Monday 26 December 2011

399 Revenge of the Cybermen Part Two

EPISODE: Revenge of the Cybermen Part Two
TRANSMITTED: 26 April 1975
WRITER: Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set

The Doctor escapes from the room and hearing Sarah's scrams rushes to the crew room where he finds her having been bitten by a Cybermat. The Doctor & Harry take her to the Transmat to use it to purge the poison from her system but they find the pentallion drive removed and the Transmat not functioning, concluding Kellman is responsible and working for the Cybermen. The Doctor jury rigs a replacement circuit while Stevens & Lester go to arrest Kellman who is now armed. Sarah & Harry are transmatted to Voga but the circuit explodes stranding them there. Harry finds gold, which is abundant on the planet, but his curiosity gets them into trouble when they are found and captured by the Vogans. Lester & Stevens capture & disarm Kellman. The Doctor explains to Lester & Stevens that the Cybermen are allergic to gold because it clogs their breathing apparatus. The Doctor threatens Kellman with the Cybermat as the Cybermen approach the station. Harry & Sarah are taken to Vorus who seems to know a lot about what has been happening on the beacon and tells them only four humans were meant to be left alive. Vorus is summoned by councillor Tyrum. Kellman tells the Doctor where the missing pentallion drive is. Tyrum sends his militia into the gold mines to relieve Vorus' guardians under protest from Vorus. Fighting breaks out between the two factions. The Doctor reactivates the transmat but using it fails to return Sarah & Harry who escape from their gold chains and are taken to Tyrum. The Cybership nears the station and docks. Stevens, Lester & The Doctor attempt to stop them but the Cybermen open fire and all three are gunned down!

It takes a while for the Cybermen to properly show up in this story. They pop up here and there through the first two episodes but don't get to interact with anyone else until the end of the episode when they storm the beacon. So half way through the story and effectively they've only just showed up. For a monster that I've not seen for six years I'd be wanting a bit more a bit sooner. Gerry Davies, who's been busy writing Doomwatch since his last Doctor Who (1967's The Tomb of the Cybermen), has used this structure with the Cybermen before: They're not fully revealed in either The Moonbase or Tomb of the Cybermen till the end of the second episode. As we've said this is the first proper Cybermen story for six and half years, although they had brief cameos in The War Games, Mind of Evil & Carnival of Monsters. As is traditional for the Cybermen they've had a redesign. Essentially these Cybermen are the Invasion version wearing the Moonbase/Tomb chest units with cabling on the limbs replaced by ribbed vacuum cleaner hose which also surrounds the tubes projecting from the head. For the first time we get a designated Cyberleader, who has a black helmet with a silver face plate. These Cybermen are allergic to gold, which apparently clogs their breathing apparatus..... which is a little strange since we saw Cybermen operating in a vacuum in The Moonbase & Wheel in Space so I would have thought that they didn't need to breather. The gold allergy joins a lengthy list of Cyber weaknesses which also includes radiation, gravity, plastic solvents and emotions.

Neither of the Cybermen with their names listed in speaking roles have played the monsters before but both have been in Doctor Who previously. The Cyberleader, Christopher Robbie was in the Mind Robber as the Karkus while the credited Cyberman Melville Jones was a guard in The Time Monster.

Onto the Vogan cast members in this story: Playing Vorus is David Collings on his Doctor Who debut. He'll return as Poul in The Robots of Death (directed by Michael Briant) and Mawdryn in Mawdryn Undead. He's best known to telefantasy fans for playing Silver in Sapphire & Steel. His rocket scientist Magrik is played by Michael Wisher who we've just seen in Genesis of the Daleks as Davros although the story was recorded after Revenge of the Cybermen. See Genesis of the Daleks episode 2 for a complete list of his Doctor Who roles. Vogan Elder Tyrum is a final Doctor Who role for Kevin Stoney who was Mavic Chen in The Daleks' Master Plan and Tobias Vaughan in The Invasion, both directed by Douglas Camfield. In 1984 his death was erroneously reported by fan publication Doctor Who Bulletin so it was a great shock to fans when he appeared on stage at a 1987 convention! He eventually passed away in 2008, aged 86, after a long battle with skin cancer. Brian Grellis is Sheprah and we'll see him again as Safran in The Invisible Enemy and the Megaphone Man in Snakedance.

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