Friday 17 August 2012

633 Attack of the Cybermen Part One

EPISODE: Attack of the Cybermen Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 05 January 1985
WRITER: "Paula Moore"
DIRECTOR: Matthew Robinson
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 8.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Attack of the Cybermen

1985: I'm at secondary school, my Maths teacher is a Doctor Who fan and the series has returned to it's traditional Saturday night slot but in a new 45 minute format.

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In sewer tunnels two men, Bill & David, are working. They find a wall that shouldn't be there and then one, then the other disappear.
Darkened tunnels, people disappearing, you can't really go wrong
The Doctor is conducting a program of repairs in the Tardis, including the Chameleon circuit.
What is Peri wearing? The shorts, OK. But the top, in the same shade of Neon Pink? I swear that people didn't wear thing like that in the 80s. In the gym.... maybe. Out and about? No. It's the start of a run of very bad costumes for Miss Bryant to wear that can only be described as "for the Dads"! Nicola Bryant's already had trouble with costumes not keeping her warm enough on location, that isn't going to do her any favours!
On Earth Lytton is organising a diamond robbery with Griffiths, Russell & Payne.
Maurice Colbourne, as Lytton, first appeared in Matthew Robinson previous Doctor Who story Resurrection of the Daleks written by Eric Saward. Terry Molloy, here playing Russell, was in that story too as Davros a role he reprises in Revelation & Remembrance of the Daleks.

Brian Glover, Griffiths, will be familiar to everyone as professional Yorkshireman of choice during the sixties & seveties. He made his name in the film Kes, and science fiction fans will know him as the warder in Alien 3.

I once overheard two Doctor who fans talking in a shop and one of them claiming he'd got the licence plate number for Lytton's car. Why would you want that? There are limits to my sadness it seems!

The scenes of the gang in the car were filmed at Glenthorne Road in Hammersmith.

Russell is sent to fetch 7 killos of plastic explosives while the others procede to a garage with a floor opening onto the sewers.
The garage is filmed at Birkbeck Road in Acton and has since been built on as the linked photos show.
The Tardis conducts a flyby of Halley's comet before heading towards Earth, following a distress beacon, where it materialises in a scrapyard and takes the form of a dresser.
At the point this episode was broadcast Halley's Comet was heading towards Earth for an encounter around the start of 1986. Subjct to great anticipation it was a bit of a damp squib with the comet being barely visible. Halley is next due to encounter Earth in 2061 which, God willing, I'm hoping to see (I'll be 88). Arthur C. Clarke has written 2061: Odyssey Three around that encounter and one would encourage one's readers to enjoy it.

Producer John Nathan-Turner, a man not averse to making mischevous statements to attract media interest in the show, said they were thinking of getting rid of the Tardis' familiar Police Box exterior so it spends this story in various disguises. The first is a kitchen dresser.

The scrapyard was filmed at Becklow Road, also in Acton, and has likewise been built on.

The Doctor feels conspicuous "As if I'd organised a surprise party and can't remember who'd for"
At the time this just lookd like the Doctor blathering along. With the benefit of knowing where he has landed and a little later knowledge it takes on a completely different tone and makes the program look guilty of forward planning it wasn't remotely doing. As we'll see the Tardis has landed in the Junkyard at 76 Totter's Lane, where it left from in An Unearthly Child. Now undoubtably this reference was inserted at the behest of series continuity adviser Ian Levine. But as we'll see in Remembrance of the Daleks the Doctor *HAS* organised a surprise party at 76 Totter's Lane for his old foes the Daleks, leaving behind the Hand of Omega!

Peri claims the Doctor has called her Tegan, Zoe, Susan, Jamie and the Terrible Zodin over the last few days due to his dodgy memory post regeneration. The Fifth Doctor had trouble with his companion's names just after he regenerated. Zodin was never seen in the series but referred to by the second Doctor during The Five Doctors.

The location for the streets The Doctor & Peri wander down is Davis Road in, you've guessed it, Acton!

The Doctor discovers the transmitter for the signal in a house, but also detects that it's being relayed. They return to the Tardis and follow the signal back to it's source in the Garage Lytton is using.
At the garage the Tardis becomes an old organ which the Doctor plays a section of Bach's Toccata and Fugue.
While inspecting the pit they are attacked by Lytton's policemen but overcome them.
Michael Jeffries & Mike Braden return again as Lytton's Policemen. What they're doing here isn't explained, but they do seem to be tracking their boss. Could it be that the Lytton we see here is the real one, and they're following him on the orders of Commander Lytton, the duplicated Dalek officer?
Lytton's party believe they are being followed, and Payne is sent back to take car of their pursuer but as he lies in wait he is grabbed from behind and killed. Lytton's party is approached by a figure in the tunnels which Griffiths shoots at.
More green goo going everywhere!
Lytton stops him and a door in the mysterious wall opens revealing the Cyberleader.
The season 22 episodes were all filmed as 45 minute instalments for the BBC, but when they were sold abroad they were split into the more standard 25 minute chunks. Here's where the break between the shorter episodes 1 & 2 occurs. Welcome back to David Banks as the Cyber Leader again in the role he previously played in Earthshock & The Five Doctors and which he'd reprise in Silver Nemesis. This is the only 80s Cyberman story not to feature Mark Hardy as the Cyber Lieutenant, a role taken this time by Brian Orrell who returns as a Cyberman in Silver Nemesis.

Cybermen & Sewers have history together: The Cybermen is in the sewers during Invasion.

Lytton surrenders to the Cyberleader & Griffiths is taken prisoner but Russell slips away. On Telos some prisoners of the Cybermen in a work party attack their guard but only two, Bates & Stratton, get away and they leave behind the Cyberman head essential to Bates' plan. Their escape is monitored from Cyber Control by the Cyber Controller.
This is our first return to Telos since 1967's Tomb of the Cybermen. The same location used in 1967, Gerrards Cross Quarry, once again serves as Telos' surface. It's also been Dulkis in the Dominators. & Jaconda in Twin Dillema.

Also returning from Tomb of the Cybermen is Michael Kilgarriff who once again plays the Cyber-Controller. Since then he'd been an Ogron in Frontier in Space and the eponymous Robot in Tom Baker's first story. Now I'm all for reusing actors in the same role where possible. How the producers of the 2000 Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) thought they could get away with Pauline Quirke playing the secretary role in the second series that Jessica Stevenson played in the first series I don't know. But in this case..... 1967 was 18 years before this was filmed. In the meantime Killgarriff had put on some weight (Insert Fat Controller gag here) so made rather a dumpy Cyber Controller. Since he is a) totally concealed and b) didn't supply the voice the first time round, perhaps an actor of a similar statue to most of the rest of the Cybermen would have been a more apropriate casting?

The ideas from the original Cyber Controller - enlarged head, no "ears"/head pipes - are applied to the 1980s Cybermen to give the new Cybercontroller costume. Unfortunately they opted to give the Controller a chest unit this time which only serves to emphasise the problems highlighted above!

Bates is played by actor Michael Attwell who was also in a 1967 Doctor Who story, in this case the Ice Warriors, where he played the Martian Isbur. He's been in EastEnders as Kenny Beale.

The Cybermen's slave parties are well done here: you can tell that there's something not quite right about the people involved but quite what isn't obvious at this point.... all will be revealed in part 2.

The Doctor & Peri are detected by the Cybermen.
As Griffiths mocks the Cyberleader the Leader pushes against the sides of Griffiths' head. Not nice.

Look round the walls of the Cybermen's base. There's the two sewer maintainance workers and Lytton's policemen all being converted into Cybermen. So why did the Cybermen kill Payne?

The Cybermen bases here would seem to provide some inspiration for the insides of the Borg Cubes in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Inded that's not the only idea the Borg have borrowed from the Cybermen!

The Doctor & Peri encounter Russell in the tunnel and it emerges he is an undercover metropolitan police officer sent to observe the activities of Lytton. Bates & Stratton attack & kill another Cyberman, safely removing the head this time, which Stratton is to wear as a disguise to get them into Cyber Control, but are still missing the third person they need to fly the ship. The Doctor, Russell & Peri encounter a Cyberman which the Doctor kills with his sonic lance as they attempt to escape the sewers.
There's several Cybermen, like this one, painted black in this episode. If you need to be wandering round dark tunnels unseen then that makes perfect sense.
The Cyberleader & Lytton find the dead Cyberman and Lytton pockets the sonic lance.
Keep your eye on ho has the sonic lance....
Returning to the garage the Doctor & Peri find the policemen which they left locked up gone. They enter the Tardis and find Cybermen within. Russell kills one by shooting it in the head from point blank range several times
Many of the Cybermen seems suddenly vunerable in this story and you could argue that this one should be shoved in that category as previously we've seen Cybermen survive machine gun fire at close range. But Russell is shooting from very close range, with the gun barrel literally against the head so he could be lucky and is shooting into a vunerable spot on the faceplate...
but Russell is killed when more arrive with Lytton & Griffiths, seizing Peri as the Cyberleader orders her to be destroyed at once.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Now that's not a bad episode of Doctor Who at all. There's very little wrong with it at all from what I can see bar Peri's costume & the Controller's tummy. Attack's got a bad reputation amongst fans but I see nothing here to give it a black mark.

This episode is the last time that the series topped 8 million viewers, recording the best viewing figure post season 19 (Time Flight).

So who is Paula Moore? Well she's not a real person, we can be sure of that. It would seem that "she" is some combination of script editor Eric Saward, series continuity adviser Ian Levine and Saward's ex-girlfriend Paula Woolsey. Quite what combination is up for debate as several contradictory statements on the matter have been made by the parties concerned - see Wikipedia, The Matrix Databank and The DVD for various versions. I can see a number of typically Saward elements to the script: Mercenaries, the Doctor relegated to the side of the main action, a high body count (six characters in the first episode don't make it to the second) and a reuse of characters from Saward's previous story. I can also see a lot of past continuity references here. In this episode alone we had Cybermen in the Sewers (The Invasion), Telos & The Controller (Tomb of the Cybermen), a ship behind the moon (Moonbase/The Invasion) and the Junkyard (Unearthly Child) plus an oblique pointer to 1986, via Halley's comet, the significance of which will only become apparent tomorrow. We'll point out that a previous story some years ago is set in that year and leave it at that for now.

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