Doctor Who: Spoiler free preview for Empress Of Mars
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This Saturday's Doctor Who brings the ice warriors back for their second appearance in the modern era. One of the lesser known recurring aliens of the Troughton and Pertwee eras, it was a whole 39 years before Mark Gatiss brought them back in series seven's Cold War and here he is back (in what is apparently his swansong episode for Doctor Who) as the reptilian race return to their planet of origin, the red planet Mars.
Empress of Mars is certainly a well paced tale and possibly one of Gatiss's best episodes of the show. Rather than just relying what little we know regarding the Ice Warriors, he attempts to add to the mythos with the introduction of the titular queen and she certainly makes an impression. The design is enough to distinguish her from the rest of the horde, without losing her Ice Warrior features. There's also a nice mystery to start and the Victorian soldiers with their red coats, white hats and muskets fighting Ice Warriors is a visual treat; history and sci-fi melding in a way that only Doctor Who does best.
Most importantly, it's a rather fun twist on the 'base under siege' storyline and fun is the optimal word, which is definitely needed after the dark and gritty events of the Monks trilogy. It's a nice return to the feel of earlier series 10 episodes and that is probably a good thing. To my son who is a big Doctor Who fan of the modern and classic eras, it was his favourite episode of series 10 yet. It wasn't mine but I really did enjoy it and I think it will stand up as one of this year's more memorable episodes...