HELLO MY NAME is Thomas Thomas*, and I am going to write this review of Doctor Who, series 10, episode 3, entitled ‘Thin Ice’. I find all those words confusing, terrifying and infuriating, me being from the past and all, but since I was brought here to the future by means of freezing over in Siberia , I have done my gosh darned darnedest to learn as much as I can about your strange ways. I’ve even got a Tumblr account, which is entirely pictures of clogs, mills and dank Yuri on Ice memes bruv. Sick.
‘Thin Ice’ was a lot of fun, wasn’t it? I mean, considering my idea of fun was once when my gums weren’t bleeding and I could give directions without spitting any teeth when I said a hard ‘P’, that might sound like damning with faint praise, but I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe, things will fade in time, like tears in rain, unlike this episode. It was a visually arresting, appropriately subversive, character driven and fun! Lots and lots of fun!
To complain that doctor who stopped being fun would be pointless.The serious tone engulfing the last couple of series did nothing to mask the obvious joy that fuels the show, and the one the lead character has at his very core. But, fun and character are the two things that are screaming from every episode of this series so far. This episode saw the doctor punching a racist capitalist (fun), a cheeky quip confirming that Jesus was black (Fun) and a creature in the shape of the Thames (FUN). Of course, I learned that the Christ was a simple philosopher and rabbi when I moved to Moscow to aid my comrades in their glorious workers’ revolution when I had grown into a man, but that’s by the by.
I’m quickly falling low-key in love with Bill, and Pearl Mackie‘s acting is not only relatable, human and wonderfully realised, but is also bringing out the best in Peter Capaldi. Not only is Bill’s outrage at The Doctor’s learned acceptance that death is inevitable around him incredibly grounding for the audience and understandable but it was matched by a chilling, understated response from the Doctor. This is exactly what I wanted from Capaldi’s Doctor from the moment he was announced (I had managed to hear that announcement on a hand-held radio of a passing traveller, while frozen under the ice, in a brief moment of clarity). Throughout the episode he was engaging, witty, spry, energetic and sinister when needed to be in a way that Malcolm Tucker wasn’t, because you can see exactly where it comes from. The Doctor doesn’t always get it right, but if he stopped then the universe would be in danger. But he learns that compassion is not only important, it must be the fuel to fight with.
The episode’s plot is fairly standard. A morally neutral giant beast is trapped by man’s greed, specifically a CAPITALIST PIGDOG played with moustache twirling glee by Nicholas Burns, and the Doctor and Bill must muck in with the locals and get it free before more people are fed to the giant sea monster and it’s poop can be used as fuel. It’s a tale as old as time. You can nearly tell exactly where the story is going to go, but it circumnavigates your critical brain. You are simply spending time enjoying the company of The Doctor, Bill and the world that they are in.
This episode revels in its setting. Regency London in the frost fair is realised incredibly on what is still a much maligned BBC budget. From the circus performers to the pop up shops and pubs in tents, it is a romp through a curiosity of both the natural and social history of London. Doctor Who deals with time travel in a way that isn’t caught up on the perils of it. In fact, in this episode the butterfly effect is openly mocked in favour of a madman with a box helping out and showing off the universe to his friend.
That was exactly what I needed on a Saturday night. This last month has been, as you can imagine, one of trouble for me. My journey has been incredible and long. I’ve gone from a small child that gives very specific directions to potato men, to an avid member of the Communist Party, to a dissident sent to a Gulag in Stalin’s Russia for speaking out against the direction the movement was heading in. When, on Saturday morning, I was told of the fall of the Soviet Union, of the end of the USSR, and the halting of the international call for communism, I was almost relieved. It’s not that socialism will never win, it’s that it must not be an excuse for tyranny. In my malaise I wandered through the sickening modernity of 21st century London, attempting to get myself lost, but alas, my sense of direction has always been expert. I knew exactly where I was. In a state of grief. And Aldgate. A cruel fate, but mine, nonetheless. My friends and family all gone now. The town I grew up in a post-industrial nightmare. I walked some more, for miles and miles until I fell on my knees and wept at the grave of Karl Marx, in Highgate. I, a man out of time, was invited to the house of scientist who thawed me to watch Doctor Who. An escape into the wonderful, the exciting and the fun.
Fun enough to presuppose there is a monster at the bottom of the Thames. Fun enough to revel in the idea of time travel. Fun enough to invent a character called Thomas Thomas who has excellent navigational skills.
I’ve just now been told I’m fictional.
So it goes.
* Thomas Thomas was a cameo character of a small child that gives directions to the Sontaran, Strax, just like a TomTom sat-nav, in the Mark Gatiss episode, ‘The Crimson Horror’. He is also the editor’s favourite character of anything ever, possibly behind Mr. Allthesnakes or Swarm, from Spiderman: Turn off the Dark – a neo-nazi made entirely of mutant bees. You can read our editor’s extensive and at times uncomfortable fan fic about those three characters here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmN-159SDdY