Tag Archives: cybermen

The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang

Epic finales have capped the past four and a bit seasons, so it was no surprise that season 5 went all out. In a scene reminiscent of what Russell T Davies probably intended in The Stolen Earth, every single available alien, robot and creature from the past five years gathers together at Stonehenge 102 AD (including, bizarrely, the Silurians, who shouldn’t even be awake at this point) to trap the Doctor in a giant box, thus stopping him from destroying the Universe when his Tardis explodes in the future.

The Universe's largest recorded INTERVENTION meeting.

The Universe’s largest recorded INTERVENTION meeting.

It’s a good twist, because you spend most of the first episode thinking there’s a monster inside the Pandorica, but in fact the monster is the Doctor and all the bad guys are there to save the Universe for a change. It must have taken an incredible amount of planning on their part, though. They had to read a psychic imprint of Amy’s mind to create the trap, ensure the coordinates were written on a painting that would get passed down to River Song, who would find a way to escape prison and bring the Doctor to the right place. Convoluted isn’t the word! You also have to wonder, if keeping the Doctor sealed away for eternity is so important, why make the Pandorica so easy to open again from the outside?

Auton-duplicate Roman Rory, now with sonic screwdriver action.

Auton-duplicate Roman Rory, now with sonic screwdriver action.

The Doctor tells the alien spaceships over Stonehenge to bugger off for a while.

The Doctor tells the alien spaceships over Stonehenge to bugger off for a while.

Okay kid, this is where it gets complicated. With the first episode ending on the most extreme of cliffhangers, the Tardis exploding, the Doctor trapped forever, and the lights in the Universe blinking out of existence, it takes a hell of a job to undo it, but this is one of those occasions where it mostly works satisfyingly, thanks to Steven Moffat’s knack for planning out long-winded and complex plots and believing in the audience enough to keep up with it. Through a series of time jumps, the Doctor sets into motion an elaborate plan to rescue himself and works out how to undo the erasure of the Universe. These sequences are both amusing and clever, not to mention logically consistent (a rarity in a show that supposedly deals with time travel), so it’s a shame that a large part of the climax revolves around, basically, magic.

I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

This annoys me, because the story could rely on its use of hard temporal mechanics to sort itself out, but instead descends into wishy-washy metaphor. Erased from existence, the Doctor is brought back into the Universe by the power of memories or love or some such nonsense. How does that make any sense? The mind is not some magical thing that can overcome the laws of physics – either somebody exists in spacetime or they don’t. So now we have a situation where the Tardis was actually blown up, but now it wasn’t because it was undone, except that it still did happen because they remember it and still need to work out who was responsible for it, even though it quite obviously didn’t happen because the Tardis still exists. The Doctor was at the heart of the Big Bang version 2, except he clearly wasn’t because he still exists, and he only exists because Amy and Rory remember him… and so on, and so forth.

It's not quite as bad as "the whole world prays for the Doctor" but it's the same sort of thing.

It’s not quite as bad as “the whole world prays for the Doctor” but it’s the same sort of thing.

Well, whatever issues there are with the plot, I can’t deny that it’s bloody ambitious. I also love how the previous episodes from the season are incorporated into it, with Vincent’s painting passed down through history, and then later with the Doctor revisiting Amy in their previous adventures and finally explaining that weird scene from Flesh and Stone. Amy’s story arc also reaches a conclusion, with the mystery of her vanishing parents solved, the crack in her room being sealed, and Rory coming back into existence in time for their wedding day.

It's hard not to feel a twinge of emotion as the Tardis materialises during the reception, to the words "something old, something new, something borrowed... something blue". Yes, very clever, Steven. How long had you been waiting to write that?

It’s hard not to feel a twinge of emotion as the Tardis materialises during the reception, to the words “something old, something new, something borrowed… something blue”. Yes, very clever, Steven. How long had you been waiting to write that?

I suppose what I liked most about this finale is that all the overblown threat is contained with a minimum of bluster within part 1. After the big incident, the second part is relatively low-key. There’s this wonderful mix of the utterly bleak (all the stars have gone out, the Tardis is burning in the sky for two millennia, and the Earth will soon disappear), the heartwarmingly lovely (Auton-duplicate Rory standing guard over Amy for 2000 years) and the bloody funny (the stuff with the mop and the fez). There was never any doubt that everything would turn out fine in the end, but getting there is a fascinating journey. For that reason, it’s the best season finale of the new series, despite the problems I had with it.

The exploding Tardis painting makes for a lovely piece of wall art.

The exploding Tardis painting makes for a lovely piece of wall art.

I was hoping to have revisited Matt Smith’s entire run before season 8 begins, but as I type this, Peter Capaldi’s debut is just days away, so I’m going to take this opportunity to take a ‘deep breath’, enjoy the new series and come back to this in a little while.

The Next Doctor

With rumours of David Tennant’s departure from Doctor Who back in 2008/’09, Russell T Davies seemed to enjoy teasing the audience with things like fake regenerations and misleading episode titles… at least, that’s how I remember it. The Next Doctor ostensibly depicts a future incarnation of the travelling Time Lord, who is trying to solve a series of murders and kidnappings in Victorian London. It plays up to this ruse for the first half of the episode before finally admitting that, actually, he’s not the Doctor at all, he’s just a man named Jackson Lake (played by David Morrissey), who’s been infused with the Doctor’s memories in an accident that took his family.

The next Doctor shows off his "sonic" screwdriver by banging it against the wall.

The next Doctor shows off his “sonic” screwdriver by banging it against the wall.

On the basis of this performance, he would have made a pretty good Doctor had they decided to go that way – somewhat like Peter Davison’s fifth, grounded and human but brilliant and inventive. The scenes where the “two Doctors” team up and work together are fun, and the reveal of the new Doctor’s “TARDIS” raised a smile as well. The rest of the episode is, well… the usual routine.

Miss Hartigan is shown no "Mercy" as the Cybermen predictably betray her.

Miss Hartigan is shown no “Mercy” as the Cybermen predictably betray her.

Cybermen in a Dickensian setting at Christmas should be far better than this, but they’re just not very interesting villains anymore. They’re deadly and threatening when they need to be (zapping people with a touch) but useless when they’re fighting the Doctor (with a sword – why not zap him through it?), and their leader, Miss Hartigan, has only vague motives to support her pantomime villain routine. The “Cybershades” are supposed to look retro or something, but they’re just too fluffy and adorable and make little sense. The Cyberking looks amazing and has a great steampunk vibe to it, but it’s similarly implausible. How did something that big hide under the Thames? It’s just another “big threat” for the sake of, with a poor resolution – more magic weapons and silly save-the-day devices.

The Cyberking flattens London. Nobody ever mentions it again.

The Cyberking flattens London. Nobody ever mentions it again.

Still, it’s not too bad. Before it gets boring, the mystery of the Jackson Lake character gives the episode an intriguing focus (he should have had more to do in the final act – put him in the balloon instead, for instance!). It was nice to see the old footage of all ten Doctors projected from the infostamp (that’s the first time that’s happened, isn’t it?). It’s Christmassy, but the Christmassiness isn’t overdone – there’s no embarrassing scene like the Queen waving in last year’s special. But, it is still just a big budget special and these rarely rise above “okay”. Unfortunately, without a regular season and a regular companion, 2009 was all about one-off specials, and the Doctor getting increasingly whiny to the point where I was glad to see him go.

Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

“This is the story of how I died”, lies Rose, in a narration that immediately demands attention. This is the season finale, the last regular appearance of Billie Piper as Rose Tyler and, as expected, a typically overblown finale that throws in everything but the kitchen sink.

An army of Cybermen emerges from the dimensional rift at the Canary Wharf branch of Torchwood.

An army of Cybermen emerges from the dimensional rift at the Canary Wharf branch of Torchwood.

I guess the problem is that none of it is really surprising. Torchwood is supposed to be a revelation, but even at the time this episode was first aired, it wasn’t. It had been namedropped and teased throughout the entire season (without subtlety, this is no “Bad Wolf”) and we’d already seen what they were capable of in the Christmas episode. So when we finally meet the Torchwood bunch, the only new thing we learn is that they’re all complete morons with more money than sense, commanded by the deplorable Yvonne, and operating some of the worst security systems imaginable (staff have training against psychic paper but electronic locks don’t? What?). The Cybermen reveal could have been amazing, but it’s spoiled by showing them earlier on (not to mention in last week’s preview). It’s only really the Daleks turning up that has an impact, but that’s mitigated by a sense of “oh bloody hell, not these again”. Thankfully, these are a rogue sect with a somewhat interesting story behind them, and their skirmishes with the Cybermen are exactly as magnificent as you would hope.

Daleks and Cybermen battle it out, with humans caught in the middle. "Delete!", "exterminate!", "delete!", "exterminate!"

Daleks and Cybermen battle it out, with humans caught in the middle. “Delete!”, “exterminate!”, “delete!”, “exterminate!”

Being a Russell T. Davies script, naturally the entire world is in peril without carefully considering the repercussions of the situation. We’re instead treated to the cliché of news reports around the world showing famous landmarks, pop culture references (lolz, ghosts on Eastenders), Rose’s mum tagging along, the Doctor being his usual ‘wacky’ self, and the necessity of a big magic reset button that sucks all the bad guys away from every single country in the world within a matter of seconds. What about the ones indoors? Still, it’s probably best to just enjoy the spectacle while it lasts and not think too much about it.

The Time War was rather less effective than first thought. Millions of Daleks were still trapped in a Genesis Ark, sealed with a void ship, floating endlessly in the space between dimensions. Basically the equivalent of finding money down the side of the sofa.

The Time War was rather less effective than first thought. Millions of Daleks were still trapped in a Genesis Ark, sealed with a void ship, floating endlessly in the space between dimensions. Basically the equivalent of finding money down the side of the sofa.

As ever, Davies does his best work when dealing with human drama, and it doesn’t get much more dramatic than Rose being forced to leave the Doctor. Now, I could whine about overly dramatic big goodbyes with tears and sad music, unlike in the old days where companions would just leave when they felt like it, but the fact of the matter is that Rose’s relationship with the Doctor is different from all of them. Such is her love for him that she would give up ever seeing her own mother again, and it seems clear to me (and to a legion of fangirls, if Google images is any indication) that the Doctor feels the same way in return. This necessitates the creation of the ‘void’ and a sealed off universe for Rose to live with her reunited family, a final goodbye for the Doctor and Rose with no hope of them ever seeing each other again. If you need closure, that’s the way to do it. I mean, it’s not like they’d ever bring her back in some awfully contrived situation, is it? Erm.

Separated by the fabric of reality itself, Rose grieves as she is permanently cut-off from the Doctor. Forever. Yes, forever! No, I'm not listening, la-la-la-laaaa!!

Separated by the fabric of reality itself, Rose grieves as she is permanently cut-off from the Doctor. Forever. Yes, forever! No, I’m not listening, la-la-la-laaaa!!

So, mixed feelings about this finale. On the one hand, at least it actually feels like a finale that has been earned, laying the groundwork throughout the second season (Torchwood, Cybermen, Pete Tyler, parallel universes), with a good cliffhanger, some good action and a sweet final farewell. On the other hand, it just feels too big for its boots at times – contrived, overblown, pushing the peril to ridiculous levels, always trying to top the previous effort. We’re not at the point where the Doctor tows the entire planet through space or where all of the known universe is going to explode, but it’s set a damaging precedent already.

Oh look, Catherine Tate is in the Tardis in a wedding dress…

What?

What?!

WHAT?!

Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel

For much of the first episode, the Cybermen are obscured by lights or focus pulls, as if to mystify the viewer as to what they are. Given the episode is called “Rise of the Cybermen”, this seems rather redundant, much like it was for the Dalek episode in the previous season. Still, unlike the Daleks, the return of the Cybermen can only be an improvement over the generic foil-suited evil villains they became towards the end.

The Cybermen approach.

The Cybermen approach.

Effectively, this is a Cybermen “reboot”, with none of the continuity baggage attached. The Tardis finds itself in a parallel dimension, something that is now supposed to be “impossible” since the Time Lords all died, although to my recollection, it only happened once before, in Inferno. Regardless, it’s a Big Deal and it means the Cybermen story can start with a fresh new twist. We never saw the Mondas Cybermen actually change. The angle here is that the metal bodies are the ultimate upgrade, in a society obsessed with upgrading and having the latest gadgets (“earpods” is about as blunt a satire as you can get, but the point is made).

We know it's a parallel dimension because it has zeppelins. Seriously, is that a "thing"? Fringe did it too.

We know it’s a parallel dimension because it has zeppelins. Seriously, is that a “thing”? Fringe did it too.

The creator of the Cybermen, at least in this universe, is John Lumic, played by the late Roger Lloyd Pack. The character is very similar to Davros, tragic, disabled, trying to fix his broken body with technology in a world that isn’t ready for his genius. The story is, of course, overblown and ridiculous, with thousands of people killed or turned into machines around the country due to almost total coverage of Cybus Industries’ mind-controlling earpods (that passed safety inspections to get onto the market… how, exactly?). As it’s all happening in parallel Earth, I can sort of forgive it. At least it has no lasting repercussions for our Earth (… or does it?).

John Lumic, head of Cybus Industries, and creator of the Cybermen.

John Lumic, head of Cybus Industries, and creator of the Cybermen.

It’s clear that this is a Russell T. Davies era Cybermen story because it focuses so much more on the personal dramas of Rose and Mickey. This is not the 1980s anymore. This was a clever way to bring Rose’s dad back into the series, although the coincidences surrounding his involvement are a little contrived, but compared to the general contrivance of the Doctor always landing somewhere just as something bad is happening, it’s no big deal.

The gang plans its attack on the cyber base at Battersea power station.

The gang plans its attack on the cyber base at Battersea power station.

Mickey’s character is also put to good use for a change, by commenting on how little they need him. He’s treated very poorly throughout this series – the Doctor is far too focused on Rose. Mickey finds his true calling (and his gran) and stays behind with the scooby gang resistance group – well, the last surviving member, anyway – in lieu of his doppelganger copping it in part 2. The goodbyes are genuine and sweet, before the tone changes to a weirdly jovial one as they ride off to Paris in a van.

"Control, Alt, Delete!!" The Cybermen kill the president of alt-Britain for resisting.

“Control, Alt, Delete!!” The Cybermen kill the president of alt-Britain for resisting.

The cliffhanger ending is classic Doctor Who stuff. Sensibly, there is no “next week” preview to ruin the tension, but unfortunately the resolution is pure magic macguffin territory and deeply unsatisfying for it. Still, for the most part, the Cybermen are threatening villains, evoking Nazi-esque conformity or extermination of those unworthy. These aren’t the tottering silver simpletons of the previous eras; they’re battle-ready armoured death machines, clanking with every synchronised march of their feet. It isn’t superior firepower that beats them, but allowing them to experience the emotional trauma of what they’ve become. Basically, the power of love wins. How very modern.

The cyber transformations evoke the horror of mutilation without actually showing it. It's surprisingly effective.

The cyber transformations evoke the horror of mutilation without actually showing it. It’s surprisingly effective.

There was a kind of tragedy to the original Cybermen, that they’d willingly turned themselves into this, whittling away their emotions in pursuit of perfection. These versions don’t have that – they are tricked, controlled, forced to act against their human wishes, guided by a leader rather than a unified ideology. It doesn’t quite work so well, and gives them a weakness that the originals never had. Still, it’s strange to think how similar the two parallel Cyber-races are, given they popped into existence by totally different means and at different times with different technology, to the extent that the Doctor specifically “knows” them as Cybermen, rather than “generic robotic people”. Maybe that’s just how fate works or something.

Silver Nemesis

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.

One more time. The Cybermen's final appearance in shiny jump suits.

One more time. The Cybermen’s final appearance in shiny jump suits.

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.

The Doctor completes the living metal statue by giving it back its bow.

The Doctor completes the living metal statue by giving it back its bow.

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 wonder if the Tardis set was unavailable, because the usual machinations take place outdoors, using this upgraded tape deck.

I wonder if the Tardis set was unavailable, because the usual machinations take place outdoors, using this upgraded tape deck.

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.

They had to use a double for this sequence; the real corgis were busy.

They had to use a double for this sequence; the real corgis were busy.

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!

The hidden cyber fleet orbits the Earth.

The hidden cyber fleet orbits the Earth.

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.

Attack of the Cybermen

As a rule, I now expect the worst from a Cybermen story. Ever since Revenge of the Cybermen, they’ve been terrible villains. The voices, the design, their mannerisms, all were handled much better back in the black-and-white era (the last such appearance being The Invasion). Well, Attack of the Cybermen doesn’t depict them any better, but I was surprised at the attempts to bring back some of that old Cybermen magic by referencing their original story, amongst other things.

The Doctor and Peri search for the source of the distress signal.

The Doctor and Peri search for the source of the distress signal.

There aren’t many shows that run long enough to be able to revisit “future events” once that fictional date rolls around for real. I’d almost completely forgotten that The Tenth Planet was set in 1986, and so the Earth will very shortly experience the arrival of planet Mondas in the sky. This is what the future Cybermen are trying to prevent, having encountered a time machine of their own, by destroying the Earth before it destroys what was once their home. If nothing else, that’s a pretty cool concept.

The Cybermen only appear strong when they exert force on somebody. Here, Lytton's wrists are crushed and bleeding.

The Cybermen only appear strong when they exert force on somebody. Here, Lytton’s wrists are crushed and bleeding.

Elsewhere, this story seems intent on tickling the nostalgia glands with a few winks and nods. The Tardis lands in the original junkyard from An Unearthly Child (complete with I.M. Foreman signage), and the Doctor finally “fixes” his chameleon circuit, allowing the Tardis to change into different forms (although this fix does not seem to last long). I liked these references.

The Cryons remind me of the Sensorites. I think it’s the beard around the base of the mask, the bulbous head and the plain jumpsuit uniforms.

The Cryons remind me of the Sensorites. I think it’s the beard around the base of the mask, the bulbous head and the plain jumpsuit uniforms.

There is plenty I didn’t like, though. The blippy-bloppy electronic music is almost uniformly awful throughout. Lytton (who returns from Resurrection of the Daleks) is a decent enough character, but his gang of villains is annoying. Peri is reaching almost unwatchable levels of bad at the moment; her acting is awful, so forced and melodramatic. The Cryons are an interesting sort of race, but their costumes and masks are… not so good. Every time the Cybermen attack, I have to laugh at how rubbish they look, swinging their arms around, throwing the Doctor across the set unconvincingly. And just HOW did they get inside the Tardis? Did the Doctor just leave the door open? And the ending is rushed to the point where it stretches logic to quite some length.

I'm sorry, do you have an appointment?

I’m sorry, do you have an appointment?

On the other hand, I liked the crazy zombie Cybermen smashing through the windows and grabbing people. I liked how one of the them exploded after being shot through the mouth. I liked seeing the humans trapped in the machinery being converted into Cybermen (that’s a first, isn’t it?). I think this story is novel enough to earn a passing grade, despite its problems. And, actually, the Doctor himself has at least mellowed out a bit, and shows some redeeming characteristics towards the end. He’s a charmless, arrogant so-and-so the rest of the time, but hey, it’s a start!

The Five Doctors

Following on from the 20th season is this remarkable anniversary special, originally broadcast to celebrate the show’s 20th year on the air. To replicate the original experience, I would have preferred to have seen the originally broadcast version, but circumstances led me unwittingly to the special edition released much later, with some of the visual and audio effects updated, so I can only comment on this version.

The Doctors meet!

The Doctors meet!

Much like The Three Doctors, the story is little more than an excuse to get the previous incarnations of the Doctor together, plucked out of time and placed inside an elaborate ancient war game. It’s a shame that Tom Baker decided to opt out and that William Hartnell was no longer alive, as this special really ought to be called “The three and a Half Doctors (plus friends)”, but that’s not as catchy. Nevertheless, it’s a delight to see Patrick Troughton (does that man not age?!), and Jon Pertwee back again, while Richard Hurndall takes over as the first Doctor, and some previously unseen footage from Shada is used to explain the fourth Doctor’s absence. Clever!

Trapped within a maze of mirrors, the first Doctor and his granddaughter Susan are reunited. How's that non-existent pocket of 22nd century post Dalek-invaded Earth been keeping you, Sue?

Trapped within a maze of mirrors, the first Doctor and his granddaughter Susan are reunited. How’s that non-existent pocket of 22nd century post Dalek-invaded Earth been keeping you, Sue?

Despite the absentees, The Five Doctors is a glorious celebration of the show’s history, using every available cast member, reference and villain it can reasonably squeeze into its 100 minute runtime. I genuinely had no idea that a 20-year older Carole Ann Ford would return to play Susan, nor the cameos by Jamie, Zoe, Liz and Yates. And that’s on top of a bright yellow Bessie, Lethbridge-Stewart, The Master, Yetis, Cybermen and a Dalek all running around the battlefield (there’s even time to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!). It’s a smorgasbord of nostalgia, a who’s who of Who, and it’s quite amazing that it all works so well.

Turlough doesn't have much to do in this story, but Tegan accompanies the first Doctor into the tower, while Susan remains in the Tardis.

Turlough doesn’t have much to do in this story, but Tegan accompanies the first Doctor into the tower, while Susan remains in the Tardis.

Essentially, the story splits and jumps back and forth to follow each Doctor and a companion as they each take a different route up to the tower of Rassilon. This allows them some breathing space (as well as time to reminisce with old friends), but it does make the story a little scattershot, never settling in one place for very long, until a satisfying culmination towards the end. The lack of arbitrarily dramatic cliffhangers is a blessing; this is just one epic feature without cuts.

Sarah Jane is still Sarah Jane, panicked and often hyperventilating. The third Doctor is still the third Doctor, determined and confident. I swear he cops a feel of her boob at one point.

Sarah Jane is still Sarah Jane, panicked and often hyperventilating. The third Doctor is still the third Doctor, determined and confident. I swear he cops a feel of her boob at one point.

The fifth Doctor is the anchoring point, but he spends much of the story on Gallifrey, outside of the Death Zone, where he uncovers the President’s secret plans for immortality. Yes, sadly, there is corruption on Gallifrey yet again. This is becoming an embarrassing cliché and I can’t blame the Doctor for not wanting to stick around as President. He does get a brief moment to meet his past selves, which is nicely done. You can get a good sense of how the different versions of the Doctor vary. Davison is definitely the least eccentric of the bunch, a normal and level-headed type by comparison. Pertwee and Troughton play their roles much as they ever did, despite the years in between, and Richard Hurndall does a reasonable job of approximating some of Hartnell’s performance, although it would have been more authentic if he’d fluffed his lines a few times and ended all his sentences with “hmm?”.

Lord President Borusa gets more than he bargained for when Rassilon grants him immortality.

Lord President Borusa gets more than he bargained for when Rassilon grants him immortality.

The Five Doctors is hardly a masterpiece of imagination, then, but it’s nevertheless well made and a lovely tribute to the history of the show. The sort of silly-but-fun “why the hell not” exercise I can easily get behind. As it’s a one-off special, the budget would appear to have allowed for better production and visuals. One scene in particular is genuinely great, as a robot ninja busts up a legion of cybermen, teleporting around and lobbing arrows at them, causing them to explode and fall to pieces, arms and heads everywhere. Earlier, a rogue Dalek shoots itself in a hall of mirrors and within its exploded remains is its rarely-sighted grotesque embryo. Marvelous!

Total carnage.  I bet Hideo Kojima was a fan

Total carnage. I bet Hideo Kojima was a fan.

Sometimes logic has to fly out of the window, though. For instance, the second Doctor tricks the illusion of Jamie and Zoe by recalling that they shouldn’t know who he is, since their memories were wiped when they were returned to their time zones. But by the same reasoning, how would the Doctor have remembered that, as it happened almost immediately prior to his regeneration and exile on Earth. He would have had to have been pulled from the past moments before this, but there’s no indication this is the case when he turns up to visit the Brigadier. Similarly, why exactly is K-9 with Sarah Jane? Mk.I was left on Gallifrey with Leela and Mk.II was left with Romana (in a black-and-white photograph). I suppose it doesn’t matter, really; some questions are best left unanswered for the sake of a bit of fun, and this was a lot of fun. Job done.