Doc and Bill liberate the rocket-fuel-crapping tape worm mapping the intestinal tract of the British Isles
Podcast: Play in new window | Embed
That bad girl the TARDIS has enforced on Doc and Bill a detour on the way back to Nardole’s tea party, namely to London’s famous and much-frequented final Frost Fair of 1814, where the elephants in the room are real elephants on the ice, and also the continuation of slavery.
But betwixt the acrobats, sword-swallowers, swarthy wrestlers from exotic climes, and pies of questionable provenance there is chicanery afoot, as bioluminescent swarms in the subglacial drink are picking off straggling drunkards and urchins in an ice-cold analogy of society’s cracks.
Rather than following the solid lead of a tattoo-handed man, Doc thinks it’d be more fun to use Bill as giant fish bait. Under cover of night, they dive feet first into a deep, dark mystery, at the putrid heart of which is, just what the shit is the well-out-of-ordure evil industrialist Lord Sutcliffe up to?
Subscribe to us on iTunes now! We're dropping a new episode every week (pretty much), reviewing Classic Who, New Who and all kinds of bonus stuff from spin-offs and conventions to Doctor Who comic books.
A racist rich Victorian guy using an alien creature’s poo as fuel. Yeah, I like this one. It asks enough questions with the material to warrant spending the time on it. The critique of exploitation fits well with later episodes this series. And Bill witnesses more hard choices that the Doctor has to do. The frost fair is a nice atmospheric setting for the story with the carnival atmosphere of everyone on the ice.
The Doctor punching the racist? Well while I’m not a fan of the Doctor doing violence, here it feels sort of justified and is very much for Bill. The ending is a little fairytale in style, but I’ll let it off this time. Bill being surprised at events not appearing in the newspapers reminds me of “But this is Earth, 1963. Well someone would’ve noticed, I’d have heard about it!” “Do you remember the Zygon gambit with the Loch Ness monster? Or the Yetis in the underground?” But that’s a future quote for you guys to look forward to.
Coincidentally Thin Ice is also the title of a Seventh Doctor audio, part of the Lost Story range. It has Ice Warriors in it.
Yeah again carrying on the good start to the series 3.6/5 slabs of rocket poo
Doctor Who has covered the issue of slavery and racism before, often through analogy, but not this time – it smacks you right between the eyes. Throw in a giant aquatic creature, some street urchins and a contemptible villain who would be twirling his moustache (if he had one) and we’ve got the makings of a pretty good story. Pearl Mackie’s Bill is without doubt the star of this story as she experiences the highs and lows of Regency London, but also as she finds out more about The Doctor. Her reactions of anger then revulsion at 12’s seeming indifference to death whether at his hands or those of others is brilliantly done. As each story passes, I find myself more and more sorry we only get one season with Bill. Not to be outdone of course Doc lays out Sutcliffe with a single punch before giving him a speech on the value of human life. That’s not to say there aren’t flaws though.
Whilst the story itself is a little unremarkable, I’d like to have more backstory to the creature and Lord Sutcliffe, its central theme and of course Doc and Bill are what carry it through. With great sets and costumes, it could almost be a period drama. I’m not sure a companion – especially a new one – should be making the decision about the life or death of the creature, but overall, it was an enjoyable story.
I award it 3.9 dodgy fish pies out of 5
P.S. I hope Ponken Towers has been suitably protected with plastic sheeting in preparation for next week’s episode with Poirot in it and the sploodgefest that will inevitably occur?!
In this episode Bill has to decide whether to risk people’s lives by helping an innocent creature or killing it. The space whale (oops sorry, that was Amy), I mean, the moon dragon (nope, that was Clara), my point is, this is a trope that is repackaged and used for many of The Doctor’s new companions. This one is pulled off well (unlike Kill The Moon) with an interesting setting, an easily hatable villain and lovable street urchins. It does a good job of setting the stakes high early when they kill a child right before our eyes. It’s a great catalyst for Bill’s emotional response as even the viewer is in an initial state of shock.
Bill is forced to really examine who The Doctor is and how much death not only follows him but also that he himself has been the cause of it on multiple occasions, which puts him on THIN ICE with Bill (sorry not sorry). This is done with some exceptional acting by Mackie and Capaldi, who comes off as very cavalier about the death of the child but does a great job at explaining why he must. Capaldi continues to impress by portraying coldness and kindness simultaneously.
It’s not all heavy though, there’s some great humor here; between the psychic paper bit and the con man with the pies. Overall I give this episode a 3.5 out of 5 forgotten companions named Pete. Until next time, ROCK ON!