Episode 37: The Tomb of the Cybermen

Tomb of the Cybermen

Episode 37: The Tomb of the Cybermen
Second Doctor
Companions: Jamie, Victoria
Written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
Directed by Morris Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Description
Hidden beneath a mountain, Cybermen rest and await the time in which they awake.

Evaluation
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.

deborah-watling-patrick-troughton-doctor-who-tomb-of-cybermen

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….

Jamie and Doctor

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!

Cybermats

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.

Historical Mentions
This was the first time a Cybermat and the Cyber Controller was featured in a story.

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Episode 29: The Tenth Planet

Tenth Planet

Episode 29: The Tenth Planet
First Doctor
Companions: Polly, Ben
Written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
Directed by Julia Smith
Wikipedia Entry

Description
At the edge of the world, the Doctor discovers there’s another planet in our solar system and it contains a threat that could wipe out humanity.

Evaluation
Well, it took about two years after my initial plan but here we are: the last William Hartnell/First Doctor episode. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve loved watching these First Doctor episodes and I’m sad to see them finished but I’m also looking forward to the Patrick Troughton episodes. The Steven episodes prepared me for this moment as I’ve been eager for something new for quite some time. I’m just sad that I won’t have a larger amount of time with Polly and Ben with the First Doctor. I really enjoyed their interactions.

Besides being the final William Hartnell episode, this was the first introduction to the Cybermen. Their backstory is that they were originally humans on a twin planet called Mondas. In order to survive, these humans began to add cybernetics to their bodies, slowly destroying their humanity by eliminating their emotions and empathy. In Modern Who, their backstory comes from a parallel universe instead.

These original Cybermen have a complex costume, with wires and tubes attached to the front of their bodies. I found them to be gruesome and frightening as it is obvious that these are creatures willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Should one compare the costumes from the original design to the upgrade in Modern Who?  I don’t believe so as they are both a product of their time. Both are creatures to be feared as they are both powerful with their single-mindedness to control the world and eliminate weakness.

Having been a fan of the Cybermen since I’ve watched them on Modern Who, I was excited to see their first appearance. The Tenth Planet did not disappoint and I was on edge after the first installment. The suspense that was created with the first appearance of the Cyberman lingered throughout and was handled quite well by the actors and the special effects team. The final installment is missing and was recreated through animation with the remaining audio soundtrack. Kudus to the animation team that created and maintained great suspense throughout the presentation. The entire episode was well-done even with the lack of William Hartnell as he was ill in the second and third installments. Michael Craze, who played Ben, took many of the lines intended for the Doctor, with the scientific lines given to the character called Barclay, who was the Chief Scientist in the episode.

I will miss the First Doctor but it’s time to move on. I am grateful for what Hartnell created and it is because of his legacy in those first seasons that we have Doctor Who still today.

Historical Mentions
This was the last episode of the First Doctor and the first time that a regeneration was shown.