Published on May 22nd, 2006 | by Brian A Terranova
The Age of Steel Reviewed
Graeme Harper’s direction really was very stunning to see, it really shows what one can do when they are not on the BBC’s old time restraint. I’m not sure if it was Mr. Harper’s idea or not but I approve of the recap only being set before the titles, rather than a bit of new story as well, I hope all the two-parters get this sort of treatment.
Now then, as good as the story was I do have to admit that some of it was predictable, from the Doctor saving them all from death with the TARDIS power cell to Pete Tyler being the Preacher’s insider, “Gemini”. But this did not stop my enjoyment for one second, instead it somehow made it that much more enjoyable to see how they made my theories come true.
Another signposted thing was Mickey staying behind to take care of his Gran, which would have been less predictable if the internet was not here to leak information about actors leaving the show. But if the Cybermen can return later in the series, then so can Mickey.
Still let me be the first to say that I will miss Mickey very much, I think the treatment of the character as part of the TARDIS crew was very poor and I feel he should have had a longer stay as a fully functional member of the team. The Girl In the Fireplace showed us that Mickey was more than an idiot but the very next story we see that he is just a third wheel and the treatment he receives from the Doctor and Rose seems very much out of character for both of them.
Back to the Cybermen for a moment and the near perfect portrayal of the character, gone are the 1970′s and 80′s megalomaniacs, and hello to the return of the emotionless forceful recruiters. It will be nice to see them again later on when they are not holding on to Lumic’s hand for their orders.
I did enjoy the cause for Lumic’s conversion it was an interesting turn to have the creator not want to be the “perfect” creation until it was absolutely the last choice. But in the end he had no choice and as a result we got to see one of the best Cybercontroller designs since “Tomb of the Cybermen”.
For all of the predictable aspects of this story I have to admit that I did not see the conversion of Jackie Tyler, I just assumed that she would survive. Sadly though her conversion was not the emotional moment it could have been, Peter and Rose felt the effects well enough, but this story got it’s inspiration from the Big Finish play Spare Parts where a similar scene played out much more effectually and much more of a tear jerker. It also seems that the scene was split between the Doctor and Mrs. Moore finding the “Bride to be”-Cyberman and Pete and Rose finding the Jackie-Cyberman. Were we were supposed to feel sorry for a bride we had never met? At least in Spare Parts you got to know the character very well before their fate. This would have worked better if they merged the two scenes together and used Jackie for both.
Another slightly missed opportunity would have to be the Cyber conversion, in the 1980′s we saw this in action in Attack of the Cybermen. It wasn’t impressive then and it isn’t now. I’m sorry but watching a CGI robotic arm slash at the screen did not do very much to scare me and I would have loved to have seen some bodies being changed or augmented, maybe even human in different stages of cyber conversation.
Never-the-less a very impressive and energetic story, something that the Cybermen have not had since the late sixties. Their return to our screen was every bit as triumphant as the Dalek’s return last year.
In my opinion setting the story in an alternate reality can only enhance the enjoyment as the possibilities are limitless, and much like it’s other-world predecessor Inferno it leaves you wanting more.