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Published on July 31st, 2010 | by Craig Murray

Attack of the Cybermen

It was imperative therefore that season 22 began with a big bang – or at least a big bang plot – and the Attack of the Cybermen was exactly what the Doctor ordered (sorry about that). Additionally, there was a change in format to the 45 minute slot we are so familiar with today and the return to the Saturday night schedule where the show belongs – quite who wrote the tale is a matter of some debate. Credited to Paula Moore, it was in fact penned by Eric Saward who was unable to commission himself, hence the credit transferring to his friend.

The action begins as Maurice Colbourne, reprising the role of Commander Lytton (last seen in Saward’s Resurrection of the Daleks), is orchestrating a diamond heist in London’s Fleet Street; however we soon find his motives are not all they seem, as he triggers a distress signal luring the Doctor to the wonderfully familiar and nostalgic surroundings of Totters Lane. This echo of the past, in addition to previous character references (Tegan/Zodin etc), can be easily dismissed as a cynical attempt to win favour with fans still reeling from the Time Lord’s last outing – but on some level, it seems to work. We also finally get a demonstration of the Chameleon circuit, earning further brownie points:

“The TARDIS, when working properly, is capable of many amazing things. Not unlike myself.”

…Quips the Doctor.

Doctor Who - Attack of the Cybermen

Lytton and unwilling companion Griffiths, soon hand themselves over to the Cybermen in the sewers beneath the City – while elsewhere in London’s depths, the Doctor encounters Russell – an undercover policemen monitoring Lytton’s activities (played by Terry Molloy – who doesn’t possess nearly the same threat without a latex mask and electric chair). Sadly, this altercation is about as distracting as a Time Lord in a multi coloured overcoat. Personally I’ve chosen to put it down to artistic license, as the two never actually meet on screen during Resurrection of the Daleks, so the Doctor’s accurate description left me puzzled at first; let’s dismiss this as an unseen encounter.

Elsewhere, on the Cybermens adopted home world of Telos, two men escape from a working party and across the barren landscape towards Cyber Control – luring a Cyberman and removing its head to use to disguise their assault, in the first of many dramatic and violent encounters; while back on Earth, we witness another out of character action from our beloved Time Lord, as he thrusts a sonic lance into the chest unit of a patrolling Cyberman. In truth, it probably wasn’t the action that struck me, as much as the wild look in his eyes once he had committed the deed. His facial expression is almost as disturbing as his comment to Peri just beforehand; “Wait, watch and learn.” he orders, as if revelling in the action he is about to undertake.

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3 Responses to Attack of the Cybermen

  1. avatar Carn says:

    the violence never bothered me as a kid, still doesn’t. maybe i was used to it having seen films like robocop, terminator, american werewolf in london and alien(s) before i was 10.

  2. avatar Rick714 says:

    The Brits always seemed to get hung up on the rainbow coat and had a lot of trouble seeing past it. Yes, it was a tasteless, awful coat and JNT had the absolute worst taste in costuming. No doubt about it. That being said, Colin’s first full season, #22, was a great season, no more violent than Baker/Hinchcliffe/Holmes years. Great villains like Sil and the Rani, great guest stars and Doctors! After three bland years of Davison with only really 3 high quality adventures in 3 years (Visitation, Earthshock and Caves of Androzani), I and many others welcomed an original, bold take on the Time Lord.

    No, the “Beginning of the end” came with the 18 month hiatus and the return to smaller, lesser seasons. Never really recovered after the hiatus and then the BBC just seemed like they were ready to try anything to destroy the show once and for all. Placing it up against Coronation street and blackmailing JNT to stay and further ruin it.

    I love RTD but you’d think that in a show like Doctor Who, he and so many others would be able to see past the coat.

  3. avatar 23skidoo says:

    All the concerns about the Sixth Doctor’s use of violence have always seemed odd to me, because the Doctor – in the classic series – was always violent to a degree. I just watched the Space Museum in which One tacetly allows the Trogs to massacre a group of aliens. Seven manipulates people to a degree far more disturbing than anything Six did — his calling Ace an “emotional cripple” in Curse of Fenric was far more upsetting than seeing Six attack Peri, in my opinion. And as for weapons, everyone seems to have forgotten Five’s shooting down of a Cybermen with a BFG, and more than a few others have picked up arms from time to time, including Romana who shoots some poor guy dead in The Pirate Planet (and looks guilty for about 5 seconds before shrugging it off). The whole “no guns ever” attitude really didn’t arrive on screen at least till Nine, though to be fair we saw a bit of this during Seven, too.

    The Sixth Doctor’s era had many problems, not all of which were the production team’s fault. And some were (a stinkbomb is a stinkbomb and nothing can really rescue Twin Dilemma). But the “darkness” of the Doctor made this era, taken as the sum of its parts, in many ways ahead of its time.

    The fatal flaw was the continued, misguided notion held by the BBC and the writers back then (and still held to some degree today) that Doctor Who is a “children’s show”. As such when opportunity to present more adult storylines and concepts, the weren’t really able to handle this very well in the writing department, and audiences (many of whom may have also been brainwashed into thinking the show was just for kids) rejected it, and McCoy’s just-as-dark-if-not-more-so era, too. Yet nothing these guys did was anywhere near as bad as what the heroes do in many of the anime programs kids watch, or in shows such as Buffy. I love the new Merlin series to bits, but man that show doesn’t have half the body count, including several episodes in which the title character basically commits murder. Yet no one bats and eye today.

    Back in 1986 the Doctor shoots a Cyberman (which qualifies as a mercy killing per recent episodes), and people were up in arms. One can only imagine the fits people might have thrown had the writers decided to pursue the “companion loves the Doctor” arcs of the recent series!

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