I didn't much like the previous episode of 'Doctor Who', 'The Rings Of Akhaten', even going as far as to call it "quite possibly the worst 'Doctor Who' episode that I've ever seen". Unsurprisingly, the only way was up and the more intimate submarine-based drama of 'Cold War' made for a better ride. Spoilers and more thoughts below.
It's a brave move for 'Doctor Who' to take on the story-within-a-submarine concept, which we've seen in plenty of films from the likes of 'Das Boot' to 'Crimson Tide'. But writer Mark Gatiss is a brave man, as anyone who saw 'The League Of Gentlemen' can attest to, who actively sought to plot his latest 'Doctor Who' adventure in such an underwater setting. His approach works, to an extent.
The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) find themselves on a Soviet sub in 1983, with the prospect of mutually assured destruction still looming ominously. Thankfully, a certain Professor Grisenko (David Warner) is also on board, along with the usual rabble of warmongering folk. Not only is this Professor a surprising connoisseur of Ultravox and Duran Duran but also happens to be the Professor from 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze'. Bonus points here.
'Cold War' resorts to the usual 'Doctor Who' trope of SOMEONE DOING SOMETHING STUPID - in this case, pissing off a Martian ice warrior and consequently threatening the fate of the human race. Slow clap for our submarine pals. Of course, humanity survives but along the way, there's some neatly played tension - director Douglas Mackinnon seemingly influenced by John Carpenter's 'The Thing'. Perhaps some further darkness can spruce up the rather middling relationship between The Doctor and Clara.
'Cold War' is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for a limited time.