Doctor Who mentions Duran Duran in its latest episode, “Cold War,” and my two largest fandoms collide
In this past week’s episode of Doctor Who, I had the distinct pleasure of watching two of my favorite fandoms collide: Doctor Who and Duran Duran. Of course, I suppose I should have expected that as the time period of this new episode, “Cold War,” is set in the 1980’s. There is no 1980’s without Duran Duran, is there?
But first, let’s talk about “Cold War.” As I previously mentioned, it takes place in the 1980’s when tensions between the USSR and the US are at their highest. At any given moment, a real war could start with the single push of a button. So, of course, The Doctor and Clara land in the middle of a submarine just after it has gone through tests to arm its nuclear weapons. But there’s something worse on board – something that gets gravely insulted when attacked and declares war on Planet Earth (Duran Duran reference intended).
Enter Skaldak, a proud Ice Warrior, who has been discovered preserved in ice for 5,000 years by the submarine’s resident music-lover and scientist. Skaldak is attacked by the men of the submarine and now seeks war with the human race as a result. And once he escapes his armor, there’s no telling where he’ll turn up on the submarine, which is stuck way beneath the sea.
It’s up to The Doctor and Clara to resolve tensions between the humans and the Ice Warriors and to save the day. Again. Because to quote Clara, “That’s what we do.”
I have to admit that of the past three episodes of Doctor Who, this one was my least favorite. I felt that there was so much exposition on the Ice Warriors, for those fans of the series who aren’t familiar with the classic villains, that it took away from some of the action. However, things picked up in the second half of the episode and we really see Stephen Moffat’s penchant for making us afraid of things. First, statues. And then people mocking us. And then wifi. And now, Martians who have escaped their armor and are slithering around a downed submarine in the dark. DARN YOU MOFFAT!
I did, however, find “Cold War” enjoyable, more than some of last year’s episodes. That enjoyment has everything to do with Jenna-Louise Coleman. She is the perfect companion for The Doctor and does a great job of providing us a view of The Doctor’s world through human eyes. When things start to pick up in the episode, her fear is palpable as she tries to work through it.
This is where Duran Duran comes in (well, not literally). The scientist tells Clara that when he’s afraid, he sings to get his mind off things. He then asks her if she knows “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran. Clara refuses to sing, right up until the end of the episode. So when she starts singing the song, you know that she is truly terrified, and it shows in Coleman’s depth-filled eyes.
This week’s Doctor Who guest star is Liam Cunningham (better known as the Onion Knight, Davos, on Game of Thrones) and he is, obviously, the captain of the submarine. He plays the character much more level-headed than I would have thought and brings a humanity to what was, at the time, the enemy. At the end of the episode, you almost think that he might have had something to do with ending the Cold War.
So what’s in store next week? More horror it seems. The “coming soon” clip shows that Clara and The Doctor are off on a haunted house ghost chase. I really hope the ghosts aren’t the Cybermen this time…