Monday, 5 August 2013

Revenge of the Cybermen

We're back and we have accents!
The Cybermen are now back! It was a bit of a safety call by outgoing producer Barry Letts to include the Daleks and the Cybermen in this first season of a new Doctor, not being sure how Tom Baker would be received. Clearly, there was nothing to worry about on that account though – Tom Baker was instantly ‘THE Doctor’ for so many fans, but it didn’t mean the Daleks and Cybermen wouldn’t be a success in their own right. This had been my favourite Cybermen story thus far for so many reasons.
Robbie as the Cyber-Leader

David Collings as Vorus.
It really is a lot of fun, and that’s the biggest one. Gerry Davis, after many years absence, was called to write the four-part tale, a big departure from previous stories. The Cyber-Leader, Christopher Robbie, is very different from previous leaders/controllers, such as in ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’. He receives a bit of flak as being somewhat camp curiously with an American accent, and the dialogue is a lot more coloured and emotional than previous Cybermen dialogue, but that didn’t detract from the story for this viewer, in fact it made it all the more amusing. Tom Baker bounces very well off the Cyber-Leader too, with lines like ‘How nice, a Cybermen with a touch of irony. I thought for a moment he was going to cry.’ The fact that the Cyberleader needs to rest with hand on hips is also curious. I know this annoys some fans, but I rather liked it.
They reused Nerva beacon, from ‘The Ark in Space’ too, which was just clever really, limiting the number of new sets needed. The location work took place in Wookie Hole, a cave system in England perfect for this story. It doubled as the planet Voga, the planet of gold. Producer Philip Hinchcliff bemoaned the use of gold as a weapon against the Cybermen, as it had already been ‘done’ (on the DVD). Interesting call, because it’s the first time gold is mentioned as a weapon against the Cybermen.
Vorus talks to Tyrum (Kevin Stoney)
It's Commander Radnor! No, wait, Steven!
Great use of the location, and wonderful moments throughout the story that are slightly comedic, offset the sadness of a people forced to live underground to save themselves from the threat of the Cybermen. The Vogans themselves are done reasonably well considering the limited budget, at the lest the main talking Vogans are with decent masks and an interesting design. Michael Wisher appears as one, fresh after his most famous mask in the previous story (Davros). He plays Magrik, second to Vorus, Leader of the Guardians, played by the wonderful David Collings. Add to that Kevin Stoney as Tyrum, the leader of the Voguns, and already we have a wonderful cast with Doctor Who experience (although this is Collings first foray into Doctor Who). Kevin Stoney gets to both be on the side of good and survive a whole story this time, which was nice for him after playing Mavic Chen and Tobias Vaughn in previous black and white adventures.
Also returning to the ‘Who-fold’ we have Ronald Leigh-Hunt who played Commander Radnor in ‘The Seeds of Death’ and William Marlowe, who was Mailer in ‘The Mind of Evil’. They represent authority on the beacon as Commander Steven and Lester respectively. It’s a Who-reunion! Supplemented by Jeremy Wilkin as the double-double crossing Kellman, who has a video device in a hair brush and does curious things like electrify his sleeping quarters!

Harry Sullivan is an imbecile! (classic moment!)
The regulars are superb, but special kudos to Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan. His heart’s in the right place as he tries to disconnect the bomb strapped around the Doctor, but of course that would have set the thing off. As Tom Baker remarks afterwards ‘Harry Sullivan is an imbecile!’ Wonderful moment in the story.
The final episode is very fast paced, as the beacon heads towards Voga with a cargo of Cyber-bombs, and the rocket heads from Voga to beacon as the Doctor and Sarah desperately try to right everything. Wonderful moments between Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen in part four, it’s just a shame the ending was so rushed. Harry reappears, we see a lot of tape inside the TARDIS (a blemish on behalf of the director, Michael Briant, who otherwise does a great job as always), and they bugger off. Like that, the 12th season of Doctor Who is done and dusted.  ‘Terror of the Zygons’ was filmed for this season, but instead held over to kick off the next. I presumed that ‘Robot’ was filmed at the end of the Pertwee’s final season, but it seems it wasn’t. (“The Time Warrior” was shot directly after ‘The Green Death’, and held over, it was normal policy). I can only figure the changeover of lead actor had something to do with it, which is why season 12 was abnormally short.
On the way to Voga and the biggest explosion in history!
Nevertheless, it was a somewhat different, experimental season with the return of three old foes, and highly successful, and ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ is in fact my favourite of the season.


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