It’s been a weird week.
I gave my talk on Wednesday night with Lian Tanner – between us we chatted a lot about creativity, about keeping score as writers, and what with one thing and another we kept coming back to the ridiculously high standards to which we end up holding ourselves.
I walked outside afterwards in the rain, and breathed in cold air with my flu-damaged lungs, and something went, click.
The next day I was taken into hospital by ambulance with what turned out to be pneumonia.
So, from being completely devastated and exhausted by a week of my children being sick, and then me being sick, and then school holidays piling down around my head, I ended up with a bizarre four days in a calm, empty hospital room with my own nebuliser and access to Fox Sports. Oh, and barely being able to talk for more than a sentence or two at a time.
It’s not the rest cure I would have chosen at all, but apparently it was what I needed!
The girls went away to stay with my Mum for a few days, which had been planned anyway, but was extra necessary because just an hour or so being visited by them in hospital was exhausting! So I’ve had weird quiet time at home as well, without my noisy, messy, shrieking, art-crazy daughters filling all the space until today when they returned with a vengeance.
Books have been read. Feet have been put up. It’s… not how school holidays usually are!
My lungs are still struggling – I’m not sure I could manage to podcast yet, for instance, it’s hard work to breathe & talk at the same time – but I managed both a fervent conversation about the Pertwee Years and reading aloud a whole chapter of Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones tonight (Janet just turned up!) so I’m on the mend.
The girls finally came home this afternoon and I promptly bundled them into my armchair with me and the whole family watched all six episodes of The Ice Warriors, recently released on DVD including animated versions of the two missing episodes. Raeli has been claiming an attachment to Victoria Waterfield based on a Companions book and I had to break it to her that most of Victoria’s stories are missing from the BBC Archive. (this was a couple of weeks ago, I’m well aware that the situation MAY HAVE CHANGED if this week’s rumours etc. are true)
The Ice Warriors is brilliant! Apart from anything else, the futuristic fashions depicted in this story are psychedelically awesome. I couldn’t take my eyes off the gorgeous black and white patterns they were all sporting, even the terribly serious head administrator. It’s one of those stories that really uses the black and white to great effect, with ice caves, snowy plains, and a very sexy spaceship door. And I’d never seen images of most of the really cool stuff that caught my eye about this story.
Quite apart from the monster-in-the-ice plot, the tensions that already exist between the gorgeously dressed crew of the base are interesting, and I very much liked the ongoing theme of over-reliance on computer predictions. But mostly, I will admit, I liked the mini-dresses. SO CUTE. I can’t believe there are no pictures online of the awesome computer room full of characters wearing different but matching op-art coveralls and mini-frocks.
Jamie spent most of the story being stunned by various weapons and knocked unconscious – I think Jem reported him dead at least three times. Victoria is damselled quite thoroughly throughout – she is kidnapped by the Ice Warriors early on and spends most of the time under duress – but she also gets to be very brave and independent (running away more than once), and spends as much time worrying about Jamie as he does about her. In particular, when she is being used as a hostage against the Doctor, she begs him not to surrender vital information about the base despite the threat to her.
Speaking of the Doctor, he was rather lovely throughout. I’ve never seen this story at all before and I enjoyed him taking over and asserting himself as a scientist to a crew that desperately needed one. His face off with the ice warriors at the end was also very impressive. However, I have to say – considering how judgy the Third Doctor was about the Brig blowing up Silurians a couple of years later, it was a bit bewildering how dedicated the Second Doctor was to wiping Ice Warriors off the glacier.
I’m not usually that interested in the monsters, and Ice Warriors have never especially done it for me (though I liked the one in Cold War a lot) but the fact that this one was Bernard freaking Bresslaw hit all my sentimental buttons – I was raised on Carry On movies! And the fact that I could recognise his body language and voice beneath all the hissing made me rather fond of Varga.
The animated episodes worked well – the computer generated backgrounds looked good, and the faces were all drawn quite well and moved fine to emphasise the existing sound track. I was pleased to get back to the live action, but it certainly worked well to hang everything together.
Our daughters both paid attention all the way through – with just one break at the four episode mark for fish and chips to be fetched. Yay new generation liking black and white stuff! Both of them seemed to be taking in most of what was happening, though Jem did get a little too hung up on where exactly Zoe was in all this (The Mind Robber has obviously imprinted itself deeply).
I asked Raeli at the end how much she enjoyed Victoria as a companion and she gave me a double thumbs up. Hooray for liking obscure companions! Though I have to say, what a hipster my daughter is – she decided two weeks ago that Victoria was her favourite, and now it’s looking like she’s suddenly going to be of a lot more interest than usual to all the other Doctor Who fans in the world.
So now… well, now we wait to hear about these lost-and-found episodes/stories that the BBC have finally confirmed are really truly real, but not yet named. Thursday, BBC time, can’t come fast enough. NEW OLD WHO YES PLEASE!