doctor who empress of mars

This week’s upcoming episode of ‘Doctor Who’ is hotly anticipated by fans, as it not only marks the return of longtime DW scriptwriter Mark Gatiss, but it features one of the classic villains of the series, the Ice Warriors.

The episode, ‘Empress of Mars,’ is actually very different than Gatiss first pitched to the ‘Doctor Who’ showrunners, however.  Gatiss, notably along with current showrunner Steven Moffat and series star Peter Capaldi, is a big fan of classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the early decades of the show’s existence, the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  In particular, stories like 1967’s “The Abominable Snowmen” struck a chord with Gatiss, because of the villains introduced in this episode, the Robot Yeti, returned later in the series to wreak further havoc in a largely-unrelated storyline.

Gatiss’ original idea for his new episode, then, was to do a detached “sequel” to his own previous story, 2015’s “Sleep No More.”  As Gatiss details in a recent interview:

“Essentially it came about, because I was going to do a sequel to Sleep No More. I had this idea [that] I’d like to do the double in a kind of Yeti way, to have two stories about the same monster. Although it was still in space, [Sleep No More] was originally going to be on a trading floor; it was a stocks and shares thing, with these executives who were trying to stay awake in order to be more productive. And then it sort of changed into the sleep research station [of the finished episode].”

So, even though his original pitch for the first episode was altered, AND the pitch for his newest episode didn’t quite take as well, the ever-resourceful Gatiss came up with a new plan:

“I thought there was something in that, and actually maybe I could do a modern day one, set in the City, where they’d invented the same process but actually thousands of years earlier, and it had the same effect. I thought, ‘Well you know, everyone’s going’ [Capaldi and Moffat leaving the show]. And so I just said to Steven, ‘Can I do the story I’ve always wanted to do, which is the Ice Warriors on Mars?’ And he said ‘Yeah!’ So that’s how all this came about.

“You know, I started with the Victorians [the 2005 episode The Unquiet Dead]. I’ve come full circle. It’s kind of pressing all my buttons, this one. It’s the story I’ve always had in the back of my mind to do, I suppose, and it’s just so nice to see loads of Ice Warriors. I mean, it’s just never happened before. And a new one – and an Ice Queen. So yeah, I’m very chuffed with it.”

Sounds like Gatiss ended up being very pleased with the end result – and we will get to see it this weekend when “The Empress of Mars” is released!

‘Doctor Who’ continues its tenth series (season) of the modern era on Saturday nights on BBC America.

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Tony Schaab wonders where Green Rangers come from – I guess if a Yellow Ranger and a Blue Ranger love each other very much… A lover of most things sci-fi and horror, Tony is an author by day and a DJ by night. Come hang out with Tony on Twitter or follow him on Facebook to hear him spew semi-funny nonsense and get your opportunity to finally put him in his place.