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).
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 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.
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.
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.