that this isn’t explored much with Peri. But then that sub plot is more played for laughs than really explored.
The music successfully captures the 80’s synth sound but I found it lacking compared to the more sophisticated soundtracks we’ve been spoiled with in recent years. Murray Gold may be accused of being loud but his work blends in seamlessly with the stories. Other big finish productions have rousing soundtracks that flow well with the story. The 80’s style synth jars rather than settles the story in the 80’s. Its probably a requirement to help ground the story in its rightful era but it doesn’t add to the story.
The sound work is good however. Oddly the Ice Warriors voices are not as good as the recent companion chronicles story “The Prisoner of Peladon”. While they have more variety in this tale they don’t quite capture the ice warriors as well as they should. Sil however is note perfect; its almost as if Nabil Shaban never left the role. You can easily visualize Sil in all his slimy glory just from Nabil’s voice.
On the whole this story felt like it needed dragged into the present day; its to much a product of the 80’s. From what I gather this is a faithful adaption of the book of the script and that perhaps is the problem. A few more edits and further development of the environmental/Ice Warrior plot line over the carry on doctor who sexist storyline would have been a much better idea.
While the story isn’t the best its worth it to hear Sil in action. Not the best of late but then its been a great year for Big Finish so its up against tough competition.