‘ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Cold War
It’s the return of the Cybermen with the Cyrons on Telos!
‘Attack of the Cybermen’ is a 2 x 45-minute episode story, starring Colin Baker as the Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri. It features the return one of the Doctor’s oldest foes, the Cybermen! This is Colin Baker’s second story in his tenure of ‘Doctor Who’, after his rocky start in ‘The Twin Dilemma’.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ signed by Colin Baker at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in Swansea, September 2016. Colin couldn’t decide which he preferred, Cybermen or Daleks. Of course he will say he prefers Daleks whenever Terry Molloy is around at conventions.
‘Attack of the Cybermen’ was the first of a new series of stories for 1985. The 1985 series introduced the 45-minute episode story format that is being currently run today. The show was also restored back to its Saturday tea-time slot where beforehand it was weekdays for Peter Davison’s run in ‘Doctor Who’.
To start off Colin Baker’s first season as the Doctor, the production team decided to have him fight against the Cybermen. This was a great start to a new season, since it compensated for the audience to get use to this newly brash and rather aggressive Doctor that was rather unlikeable to begin with.
In ‘Attack of the Cybermen’, the Doctor and Peri are in the TARDIS when they detect a strange alien signal emanating from Earth. They track the signal to London in 1985. Soon, the Doctor and Peri arrive in an urban setting, as the TARDIS lands in 76 Totters Lane (a nice link to ‘An Unearthly Child’).
Soon, the Doctor and Peri go down into the London sewers where Cybermen are lurking down there (a link to ‘The Invasion’). The Doctor and Peri eventually get caught by the Cybermen in the TARDIS and are taken back to Cyber Control on Telos where the revived Cyber Controller awaits for them.
I found this story okay, but it’s not one of my standout favourites. It promises a lot, but it doesn’t deliver. The story contains too many continuity elements and plot threads that make it confusing. Also the violence issues are debatable in this story as the series went for a more adult atmosphere.
There is some debate about the author of this tale. ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ is credited by Paula Moore, although it’s actually by script editor Eric Saward. There’s also a debate about continuity advisor Ian Levine contributing to the story’s ideas to this tale, although Eric Saward does deny this.
The story’s continuity elements might be obvious to hard-core ‘Doctor Who’ fans, but I don’t think the general public would have got this. I find the story’s continuity elements hard to follow. These are nice touches for fans by Eric Saward, but it does feel like it’s too many toppings for a pizza night.
The continuity elements include the 76 Totter’s Lane and London sewers references which I mentioned earlier. But there are also the Tombs of Telos and the Cyber Controller from ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ and the strong links to the first story with the Cybermen in it, ‘The Tenth Planet’.
Colin Baker delivers a marvellous performance as the Doctor. He’s still brash and abrasive from ‘The Twin Dilemma’, but he’s managed to find his feet.I liked the Doctor’s relationship with Peri. Although they bicker a lot, they seem fond of each other. I liked it when he realises that he misjudged Lytton.
Nicola Bryant is lovely as Peri. Peri is concerned for the Doctor as she finds him ‘unstable’ following his regeneration, to which the Doctor ultimately denies. I liked the last scene between Peri and the Doctor in the TARDIS where the Doctor is emotionally drained and Peri is showing concern for him.
Maurice Colbourne returns as Lytton, who last appeared in ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’. Lytton is still tough as ever as he was in ‘Resurrection’. But it seems he’s not the bad guy as he seemed to be. He seems to be working for the Cybermen at first. But there’s a hint he’s working for somebody else.
Terry Molloy (well-known as Davros in ‘Doctor Who’) guest stars as Russell, an undercover policeman working as one of Lytton’s mob. It’s strange to see Terry in the flesh and as a normal character. He looks so young and un-menacing, but it’s great to see him play a different character.
In the guest cast, in Lytton’s mob, there’s also Brian Glover as Griffiths, a rather down to Earth character with a Yorkshire accent and James Beckett as Payne, who gets killed early in ‘Part One’. On Telos, there’s also Michael Attwell as angry Bates and Jonathan David as well-mannered Stratton.
The Cybermen are the 1980s Cybermen from ‘Earthshock’ and ‘The Five Doctors’. These Cybermen aren’t my favourites. They look pathetic and tend to display emotions at times. The Cyber Leader says “Excellent!” a lot and this really annoys me, as it doesn’t make the Cybermen very threatening.
Michael Kilgarriff returns as the Cyber-Controller from ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ in this story. I wish they hadn’t brought the Controller back. No disrespect to Michael Kilgarriff, but he looks rather chubby in that cyber suit of his and I thought the Cyber Controller was rather underused in this one.
I found the Cyrons rather disappointing. They were the original inhabitants of the planet Telos before the Cybermen took it over. A nice idea, but the Cyrons didn’t convince me as worthy opponents to the Cybermen. Their costumes and make-up (if it was make-up) looked daft and silly.
The issue of violence and death is debatable. As I said, Eric Saward went for more adult approaches in ‘Doctor Who’ with killing characters and having scenes of violence in stories. This is the wrong way to do things in ‘Doctor Who’. The bleeding hands scene with Lytton by Cybermen was so disturbing.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a commentary with Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Terry Molloy (for ‘Part One’) and Sarah Berger as Rost the Cyron (for ‘Part Two’). There’s also an isolated music option by composer Malcolm Clarke to enjoy, and an info-text commentary option to enjoy.
There’s also a making-of documentary called ‘The Cold War’ with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. There’s a documentary called ‘The Cyber Story’ on the brief history of the Cybermen and a short documentary called ‘Human Cyborg’ about a cybernetics scientist named Professor Kevin Warwick.
There are some trailers and continuities, a photo gallery and a ‘Cyber Generations’ photo gallery. There are also PDF Materials, including ‘Radio Times Listings’ for ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ and ‘The Invasion’ as well as a 1969 article from ‘The Listener’ magazine by Cyberman co-creator Kit Pedler.
There’s an interesting Easter Egg to look out for on this DVD disc of ‘Attack of the Cybermen’. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for the ‘Image of the Fendahl’ DVD with Tom Baker and Louise Jameson.
‘Attack of the Cybermen’ is not great, but it is very enjoyable with the Cybermen. I have mixed feelings about this Cybermen story. Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are great as the Doctor and Peri, although the story depends on other stories like ‘The Tenth Planet’ and ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’.
Despite the convoluted nature of the story, it makes for a good season opener to the Sixth Doctor’s first season as the Doctor. It’s a big bang of a story and can readily be appreciated despite the flaws in it.
‘Attack of the Cybermen’ rating – 6/10
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