Sue: Why is the TARDIS trapped in a bubble? I just don’t get this title sequence at all. Ooh, there’s a dragon in this one… Is it going to be like Game of Thrones?
Welcome to Iceworld – the place where winter came and never left. It’s here that a group of reprobates are being initiated into a fresh-frozen army.
Kracauer: Oh, you lucky, lucky people. You are the chosen ones, the elite, specially selected to join our force of mercenaries and create fear and terror wherever you go. Kane has paid seventeen crowns for each of you, and he insists on value for money.
Sue: I hope they kept the receipt. Look at the state of them.
One of the conscripts manages to escape but he is stopped in his tracks by the evil Kane.
Sue: OH. MY. GOD. It’s *** *******!
It’s true, he looks exactly like him.
Sue: That’s what he looks like when he’s about to chair a module board. It’s uncanny.
The TARDIS is heading for Iceworld.
Sue: So the villain is basically in charge of a supermarket? Like Iceland?
Me: Or Beejams, if anyone remembers them.
Sue: Well, it’s definitely not something you see every day, I’ll give it that.
Mel and the Doctor explore Iceworld’s shopping mall.
The Doctor: You never know what might be lurking in the freezer chests.
Sue: Horse burgers and filly con carne, probably.
Our heroes decide to take the weight off their feet in Iceworld’s cafeteria.
Sue: Oh look, it’s him.
Me: Who’s him?
Sue: **** knows.
The Doctor: Glitz!
Sue: Yes, him. I like him. Is he a proper companion, now? Hang on a minute… is that… is that Ace?
Me: It might be.
Sue: Does this mean that Mel is about to leave? Or die?
The last time Sue looked at me with that kind of eager anticipation in her eyes, we were on our honeymoon. We were in a Denny’s and she had just ordered dessert.
Sue: This place is like the bar in Star Wars, if the bar in Star Wars was a crèche.
Ace becomes very animated when she overhears her customers talking about dragons and treasure.
Sue: She’s very Children’s TV. Hmmm. I’m not sure about her. This isn’t what I was expecting at all. I thought Ace was supposed to be cool?
As the Doctor leaves the cafeteria, a hairy creature bites him on the hand.
Sue: That was the best part of the whole scene.
Me: What do you think of the incidental music so far?
Sue: It’s a million times better. I didn’t notice it until you asked me to notice it, which is how it should be. It’s definitely not Keff, thank God.
Ace is arguing with one of her customers.
Sue: The acting is terrible. Everyone in this scene is horrendous. I’m sorry, but they are.
Ace pours a glass of milkshake over her boss’s head. Most of it misses him.
Sue: I bet they thought: “We really need to do another take but it’ll take ages to remount it, and he’ll have to get changed, and we’ll have to get the cleaners in, and… Oh, **** it. That’ll do”.
Ace tells Mel how she comes to be on Iceworld.
Ace: I was doing this brill experiment to extract nitroglycerine from gelignite, but I think something must have gone wrong. This time storm blows up from nowhere and whisks me up here.
Sue: Yeah, time storms are always doing that. Bloody time storms. Okay, pause the DVD. Is that supposed to make any sense?
Me: Does it remind you of anything else?
Sue: (After much thought) Yes, The Wizard of Oz. That didn’t make any sense, either.
Ace has been stockpiling cans of Nitro-9.
Sue: So she’s a terrorist? Does she turn Mel into a suicide bomber?
The Doctor is following Glitz’s treasure map.
Sue: So if this is The Wizard of Oz, is Glitz the Cowardly Lion?
Ace decides to blow up a door, even though it could kill or injure anyone who happens to be in the vicinity.
Sue: Oh, Christ. This is not what I was expecting. Is she like this all the way though? Oh dear.
As Glitz and the Doctor explore Iceworld’s caverns, Sue sighs.
Sue: This doesn’t look great. The lighting isn’t doing this any favours at all. It’s so cheap.
Sylvester McCoy pretends to slip on some polystyrene snow.
Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake. That’s just stupid.
Ace bumps into Kane. He offers her his golden coin, but Ace refuses.
Sue: What a relief. Ace is actually quite good when the script isn’t trying to make her sound like a twat. That was a great scene.
Ace and Mel escape from Kane but they run straight into.
Sue: If that’s a dragon, this programme is in serious trouble.
Meanwhile, the Doctor has decided to abseil down a cliff made from ice.
Sue: What the **** is he doing?
The Doctor slips further and further down his umbrella. He has nowhere left to go.
Sue: This is ****ing ridiculous.
And then the theme music kicks in.
Sue: Oh, **** off!
Me: They wanted a literal cliffhanger. It’s very postmodern.
Sue: It’s a ****ing joke! Why not finish with Ace being tempted by the coin – that was the only good thing in the episode. Even the rubber monster would have been better than that crap. That has really pissed me off.
Sue: Are they trying to imply that the TARDIS is floating in a crystal ball? I don’t get it. It’s still not as bad as the silver face, though. Can we just skip the titles from now on?
In the episode recap, Mel screams the place down when she is confronted by the dragon.
Sue: I like how Ace doesn’t scream. In fact, she’s more bothered by Mel’s screeching than she is the monster. I can’t wait for Mel to leave.
The Doctor is still hanging around.
Sue: What a pointless waste of time. I can’t believe I have to watch it again.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad news; Sue is very impressed with Patricia Quinn.
Sue: Melanie Griffith is excellent. (singing) “Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living…”
Me: Melanie Griffith wasn’t in 9 to 5.
Sue: Yes, she was.
Me: No, she wasn’t. You’re thinking of Working Girl.
Sue: It’s the same thing. Those were the hours she worked. 9pm to 5am.
Meanwhile, on Iceworld.
Sue: So is this supposed to be an attack on capitalism, what with the villain running a big shopping centre? The premise is still a bit mental.
Glitz manages to find his way to a ledge below the Doctor, and he helps him down. Sue doesn’t take this well:
Sue: ******* ******* **** ************* **** ********.
Sue: It just demeans the Doctor. This is a new low for the show.
A sculptor is carving a statue out of ice. It is supposed to represent Kane’s lost love, Xana.
Sue: She must have had a great personality. That’s all I’m saying.
Mel and Ace find the Doctor’s umbrella hanging uselessly below a walkway.
Mel: How are we going to get down there?
Sue: The same way Glitz did? Just a suggestion, you idiots.
The Doctor tries to bamboozle a guard with some philosophy, but the guard’s response baffles the Doctor even more.
Guard: Oh, you’ve no idea what a relief it is for me to have such a stimulating philosophical discussion. There are so few intellectuals about these days. Tell me, what do you think of the assertion that the semiotic thickness of a performed text varies according to the redundancy of auxiliary performance codes?
We turn to face each other and laugh. I pause the DVD.
Me: Does that ring any bells?
Sue: Yes, it’s semiotics. That’s Media Studies talk. I vaguely remember writing an essay on it, once.
Me: That quote is lifted from an academic book called The Unfolding Text.
Sue: So what does it mean?
I rewind the scene.
Me: You tell me.
Sue: **** knows. Something to do with semiotics.
Me: I think the production team were taking the piss, but the book inspired a lot of Doctor Who fans to get into academia.
Sue: Were you one of them? Is that how you ended up teaching in a university, because of that book?
Me: It’s partly to blame, yes. Incidentally, two years into the job, one of the book’s authors, Manuel Alvarado, came to assess my ability to teach for a Quality Assurance Exercise. When it was all over, I told him that I admired his work on Doctor Who. And do you know what he said to me?
Sue: He said, “There’s more to life than Doctor Who“. You’ve told me this story before. He sounds like a very wise man.
We now return you to Iceworld.
Sue: You know, the script isn’t that bad. It’s the sets and the lighting that lets it down. It looks like it should be on CBBC at 4:30pm.
The Doctor and Glitz arrive at Glitz’s ship, the Nosferatu.
Sue: What a tip. It makes the Millennium Falcon look like The Ritz.
Kane rewards his sculptor with the gift of death.
Kane: No one can ever look upon your work and live.
Sue: I’d be too embarrassed to live if I’d sculpted that. He should be shouting, “It’s isn’t finished yet!” as he dies. That would have been funny.
Mel and Ace are pursued by Kane’s ice zombies.
Sue: Kane is definitely getting his seventeen crowns worth out of these blokes.
And then the dragon lumbers into view.
Sue: It looks nothing like a ****ing dragon! I want my money back.
And when she sees the creature side-on.
Sue: It’s a rip-off of Alien. It’s exactly the same design. Why didn’t anyone sue?
Mel slips and hits her head on some metal stairs.
Me: She’s the only person I know who can get concussion from banging her knees.
Sue: Fancy another take? No? That’ll do? Are you sure? Okay.
Kracauer and Belazs decide to overthrow their supermarket overlord.
Sue: Melanie Griffith is excellent. She’s the best thing in this story by a mile. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have tuned out by now.
Ace tells Mel that she didn’t fit in at home.
Ace: I felt like I’d fallen from another planet and landed in this strange girl’s body, but it wasn’t me at all. I was meant to be somewhere else. Each night I’d walk home and I’d look up at the stars through the gaps in the clouds, and I tried to imagine where I really came from.
Sue: She makes Amy Pond seem normal.
Ace tells Mel a secret.
Ace: My real name’s Dorothy.
Sue: So Mel must be the Scarecrow. It all makes sense now. And instead of ruby slippers, Ace has a pair of ruby tights. So is the Doctor the Tin Man? Does that even work?
Our heroes are confronted by one of Glitz’s zombified crewmates.
Sue: It should have been his best friend from that other story he was in.
Sue: Whatever. This scene might have meant something if it were him.
The dragon intervenes and he leads our heroes to the Singing Trees.
Sue: To be fair, if you took the aliens from Aliens and you lit them like that, they’d look shit as well.
Kane tells Belazs that she can have the freedom she so desperately craves.
Sue: This definitely has its moments – some of the guest stars are very good – I just wish it looked better. I’ve been in Santa’s Grottos with more atmosphere than this.
But just when she thinks Belazs is free, Kane kills her.
Sue: Blimey! I did not expect that. And I liked her, too. I’m upset now.
Meanwhile, the dragon’s head opens up to reveal a crystal inside.
The Doctor: A source of intense optical energy.
Sue: We’ll just have to take your word for that.
The episode concludes with Kane triumphant.
Kane: At last. After three thousand years, the Dragonfire shall be mine!
Sue: And you are not putting that module through the board if it isn’t on the agenda!
Sue: Is Dudley Simpson doing the music again?
Me: No, but the organ music is supposed to remind you of Dracula.
Sue: If Dracula owned a branch of Aldi. I still can’t get over that.
Kane’s guards are preparing to launch an attack on the dragon.
McLuhan: Try thinking of a scorpion, two metres tall, coming at you out of the shadows.
Sue: What ****ing shadows?
Ace: This is naff. This is mega-naff!
Sue: You said it, love. Not me.
Meanwhile, a young girl has accidentally wandered into the action.
Sue: Is she supposed to be Newt? She must be bloody freezing, the poor thing.
The guard’s huge guns don’t impress Sue.
Sue: They could at least pretend they were heavy. The bleeping thing is just another shameless Alien rip-off as well. I would have thought twice about putting this on YouTube, let alone BBC1.
The dragon saves the little girl by carrying her to safety.
Me: Sadly, he dribbled some acid onto her head and she died of her injuries later.
The little girl runs around Kane’s lair.
Sue: This is ****ing weird, now.
Kane destroys the escaping shoppers who have evacuated to Glitz’s ship.
Sue: What a bastard. He would have made a good Master.
Glitz isn’t very happy about this turn of events.
Sue: He should be shouting KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANE!!!!!!!!
I made Sue watch The Wrath of Khan last week. I’m sorry.
The Doctor, Ace and Mel enter the TARDIS.
Sue: Mel will have to go. You can’t have these two living together, it would drive the Doctor crazy.
The guards shoot the dragon dead.
Sue: They had 3000 years to do that. What the hell were they doing all that time? They should have spent less time running a supermarket and more time hunting dragons. They could have cooked it and put it in the burgers.
They cut the dragon’s head off.
Sue: That’s a bit gruesome. The kids wouldn’t have liked that. I didn’t like that.
The dragon’s head opens again.
Sue: So, it’s basically like a Cylon. A really crap Cylon.
The Doctor retrieves the Dragonfire from the poor creature’s head.
Sue: I really wouldn’t zoom in on that if I were you. Oh, too late.
The Dragonfire is the energy source that Kane has been searching for (extremely badly) for the last 3000 years.
Sue: Why was he locked up on a planet with the energy source? Why didn’t they just take the energy source with them when they left him there? That’s just stupid.
Kane takes Ace hostage and he forces the Doctor to hand over the Dragonfire. When it powers up his console, a rotor rises into the air.
Sue: Hey! It’s a TARDIS! Hang on a minute… is he the Master?
The Doctor explains to Kane that his hopes for revenge have been thwarted by a quirk of time – his home planet was destroyed 2000 years ago.
Sue: And none of the shoppers ever mentioned this? Really? Doesn’t he read the papers?
So Kane melts his nose off to spite his face.
Sue: NOT FOR KIDS! It’s bloody good, though.
Back in the TARDIS, Mel drops a bombshell.
Mel: I suppose it’s time I should be going.
The Doctor reacts awkwardly.
The Doctor: That’s right, yes, you’re going. Been gone for ages. Already gone, still here, just arrived, haven’t even met you yet.
Sue: (Singing) “I just haven’t met you yet!”
Mel has elected to explore the universe with Glitz in a flying supermarket. As you do.
Sue: That’s one spin-off I don’t want to see.
Ace is about to leave as well, when the Doctor suddenly makes her an offer.
The Doctor: Do you fancy a quick trip round the twelve galaxies and then back to Perivale in time for tea?
Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake.
The Doctor has three ground rules:
The Doctor: One, I’m in charge.
Ace: Whatever you say, Professor.
The Doctor: Two, I’m not the Professor, I’m the Doctor.
Ace: Whatever you want.
The Doctor: And the third…
Sue: STOP SAYING ACE!
Sue: I struggled with that. It was really weird. It went from awful, to quite good, to terrible, sometimes in the same scene. The script wasn’t that bad but it looked cheap. It was far too bright. The good points: guest acting wasn’t bad, the music was an improvement and it was over quickly. I’m glad to see the back of Mel, too, but I’m not sure about Ace. I hope she tones it down a bit.