Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Tomb Of The Cybermen"

Written by Kit Pedler And Gerry Davis
Directed by Morris Barry

The Doctor: “I use my own special technique.”
Klieg: “Oh really, Doctor. And may we know what that is?”
The Doctor: “Keeping my eyes open, and my mouth shut.”

Yeah, right. If there’s one thing about The Doctor that’s true that what he might lack in violence is more than made up in his ability to chatter for 27 planets. I’m surprised we haven’t encountered an episode where he talks the bad guys into submission but as Second Doctor tales go, I like this one a lot.

Because I haven’t seen the previous serial, I’m in the position of having to get use to Victoria becoming a travelling companion with The Doctor and Jamie. Her disbelief about the TARDIS’ abilities to fly and travel through time are funny but if she thought she was misfortunate enough to encounter Daleks, then her luck takes a further bad turn with the Cybermen.

The episode is called “The Tomb Of The Cybermen” and an expedition on Telos soon encounter a set of metal with Cybermen drawn on them. The episode in that sense isn’t playing subtle but it’s the expedition people and the TARDIS crew are drawn together to help each other.

Naturally because The Doctor appeared out of nowhere, the expedition mistrust him but thankfully it’s not something that’s too dwelled on when they manage to get inside one of the biggest tombs. Perhaps playing to the traditional association with many companions, Victoria isn’t exactly rearing to go inside the dangerous tombs.

Logically you can’t blame her but it’s a bit annoying. Thankfully this serial does give her some good material as well to work with. For instance, The Doctor takes a rather instant mistrust to Kaftan and instructs Victoria to watch her. Kaftan proves her untrustworthiness when she drugs the poor girl.

Of course the attack of a Cybermat and a good scream soon gives Victoria an upper hand of sorts. It also helps that Jim and Hopper are around too. One of the interesting things in this episode was Victoria anxiously trying to counter Hopper’s mild sexism at every turn. Not that you can blame because it did lead to some funny moments in the serial.

However one of the best things about the entire story was Victoria’s scenes with The Doctor. Disbelief over the TARDIS’ abilities is one thing but Victoria getting some insight about The Doctor’s age and his family life was another. Its little scenes like this that remind you just how the domestics could come into play.

There’s also a good moment where Victoria discusses her family. After all, her father was murdered by Daleks and she clearly hasn’t forgotten about that. The Doctor telling that in time she’ll put it to the back of her mind does make sense though. Plus there’s plenty of actual danger to keep her focus in this episode.

The biggest danger being the treachery of Kaftan and Klieg, who very early in the story had planned to separate The Doctor, Victoria and Jamie. It was even Kaftan who locked everyone down the hatch and Klieg who stupidly enough woke the Cybermen from their very long slumber.

These two aren’t exactly the most stunning of villains and their stupidity regarding the Cybermen is extraordinary. If this lot had done their research, they would’ve realised that the Cybermen couldn’t be trusted and also do not take orders. The fact that Cybermats were sent around should’ve also emphasised that point.

Instead Klieg still tries to reason with them. The first he does this, he nearly ends up being under their control and despite being rescued by The Doctor and company, the treacherous buffoon refuses to see to reason. Some people just can’t be told, huh?

For a bit, Klieg does have the advantage of using a Cybergun to get the Cyberleader to obey him but having Kaftan’s servant Toberman under their control soon breaks that. Surprisingly while Kaftan is killed in such a violent manner, it takes way too long for Klieg to meet his sticky.

We even have to tolerate a scene where he incessantly goes on about being a supreme ruler and while it does get The Doctor to realise he’s unhinged, it’s a bit long in the tooth for my liking. At least one of the Cybermen actually does us the courtesy of killing him while Toberman snaps out of it to help the expedition and the TARDIS crew escape.

As Cybermen stories go, this one is suitably chilling with some nice jumpy moments even if the controller does sound a little Disco Stu at times. The ending is surprisingly bleak as well and there’s something very pointed about The Doctor not wishing to predict whether or not the Cybermen are actually dead. That’s very wise, given that along with the Daleks, this lot are never dead for very long.

Also in “The Tomb Of The Cybermen”

I loved the direct continuity to the last serial because it’s not something we always get during this time in the old series.

The Doctor (to Victoria): “Well, if we count in Earth terms I suppose I must be about
400... yes, about 450 years old! Yes. Well. Quite.”

Is this first time in the old series that The Doctor has referenced his age? How old would he be in Gallifrey terms?

The Doctor: “You look very nice in that dress, Victoria.”
Victoria: “Thank you. You don't think it's a bit, uh-”
The Doctor: “A bit short? Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. Look at Jamie's.”
Jamie: “What? Oh, aye!”

Kaftan: “We better stick close together.”
Victoria: “I’m alright thank you.”

Anyone else think that Kaftan looked quite a lot like Barbara because I did for at least the first episode of this story?

Victoria: “I didn’t like that very much, Doctor.”
The Doctor: “I don’t expect you did. Perhaps it’ll teach you to be a bit more careful in future.”

Cybercontroller (to everyone): “You belong to us. You shall be like us.”

This is the only serial featuring Deborah Watling, to exist completely. Maybe one day, the rest of them will be found.

The Doctor: “The power cable generated an electrical field and confused their tiny metal minds. You might almost say they've had a complete 'metal' breakdown.”
Jamie: “Oooh!”
The Doctor: “I'm so sorry, Jamie.”

Victoria: “You probably can't remember your family.”
The Doctor: “Oh yes, I can, when I want to, and that's the point really. I have to really want to - to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they sleep in my mind, and I forget. And so will you. Oh yes, you will. You'll find there's so much else to think about, to remember. Our lives are different to anybody else's. That's the exciting thing! Nobody in the universe can do what we're doing.”

This story had the working titles of “The Ice Tombs of Telos” and “The Cybermen Planet”.

The Doctor: “Jamie, I hope you made those ropes secure.”
Jamie: “Oh, the king of the beasties himself could nae get out of that one.”
The Doctor: “Jamie, remind me to give you a lesson in tying knots sometime.”

This was released on DVD back in 2002 and features a commentary from Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling.

“The Tomb Of The Cybermen” is a success in bringing back the devious race from Mondas and definitely one of the most enjoyable romps. The ending is different from other serials as well, giving it a bit more bite too.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

No comments: