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Rise of the Cybermen…on Mondas
Yes definitely! ‘Spare Parts’ is certainly a cracking good story!
This has earned its place with the fans as being the origin story of the Cybermen!
I listen to ‘Spare Parts’; ‘Circular Time’ and ‘The Stockbridge Trilogy’ (‘Castle of Fear’; ‘The Eternal Summer’ and ‘Plague of the Daleks’) every Christmas now. I play this story whenever I’m decorating the Christmas tree, especially as it happens with Nyssa and the Hartley family celebrating Christmas.
‘Spare Parts’ is a four-part audio adventure by Marc Platt. The Doctor and Nyssa arrive in an underground city on a familiar planet. The Doctor has an idea of where they are and he doesn’t like the thought of it. It transpires that they’re on Mondas where the Cybermen are about to be born.
I liked the atmosphere of Mondas in this story, as it takes places an underground city. The planet is constantly frozen over by blizzards and is being pulled out of its orbit, making it way towards Earth. It is pretty grim conditions for Mondas’ people to live in, despite the Christmas atmosphere there.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Spare Parts’ signed by Peter Davison, who plays the Fifth Doctor; the lovely Sarah Sutton, who plays Nyssa; and Nicholas Briggs, who voices the Cybermen. According to a CD interview for ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’, Sarah heard this story recently and said it’s became one of her favourites.
Sarah Sutton is tremendous as Nyssa in this audio story. Nyssa excels and I’m really impressed with how Marc Platt handles writing for her in this story. Sarah’s is very lovely as Nyssa, as she gets to spend time with the Hartley family. She gets to know and becomes friends with Yvonne and Frank.
Nyssa discovers that the Hartley family are victims of the cyber-conversion process on Mondas. Horrified, Nyssa decides to stay and help. I liked the scenes where Nyssa stands up to the Doctor, as she argues her case and she reminds him of Adric’s death because of the Cybermen in ‘Earthshock’.
Peter Davison delivers an excellent performance as the Doctor in this audio adventure. The Doctor learns of the horrible truth when he and Nyssa are on Mondas. He’s determined to leave, despite warning the people with the church bell. Persuaded by Nyssa’s arguments, he soon decides to stay.
It isn’t long before the Doctor gets chosen as the new template for cyber-conversion process. I’m pleased with Peter’s characterisation of the Doctor in this. He ranges with an array of emotions when defying Doctorman Allan on her ethics and morals in regard to the cyber-conversion process.
Sally Knyvette (of ‘Blake’s 7’ fame) guest stars as Doctorman Allan in this. Doctorman Allan is partly responsible for the creation of the Cybermen on Mondas. She’s no Cyber Davros, as she’s a reckless alcoholic who is determined to perfect the cyber-conversion process so that her people can survive.
Derren Nesbit guest stars as Thomas Dodd, a black market spiff who lives on Mondas. He sells organic bodily parts and is a pretty dodgy and distrustful character. Thomas joins the Doctor when they enter the main centre of operations at Cyber Control and discover some interesting revelations.
The guest cast also features the Hartley family. Paul Copley (who’s been in ‘Hornblower’ and ‘Torchwood: Children of Earth’) guest stars as Mr Hartley or ‘Dad’; Kathryn Guck guest stars as Mr. daughter Yvonne Hartley and the appropriately named Jim Hartley guest stars as son Frank Hartley.
The Cybermen took me by surprise when I discovered what they were like in this. Of course I’m talking about the original look of the Mondasian Cybermen. Big Finish decided to use the original Cybermen from their first ‘Doctor Who’ story, ‘The Tenth Planet’ featuring William Hartnell’s Doctor.
These Cybermen are what I call the ‘confused Cybermen’. They have very strange and weird computerised voices ‘which…err…sounded like this…that ah…made them sound…err…a little confused by…err…what they were going to…err…say next’. Very confusing Cybermen indeed, hey? 😀
Nicholas Briggs, who voices the Cybermen in this adventure, does a remarkable job in recapturing the original ‘Tenth Planet’ Cybermen. He makes them sound so believable and authentic as they did on TV. They had these Cybermen described to the last detail, including the ‘cloth’ faces and all that.
These Cybermen also have names. Cybermen don’t usually have names, do they? But the Cyber-Commander is called Zheng in this audio adventure. This element of this story echoes the similar style sort of names given to the Cybermen who featured in the original TV story, ‘The Tenth Planet’.
There’s also the Cyber-Committee that is very chilling and disturbing to listen to with its descriptions and voices. It made me wonder why and what made these people of Mondas becomes like this with augmented technology. I’m not sure whether there was a mixture of voices to make it so ‘Borg’-like from ‘Star Trek’.
The Cybermats also appear in this audio adventure! Brilliant! The Doctor screams angrily at Nyssa for bringing a Cybermat into the TARDIS. But thankfully the Doctor forgave Nyssa in the end. I could easily see these small worm-like/mouse-like creatures in my head from ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’.
The scenes where Yvvone Hartley has been completely cyber-converted and she returns home to find her family and Nyssa again are very well-written. She doesn’t hurt anyone, as she wants to be with her family again. The moments where she cries in her cyber-voice and dies suddenly are so sad.
‘Spare Parts’ became the inspiration for the new-series two-part story called ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’. There are similar scenes in the TV story from this audio, such as Sally Phelan ‘feeling so cold’ and Peter and Rose discovering Jackie Tyler has become a Cyberman.
I liked how this Cybermen origins story isn’t similar to ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, as that was about a psychopathic wheel-bound maniac who created the Daleks. This story focuses on the people being converted and the horrors of what happens when you lose your identity and have no emotion left.
The story’s ending was quite unexpected. I don’t know why it should have been for me. But as the Doctor and Nyssa leave Mondas behind them, thinking they’ve changed its future, Commander Zheng resurfaces after being presumed dead. He then declares, “Doctorman Allan! We begin again!”
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for ‘…ish’ with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant; ‘The Rapture’ with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred; the first series of ‘Sarah Jane Smith’ with Elisabeth Sladen; ‘Dalek Empire’ with Nicholas Briggs and the audio adventures of ‘Judge Dredd’ by Big Finish.
‘Spare Parts’ is a Big Finish adventure that deserves its praise! I’m very pleased with how the origins story of the Cybermen was handled by Marc Platt. Nyssa is well-written here and I liked Nyssa’s relationship to the Doctor in this, since Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton deliver amazing performances.
‘Spare Parts’ rating – 9/10
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