Monday, July 6, 2009

MM2 - The Tomb of the Cybermen 2

The sets in The Tomb of the Cybermen are devastatingly impressive, especially the main control room where much of the action takes place, but also, as we see for the first time in Episode Two, the tombs themselves. Such a large scale has only been briefly hinted at prior to this in Doctor Who, if at all. Peter Bryant was in the producer's chair for this story as a sort of a test to see if he could handle the job once Innes Lloyd moved on from the post. Whether or not his willingness to impress his BBC bosses made him and his supportive team go that extra mile in this isn't clear, but one thing sure is - this story looks fantastic.

There's the most overt moment of The Doctor's meddling in the human's affairs when he very slyly operates a switch that Klieg misses in his logical sequence to try and open the door to the tomb. The camera zooms right in on Troughton's hand when this sequence occurs, but a much more subtle bit direction happens when Toberman sneaks out to, as we later find out, sabotage the rocket ship, thus stranding the humans on Telos for the time being. Toberman walks quietly out of one room, behind the action; the camera never focuses on him. In the next shot, while the main conversation in the room is going on, he quietly slips out the main door, in the background, barely noticed by the viewer or anyone else in the room. And it works splendidly. If we knew what he was up to, it may have made sense to focus on him more. But his motives, and thus, the focus on him, are vague at this stage.

Unfortunately, though, we are given a couple of reminders that although this story is set in the 25th century, its ideals and morals belong back in 1967. The two women, Kaftan and Victoria, are made to stay behind at every occasion, and Toberman is merely a dumb, strong, black slave to Kaftan. If he didn't speak at all, it might have been made more believable (although that would have made for two stories in a row featuring giant, silent, strongmen). In this story, though, you'd almost expect Toberman to utter "Yes, Massa" at every given opportunity. The women's and civil rights agendas still had a long way to go in Doctor Who at this time...

The most impressive sequence in this episode is, of course, the Cybermen emerging from their tombs. It began the long tradition of Cybermen breaking through thin plastic film, for one, but there is nothing quite as creepy as a Cyberman advancing slowly upon you. When they, and their Cyber Controller, finally emerge, they are huge. They all tower over the humans. As if their look and their height wasn't enough, then comes the words, spoken in that classic 1960's Cyber-voice : "You belong to uzzz. You will become like uzzz."

Punch the bloody air...!


Anonymous said...

I have to admit, my favorite Cyber voice is the one from the "The 10th Planet," also used in "Spare Parts." The 80's era Cyber voice is easiest to understand, perhaps, but I love, love, love sing-songy voice. This one...not so much.

The depiction of Toberman is night unto outright racist--it goes beyond cringeworthy to almost vomitous.

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