25 Cool Things About
(and 25 Stupid Ones)
(It's a Tie, Folks!)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 446
1. Working titles for this serial include “Absolute Zero”, “Pyramid in Space” and “The Pyramid Treasure”. Make of that what you will.
2. Why, exactly, do Kane and his guards wear WWI German uniforms, complete with pickelhelm?
3.Kracauer is actually scripted as black rather than this being the result of colour-blind casting.
4. Why is Zed the only one of the mercenaries to raise objections to being flash-frozen?
5. The freezing process destroys the memory. Talk about joining the Foreign Legion to forget.
6. Pyramids of Mars Recyclingwatch: A villain, last of his species and capable of steaming people to death with his (or, alternatively, his servant's) hands, imprisoned in a vaguely pyramidal structure on a planet, with the means of his escape within his grasp but requiring the assistance of others to procure.
7. “You never know what you might find lurking in freezer chests”, says the Doctor. This might provide the inspiration for what the Doctor does with the baseball bat in “Remembrance of the Daleks”.
8. Glitz is wearing the same clothes he wore when we last saw him. He must reek.
9. Costume Department Recyclingwatch: Avon's second costume from series four of Blake's 7, portions of Gunn-Sar's costume from Blake's 7: Power, Galloway's costume from “Resurrection of the Daleks”, and, possibly, the collar of Servalan's feathery cloak from “Traitor”, are all visible on Iceworld's customers.
10. There is also what appears to be an Argolin from “The Leisure Hive”.
11.And, in the bar scenes, there's somebody cosplaying the White Queen from The Chronicles of Narnia (albeit wearing a slightly different costume to Barbara Kellerman's from the BBC's then-forthcoming adaptation).
12. The purple-wigged silver-suited humanoid looks like some kind of callback to UFO's Moonbase women, albeit with less leg, less cleavage, and a shabbier wig.
13. The ductwork in the background of Kane's headquarters is reminiscent of Brazil.
14. Why does Kane go to that much trouble to manipulate Glitz into seeking the dragon? Why not just get his guards to sweep the tunnels?
15. The only reason Glitz is able to uncover the treasure at all is down to his unplanned team-up with the Doctor.
16. Also Kane has to be the one who came up with all the names for the natural features on the planet, suggesting he's the sort of theatrical type who thinks calling something “The Lake of Oblivion” is just fine and dandy.
17. The puppet on the lap of the green-skinned amphibianoid during the cafe scenes is really scene-stealingly cute.
18. The security guards attempt to dislodge the icejam by pushing at it rather feebly. Evidently Kane's freezing process doesn't just destroy memory, but also initiative and common sense.
19. “I like women with fire in their bellies”, says Kane, completely missing the irony of a man with a body temperature of -193 Celsius saying a thing like that.
20. Everybody goes on about the fact that Kane and Belazs once had a relationship, but nobody observes that, given Kane's peculiarities, it can't have been a physical one.
21. Possibly the biggest problem with this serial is that its ambition far outreaches its budget.
22. Nonetheless, it just about gets away with it thanks to Dominic Glynn's brilliant score.
23. The “literal cliffhanger” makes sense when you look at the opening shot of the sequence; the Doctor needs to descend the cliff-face to the lower walkway, attempts to use his umbrella to do it, and misjudges the distance. The problem comes with the shot which shows his feet dangling over a trackless abyss, with no walkway beneath him, and which consequently suggests that he just decided to hang off his umbrella for the hell of it.
24. And then, in the cliffhanger resolution, they change the shot again so there's now actually a sizable ledge under him.
25. Either Svartos is a very small planet, or Kane's got one hell of a huge spaceship.
26. The scene where Kane soliloquizes about Xana while the sculptor works is a great performance, undermined by the fact that the statue looks like a sucked ice lolly.
27. Similarly, Kane's philosophising on artistic perfection and human imperfection-- “The whole of eternity has held its breath for this moment. But no one must ever see your work. It exists, that is enough. No one can ever look upon your work and live. Gaze on it and die fulfilled”-- is undermined by the fact that the sculptor doesn't actually react to the speech, but stands there dumbly until Kane kills him.
28. Some of the styling on the pistols used by Kane's guards bear a distinct resemblance to the Federation plasma rifles from Blake's 7.
29. Ace and, more surprisingly, Mel, appear to have no compunction about assassinating the crewmen sent after them.
30. Glitz, meanwhile, is a completely horrible individual, selling his own crew into slavery, attempting to punch a teenage girl in the face, and, according to “The Mysterious Planet”, having been certified as a psychopath. Remind us why the Doctor is siding with this fellow again?
31. Now that Edwardian names are back in fashion, “Dorothy” doesn't actually sound that unusual for a sixteen-year-old girl.
32. The creature resembles a dragon much less than it resembles a vine weevil. However, “Weevilfire” is perhaps not the most dramatic name for a serial.
33. We get two different narratives for Xana's death, one that she was killed trying to escape, the other that she killed herself to avoid arrest. However, we don't get any explanation for the discrepancy.
34. The Hand of Fear Recyclingwatch: Creature who doesn't realise that he's the last of his species, and who's a convicted criminal, trying and failing to return to his ice/crystalline planet home, and tricking the Doctor and companions into getting what he wants.
35. Internal Narrative Recyclingwatch: Killing off Kracauer and Belazs in the second episode means that the task of hunting down the creature has to be given to two substitutes characters, who are also a man and a woman, and also named after figures in postmodernist film analysis.
36. “Silver bells and cockle shells and ice gardens all in a row”. Shudder.
37. What exactly was the point of paying all that money and going to all that trouble to hire a child actor for the serial, since, apart from a brief visual reference to Frankenstein, she contributes squat-all to the action?
38. Why is the tracker behaving strangely in episode three? In the movie Aliens, it was because the creatures had got into the roof space, but that's not the case here.
39. There's a kind of Tardis column in the centre of Kane's headquarters. It's even hexagonal.
40. There's also a series of parallels that can be drawn between the Doctor and Mel, Glitz and Ace, Kracauer and Belazs, and Kane and Xana, which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense of Kane's attempt to recruit Ace, and the Doctor and Glitz companion-swapping later.
41. Kane and the Doctor are both very old men who share the habit of picking up vulnerable orphans.
42. Why the hell did all of Kane's mercenaries, apparently, get on board the Nosferatu? Did they just decide to desert him while they had the chance?
43. Like "Delta and the Bannermen", this serial features the gratuitous collective murder of a large number of inoffensive characters, for no good reason at all.
44. It's obvious how Kane knows where Ace lives; he owns the property, after all, so he'd just have to check the records. It's less obvious how Glitz knows.
45. The general implication in the story is that Ace and Glitz met for the first time in the bar. According to the writer, however, Ace and Glitz were having an affair. It was a much more innocent time in the 1980s.
46. “Closing down sale; while stocks last”, is the only point at which Kane alludes to the fact that he's set up a supermarket in his spaceship.
47. At that, the whole idea of a millennia-old supervillain disguising his operation by opening a frozen-goods shop is the sort of crazy but somehow wonderful idea that characterises the Cartmel Era.
48. “Well, I was thinking of going a bit further.” “How much further?” “How far are you going?” (Mel and Glitz) Euphemisms, always euphemisms.
49. Since Glitz's spaceship doesn't travel in time, but he offers to take Ace back to Perivale, this suggests the story takes place in 1987.
50. Mel gives up traveling in a transcendental time-and-space machine, in order to travel in a spaceship with a filthy amoral mercenary whose last relationship was with a vulnerable sixteen-year-old girl. Is she a glutton for punishment, or what?