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Published on May 26th, 2006 | by Thomas Spychalski

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The Age of Steel Review #2

Throughout the years Doctor Who has had the distinction of bringing us on a wide verity of adventures. We’ve seen comedy, even slapstick humor, and even various send ups of the show itself. This week we were exposed to the show bringing out an old and familiar psychological terror that lies somewhat in us all.

The Age of Steel was the best episode so far of series two, and shows what good scripting and great actors can do for the series.

The script was especially poignant, drawing on our technological desires and exposing our underlying fears as a species about how far and how smart our ever growing dependence on machines and technology really is. It gives the show a chance to dip into an ethics play, and also draws on the same terror of uniformity that the Daleks are capable of.

The acting too, was geared just right for my tastes. David Tennent’s confrontation scene with Lumic as the Cyber-Controller was brilliant and as he settles in, he makes a case for being the most humorously eccentric Doctor since Tom Baker – he’s like Tom, but with more heart to go with the detached alien behavior. Noel Clarke did a brilliant job in both installments, bringing the alter Mickey to life and having a great scene near the end where he stops being the “tin dog” and starts to grow rapidly away from the character we’ve know since series one last year. My only gripe is that as soon as Mickey’s more than just comedy relief, he is sent packing.

On the Cyber front, not only do they look better then they ever have, they’re also back to doing what they do best; converting people into becoming just as they are now. Lumic was still a kind of backwards Davros, but once he was the Cybercontroller, he was scary and convincing in pleading the cause to eliminate pain and emotion.

The scene that also made the episode great was the scene where the Cybermans emotional inhibitor is broken and it becomes aware. I sadly admit that The Girl in the Fireplace just almost made me sad at the end, but that scene was a real dramatic moment. It was frightening and added to the scene of danger the Cybermen presented, and it also showed the Doctor questioning his right to turn off the inhibitor chip of the converted people – underlying that key facet of the Doctor’s character in yet another incarnation – morality.

The departure scenes were also nice, giving Mickey’s staying on the parallel Earth real closure to the relationships he’s had with the Doctor and Rose. Peter Tyler’s reaction to Rose being his daughter in another dimension was also nice, a lighter version of some of the darker dramatic elements used in Series One.

This was the best so far for me from the second series. It shows what can be done with a little more time for the show to build to an exciting conclusion, and even though I’m biased by being a fan of anything Cybermen, I think this is the episode that will stand out among the entire thirteen episodes, and for more than just returning a classic monster from the past. In short, more like this please.

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About the Author

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Tom has been a Doctor Who fan since the early eighties and has developed a deep love and admiration for the show and its universe in that time.




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