Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel (dual review)

cybermen

Writer: Tom McRae

Director: Graeme Harper

Producer: Phil Collinson

Series: 2, eps 5-6

Companions: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke)

Summary: The Doctor and his companions are travelling in the TARDIS when it suddenly loses power and they land in a parallel London.  This is a London where zeppelins roam the skies and Rose’s father is still alive.  Rose and Mickey become intrigued and they decide to have a look around, despite the Doctor’s opinion.  They discover that Rose’s father in this world is actually working with a  wheelchair-ridden inventor named John Lumic, who’s invented earpods.  These devices can connect people to the Internet, but they also control their minds. The  Jackie Tyler in this world is a rich, spoiled woman, and Rose was never born.  Mickey, however, discovers that his double, a man named Ricky, is the leader of a group of freedom fighters called the Preachers, who hope to take down Lumic.

Lumic has been taking homeless people and is converting them into Cybermen.  Lumic decides to use them to take over London.

Review: Before I begin, I have to say I was never a fan of the Mondas Cybermen.  I had a hard time believing they were a legitimate threat because the Doctor had too easy of a time defeating them.  Russell T. Davies had the right idea. He updated them, basing them on our fears that technology will one day surpass us and eliminated their weakness to gold.

The parallel world is not a new concept to Doctor Who.  A nice twist is that although there are duplicates of the companions, none of them are actually evil per se.  Mickey’s double only seems more aggressive, while Jackie is just spoiled.

This is a great “upgrade” of a classic foe that’s just as much a part of the show’s mythos as the Daleks.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: The Pertwee story “Inferno” also had a parallel Earth.  Mrs. Moore reveals that one of Lumic’s dummy corporations that funded his Cybermen was called International Electromatics, a reference to “The Invasion.”  One of the Cybermen says “You will become like us”, a line from their first story, “The Tenth Planet.” “Ricky” was the 9th Doctor’s pet name for Mickey.  We met Rose’s father originally in “Father’s Day”.

Trivia: This story was inspired by the Big Finish audio drama Spare Parts, featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa.

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Silver Nemesis

nemesis

Writer: Kevin Clarke

Director: Chris Clough

Producer: John Nathan-Turner

No. of Episodes: 3

Season: 25, ep. 3 (8-10)

Companion: Ace (Sophie Aldred)

Summary: Several centuries ago, the Doctor launched a statue into space, encased in a meteorite. This became known as the Nemesis comet.  Every 25 years, it comes closer to Earth, and every time it does, catastrophe follows. Three examples the Doctor gives are:

1913: WWI starts

1938: Hitler annexes Austria

1963: President Kennedy is assassinated

However, the statue is incomplete. The bow and arrow are still on Earth and are in the property of Lady Peinforte and her servant, back in 1688.  Several centuries later, a group of neo-nazis have found the bow and arrow. To make matters worse, the Cybermen have arrived on Earth, hoping to procure the statue when it crashes on Earth. Can the Doctor and Ace stop it from falling into the wrong hands?

Review: This is the final Cybermen story for Classic Who. What was supposed to be a good story is swamped by too many villains. What we got was a story that was somewhat average.

The Cybermen look terrible with their chrome armor.  They look like they’re made out of tinfoil to me.  To make matters worse, they’re more fragile than they used to be. Ace manages to finish off quite a few with a slingshot and some gold doubloons. It looks cool, I’ll admit, and the final moment where she’s surrounded by them with only one left is great (“Which one of you will die? And which one will be lucky?”–great Ace line), it still looks silly.

To sum it up, this story isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst.  I like it when Ace and the Doctor interact. They are always great together, no matter how bad the story gets.  I love watching the Seventh Doctor set plans in motion as quickly as he does.

Overall Review: 6/10

Continuity: In Part Two the Doctor dematerialises the TARDIS as an arrow hits it. This also happened in “The Shakespeare Code” . In both cases the arrow dematerialises with the TARDIS.  In one scene, the Doctor is seen wearing a fez and carrying a mop, which the Eleventh Doctor also does in “The Big Bang”. Ace asks the Doctor who he is, and this is part of Andrew Cartmel’s “master plan”, which inspired the “ultimate question” story arc of Series 6 in New Who.  The chess game that the Doctor is playing comes up again in “The Curse of Fenric”, where viewers see that the Doctor was actually playing against Fenric, an Elder God (like the Great Intelligence).

Trivia: This was the 25th anniversary episode. There are cameos from Nicholas Courtney and story writer Kevin Clarke.  The jazz musician that the Doctor and Ace listen to is in reality Courtney Pine, a popular jazz musician from the 80’s, who happens to be playing himself.

 

Earthshock

earthshock

Writer: Eric Saward

Director: Peter Grimwade

Producer: John Nathan-Turner

No. of Episodes: 4

Season: 19, ep 6 (19-22)

Companions: Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding)

Summary: A military conference against the Cybermen is taking place and the Cybermen are plotting to destroy the Earth.  The Doctor intervenes, but in the process, Adric must make the ultimate sacrifice.

Review: If you were to ask me for my favorite Cybermen story from the Classic period, I’d say it was “Earthshock”.  It is a well-written story, with great drama.

I like the Cybermen’s design from the 80’s.  Their costumes look very cold and their voices are great.  Granted, the Cyber-leader is slightly hammy, but he’s not too bad.

And now to address Adric’s Death.  To be honest,  I don’t hate Adric.  He’s not my favorite companion, but I don’t think he was bad.  I think people who despise him keep forgetting this story and “The Keeper of Traken”, his two best stories.

Continuity: While complaining that he wished to return to E-Space, Adric mentions that Romana could help direct the TARDIS.  Romana left to help the denizens of E-space in “Warrior’s Gate”.  Adric received his badge in “Full Circle” and the doctor uses it to kill the Cyber-Leader.  He learned of their weakness to gold in “Revenge of the Cyber-men”.  The Cybermen watch scenes from “The Tenth Planet”, “The Wheel in Space”, and “Revenge of the Cybermen”.  Adric’s fate is re-explored in the Big Finish audio drama The Boy Time Forgot. When the Doctor tells Brian Williams in “The Power of Three” that some of his companions died, he was referring to Adric.  The first story to kill a companion was “The Dalek Master Plan.”  Before his argument with Adric, the Doctor is reading Black Orchid, a book he received in the preceding story of the same name.

Trivia: This is the only story with silent credits, as seen in the final episode.  One of the android costumes was repainted for the Rastan Warrior Robot in “The Five Doctors.”

The Invasion

Invasion

Writer: Derrick Sherwin

Director: Douglas Camfield

Producer: Peter Bryant

No. of Episodes: 8

Season: 6, ep 3 (11-18) Note: episodes 1 and 4 are animated restorations.

Companions: Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines), Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury), Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)

Summary: After the events in “The Mind Robber”, the Doctor and Companions are in the re-formed TARDIS, when it is shot by a missile.  After a forced crash-landing, they discover that a town has been taken over by a company called International Electromatics (IE).  They investigate the company grounds to see what’s going on. In so doing, the Doctor meets UNIT for the first time and Lethbridge-Stewart a second time.  Lethbridge-Stewart is now a Brigadier and, with UNIT, has been investigating a ring of disappearances associated with IE.  The Doctor soon discovers that the disappearances are linked to an impending Cybermen invasion, and IE’s head, Tobias Vaughn, is in league with them.

Review: UNIT is such an important part of the Doctor Who mythos that it’s hard to imagine what the show would’ve been like without them.  I was intrigued to learn what the first meeting was like.  This is also the first appearance of UNIT soldier John Benton, who is a corporal this time. (He will not become sergeant until “The Silurians”) It was great to see he was a competent soldier even then.

Lethbridge-Stewart is a  great character as well. I like that even though he is a skeptic, he will believe what the Doctor tells him if there is proof.  The two seem to be starting off a great friendship. Of course, I’m biased, the Brigadier is one of my favorite characters.

The star of the story is Tobias Vaughn, played very well by Kevin Stoney.  What makes him such a great villain is that as we learn more about him, he becomes more fascinating.  He only sees the Cybermen as a means to an end. He’s even prepared for their sudden and inevitable betrayal with a machine that can induce emotions.  In fact, he’s even partially a Cyberman himself!

The story’s pacing really surprised me. I was certain that it would be very slow, the plot moved very well, with no tangents that didn’t go anywhere, like what is often seen in stories that are over 4 parts long.

This is a great story, and I think it’s the best one from Troughton’s era.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: The Doctor met the Brigadier in “The Web of Fear”.  In “Dalek”, the Cybermen head in Van Statten’s museum resembles the ones seen here.  The TARDIS also lands in a cow pasture in “The Image of the Fendahl”.

Trivia: This story was originally going to be four parts, but was originally expanded to eight when “The Dreamspinner”, which was going to follow “The Invasion”, was unapproved.  John Levene got the part of Corporal Benton when the original actor was fired after being habitually late.  He had appeared previously as a Cyberman in “The Moonbase”, and a Yeti in “The Web of Fear”.  The story was also supposed to have Professor Travers and his daughter Anne from “The Abominable Snowman”, “The Web of Fear”, but that story’s writer refused to let Derrick Sherwin use them, so they were replaced by Professor Watkins and his niece Isobel.  Wendy Padbury was on holiday during the filming of episode 3, so Zoe does not appear in that episode. Frazer Hines was also unavailable for episode 8, so he only appears in pre-filmed sequences. During the filming of this story, Hines announced that he was considering leaving the show.