Another season, another disappointing Cybermen story, although I don’t expect much from them anymore. As this is their last appearance in the classic series, it is fitting that they go out with a bang, much like the Daleks did, but that’s not the only similarity with Remembrance of the Daleks – the plot is rather familiar too.
So, there’s an all-powerful god-like statue thing (the Nemesis) about to collide with the Earth, that the Doctor sent into orbit in the 17th century, and the Cybermen have rocked up to Earth to claim it for their own. They have rivals also searching for the Nemesis, namely some 1988 neo-nazis (the Fourth Reich) and a time-travelling sorceress and her servant from 1638. There is little time to develop the character motivations, unfortunately, so we’re left with three underwhelming groups of villains.
There is some hint of a sort of non-linear storytelling early on, when Ace sees a painting of her in Windsor Castle that she hasn’t had painted yet, but nothing ever comes of it. The Doctor’s previous (unseen) adventure in the 17th century is alluded to, and there are some hints of a dark secret that he has that the Nemesis (and sorceress) knows of, but, again, it’s not explained. It’s just a tease, a way to inject some mystery into the character. Which is fine, but it was pointless here.
I do enjoy the anachronistic elements of these types of stories. Lady Peinforte and Richard walking around modern day England, struggling to understand the culture and technology, but these comedic scenes take away from the serious tone of the story. The bit with the Queen walking her corgis around the grounds is just plain weird.
Elsewhere, the Cybermen are relatively unthreatening, failing to hit their targets at close range, and falling for the Doctor’s rudimentary tricks. I don’t know if it speaks more of the Doctor’s cunning or of the Cybermen’s stupidity that his “piggy-in-the-middle” trick with the bow actually works. The Cybermen are all talk, no action. Ace takes out loads with some gold coins and by knowing how to duck. Ducking is a technique that solves so many confrontations, it seems!
This isn’t particularly good, then, but it has some fun humour and some of the action is good. While it’s hardly unwatchable, it is messy and, at times, rather silly.