Sunday 3 April 2011

132 The Tenth Planet: Part Two

EPISODE: The Tenth Planet: Part Two
TRANSMITTED: 15 October 1966
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Derek Martinus
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - Cybermen: The Tenth Planet & Attack of The Cybermen

Disguised (badly!) in the guards exterior clothing the visitors enter the base, shooting a guard that defies them with the dish like weapon usually carried beneath their chest unit and knocking out General Cutler. They identify themselves as Cybermen from the planet Mondas. Ben tries to attack one with the fallen guard's machine gun but the Cyberman twist it out of shape and have him confined, using the base's cinema projection room as a temporary cell. Attempts to rescue the Zeus 4 fail and the capsule explodes. The Cybermen begin cataloguing the base personnel for their transportation to Mondas where they will become Cybermen. Ben uses the projector to blind one of the Cybermen, steals it's gun and kills it. He sneaks into the control room and passes the gun to a recovering Cutler who uses it to slay the remaining two Cybermen. Regaining contact with International Space Command in Geneva they discover a second rocket had been launched to help recover Zeus 4. The pilot is Cutler's son and they must now guide this rocket back to Earth. Cutler attempts to secure the base against further incursion. The base's radar systems pick up a large number of ships: a fleet of Cybermen spacecraft is on it's way to invade Earth.

For me this episode is all about the Cybermen. I think they're fabulous here. We get the impression that under those costumes there might be something human left, indeed at one point the Cyberleader Krail (although he's not called Cyberleader in the script) does refer to their brains as having emotions removed. They tower over every other member of the cast, there's a lovely bit as Krail walks past the significantly shorter Doctor & Polly. Right from the start you know they mean business, from the shot of the bodies lying half buried in the snow through to instantly killing the guard, viscously overpowering Cutler and bending the gun like it was rubber. And the voices.... lots of people, my wife included, hate the original Cybermen voices but to me they sound like the Cybermen have recordings of words being spoken and their speech takes each of the individual words and sticks them together forming a disjointed pattern of speech. The Cybermen here are voiced by Roy Skelton, and I think he does a great job. For something similar listen to the attempts to plug the sound fault on Abominable Snowmen part 2. I think the costumes look great but even during this second week they're not holding up well with Krail's ear handles being held onto his head by clearly visible cellotape and one of the other Cyberman's tubes are flopping around disconnected. It's little wonder a make over was ordered ahead of their next appearance.

Kit Pedler's day job was working at the Department of Ophthalmology (anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye) at the University of London. One of the things he had become interested in was the replacement of human limbs and organs with artificial ones: Cybernetics. Looking to replace the Star Monks in his new Doctor Who story he drew on this to create a race that had taken the idea of Cybernetics as far as it could go and replaced the whole body with mechanical parts. Thus the idea of the Cybermen was born. The Cybermen were just what Doctor who was looking for: a successful monster to go alongside the Daleks. The indications are that the BBC new they had a hit on their hands very quickly: Tenth Planet aired 8th-29th October 1966 and on the 18th November a sequel was requested. It's a good job the Cybermen were a success. Terry Nation was attempting to launch the Daleks in their own TV series. The BBC had been offered the series, on 1st November 1966, but rejected it on the 22nd November which then led to Nation trying to sell the series in the USA and the subsequent withdrawal of the Daleks from Doctor Who.

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