Wednesday 11 May 2011

170 The Tomb of the Cybermen: Episode One

EPISODE: The Tomb of the Cybermen: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: 02 September 1967
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Morris Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Victor Pemberton
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Tomb Of The Cybermen

Welcome to Doctor Who season 5, the famous season of monsters, reckoned by some to be the greatest season of Doctor Who ever. And what away to start: A Troughton story that exists in it's entirety! Huzzah! We're on DVD too!

We kick off with another great "Start the series by explaining everything" scene where the Doctor claims to be 450 years old! On the planet Telos Professor Parry's expedition have blasted free rock revealing the doors to the city. Kaftan, partner of the expedition's financier Kleig offers a reward for the first man to open the doors. A crewman tries and is electrocuted. The Tardis lands and it's crew are swiftly found & apprehended. The expedition are explaining they are searching for the remains of the Cybermen. The Doctor insists on staying and after he checks that the electrical charge on the door has been diffused he gets Toberman, Kaftan's servant, to open the doors to the city. The Doctor uses the logic controls to open the two inner doors leaving the central hatch closed.
Eric Klieg: Doctor, you seem to be very familiar with this place.
The Doctor: Oh no, not really, um, it's all based on symbolic logic, the same as you use in computers. The opening mechanism to this door, an or-gate you call it.
Eric Klieg: Yes yes, I can see that, but how did you know in the first place?
The Doctor: Oh, I used my own special technique.
Eric Klieg: Oh really Doctor, and may we know what that is?
The Doctor: Keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut.
Klieg is left to try to open the door. Victoria, Kaftan & Viner find a room containing equipment to revitalise Cybermen. Jamie & Haydon find a room with a dead metallic giant silverfish like creature in. Klieg is defeated by the equations necessary to open the central hatch but the Doctor points him towards a solution. Kaftan causes Victoria to be trapped in the Revitalising machine. Haydon ties some controls in their room causing a hypnotic pattern to appear. The Doctor tried to release Victoria. Jamie is hypnotised by the pattern but Haydon turns it off. They think it's a target range. They run the program again as the Doctor frees Victoria. The Doctor runs into the room Jamie's in as a Cyberman figure appears from nowhere and Haydon is shot, his smoking body falling to the floor.

It's "Doctor Who does Curse of the Pharaohs". Obviously inspired by the Howard Carter "Tutankhamun" expedition and Mummy horror films this episode is exactly that: penetrate an ancient tomb, only on an alien planet rather than in Egypt, and work out how to get through the sealed doors and past the traps. Of course in the horror films once you find the Mummy it wakes up and rises from it's tomb so I think we can guess what's going to happen. Troughton's superb in this, lots of great lines baiting Klieg who he takes an instant dislike to.

I'm pretty certain I've seen the hypnotic targeting effect in this episode used in an old 1960s episode of Top of the Pops!

Some of the cast for this story aren't with us for all of it. Bernard Holley played the already deceased Peter Haydon and will return as an Axon in The Claws of Axos. You may have seen him as the Chief Constable in Frost who has a liking for the rogue Inspector. Jim Callum is played by Clive Merrison who returns 20 years later as the Deputy Chief Caretaker in Paradise Towers, and is a far better actor than either of his Doctor Who appearances will et you believe. I don't know anything about Alan Johns who plays Ted Rogers but am required by law to do a 3-2-1 joke at this point. The nervous John Viner is a first Doctor who role for Cyril Shaps who'll be back as Dr. Lennox in The Ambassadors of Death, the ill fated Prof. Herbert Clegg in the first episode of the recently released on DVD Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders and the Archimandrite in The Androids of Tara, his only role which survives the story he appears in!

Tomb of the Cybermen is currently the earliest complete surviving Troughton story. But it wasn't always this way. We've just finished season 4, of which no complete story remains and there's only 9 episodes remaining. Season 5, the famous season of monsters, was once in much worse shape. At one point just two episodes remained from season 5: The Enemy of the World 3 and the final episode, Wheel in Space 6. Over the years many were returned till at the end of 1991 the BBC's holdings for season 5 consisted of the following:

Abominable Snowmen 2 (returned Feb 1982)
Ice Warriors 1 & 4-6 (all found in a cupboard at the BBC in August 1988)
Enemy of the World 3 (always present)
Web of Fear 1 (returned 1978),
Wheel in Space 3 (returned in April 1984) & 6 (always present)

That's nine episodes present, but still not a complete story (both the same as season 4) and nothing at all from either Tomb of the Cybermen or Fury from the Deep. Then in December 1991 the Film & Video library had a phone call from Asia TV in Hong Kong....

An accident while editing Tomb of the Cybermen episode two meant it has jumped out of sequence - see here for the entry for that episode.

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