Writer: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis (Gerry Davis wrote parts 3 and 4)
Director: Derek Martinus
Producer: Innes Lloyd
Season: 4, ep 2 (5-8)
No. of Episodes: 4 (note: ep 4 is restored with animation)
Companions: Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) Polly (Anneke Wills)
Summary: The Doctor and his companions arrive at the Snowcap Base in 1986, which is supervising the Zeus IV mission to probe the atmosphere. The instruments reveal that a new planet has appeared in the sky, one with landmasses identical to Earth. Before they can get the word out, the base is attacked and the Doctor encounters the Cybermen for the first time. The Cybermen come from the new planet, which is named Mondas. They explain that as their bodies weakened, they created cybernetic parts to replace their weaknesses, including emotions. General Cutler, who is overseeing the mission, receives word that that his son has been sent on a mission to rescue Zeus IV, but has died. This angers Cutler and he attempts to use a nuclear bomb to stop the Cybermen. The Doctor has been weakened by his old age, but he is able to stop Cutler, but not before Mondas is destroyed. This also kills the Cybermen, as they needed the planet to survive. The Doctor takes his companions to the safety of the TARDIS, where he collapses and regenerates for the first time.
Review: The story is pretty good. Because of Hartnell’s poor health (he couldn’t even participate in the third part), it’s up to Ben and Polly to do most of the heroics. Up until this point, I really didn’t know what to make of this duo as neither of the stories I’d seen previously really gave me time to get to know them. Ben and Polly are still not among my favorites (Personally, I feel Polly is a waste of space), but they are good here. Cutler is a great antagonist, as his anger at the loss of his son interferes with his rationale.
The Cybermen are a real deal-breaker for me, sadly. Their costumes are bulky and laughable. Their voices are too shrilly (although that could also be my over-sensitive ears). I’m not bothered at how the Doctor dies, as I feel it still fits his character, and he is defiant to the end. Overall, the story met my expectations.
Overall Review: 7/10
Continuity: This is the only story where the Cybermen have names and human hands. The Doctor’s death is not called a regeneration until “Planet of the Spiders”. Big Finish’s audio drama Spare Parts tells the origin of the Mondas Cybermen. In “Attack of the Cybermen”, the Cybermen travel back to 1985 to attempt to prevent Mondas’s destruction, but are thwarted by the Sixth Doctor and Peri. In the Big Finish Companion Chronicle The First Wave, the First Doctor’s death is retold from the perspective of Oliver Harper’s ghost (Oliver Harper is a Big Finish exclusive companion). The Eighth Doctor also encountered this variant of the Cybermen in The Silver Turk.
Trivia: Michael Craze met his wife Edwina while filming this story. (She was a production assistant)