Noisy Victorian males find sweet Fanny Adams on Mars, until the Ice Queen has a hissy fit
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Thank goodness the people over at NASA are running such a lackadaisical operation, or the marvellous Twelfth Doctor, Bill Potts and divisive additional companion Nardole might not have snuck into the control room just in time for a countdown to a message on the surface of Mars, reading “God Save The Queen”.
Where did the message come from, though, one wonders. Were there English chaps on other planets in Victorian times? Is that the queen they’re referring to, and does anyone actually know the difference in meaning between queen and empress? Only one way to find out.
Thus, back in time and off to the red planet our intrepid trio plops, only to discover a battalion of uniformed, uninformed Victorian English soldiers and their Ice Warrior butler, mining for elusive Martian gemstones and chowing down on a seemingly endless supply of tea and cake. But who knows? Pretty soon they might stumble upon a titular character.
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Right, it’s Mark Gatiss time. Let’s spin the wheel and see what sort of Gatiss we are getting this week.
And the answer is…mediocre.
The British Army claiming Mars for the Empire? Other than a flag-shagger’s wet dream, it is rather striking imagery I suppose. And as it’s a Gatiss script there’s a ton of references: Bill referring to the ice warriors as being like Vikings directly leads back to 1967’s The Ice Warriors (as does Catchlove calling them upright crocodiles), and of course the alpha centauri cameo (of the Peladon stories). Fortunately we don’t see too much of it unlike the 70s stories so no dick jokes.
I dunno, it’s alright I suppose…but just feels a little dull. Like the plot and character motivations feel familiar. Hell, the Silurian stories (series 7 and series 5) effectively do the same plot and threatening to trap the Ice Warrior army under ice forever is straight out of Planet of the Daleks.
Just bit meh from me. Still Doc and Bill were good, shame there wasn’t more Nardole 3.0/5
Pretty bog-standard stuff – but hey, Victorian Imperial dudes on Mars, Ice Warriors kicking bottom, and those guns.
Rating: 4/5 of Her Majesty’s finest being imploded into footballs. Horrific. More please.
Hey WhoBackWhen, it’s your second favorite geologically named listener (after “Ridge”way of course (so big)) back with my two cents on The Empress of Mars. I’m a big fan of the Ice Warriors, so this episode already gets bonus points from me for their inclusion. It did a wonderful job of remaining true to the spirit of the race whose canon goes back decades. It definitely has that “Monster of the Week” feel to it but is a fun romp nonetheless. I’m getting this review in somewhat last minute, so I’ll keep it brief.
The guest stars are done very well in this. The “villain” of the episode is somewhat basic but manages to make you really want to slap that mustache off his face, it also makes you sympathize with the commander despite his flaws, and the Empress is believable as a dangerous force while remaining honorable and even likeable by the end. The psychic paper making an appearance always makes me happy.
The Doctor saying “I can never resist a countdown” immediately made of think of Drew. Also, shouldn’t the Sonic have a wood setting after the events of the 50th Anniversary episode? I did however geek out quite a bit at the cameo by Alpha Centauri at the end, especially considering her already established link to the Ice Warriors
Overall I give this episode 3.6 out of 5 promises to keep this brief thrown out the window. Till next time ROCK ON!
– Eddie Rock