Thin Ice reviewed

Thin IceAs part of the recent Big Finish Ice Warrior sale to mark the episode Cold War I picked up a copy of the lost story Thin Ice by Marc Platt. I have dug around and found that originally this would have been called Ice Time (see the Hidden Planet blog) and had elements in common with the final adventure but Marc took the story forward a lot. It also acts as the prequel story to the Raine Trilogy although was recorded afterwards (according to the CD Extras).

How does it work as a story of the time and as an adventure now? Find out…

The Story

The Big Finish synopsis is:

Moscow 1967. The Doctor and Ace have arrived behind the Iron Curtain, and the Soviet Union is seeking a new weapon that will give it mastery in the Cold War.

What is the secret of the Martian relics? As the legendary War Lord Sezhyr returns to life, the Doctor is faced with some of his oldest and deadliest enemies.

The fate of Earth – and the future of Ace – are now intertwined…

It amused me part way through to think of this as Cold War + ice Warriors and to decide the Marc Platt had covered the ground much earlier than Mark Gatiss!

In a nutshell the Doctor and Ace land in 1960s Moscow and get involved with Markus Creevy (spot on casting of Ricky Groves) and Lt Raina Kerenskaya (Beth Chalmers). The Soviets have been experimenting with some Ice Warrior armour that they located and eventually Raina puts it on and gets converted to a proto Ice Warrior – War Lord Sezhyr. This conversion has consequences, Raina was pregnant and the transformation accelerates the pregnancy meaning that the Doctor and Ace help deliver Raine who will be a future companion!

To add to the confusion, there is a group of Ice Warriors eking out an existence on Earth living on frozen fish-fingers. They want to re-claim the armour for themselves but are not all happy to serve a resurrected War Lord!

The icing on the cake is that the Doctor has to take back seat – he and Ace were placed in Russia by the Time Lords as the Doctor wants Ace to study at the Academy; this is, for her, an entrance exam!

The story unfolds with lots of action and a chance for Ace to get angry with the Doctor (for a change). Matters get resolved, most wrongs get put right and Ace stays in the TARDIS (this time).

The Storytelling

Apart from the central plot(s) I did enjoy the introduction of Raine and Ricky Groves’s performance as Markus Creevy (though how much was just his character from Eastenders I wouldn’t like to say). I do wonder how a bunch of Ice Warriors could hide away for years living on fish fingers but this is a decent story that felt like and upgrade of what would have been a simplistic (but affordable) story set in England according to the Hidden Planet blog I mention earlier.

The Extras give an amusing insight into the production process – Marc reusing briefing notes he originally used in the 1980s made me chuckle.

Ace gets plenty to do though I get bored with the anger over betrayal scene with the Doctor which has been used several times. A good story though and one I prefer to the TV episode that sparked the sale!

Final Thoughts

Apart from being a good tale it also gives insight into how the show might have developed. The concept of Ace leaving to study as a Time Lord echoes many pieces that have followed, is in Lungbarrow (which Marc wrote) and also a central idea in Death Comes to TimeStories such as this clearly demonstrate the untapped potential that the classic Who never exploited and at least Big Finish is letting us glimpse a story that might have been.

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