TV Review – ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’ (Part One) (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

So, after all the variety we’ve had in Series 12 and the mixed feelings I’ve had about each episode so far, it’s time for the season finale ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’/’The Timeless Children’ by Chris Chibnall. I’ve been looking forward to this two-part finale, especially since the Cybermen appear in it!

I admit; I’m not sure why Chris Chibnall decided to go with the approach of giving each of the two episodes individual titles for this two-part finale. He didn’t do that for ‘Spyfall’. I thought this was going to be a thing where the two episodes of a two-parter were referred to as ‘Part One’ and ‘Part Two’.

It makes things inconsistent in the Chris Chibnall/Jodie Whittaker era of ‘Doctor Who’, doesn’t it? Mind you, that’s a minor niggle I have as the important thing is whether the story can hold up as well as the characters. And from what it seems in the first episode, it’s quite the case as things are pretty good. 🙂

I mean, I can’t judge this two-parter overall without having seen the second episode yet, which I’m looking forward to. But from watching the first episode, it does seem to be a pretty good appetiser for what’s to come in the final episode of Series 12. There were a lot of thing to take in, but it’s still very good.

I believe what won this episode over for me was the atmosphere and the mystery created. This is especially when we have flashbacks to a certain character that I’m not sure what to make of yet and when we are aboard this Cyber space carrier where millions of new Cyber Warriors are to wake up. 😀

And yes! Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor has her first battle with Cybermen in this adventure. Okay granted, it started in ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’, but this is where it’s full-on for this two-parter. I was looking forward to Jodie’s first battle with Cybermen after her first fight with one Dalek in ‘Resolution’.

Anyway, let’s talk about the story. The first episode takes place directly after the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz set out to stop the Cybermen in their invasion plans for the universe. They travel to the future where they are at the end of the Cyber Wars. This has been a thing in ‘Doctor Who’ already.

It was even featured in the Big Finish audio called ‘Sword of Orion’. I admit, I did feel there were echoes of a similar atmosphere created from that when we were aboard the giant Cyber carrier later on in the tale as well as dead Cybermen floating in space. I wonder if Chris Chibnall was inspired by the tale.

Anyway, the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz help out the last of humanity that are hiding from the last of the Cybermen who have been hunting them almost to extinction. The Doctor and her friends set up means to protect the last of humanity from attacking Cyber drones from this pair of Cyber shuttles.

The devices that the Doctor gives to her three companions are as follows. She gives Graham a neural inhibitor system to act against the Cybermen’s emotional inhibitors; she gives Ryan a rudimentary force-field device to shield the area and she gives Yaz a particle projector to project gold particles here.

Hearing that sort of thing makes me cringe. I really wish there wasn’t this weakness where the Cybermen were allergic to gold. I’d like one day to see an episode where there’s a gold Cybermen in ‘Doctor Who’. That’d be fantastic!!! But it appears the Cybermen can overcome the Doctor’s weapons.

Unfortunately, the devices fail and quite a few humans are killed. This was pretty sad and such a shame as I was hoping for the Doctor’s devices for protecting humanity to work. But on the other hand, it’s interesting how Jodie’s Doctor isn’t always the saviour in this situation with the Cybermen being so powerful.

It also gives Jodie’s Doctor a chance to show off her anger as the Doctor, especially when her companions are pointing out the blinking obvious as to what’s going on with some people dead. Jodie’s Doctor orders her three companions to leave with the human survivors as they refuse to abandon her.

Soon, they do as the Doctor says, but are soon chased by Cyber drones and two Cybermen led by the Lone Cyberman. Graham and Yaz soon separate from Ryan as they join the remaining humans aboard their ship. Ryan reunites with the Doctor and they, with a young man named Ethan, hijack a Cyber shuttle.

Let’s talk about the Cybermen for a bit. It was good to see the Lone Cyberman again – Patrick O’Kane as Ashad. I know I said he has elements of being Borg-like from ‘Star Trek’, but he also comes across as a damaged individual with a conflicted personality. He loathes himself as the Doctor described it. 🙂

In terms of the Lone Cyberman’s design, as well as appearing half Cyberman-half human in face, there are also traces of him being a ‘Nightmare In Silver’ Cyberman. He looks rusty but he does have the capacity to be dangerous. This is especially when he kills people and he can detect lifesigns nearby. 😮

The Lone Cybermen has two escorts. They’re two Cybermen who look like the ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ ones albeit without the Cybus logo. I like it that these types of Cybermen are in this ‘Doctor Who’ story as they’re my favourites. They do look a little rusty like the Lone Cybermen, but can still be very deadly.

Just to go off on a side note, there is a cold opening sequence in the episode where narration gets given and we see this disembodied Cybus-like Cyberman’s head floating in space. This is before we cut to the episode’s opening titles through one of the dead Cyberman’s eyes. It’s quite effective to see in this.

Another thing to mention regarding the Cybus-like Cyberman is that the Cyber drones are heads that look like Cybus-like Cybermen heads shooting lasers out of their eyes. Seeing Cyber drones as disembodied Cyber heads firing lasers out from their eyes and attacking people is creepy and scary. 🙂

The highlight of the episode of course is where we get to meet the new brand of Cybermen in the story – better known as the Cyber Warriors. They’re a cross of various Cybermen seen in ‘Doctor Who’ before, including stories like ‘The Invasion’, ‘Earthshock’, ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ and ‘Nightmare In Silver’.

I like these Cyber Warriors. They look quite impressive in terms of design, especially when they wake up and march out to attack our heroes on board the Cyber carrier they’re on. I’m hoping we’ll get to see more of them and that they will unleash their deadly menace once the Doctor confronts them. 😀

Nicholas Briggs once again returns to provide voices for the Cybermen in this ‘Doctor Who’ TV adventure. I was happy to hear the familiar robotic Cybermen voices from ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ for the Cybus-like ones. We haven’t heard the Cyber Warriors speak yet. I wonder what they’ll sound like.

I don’t know if it’s me, but I feel there’s more emphasis of the Cybermen being a threat to humanity compared to previous Cybermen stories like ‘Dark Water’/’Death In Heaven’ and ‘World Enough and Time’/’The Doctor Falls’. I hope it’ll be the same for the second episode of this two-part TV adventure.

Jodie Whittaker excels as ever as the Doctor in this story. As well as for the anger moment she had with her companions, I like that Jodie’s Doctor is one for never giving up. She’s defiant against the Lone Cyberman, who’s pretty hell-bent on destroying humanity and for the Cyber race to rule forever.

This is a ‘Doctor Who’ story where Jodie’s Doctor is more serious and not so go-lucky as she tends to be in previous adventures. She has her moments in being witty, but she takes the whole business of stopping the Cybermen seriously. Things do seem more serious for the Doctor in the final instalment.

Bradley Walsh is equally excellent as Graham O’Brien in the story. I like how Yaz remarks on Graham having come a long way since he first began his TARDIS travels in ‘Doctor Who’. Graham certainly comes across as a braver man and he shows signs of leadership once he and Yaz are with other humans.

It was quite tense when Graham, with Julie Graham as Ravio, are exploring the Cyber space carrier and they find the Cyber Warriors in many alcoves aboard. It was funny when Graham’s cockney slang gets lost on Ravio. 😀 I wonder if Graham will survive once we reach the end of this thrilling two-parter.

Tosin Cole is very good as Ryan in this adventure. He gets to spend more time with the Doctor when he gets split up from Graham and Yaz after being chased by Cybermen and Cyber drones. I don’t think Ryan gets plenty of standout scenes, but it is good he’s there to support the Doctor in this adventure.

Mandip Gill is equally good as Yaz. Like Ryan, she doesn’t get many standout scenes and, if I’m honest, is once again underused as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion, especially when she interacts with Graham. She did make contact with the Doctor at the story’s end. Whether she and Ryan will survive, I do not know.

As well as Julie Graham as Ravio, the cast also includes Ian McElhinney as Ko Sharmus. He seems to be this gatekeeper or a ferryman for some portal that leads to some sort of ‘boundary’ beyond the end of the universe. Ko Sharmus seems nice enough, but whether he’s a good man remains to be seen. 😀

Other human survivors from the Cyber Wars include Alex Austin as Yedlarmi, Steve Toussiant as Feekat, Rhiannon Clements as Bescot, Matt Carver as Ethan (who joins the Doctor and Ryan here) and Jack Osborn as Fuskle. Not all survive in the first episode. Will everyone else survive in the second? 😀

Throughout the first episode, there are these unusual flashbacks of a boy growing up on 20th century Ireland, Earth. He’s Evan McCabe as Brendan who grows up with Branwell Donaghey as his father Patrick and Orla O’Rourke as his mother Meg. There’s also Andrew Macklin playing the police officer Michael.

We see the life of Brendan who becomes a policeman before he ends up as an old man and gets a strange headset that somehow…converts him? I’ve no idea how this ties into the other story going on with the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz. Oh and he seems to be a immortal man. Related to Captain Jack?

The first episode of this two-part concludes with the Doctor, Ryan, Ethan and Ko Sharmus seeing a portal open at the ‘boundary’. The portal reveals the destroyed Gallifrey, to which the Doctor is horrified. Everyone else is confused. I wonder what all of this means and how Gallifrey’s involved here.

But that’s not all! Sacha Dhawan as the Master jumps through and makes an entrance, before he tells the Doctor that she should be afraid. Everything is about to change forever. I had an inkling the Master would return. It was such a thrill to see him again. I wonder what secrets he’ll share to the Doctor.

The first episode of this two-parter is a good appetiser for the season finale. I enjoyed the various Cybermen from the Lone Cyberman, his two escorts and the Cyber Warriors. It was good to see the Master again. How will it conclude in the next episode? Will all our questions be answered next time?!

Next week’s episode is called ‘The Timeless Children’ (Part Two) by Chris Chibnall.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’ (Part One) (Doctor Who)

  1. I hope we get a epic emotional & satisfying conclusion & not another Hell Bent because i like you & many others have thoroughly enjoyed this series which has been a strong return to form & made me excited about watching Doctor Who on tv again something i haven’t felt since David Tennants era, please Chris do not ruin all the good work please gives us the conclusion we deserve.

    What’s going on with Brendan? Is he the Timeless Child? Is Brendan Jack Harkness? Why hasn’t his adoptive father aged? Is Jack The Timeless Child?

    Why did Ashad attack those Cybermen in there pods for? I NEED ANSWERS!!! Lol.

    Talk about cliffhangers, Gallifrey is connected to all this, are those Cybermen Gallifreyans that have been converted & Ashad attacking that Cyberman regenerates his cybernetics?

    WHAT IS GOING ON I NEED ANSWERS.

    Great review Tim, I’m in the dark about what’s going on, hopefully Chibnall will deliver the answers next week with a thrilling conclusion, I’m hoping Jack makes a appearance because to appear previously & not meet Jodies Doctor would be a disservice to fan’s.

    All i do know is I’ll be watching with baited breath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Very pleased you enjoyed ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’ as well as my review.

      I’m sure we’ll get a satisfying conclusion to this two-part finale of Series 12. It has been satisfying so far and I’ve been enjoying watching every episode each Sunday night this year so far.

      I’ve no idea what’s going on with Brendan and how he connects to the story. Hopefully it’ll be explained in the final episode. It’s got to do something with Captain Jack, hasn’t it? I also hope Jack will return in the final episode. It’d be a shame for him not to meet Jodie’s Doctor in the season finale, having appeared in ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ earlier this year. I wonder if Jo Wilson’s Doctor will make an appearance in the final episode.

      Chris Chibnall has said about having past ‘Doctor Who’ companions returning to the series like Sarah Jane and Harry as well as Ace, Tegan, Amy and Rory. I wonder if Nyssa will ever return to the TV series. As you know, I’d like that to happen. 🙂

      Yeah, I don’t know what happened there when Ashad attacked those Cybermen in the pods for. I didn’t know whether that was significant or not. Maybe the Cybermen were Gallifreyans once. Will the Master reveal that to the Doctor next time. I’ve no idea. So many questions that I hope will be answered in the final episode. 😀

      I’m glad you’re looking forward to next week’s episode, Simon. Hopefully the climax to Series 12 will be all good. Whether all will survive is another matter.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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