Improving the Cybermen and Slitheen

Over 200 votes were cast in our recent poll in which we asked readers to tell us which monsters they felt had failed to reach their potential in Doctor Who.

While they weren’t runaway winners, the Cybermen came out as clear winners, with 39 votes representing 18.57% of those cast. However there was a surprising monster in second place… the Slitheen family from Raxacoricofallapatorius!

Here’s the poll, which is now closed. Hit the View Results button to see how it turned out.

Now, as we’re not market research experts, we’ve ended up with two outcomes rather than shaping a series of questions to fulfill a predetermined outcome (beware market research and government focus groups, Kasterborites!) so rather than prompt a discussion on how the Cybermen have failed to reach their potential, we also need to look into how the Slitheen could have been used to better effect.

A Slitheen creature from Doctor WhoWhile the Slitheen probably worked best on screen when used in The Sarah Jane Adventures (or certainly Boom Town) they were widely derided for being typical “man in a suit” monsters when Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005. In fairness they were well-made suits, perhaps drawing strongly on elements associated with Ufology a little too much for some viewers. Hardcore fans were also dismayed by the creatures’ regularly flatulence, something which prompted a handful of complaints to the BBC.

But how could they have been used better? As members of an alien crime family, the Slitheen seem like little more than a footnote to the Russell T Davies era after the supreme resurrections of the Master and the Daleks – not to mention Davros.

Which brings us neatly to the Cybermen. There is a lot to be said for their initial return in Rise of the Cybermen, but this was soon impacted by their capitulation to the Daleks in Doomsday. Since then they’ve been reduced to building giant Transformer toys and skulking beneath shops, with a one-off appearance allowing the Doctor to destroy a vast number of them in a pre-credit sequence.

It’s almost as if no one takes them seriously.

Yet with their coming appearance in IDW’s Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover we might get to finally see a hint of their true potential. Only the cadaverous Cyberman in The Pandorica Opens has given us a modern era opportunity to see what the steel giants from Mondas/Pete’s World are truly capable of. It might be a far cry from the body horror hinted at in novels and comic strips or the disturbing nature of their genuine genesis as hinted at in Tenth Planet, but with only a handful of stand-out stories over Doctor Who’s 49 years their is a definite feeling of fans being left wanting for something more substantial.

So: you are Steven Moffat. How are you going to improve the standing of the Cybermen? Similarly, how might the Slitheen be used to better effect?

Over to you!



Christian Cawley

About

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.


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