‘REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Vogans and the Cybermen
And thus we come to the season finale in Season 12 of ‘Doctor Who’! Mind you, ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ wasn’t meant to be the season finale. It was meant to be ‘Terror of the Zygons’. But due to scheduling, producer Philip Hinchcliffe decided to end it with ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ instead.
The first time I saw ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was when I purchased the ‘Doctor Who’ DVD box set of two classic Cybermen stories containing ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ with Tom Baker and ‘Silver Nemesis’ with Sylvester McCoy in 2010. It was really exciting for me to watch the two stories on DVD!
The Cybermen are one of my favourite monsters from the ‘Doctor Who’ series! I was keen to see them in the two classic Cybermen stories contained in the DVD box set back in 2010. They weren’t the best Cybermen stories I’d seen. ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was hard-going than ‘Silver Nemesis’.
But they were pretty entertaining stories in their own right and since I’m a fan of ‘Doctor Who’ and the Cybermen in general, I found the Cybermen DVD box set worthwhile back then. Now I can enjoy ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ in its Blu-ray form in the complete Season 12 box set starring Tom Baker.
Incidentally the Blu-ray edition of ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ contains a new CGI effects option. Yeah! You get to enjoy the story with brand-new CGI effects on some of the outer-space sequences. It doesn’t improve the story greatly, but it was very impressive and nice to watch on the Blu-ray disc.
I wish I could say the same about the Cybermen voices and how they’re improved on the Blu-ray, but I’ll get into that a bit later on. Anyway, ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ is a four-part adventure by Gerry Davis. It has Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor; Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane and Ian Marter as Harry.
This has to be the weakest Cybermen story I’ve seen in the entire ‘Doctor Who’ series! Now I know this story has won a place in the hearts of many fans, especially since this was the first ‘Doctor Who’ story to be released on VHS back in 1983. That I can appreciate as it must be very exciting back then.
Like or dislike it, ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ has something going for ‘Doctor Who’ fans. It’s not the worst story I’ve seen, but I found it pretty hard-going on my initial DVD viewings and it seems to lack action. It didn’t feel very inspiring and I didn’t feel it had a lasting impact on me as it should’ve done.
This is a shame as ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was the first Cybermen story to be shown in colour on TV. They hadn’t been seen in a long while since the black-and-white days of Patrick Troughton’s era. I will give the story this mind, the Cybermen do look beautiful in their first appearance on colour TV.
Anyway, the story has the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry returning to the Nerva beacon following the events of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’. They used the time ring given to them by the Time Lords to get back. So yeah, our three heroes return to a place we’ve already been to before earlier for Season 12.
But it’s not the same space station that the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry know from ‘The Ark In Space’. They’ve arrived many years before the events of that story. Nerva is more of a beacon station instead of an Ark and the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry discover a deadly space plague there.
Apparently there are huge Cybermats killing off the crewmembers on board the Nerva space beacon one by one. As the story progresses, it turns out that the Cybermen have come to destroy the planet Voga, which is regarded as ‘the planet of gold’. Can our three heroes stop the evil Cybermen’s plans?
Now in terms of how ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ is presented as a story, I’m okay with it. It’s pretty average. But I didn’t like the idea of gold being used a weakness for the Cybermen to eradicate. In my opinion, gold and silver should work together for the Cybermen in the series. Not against each other.
Gold as a weakness for the Cybermen to contend with is going to lessen the fear factor in them. It also makes them less threatening altogether. It means the Doctor and his friends have an easy way of defeating the Cybermen by throwing gold at them. It isn’t what I want to happen with Cybermen!
I want to see the Cybermen as impossible to defeat and for the Doctor and his friends to really try hard in finding a way to defeat their opponents. I would love one day to see a gold Cybermen on a TV screen, just to show how Cybermen can overly come this apparent weakness they have with gold.
Yeah you can tell I’m not a fan of this idea with gold being a weakness for Cybermen and I wish Gerry Davis hadn’t introduced that idea in the story. It would get used again for ‘Silver Nemesis’, ‘Nightmare In Silver’ with Matt Smith and the ‘Doctor Who’/‘Star Trek’ graphic novel, ‘Assimilation2‘.
The story’s director is Michael E. Briant, who contributed to the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor including stories like ‘Colony In Space’, ‘The Sea Devils’, ‘The Green Death’ and ‘Death To The Daleks’. He is hit or miss as a director, but I do enjoy the ‘Doctor Who’ tales he directs.
The story has locations for the cave structures on the planet Voga. They were filmed in the Wookey Hole Caves and are pretty good as set pieces for the planet Voga. It especially blends in well with the studio scenes featured on the planet Voga with the dark and moody cave structures filled with gold.
And yes, the Nerva beacon sets from ‘The Ark In Space’ get used again for the ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ story. It’s actually rather clever to have the same set used for two stories and it’s handy that the designer Roger Murray-Leach was on hand for the two stories during this special TV season.
Tom Baker is great as the Doctor in this adventure. By this point, he seems to really enjoy playing the role of the Doctor in the series and seems to enjoy interacting with his co-stars Lis Sladen and Ian Marter. I did like the moments when Tom’s Doctor gets to defy the Cyber Leader and his Cybermen.
Early on, the Doctor works out that it’s the Cybermen they’re dealing with when the Nerva beacon comes into contact with Voga. Not sure how the Doctor knows about Voga and the Cybermen, but it was interesting that he did. The Doctor could easily be blown up with a big bomb attached to him. 😀
Elisabeth Sladen is great as Sarah Jane Smith. It was terrifying when Sarah Jane got bitten by a gigantic Cybermat and had horrific veins on her. But surprisingly she escapes death when she and Harry beam to the planet Voga via transmat and the veins are gone. Not really sure how that works.
I liked Sarah Jane’s scenes with Harry and when she tries to save the Doctor on the Nerva beacon in the story. Poor Lis Sladen had a near-death experience when she fell into the river in the Wookey Hole Caves during a motorboat accident, but thankfully stuntman Terry Walsh rescued her in time. 🙂
Ian Marter is very good as Harry Sullivan. I felt for Harry in this adventure, as he doesn’t really have a good time. Oh he serves well as a companion, especially in looking out for Sarah Jane for when they are on the planet Voga. But he receives a shocking and…’for no good reason’ insult from the Doctor!
Doctor: “HARRY SULLIVAN IS AN IMBECILE!”
(puzzled) Why?! I mean okay, it was annoying that Harry and Kellman were on the other side of the rocks when they pushed them for the Doctor to fall over. But Harry didn’t know the Doctor was on the other side and he didn’t know that the bomb was booby-trapped. The Doctor is being a jerk here!
The story’s guest cast also includes Ronald Leigh-Hunt as Commander Stevenson. Ronald Leigh-Hunt had been in ‘Doctor Who’ before in ‘The Seeds of Death’ with Patrick Troughton. There’s William Marlowe, who appeared in ‘The Mind of Evil’ with Jon Pertwee, as Lester and Alec Wallis as Warner.
There’s also Jeremy Wilkin, who did the voice of Virgil Tracy in the second season of ‘Thunderbirds’, as Professor Kellman. Kellman seems to switch sides in this story as he works with the Cybermen first before working with the Vogans. Personally, Kellman should have been the son of Tobias Vaughn. 😀
Speaking of ‘The Invasion’, I did like the almost ‘Invasion’-like look of the Cybermen with modifications to their costumes, including their head gear. But I’m afraid I did find the Cybermen disappointing in this story. There seemed to be limited in numbers and have guns inside their heads.
I admit it is kind of cool to hear the guns’ sound effects going on when the Cybermen open fire during a battle with Vogans. But I don’t know. It feels sort of pathetic and I would’ve preferred it if they used gun barrels on their arms and electrocuted people like they did in the new series TV stories.
The Cybermen voices are also pretty awful. They don’t sound electronic as it’s just the actors speaking inside the helmets. Christopher Robbie, who played the Karkus in ‘The Mind Robber’, as the Cyber Leader, who you can easily identify with the black headset (seriously?) also sounds emotional.
I’m sorry, but Christopher Robbie’s Cyber Leader doesn’t sound convincing for me. I get he’s trying to create a character with the Cyber Leader, but it doesn’t help when he has hands on his hips to show he’s menacing and…Cyber Leader, what the heck are you doing giving the Doctor a massage?!
The Vogans are pretty awful as well. I’m sorry, I know there might be people out there who like the Shakespearean look to them which is quite a neat idea in itself. But I didn’t like the make-up and hair styles used for them. They seemed silly as the opponents for the Cybermen to tackle on their planet.
It’s a shame because the actors who play the Vogans give decent performances. There’s David Collings, who would later go on to star in ‘The Robots of Death’ and ‘Mawdryn Undead’, as Vorus and there’s Michael Wisher, who had previously played Davros in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, as Magrik.
There’s also Kevin Stoney as Tyrum, who is the Vogans’ leader. Kevin Stoney played Tobias Vaughn in ‘The Invasion’ with Patrick Troughton. I’m so surprised Kevin Stoney didn’t play Tobias Vaughn in this Cybermen story as it would’ve made an interesting and awesome connection if he played him again.
There is one intriguing thing about the Vogans! The Seal of Rassilon happens to be on the walls of interiors in certain scenes of the tale when on the planet Voga. Could the Vogans and the Time Lords be connected? Maybe this is how the Doctor knows about Voga and the Cybermen in the first place!
The music for this story is composed by Carey Blyton. I found Carey Blyton’s music strange. He did music for ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ and ‘Death To The Daleks’, but it feels very un-dynamic and doesn’t work for the story’s action. The music needed to be very exciting with the instruments used.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There was ‘The Tin Men and The Witch’ making-of documentary; a location report; the ‘Cheques, Lies and Videotape’ documentary and a photo gallery of the story. There was also a stereo sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Elisabeth Sladen, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, David Collings and designer Roger Murray-Leach. There was also an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There was a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story and a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for ‘Time and the Rani’ with Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford. There was also an Easter Egg to look out for on the DVD disc, which happens to be the closing ident for the BBC Video logo used in 1983.
On Disc 5 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 12’ Blu ray, the ‘Cheques, Lies and Videotape’ documentary; the location report; the stereo sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary, and the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF can also be found on there. The info-text commentary option and the photo gallery for ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ has been updated for 2018 on the Blu-ray.
The new special features on Blu-ray include a brand-new expanded version of ‘The Tin Men and The Witch’ making-of documentary for Blu-ray with brand-new cast and crew interviews. There’s the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor); Sadie Miller, Elisabeth Sladen’s daughter and producer Philip Hinchcliffe as well as Louise Jameson (Leela); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). There’s also the updated CGI effects option for the story to enjoy on the Blu-ray disc.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and scripts for the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that.
On Disc 6 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 12’ Blu-ray, there’s the ‘Tom Baker: In Conversation’ interview conducted by Matthew Sweet. There’s also the ‘Doctor Who Times’ documentary on Season 12; the ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ omnibus edition and the studio clocks compilation for Season 12.
There’s also PDF promotional archive including the ‘Weetabix, Nestle and Wall’s’ promotional tie-ins; the Season 12 BBC Enterprises documents and the 1976 ‘Doctor Who Annual’.
‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ isn’t the greatest ‘Doctor Who’ story I’ve seen and probably not the best season finale for Season 12 with Tom Baker. The Cybermen aren’t well-realised and the story feels slow at times. But the three TARDIS regulars make the story very watchable and entertaining for me.
Watching it again on Blu-ray has been an enjoyable experience for the CGI effects. I wish that the Cybermen voices had a redub and Nicholas Briggs provided them. It would make them more threatening and easier to take seriously, instead of seeing them being campy and very unimpressive.
Overall, Season 12 of ‘Doctor Who’ has been a pretty good season to introduce Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ is the highlight for me as well as seeing Tom Baker’s Doctor with his friends Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan who work well.
Tom Baker seems to be pretty confident in the character he plays in being bonkers, eccentric and easily loveable to watch. It’s great that his first season saw him fighting a giant robot; Wirrn; Sontarans; Daleks and Cybermen. Things would get better as the Tom Baker era progressed further!
I’ve greatly enjoyed Season 12 on Blu-ray and love the ‘Behind the Sofa’ features on the five stories!
‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ rating – 5/10
‘TOM BAKER: IN CONVERSATION’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
I enjoyed seeing Tom Baker being interviewed by Matthew Sweet for the Season 12 Blu-ray box set. Having had photo shoots with him at conventions, it was nice to see this in-depth interview on what Tom Baker’s ‘Doctor Who’ acting career was like. This is an hour-long interview with Tom Baker here.
The first thing talked about is how Tom Baker got the role of the Fourth Doctor by first writing a letter to Bill Slater, the Head of Serials at the time. It’s really amazing how in a short amount of time, Tom Baker became the new Doctor and how the announcement had changed his life in an instant. 🙂
The interview goes into more depth on how Tom started playing the role of the Doctor and what the interaction with his co-stars, including Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter and Louise Jameson, were like. There’s also the issue raised about with Tom’s working relationship with producer Graham Williams.
I like how Tom looks back fondly on his relationship with writer/script editor Douglas Adams. Tom approved of ‘The Krikkitmen’ script, which was rejected by script editor Robert Holmes at the time. Tom also shares what working with producer John Nathan-Turner was like before leaving the series.
I liked the references made to Tom doing the ‘Doctor Who’ audios by Big Finish as well as working with Matt Smith in ‘The Day of the Doctor’. I liked how Matthew Sweet opened a bottle of wine for him and Tom to try out. Matthew and Tom are still chatting to each other after the item’s finished. 🙂
TIM BRADLEY’S VIDEO MEMORIES
Originally written on the 4th of January 2017.
This is a response to the documentary ‘Lies, Cheques and Videotape’ which was released on the ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ DVD in ‘Doctor Who’! I enjoyed that documentary so much as it was an interesting and insightful look into how fans saw classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories through the videos.
I really admire those fans that went through the 1980s ‘to get their fix’ on ‘Doctor Who’! It must have been an exciting and gruelling time for the fans that went through the various methods to get hold of classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the days before they were born and to watch them.
Weeks after I saw the DVD documentary about ‘Doctor Who’ videos, I met one of the fans who had been interviewed in that documentary at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. His name was Paul Jones and he happened to be a steward at that convention.
I enjoyed chatting with Paul about his involvement in the documentary and his memories of ‘Doctor Who’ videos. I shared my memories with him about video recording during the 1990s and it was interesting to compare his memories of mine from both the 1980s and 1990s perspectives.
I will be sharing my thoughts about the points addressed in the DVD documentary. But first, I would like to share some of my memories about watching and recording videos when I was a kid. It was a happy time for me when I was growing up and it’s very amazing that things have changed since then.
These days we take DVDs and Blu-ray for granted. But in those days during the 1980s and 1990s, it’s astonishing that we were using VHS tapes and video recorders to watch the things we wanted to watch. I was excited by the videos and video recorders that I didn’t think we would get to the DVDs.
My earliest memories of watching videos were with ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’. I was so into ‘Thomas’ as a kid before ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed re-watching the ‘Thomas’ videos that we had at home and I was always looking forward to seeing the next video that my parents would buy me!
I also watched videos of other children shows that I enjoyed from my childhood. They included ‘Sooty’; ‘Fireman Sam’; ‘Postman Pat’; etc. I’m so gobsmacked that I watched those TV shows when I was a kid and I kept re-watching them again and again on video and TV as I grew up back then.
I remember when I was watching those children’s videos that I used to be scared by the video idents shown at the beginning. This included the BBC Video Idents from the 1980s and 1990s as well as The Video Collection idents. The YouTube video below contains some of those video idents that I recall very vividly.
I can’t remember the first video I recorded from the TV. But I do have happy memories of recording episodes of ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Beast Wars: Transformers’ onto videos. I was really into those action-packed TV shows as a kid and I recorded the episodes to enjoy and watch now and again.
I was very excited whenever ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Beast Wars’ had their own VHS releases. I remember that I wanted to watch Season 3 of ‘Beast Wars’ but I couldn’t get to see it on TV. Then they announced that ‘Beast Wars’ Season 3 would be released on four VHSs and I was delighted.
The ‘Power Rangers’ videos were interesting. Most of the videos released were compiled together into feature length films. For example, five episodes of a ‘Power Rangers’ story made up into two and a half hours of screen time. I was so excited from watching the ‘Power Rangers’ videos!
I also recall that my parents and I were lent videos of the ‘Fawlty Towers’ series by Nana and Bamp in Newport. I was rather young at the time and I enjoyed re-watching those ‘Fawlty Towers’ episodes on VHS. Those were the original VHS releases of ‘Fawlty Towers’ from the 1980s!
I also saw a number of ‘Dad’s Army’ episodes on VHS when I was young. These were VHS releases featuring ‘The Very Best of Dad’s Army’. It was long before I would watch all of the ‘Dad’s Army’ episodes in the complete DVD box set. This was the same with ‘Terry and June’ too!
Anyway that’s enough video memories from me! It’s time to talk about the DVD documentary about ‘Doctor Who’ and videos on the ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ DVD. I didn’t watch ‘Doctor Who’ as a kid in the 1990s, since my parents never bought me the videos that were released back then.
It’s probably just as well I didn’t watch ‘Doctor Who’ on video as a kid, as I would probably have been too scared or ended up being a spoiled brat from watching them. 😀 I was amazed by how videos and video recording had developed a lot from its inception right through the 1980s and 1990s.
First of all, I was aghast by the prices that videos cost in those days from the 1980s and 1990s in that documentary. Videos in those days cost at about £10! I wasn’t aware of the price range for those videos and it’s probably why I didn’t have so many ‘Thomas’ videos when I was a little kid. 😀
I was intrigued that repeats were rare for ‘Doctor Who’ during the 1980s. I’m sure that many fans relished watching ‘The Five Faces of Doctor Who’ season and recorded the stories on videotape before they were wiped. I recorded lots of episodes over used-tapes and I wiped other shows in the process. 😀
I was also fascinated that fans in the UK saw ‘Doctor Who’ episodes recorded on VHS by fans in Australia. It’s astonishing that the BBC weren’t willing to release ‘Doctor Who’ stories on VHS so readily and so speedily before ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was released in 1983 on BBC Video.
I sympathise with those fans that had to cope with the varied picture quality of the videos being recorded with ‘Doctor Who’ episodes on it. I sometimes had videos with poor picture quality on it. By the time my video player was dying, those videotapes got damaged with some scratches. 😦
It was also interesting that fans were surprised by the lack of black-and-white stories of ‘Doctor Who’ with William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, as some were missing from the BBC Archives. Many of those ‘Doctor Who’ episodes have been found over the years and some have been animated.
I found it amusing when fans compared the Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ to the actual TV episodes with certain differences. I enjoyed chatting to Paul Jones about his comparison between ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘The Space War’ novelization and how the Ogrons’ pet monster had appeared.
I’ve never entered the black market and purchased pirate copies of films and TV shows that I wanted to see. I’m amazed that the fans from the documentary went to those great lengths to see the ‘Doctor Who’ episodes by pirate video collectors. I’m sure the picture quality wasn’t very good.
‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ is interesting as the first ‘Doctor Who’ story to be released on video. It must have been exciting for fans to see the video, albeit compiled into 60 minutes without the episode endings. The packaging of the video looks interesting with the wrong Cyberman on it! 😀
I saw some ‘Doctor Who’ videos at a friends’ house in England before seeing them on DVD. They included ‘Terror of the Autons’, ‘City of Death’ and ‘Planet of Fire’. It was intriguing to see those stories on that format. I’m sure fans were thrilled when the videos were released during the 1990s and early 2000s.
Nowadays VHSs have been forgotten and are replaced with DVDs and Blu-ray. It’s extraordinary to think that I was watching and recording VHSs during the 1990s and it has now become extinct. There is more availability with the DVDs and Blu-rays with superb picture quality and lots of special features.
Looking back, I have very happy memories of watching and recording my favourite TV shows and films onto VHS. I would like to re-live those happy memories again and enjoy re-watching ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ videos again. But then I’m so happy I can now see my favourite TV shows and films on DVD and Blu-ray!
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