Episode 37: The Tomb of the Cybermen
Companions: Jamie, Victoria
Written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
Directed by Morris Barry
Hidden beneath a mountain, Cybermen rest and await the time in which they awake.
When I finally went to watch this episode I made a horrifying discovery: my disc wouldn’t work. No matter what I did, nothing worked. And because I was dealing with an equally horrifyingly busy work schedule I didn’t have the opportunity to find another copy or try to fix the disc. Hence the three month lag. Luckily, I discovered BritBox which is a steaming services that is currently hosting the classic Doctor Who titles. It’s frustrating still because I do enjoy watching the special features and the streaming service does not offer this tidbits. Hopefully the rest of the discs that I own still work.
Before we begin, let me say this: I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this, and I’m completely certain that I will mention this again, but I love the Cybermen. I love them more that the Daleks. The Cybermen are tangible in that they can be formed just as easily in our own world than in the imagination of science fiction. We can remove our emotions and become mechanical if needed to simply survive. The Daleks are just as scary due to their desire to be all powerful beings, creating the master race. But we can fight the notion of the Daleks; separating our emotions is what creates monsters that are not easily defeated. I will always be excited for Cybermen stories and they generally have been my favorite episodes.
And with that let’s plunge into the story.
We begin with Victoria being introduced to the TARDIS, having tagged along after the destruction of her previous life in The Evil of the Daleks. I was initial concerned about Victoria. Would she be a damsel in distress? As she had a Victorian background would she up to the challenge of having adventures through time and space? As I only had the audio edition with her first adventure, I was unsure of what her physical presence would entail. My fears were unfounded. Her character was fantastic and she was a lot of fun to watch. Victoria’s relationship with the Doctor was playful. She has enough confidence to question his actions but understood enough of his past behavior to trust his thinking. Their interactions were just the lighthearted moments needed between the episodes’ action scenes. She pairs well with Jamie, who continues to be a delight with this Doctor, and I’m happy to have a functioning companion group once again.
As Victoria is finding her footing in this new adventure, the TARDIS lands on a planet called Telos. There’s a sequence before it lands in which we observe an archeological team exploring the planet, looking for an entrance in a mountain. They have just discovered this lost entry way, losing a team member in the process, when the Doctor and his companions arrive and begin to look around. As they enter the mountain, the Doctor is horrified to discover the truth of what the team seeks far down in the ground.
The archeological team is clearly in different sub-teams; one is focused on the archeological aspect of the adventure, the other is focused on personal reasons, quite possibly evil. As they enter the mountain, tensions are rising as each fraction’s focus begins to clash with each other. Of course, everything will be alright in the end and there will be no drama….
Small note: I have worked in some form of customer services for many years and the thing that will remain consistent in any form of customer service is that humans like to touch things. There’s always a part of me that wonders if our human curiosity can be controlled for a moment to assess a situation before we dive into adventure. But NOPE! Let’s push all the buttons on this Cyberman control panel! Nothing bad can happen if we PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS!
Okay, so great drama is created and I am treated to suspenseful cliffhangers. Each installment of this episode is wonderful. I felt engaged with the story and I was curious as to how the next installment would play out. The only issue that I had with the episode, and it’s a big one, was with the character Toberman. I was uncomfortable with the way that the only black character on screen was created to be a servant and was later sacrificed to save the team. Originally the character was to have been deaf, with his hearing aid being a means of connecting his character to the Cybermen. Hearing devices, or bluetooth ear pieces, and the Cybermen would come into play during the Tenth Doctor’s second series. It would have been interesting to see how that idea would have played out in this episode.
So far, except for my issues with Toberman’s character, this is my favorite Second Doctor episode. The suspense was fantastic and the characters were a lot of fun to watch. The threat of the Cybermen felt genuine and each episode ended with a great cliffhanger, even the last episode.
This was the first time a Cybermat and the Cyber Controller was featured in a story.