Wednesday, 28 December 2011

401 Revenge of the Cybermen Part Four

EPISODE: Revenge of the Cybermen Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 10 May 1975
WRITER: Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set (Revenge of the Cybermen & Silver Nemesis)

Lester stops Harry from removing the bomb harness. Harry explains what has happened. Stevens continues on the planned course while The Doctor, Harry & Lester attack the Cybermen in the caves with gold. Vorus & Tyrum argue over Vorus' actions. The Doctor's attack goes wrong and Lester is killed destroying the Cybermen with his bomb. The Doctor turns off the Cybermen's monitoring device. They attempt to set off the bombs remotely but Sarah interrupts them, getting herself captured. However the detonation is prevented by the Doctor's sabotage. The Doctor confers with the Vogan leaders and decides to transmat back to the station to deal with the Cybermen and rescue Sarah. The Cybermen set the Beacon on a course to collide with Voga, loading it with bombs and preparing to leave on their spaceship. The Doctor uses the Cybermat to attack the Cybermen with gold. Vorus, worried by the station's movement, launches the rocket early and is gunned down by the other Vogans. The Doctor & Sarah are captured by the Cybermen and tied up in the Beacon's control room powerless to do anything. The Cybermen leave as the Beacon moves towards Voga. The Doctor & Sarah escape their bonds and get the Vogans to divert the rocket towards the Cybership which is destroyed. The Doctor wrestles with the Ark's controls preventing it from hitting Voga. The Tardis arrives at the Ark as Harry returns by Transmat, but they all leave quickly as The Doctor finds a message from the Brigadier summoning him back to Earth ....

As "bonkers Cyberman plans" go, Revenge is nearly sensible. Capture the beacon, Transmat the humans to Voga carrying the bombs and blow them up. You're guessing they us the humans to avoid getting killed by the gold. Except they then send two Cybermen down anyway who the Doctor promptly attacks with the gold. No matter, we'll load the beacon with explosives and crash it into Voga. Well if you've that much explosive why not just transmat it down and blow the planet up from there? Except, as Lester's sacrifice shows, the Cyberbombs may not be all they're cracked up to be. You have to assume Kellmen, an exographer, had found some weak spot in Voga the Cybermen where the planets weak..... and now we're peering at the details the cracks are beginning to show. Still it's a bit more solid than Vorus' plan to blow the Cybermen up with a rocket he's only finishing as they show up! One truely dodgy special effects sequence in this episode involved Voga's planet surface on a roller being spun round in front of the camera. Unfortunately the roller is a bit small making the effect look very poor! Other than that it's not a bad episode with a nice bit of action and tension and far more Cybermen than I remember there being.....

.... which is a good thing really as we now bid farewell to the Cybermen, who we'd not seen for six and a bit year, for nearly another SEVEN. This episode was shown on 10 May 1975 and, barring an aborted cameo in Shada and a flashback in Logopolis, they wouldn't be seen till 09 March 1982 when they made their surprise comeback. In fact during the entire rest of Tom Baker's reign there's only two returning monster stories: The Sontarans in the Time Warrior and the Daleks in Destiny of the Daleks. Include the Master's appearances and this number rises, but he's more of a villain than a monster and two of those are right at the end of the fourth Doctor's reign. The majority of this period is done without any resort to the show's back catalogue of monsters, though we do get to see the Time Lords on a more regular basis.

We also good bye now, this time permanently, to Gerry Davis, co-creator of the Cybermen and former Doctor who script editor for the last year of the first Doctor and first year of the second. In the 1980s he worked in America, including collaborating on an attempt with Terry Nation on a bid to take over production of Doctor Who. He died on 31 August 1991.

Revenge of the Cybermen also marks the end of the shortest season (so far) in Doctor Who's history at 20 episodes, beating the 25 episodes for Seasons 7 & 8. Even if Terror of the Zygons, recorded at the end of season 12 but eventually shown at the start of season 13, had been shown with season 12 it would have only been 24 episodes long. As it was the practice of holding a story over to the start of the next season was commonplace in the early seventies. The short season here enabled filming to resume earlier than usual in the summer of 1975 and for the show to return not in January 1976 but in September 1975, giving that year 35 episodes of Doctor Who, the most since 1968.
Revenge of the Cybermen was novelised by Terrance Dicks, the only one of Gerry Davis' Cybermen scripts not be adapted by Davis himself. Revenge of the Cybermen was the very first Doctor Who story to be released on video cassette as a compilation version on both VHS & Beta Max formats in October 1983. The story has it that fans at the BBC's Celebration event at Longleat were polled on what story they'd like to see released. They chose Tomb of the Cybermen, which at the time was missing from the archives but it's absence wasn't generally known. So BBC Video chose the first complete story they could find with the Cybermen in it. Following the grand tradition set by Target books the cover to the first release of the video featured the wrong type of Cyberman. We'll forgive the neon logo on the box because it was the current Doctor Who logo at the time.... It was quickly reissued in the packaging standard that would become the template for the Doctor Who videos with only the font used for the story title being carried over. This design would be kept for the majority of the videos up until 1996 when the covers were redesigned. In 1999 Revenge of the Cybermen was reissued on video in episodic format. Revenge of the Cybermen was one of two Doctor Who stories to be issued in the UK by the BBC - the other being Brain of Morbius. Revenge of the Cybermen was issued on DVD as part of Doctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set with Silver Nemesis on 9 August 2010 setting a record of the longest gap between initial release on video and release on DVD.

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