Tuesday 27 December 2011

400 Revenge of the Cybermen Part Three

EPISODE: Revenge of the Cybermen Part Three
TRANSMITTED: 03 May 1975
WRITER: Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set

Episode 400? Wow.

Sarah & Harry are taken to Tyrum. Kellman briefs the Cybermen on Voga. He goes to Voga, ostensibly to check the Transmat is working. The Cybermen intend to destroy Voga so Stevens, Lester & The Doctor are sent to Voga by Transmat with powerful Cyberbombs strapped to them. Kellman attempts to find Vorus but is captured by Tyrum's men. The Cybermen escorting the Doctor & the humans are attacked by Vogans. Kellman tells Tyrum of Vorus' plan to launch a rocket at the beacon destroying the remaining Cybermen. The Cybermen move through the caves killing any Vogan they find as the Doctor & the humans move towards their target. Sarah goes transmats back to the beacon to warn the Doctor. Vorus prepares to launch his Skystriker rocket at the beacon but fears he has run out of time now the Cybermen have arrived with their bombs. Harry & Kellman attempt to find the Doctor & his party but cause a cave in killing Kellman and knocking the bomb carriers out. Harry attempts to free The Doctor from his bomb harness little knowing that the harness is booby trapped......

There aren't that many Cybermen in this episode but you get an idea of how powerful they're meant to be as the two on Voga move through the caves seemingly impervious to everything the Vogans throw at them. Where's the so called Glitter Guns that we hear about during this episode? Given that the Cybermen have showed up you'd expect them to be armed with an appropriate weapon quick enough. Meanwhile the Cybermen coerce someone into doing their dirty work for them sending the Doctor, Stevens & Lester off to Voga strapped into booby trapped bombs. That's not going to end well. The idea that the Cybermen have been lured here by the ability to destroy a threat to them but it actually being a trap to destroy the Cybermen appeals to me. There's a couple of lovely touches with the transmat in this episode as the Doctor beams down playing with a yoyo and Sarah's doing something with her hands, actions that are continued from departure to destination giving a continuity even though one point was shot in studio and the other on location some weeks apart.

Location filming for this story was conducted at Wookey Hole in Somerset (itself an actual location in the Doctor Who New Adventure novel Blood Heat) between the 18th-21st November 1974. The filming there was plagued by accidents@ an electrician broke his leg, Elisabeth Sladen's motorboat went out of control throwing her into the water where she nearly drowned and the stuntmen who rescued her was injured getting her out of the water. Some members of the cast & crew attributed the incidents to a local curse but in reality most of the incidents can be ascribed to the small amount of air in the caves being consumed by a larger than usual number of people.

The location filming for this story has been homaged by The League of Gentlemen in the fifth episode of their first television series. Mark Gatiss, a future Doctor Who writer and actor, plays a cave guide in the fictional Stump Hole Cavern and at one point says
This particular cavern might be familiar from it’s countless appearances on the small screen. In 1974 you couldn’t move down here for Cyber Men. In fact, in an amusing incident, Tom Baker sprained his ankle on that rock there…
A live version of this sketch can be found on YouTube but I'd suggest you don't watch it at work.

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