Doctor Who does some fun period pieces. “Thin Ice' works well, not only by the re-creation of 1814 London, but the successful combination of Charles Dickens and Jules Vern to create a fun episode that still features of touch of Whovian quirk and darkness.
The TARDIS inadvertently arrives in 1814 London/ The Doctor and Bill, now in period attire, go exploring. They fall for a con by a group of orphans to attend a frost fair to e pick pocketed in the crowd. One of the orphans swipes the sonic screwdriver and dashes off. When he crosses part of the frozen Thames, lights surround his feet and break a circle of ice around him. The doctor saves the sonic screwdriver, but not the boy.
The Doctor discovers the orphans are being paid to lure people unto the fair and some disappear. The Doctor and Bill don some Verne-esque diving gear to discover a sea monster chained beneath the Thames. Upon further investigation, they learn the orphans are being paid by Lord Sutcliffe. His family has been exploiting the creature for generations becoming wealthy selling the creature's waste as an energy source. People who fall into the Thames are its food source.
Sutcliffe plans to dynamite the ice in order to hide hi secret, but the Doctor rearranges the explosives to free the creature while Bill and the orphans clear everyone to safety. Sutcliffe falls through the ice during the explosion. The creature swims safely out of London, and the Doctor arranges for the orphans to take over his mansion.
Bill is beginning to see the doctor's darker side. She question why he has little reaction to the boy's death early in the episode. She asks how many people he has killed, but he declines to answer. Bill is not the first companion to become concerned by the growing body count in the Doctor's wake and his generally cold reaction to it. It is particularly interesting when he allows another person to die in order to recover the sonic screwdriver a second time. At least that guy was a villain.
Let us get the obvious question out of the way---how did the Sutcliffe family chain a giant sea creature in the first place? The answer is lost to antiquity according to the current Sutcliffe. The how is not as important as the why, so I am just going to go with it. I enjoyed “Thin Ice” too much for the unsolved mystery to be a major problem.
Rating: *** (out of 5)