Saturday, 5 October 2013

Attack of the Cybermen

Maurice Colbourne and Terry Molloy plan a robbery.
‘Attack of the Cybermen’ should have been the story to give Colin Baker a foot in as the Doctor. A cracking story to start season 22 and ‘The Twin Dilemma’ could be forgotten or forgiven. Does ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ achieve that? Not quite. But it’s a decent story.
The Cybermen are back to start the season off with a bang! We have 45 minute episodes now instead of 25 minutes, which I particularly liked. The episode is exciting, directed by Matthew Robinson who also directed ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’, this is obviously the type of story he was suited to and it’s a pity he didn’t direct further for ‘Who’.
Nicola Bryant as Peri - pretty in pink?
However, the story suffers from relying so much on the past of the show, involving lengthy explanations and a plot that unfortunately is extremely convoluted and pretty much doesn’t make sense. The Cybermen have a time machine which they stole, and have gone to Telos to destroy the planet. I think. Meanwhile some sort of force is living in the sewers in 1985 a year before Mondas approaches Earth, resulting in Mondas’s destruction. Remember that Mondas is the Cybermen’s home planet. Now Cybermen history is quite convoluted. Does ‘The Invasion’
Lytton and Griffiths come face to face with the Cyberleader.
predate ‘The Tenth Planet’? In theory it does, probably set in the late 70s. ‘The Tenth Planet’ is 1986. So are these Cybermen on Earth in 1985 left over from ‘The Invasion’. They use the Doctor’s TARDIS to return to Telos. What year is that? Is that in the future or Earth year 1985? Must be the future because Mondas still exists and the Cybermen didn’t need a new planet before it was destroyed. Right?
Cybermen aboard the TARDIS!
Okay, so then what are the Cybermen up to back in time in the London sewers? That’s not explained. Lytton is the one who draws the Doctor to 1985 with his distress beacon. But somehow he has been contacted, on Earth, by the Cryons (native inhabitants of Telos) to come and save them from the Cybermen by stealing their time machine. To be honest, I don’t think there’s a way of thinking about it that works. To enjoy this story, and it is quite enjoyable, you need to just give up on trying to join all the dots and make the chronology make sense.
The rather 'plump' Cybercontroller.
Lytton, as mentioned, is back, also from ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’, also a Saward script. Maurice Colbourne gets a more substantial role in ‘Attack’ and becomes an interesting character. Colin Baker still is very shouty at Peri at the start, and much of the first episode is wasted on repairing the chameleon circuit, which does provide a fair bit of comedy  throughout the story but is hard to see as much more than time wasting. Nicola Bryant’s Peri gets a decent run and her accent has improved, and the guest cast includes Terry Molloy (who played Davros in ‘Resurrection’) as well as Brian Glover as Griffiths, who does a great job.
Lytton and Griffiths embark on a mission.
The sets are pretty good, the Telos stuff (exterior) is done really well. The film is treated to make it look as cold as ice and another great move from the director. I don’t mind the Cryons – a lot of races appear to be male only, so to have one female only makes a nice change. No, I don’t know how the species propagates. I can understand why people don’t like them so much, but I thought the contrast with the Cybermen was a good move on behalf of the director.
The Cybermen design is much the same as ‘Earthshock’, however their boots are lace-boots and that quite
Peri meets the Cyrons
frankly spoils the illusion. Why they needed Michael Kilgariff back for the Cyber-Controller (he was in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’) I don’t know. No offence, his acting is fine but age has not been kind to him, reprising a role from 1967. In particular, he has put on a fair bit in the girth department.
The pacing is poor. Perhaps my biggest issue along with the plot convolutions. As nice and moody as episode one is, there is a fair bit of time wasted trying to link Earth with Telos. The Doctor and Peri phaff about for a good long time, and the result is the last 20 minutes is incredibly rushed, especially the
Flast (Faith Brown)
ending. Colin Baker does a great job in the second episode, growing into his Doctor, softening a little (just not towards Peri).
What the story lacks in plot, it makes up in action and excitement. It’s not a bad story by any means. Sometimes, though, I find it much easier to point out the faults than what’s good. We live in a cynical age.


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