Monday 25 June 2012

580 Earthshock Part Three

EPISODE: Earthshock Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Monday 15 March 1982
WRITER: Eric Saward
DIRECTOR: Peter Grimwade
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 9.8 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Earthshock

The Cybermen identify the Doctor and decide to secure the freighter. Scott wants to go & search for the Doctor. The Doctor & Adric are taken to the bridge for interrogation as the Cyberleader's personal guard is activated and the bridge notices a power surge from the hold which the Tardis also detects. Cybermen come to life tearing off their plastic covering. The Doctor's story about a bomb isn't believed by the captain. The size of the power loss is huge compared to the smaller ones seen before. The Freighter's crew are armed as more power drains are detected. Lt Scott takes his troopers and Tegan to find the Doctor, leaving a communicator with Nyssa & Kyle in the Tardis. Ringway has the stairs to the bridge barricaded. The intruders show up on the monitor and the Doctor identifies them as Cybermen. They easily penetrate the barricade and prepare to take the bridge. Ringway holds the command crew at gunpoint to prevent them resisting the Cybermen. Adric realises his badge for mathematical excellence has a gold edge, which can harm Cybermen. This attracts Ringway's attention allowing him to be overcome and the bridge sealed against the advancing Cybermen. The Captain realises that each of her 15,000 silos contains Cybermen. The troopers attack two Cybermen killing one and seizing it's gun but the other injured one escapes. The Cybermen use a thermal lance to cut through one of the doors but the Doctor uses the ship's anti matter power source to stabilise the door trapping an entering Cyberman. The wounded Cyberman finds it's leader and believing that there is more resistance he orders reinforcements activated. The Cybermen blow open the other door to the bridge and storm in, killing Ringway for betraying them. The Cyberleader tells the Doctor he will destroy Earth. All over the ship more Cybermen emerge. A scared Tegan is separated from Scott & the Troopers. The Doctor watches the huge number of Cybermen horrified as the Cyberleader tells him "My Army Awakes DOCTOR!"

Oh how good is that? Proper base under siege stuff with Cybermen everywhere by the end of the episode. Doctor Who gets flack for seemingly only ever having three of any monster but there's at least eight Cybermen in the shot of them walking towards the bridge, and then the shot at the end uses visual trickery to multiply the Cybermen out several times. When I said I would be watching this episode my friend and regular commentator Ralph Burns had this to say on the subject

My first memory of Who was of the Cybermen bursting out of the walls on the space freighter.

It made a life-long impression! Thinking about it, Doctor Who is the only hobby that I have consistently maintained man and boy and as far back as I can recall (Star Trek, Transformers, Douglas Adams' work, and Marvel Comics come close but all have axed and waned in interest level and have had periods where I didn't bother at all). The Earthshock moment is one of my earliest memories!

More Cyber faves in this episode. Cybermen in "suspended animation" storage ? Tomb of the Cybermen & The Invasion. Allergy to gold? Revenge of the Cybermen. In fact is this the first time a Cyber weakness has made it to a second story!

They don't give Ringway much of a chance do they? They already know the Doctor's aboard so why doesn't it occur to them that it might be some more of his friends causing the problems. There again Ringway's life expectancy probably wasn't huge after they took control.

We get our first proper look at the Cybermen's weapons here: I can remember being fascinated by them as they didn't have an obvious handle for the Cybermen to hold. The effect they produce is superb: a circular green glow round the barrel end when fired. It looks fab and works well. It'll be used for the next three stories until the Cybermen's minor redesign in Silver Nemesis when they're replaced by firework firing guns that I'm going to have a lot to say about when they turn up. These are fab, the replacements are rubbish.

One of the mass of Cybermen that appear in this episode is regular extra in a monster costume Graham Cole who'd previously been a Marshman in Full Circle and Melkur in Keeper of Traken, a role he'll briefly reprise shortly. He'll do another Cyberman in The Five Doctors, a crewman in Resurrection of the Daleks & a Jacondan in Twin Dillema before becoming PC Tony Stamp in The Bill. Clare Clifford, playing Professor Kyle, is another member of the Doctor Who guest cast with Angels on her CV. She now works as a stand up comic. Playing first office Berger is June Bland who'll return as Elizabeth Rowlinson in Battlefield.

Which brings us to series principle guest star: playing Captain Briggs is Beryl Reid. People make arguments, even on the DVD that she's woefully miscast and is meant to be a Sigourney Weaver/Aliens style marine. No. They've got it wrong. She's a world weary intergalactic freighter captain, essentially an intergalactic trucker who just wants to get to Earth on time, get her bonus and avoid her fine. It might be big name stunt casting but she does a perfectly good job here and I have no complaints at all.

Join us tomorrow for the finale and the real shock in Earthshock!

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