Thursday, March 18, 2010

6T2 - Attack of the Cybermen 2

All of the problems with Attack of the Cybermen culminate in dreadful and worrying Episode Two. First off, the Cryons, who introduced no less than three times in this episode with increasingly bad results. This gist of the situation: the Cryons used to be the native population on Telos until the Cybermen took over. So why do we have to suffer through endless, creepy finger having scenes that try and bludgeon pity for the Cryons into the various characters that meet up with them? The Cryons also look and sound ludicrous, and are the second story in a row to feature drastically near sighted aliens, given the googly eyes that every Cryon has.

The scene where two Cybermen crush Lytton's hands into bloody stumps is needlessly graphic, horrific, and sadistic. Season 22 has already felt like a much grittier and rougher series of outings for Doctor Who, but this scene crossed the line of common decency. Previous examples of blood being spilled in Doctor Who have at least been easier to miss. Even Condo's guts exploding in The Brain of Morbius was limited to a very quick flash on camera. Here, the camera focuses on Lytton's growing discomfort, then his terrible scream, intercut with shots of supposedly emotionless Cybermen looking on. Such emotionless creatures wouldn't be this sadistic, and nothing was gained from this torture. Two Cybermen pick Lytton up and carry him off, and the next time we see him, he's half machine, connected up to the wall and being turned into a Cyberman.

This story was written by Eric Saward (behind the shadow of Paula Woolsey aka Paula Moore), but unofficial continuity adviser Ian Levine's input was quite easy to spot. This story explicitly references, and bases its entire story on, three previous Cybermen stories - The Tenth Planet, The Tomb of the Cybermen, and The Invasion. All these stories were not only over 15 years old at the time, but none of them were even complete in the archives in 1985 to be viewed again by the general public, nor had they ever been repeated in the short time between their original airing and when the original master tapes were wiped. Only a few, rare individuals like Ian Levine would be old enough to not only be around for the original broadcast of these stories in the 1960s, but also enough of a fan of the show at the time to remember what happened.

The links and references to the past don't end there, though, as the worst, and most superfluous, link to the past is having a clearly plump Michael Kilgarriff reprise his role as the Cyber Controller. Kilgarriff provided the height and the robotic movement to the original Controller in Tomb, but not the voice. How much nostalgia can possibly be gained by having Kilgarriff inhabit the costume again, this time speaking the lines? Kilgarriff's herky jerky robotic movements are also at odds with the more fluid nature of movement preferred by the Cybermen of the day.

The result is an overindulgent mess that looks great in some respects and rushed and amateurish in others. A story made for fans by a fan, and, by gaining almost nine million viewers during its original broadcast, Doctor Who's last flirtation with ratings success for a good few years to come.


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