An expedition to Antarctica in 2012 uncovers an unexpected find: an old fashioned British police box, buried under millions of years worth of permafrost. On the heels of that surprising find comes another discovery: a man frozen more or less intact, probably for millions of years…but wearing machine-woven clothes (or at leas the rotting remnants of them). Even more amazingly, the man awakens when he is thawed out, though with little idea of who he is or what he was doing in the ice. The expedition’s financier, Lord Barset?, surprises the scientists on the expedition by wondering aloud if the man is a reptile. Before long, more figures are found in the ice, large and reptilian. The mystery man’s memory gradually returns, enough that he knows that the scaly figures frozen in the ice are very dangerous, and he himself is known as the Doctor. Despite the Doctor’s warnings, Barset orders the huge creatures thawed out. They too reawaken, but the moment they’re back on their feet, they begin a reign of terror, killing almost the entire expedition. The Doctor’s memory continues to return slowly, the result of a self-induced coma to survive being frozen alive, and he recalls that these creatures are called Ice Warriors – and that the enclave of them that has been discovered represents the most warlike of the lot: exiled war criminals put into deep-freeze on prehistoric Earth. Even though they’re millions of years old, modern man won’t be an obstacle when the Ice Warriors renew their craving for conquest. Only the Doctor can stop them…if he can remember how.
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Anthony Calf (Lord Barset), Maryam d’Abo (Genevieve), Tony Millan (Professor McIntyre), Gwynn Beech (Harman), Gregg Newton (Ben), Nicholas Briggs (Arakssor)
Notes: Frozen Time is based on Endurance, another of the 1980s Audio Visuals adventures starring Nicholas Briggs (who wrote both versions of the story) as the Doctor. Some character names are shared between the two versions of the story, but Endurance concerned itself with Silurian renegades frozen in Antarctica, and dialogue in Frozen Time tries to lead the listener in that direction as well. The 1929 expedition led by Lord Barset’s grandfather may well have encountered Silurians, but they’re nowhere to be found in the Big Finish version of the story; pre-release internet speculation frequently pegged Frozen Time as a Silurian story as well. This story and Valhalla both feature the seventh Doctor flying solo; this came about because of Sylvester McCoy’s tight schedule, since his Big Finish recording days had to be scheduled around his stage appearances in King Lear.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: One of the better “traditional” Big Finish tales of recent years, Frozen Time starts out in the thick of the action and really doesn’t let up. An excellent cast is on hand to keep the story afloat – a necessity since the Doctor just isn’t himself for over half of the story. His personality and flippancy are intact, but his vital knowledge isn’t – something that proves to be quite dangerous as the Ice Warriors prepare to make another appearance in audio form.
The cast is excellent, but they also get meaty characters to sink their teeth into, and that’s the real victory of Frozen Time. Even the not-so-sympathetic characters are rounded out: you know why they’re doing the (occasionally stupidly dangerous) things they’re doing. Big-name guest star Maryam d’Abo gets a lot of Frozen Time‘s audio “face time” here, complete with a French accent (but thankfully not an insultingly stereotyped one), and there’s an intriguing hint at the end of the story that she may have been the Doctor’s companion for some time. Her trip in the TARDIS took more than the week that’s said to have passed betwen the story’s climax and its final scene. It’s an interesting notion, though time will tell if Big Finish can afford to book her for any stories to illuminate that idea further.
The Ice Warriors themselves are utilized well, and the story even helps to explain why there seem to be two wildly different schools of Ice Warrior thought – warlike while still clinging to a samurai code of honor, and peaceful and diplomatic. It’s not that I’ve been waiting decades for such an explanation – this isn’t exactly a mystery on the order on where Klingons got their bumps – but it’s a plausible enough take on the dichotomy. I was almost a bit disappointed, though, that the Silurians didn’t make a showing, for all of the build-up that seemed to point in their direction; I guess I was hoping for an all-star villain collision along the lines of Doomsday‘s Dalek/Cybermen war.
Overall, a gripping adventure with a lot going for it, even if the Ice Warriors wind up being a bit on the predictable side.