Deimos

Posted in Audio by - October 09, 2017
Deimos

Released October 2010

Despite only a handful of appearances in the early years of the classic era of Doctor Who, the Ice Warriors firmly cemented themselves as one of the most enduring and iconic races the franchise has ever introduced, capturing the inherent fascination with the planet Mars and boasting a complex but mysterious code of honour. And though they have crossed paths with the Eighth Doctor in novelizations and other spin-off media, ‘Deimos’ represents the first time that Paul McGann himself has confronted the classic foes. When the TARDIS lands on Deimos, home to ancient Martian catacombs for those looking to escape the radioactive death of Mars millennia ago, the Doctor and Tamsin quickly find that the Ice Warriors of legend are anything but extinct.

As the opening of two parts, it’s difficult to fully judge how the Ice Warriors will ultimately be portrayed; however, here the physical danger they pose is played up much more than the honour upon which their society is based. Still, this choice actually ends up working in favour of ‘Deimos’ as it allows the history wherein the Ice Warriors’ went into hibernation after Mars’s atmosphere became too thin to protect the surface from rising temperatures as well as their current plan to use an atmospheric re-ioniser to again allow their own habitation of their native world to take centre stage. At the same time, Professor Schooner’s moonbase museum dedicated to the Ice Warriors and the halted Martian terraforming project that intended to use a series of artificial suns form an intriguing backdrop for events, and the imminent danger of 300,000 humans that the arrival of the Ice Warriors signals creates a satisfying underlying sense of danger around which to base the confrontation.

‘Deimos’ is hardly the most thought-provoking title, its running time focused mostly on action and setting the scene for a dramatically intriguing cliffhanger that should pay big dividends as all of the lingering plot threads are hopefully satisfyingly resolved in the concluding ‘The Resurrection of Mars.’ Nonetheless, the plot introduced is suitably engaging and the thrilling pace never relents from beginning to end. Crucially, the cast members all give strong performances, and Paul McGann easily sells the Doctor’s air of despair and despondency throughout. Niky Wardley likewise excels as she is thrust firmly into the traditional companion role, and she manages to bring out a truly impressive array of emotions as Tamsin’s experiences continue to become more dangerous and rife with unfavourable potential consequences. While Nick Wilton and Susan Brown bring an endearing and grounded component to the story as tourists Harold and Margaret, the impressive combination of Nicholas Briggs’s Ice Warriors, Nicky Henson’s Gregson, Tracy-Ann Olberman’s Temperance Finch, and especially David Warner’s Professor Schooner all progress the plot admirably and confidently.

While it’s surprising that it takes quite so long for the plot to reach the cliffhanger given how quickly the arrival of the Ice Warriors is handled, ‘Deimos’ plays the overall drama and hostage situation incredibly realistically. Though everything here is purely setup material and so understandably lacks a resounding weight of consequentialism, Barnaby Edwards’s deft direction helps craft a thoroughly enjoyable opening act that opens up plenty of potential for a truly impactful conclusion.

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