Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Tomb of the Cybermen

Unsurprisingly, I liked it. Classic Who villain plus sci-fi plot gets my vote any time, and this one was handled well. Much like in Power of the Daleks, the villains are a force not to awaken, and the danger comes principally from the rogue human characters who wish to control them (and use them to take over the Earth).

The Doctor finds the whole thing fascinating.

The Doctor finds the whole thing fascinating.

At four parts long, the story was tight enough, with dramatic cliffhangers capping each part. Although I must admit, at first I was a bit confused about what year this was supposed to be set in. With the mildly racist and sexist undertones, I thought it was a 1920s expedition on Earth but then they started talking about spaceships and centuries passing and I got confused, but it all made sense in the end. Also, first ever mention of the Doctor’s age! (450 Earth years).

The excavation team explores the lower levels.

The excavation team explores the lower levels.

The Cybermen were the new metal-/foil- coated variety as seen in The Moonbase, and although they still look like men in foil suits, with those electronic voices, they were still an sinister presence. The Cyber-Controller and Cybermats are new, although the latter weren’t particularly scary, nor seem to do anything, although one escapes at the end in what I assume will become a relevant plot point in a later episode.

The Cybermen emerge from their frozen tombs.

The Cybermen emerge from their frozen tombs.

For its time, the production design was fairly impressive. Although a lot of the control panels and doors look like they’re made of wood, I was impressed by the large array of stasis pods from which the Cybermen emerge. There were also good pyro effects from their laser gun weapon, and some neat electricity special effects.

The Cybercontroller. Da boss.

The Cybercontroller. Da boss.

I thought I was going to be disappointed by Victoria’s easy acceptance into this group, considering her father was killed in the previous story and seemingly forgotten about, but then episode 3 had a welcome bit of banter between her and the Doctor, in which the Doctor describes his way of thinking about their adventures and how no-one else in the universe is lucky enough to do what they’re doing. The Doctor’s character has been largely sidelined up until now (particularly in Hartnell’s episodes), so this was a nice moment that added to the character, and I hope it continues.

Certainly, this was amongst the best Classic Who serials I’ve seen in my epic marathon so far, and the first Troughton story to be without missing parts, which was a treat. He didn’t play his recorder in this one, though. Shame.

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The Evil of the Daleks

I must say, I wasn’t sure where this episode was heading at first. The Doctor’s search for his Tardis leads him to an antique dealer’s shop, where he and Jamie get transported back in time. It turns out the owner is from Victorian times and the Daleks have provided a time machine to capture the Doctor and lure him back. The Daleks were accidentally brought from their planet Skaro by a scientist experimenting with mirrors or something, and they’ve used him to capture the Doctor, and forced the house owner, Mr. Waterfield, to co-operate by capturing his daughter.

Waterfield, Maxtible and the Doctor.

Waterfield, Maxtible and the Doctor.

Their plan is a bit contrived but I can go along with it. They need the Doctor and Jamie so they can explore “the human factor”, the unique thing that made them fail to conquer humanity in the past. With the Doctor’s arm twisted, he succeeds in isolating this human element and implanting it in three Daleks, who end up turning into child-like playful creatures, their sense of menace and obedience erased.

The child-like humanised Daleks want to play.

The child-like humanised Daleks want to play.

This is all just a ruse, however, as the Daleks merely wanted to isolate this factor so they could create an anti-factor of sorts, a ‘Dalek element’ that they would force the Doctor to disperse over Earth (hence the need for his Tardis) and turn all of humanity into obedient Dalek slaves.

Jamie rescues Waterfield's daughter, Victoria.

Jamie rescues Waterfield’s daughter, Victoria.

I did find this story a little bit drawn out at seven episodes long, however everything comes to a head in the final episode when they’re transported to Skaro and we see for the first time the Dalek Emperor. The Doctor does a clever capsule switch and makes a load of Daleks become human-like, and so a big battle breaks out between the two sects, causing their Dalek city to collapse, and what looks like the Emperor being destroyed. Alas, since the video was lost to deletion, it’s hard to make out, and it’s a shame it’s missing, because it sounded pretty epic. The Emperor looked big and imposing too.

The opposing Dalek sects battle it out on Skaro.

The opposing Dalek sects battle it out on Skaro.

This was a passable serial which ended up having a pretty excellent ending. Allegedly the end of the Daleks for good, says the Doctor (we know otherwise!). It’s also the end of the ‘season’, whatever that meant at the time. Waterfield died in the Dalek rebellion, but his daughter Victoria survived and would appear to be joining our heroes on their adventures.

The Faceless Ones

2 complete, 4 reconstructed. This was another very cool sci-fi concept, this time set in present day (1966) Earth. The Tardis lands in Gatwick airport, and although being held by the authorities should have been the extent of their problems, they uncover another sinister plot!

The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie land in the middle of Gatwick airport runway.

The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie land in the middle of Gatwick airport runway.

A private travel firm is abducting young people under the pretence of taking them abroad on their planes, but en route they are being miniaturised and transported to an orbiting space station. The planes convert to spaceships. The Doctor just happens to learn all this when he finds someone one of the aliens has murdered for knowing too much. They’re taking people in order to assume their form, as the aliens’ true appearance is grotesquely ‘faceless’, with featureless scaly (possibly green?) faces, apparently due to some sort of illness.

Getting through immigration is not easy when you're a Timelord.

Getting through immigration is not easy when you’re a Timelord.

It’s another interesting premise because, like the Macra in the previous episode, they aren’t actually evil as such, they’re just trying to survive, and they consider their own form of life to be above humans in all respects. That said, the mood of this one is very much “invasion of the body-snatchers”, with impostors in key roles in the airport, and no-one sure of who is real, and it takes a while before the Doctor can convince the airport staff that anything is even wrong!

One of the 'faceless ones' undergoing transformation.

One of the ‘faceless ones’ undergoing transformation.

Once they realise something strange is happening, the Doctor is given free reign by the police to sort it all out. In the end, they defeat the aliens due to a stupid design flaw of their transformation process – ie. the original humans have to be kept safely stowed away, or the transformation process can be disrupted and the copy alien can be killed. They threaten the aliens with this and get them to leave, although the Doctor offers to help them find an alternative treatment for their condition.

The alien ship, originally posing as a passenger jet plane.

The alien ship, originally posing as a passenger jet plane.

On leaving the airport, Ben and Polly choose to stay behind on Earth, as they are now back where they left. The ever-loyal Jamie stays with the Doctor and they return to the Tardis, only to find that it is missing! Dun-dun-duuuunnn!!

Ben and Polly stay behind.

Ben and Polly stay behind.

As Ben and Polly depart, I will summarise and comment on their role.
Like many of the Doctor’s travelling companions, Ben and Polly join the Tardis from present day London and leave it in the same place (more or less). They are reluctant travellers, in that they didn’t mean to be there. They both have lives to go back to, so when the Tardis lands in Gatwick airport, they take the chance to say goodbye. Neither of them do anything remarkable, but Ben provides the ‘muscle’, and Polly provides the ‘sass’. Both of them witness the Doctor’s first (first televised, anyway) regeneration, which I suppose is pretty noteworthy. Anyway, they both end up safe and well, so that’s good.

The Macra Terror

4 episodes, all reconstructed. Another cool sci-fi episode. A human colony on another planet, far from Earth in the distant future. What seems like a peaceful civilisation has a dark underbelly, in the form of creatures called Macra.

The Macra attacks!

The Macra attacks!

They’ve been using the colonists to mine gas from the ground that they need to survive. They control the the leader of the colonists, who controls the whole colony by feeding them instructions in their sleep. No-one ever meets the leader, he only appears on the video screen to give instructions.

The Doctor sneaks about.

The Doctor sneaks about.

It’s all very sinister. Anyone who proclaims to have seen a Macra is taken away to be ‘cured’. The Doctor uncovers it all and the Macra are defeated by reversing the flow of gas and releasing their controlling grip on the leader. I enjoyed this one too and would have liked to have seen some surviving video. Alas, such was the BBC.

The Leader is attacked by the Macra.

The Leader is attacked by the Macra.

I continue to be impressed with Patrick Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor. He’s really transformed this show for me now. Fortunately, too, a lot of the stories so far are more up my street. Less of the “we’re trapped in this historical time period, oh noes” and more proper sci-fi stuff.

The Moonbase

2 complete, 2 reconstructed. Now this one I really did like. Set in the future, Earth has established a base on the moon that controls the tides and the weather of Earth. Already an interesting premise, the base staff soon go missing one by one, after developing a strange illness, and all turns out to be a Cyberman plot! Didn’t see that one coming at all.

The Doctor attempts to cure the sick moonbase staff.

The Doctor attempts to cure the sick moonbase staff.

The Cybermen want to control the weather of Earth and wipe humanity out. I didn’t manage to catch how these Cybermen survived the destruction of Mondas, or if they were from somewhere else, but the design has had a slight change, in that they now wear fully silver suits, so they appear to be metal all over. Their voices are changed a bit too.

A Cyberman approaches an injured Jamie.

A Cyberman approaches an injured Jamie.

I liked the mystery of events at the start, and how the moonbase staff were under pressure from Earth to keep things on track, playing into their desperation and having to trust the Doctor.

Cybermen do the moonwalk.

Cybermen do the moonwalk.

I would rate this one as very good, and a shame two of the episodes are only available as reconstructions.

The Underwater Menace

In The Underwater Menace (2 complete, 2 reconstructed), the Doctor, Ben, Polly and new boy Jamie discover Atlantis! Apparently, the ancient lost city is still populated, surviving under the water, sealed away from the world above.

To evade the Atlantan guards, the Doctor disguises himself again.

To evade the Atlantan guards, the Doctor disguises himself again.

While the heroes are offered up as a sacrifice to the Atlantan god, a scientist that the Doctor recognises hatches a plan to raise Atlantis out of the sea. However, he is quite mad and really intends to blow up the whole world or something.

The food-gathering fish people play a pivotal role.

The food-gathering fish people play a pivotal role.

This wasn’t a bad serial, and again allowed the Doctor to dress up in disguise (this is becoming a theme). The city gets flooded and destroyed at the end, so the production was fairly good, with pools of water and stuff. I’d rate this one as passable.