Attack of the Cybermen
The Wheel in Space
The Tomb of the Cybermen
|Dates||Sept. 2, 1967 -
Sept. 23, 1967
With Patrick Troughton, Frazier Hines, Deborah Watling.
Written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis.
Script-edited by Victor Pemberton. Directed by Morris Barry.
Produced by Peter Bryant.
|Synopsis: The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria encounter an expedition on Telos, half of which is determined to explore the lost city of the Cybermen... the other half anxious to wake the Cybermen and their deadly Controller.|
Well Worth The Wait by Kevin Guhl 9/1/97
Even though Tomb of the Cybermen was lost for decades, it was well worth the wait. All the elements of a classic Doctor Who story shine out from Tomb. In fast-paced sci-fi tales, good characters can often be reduced to automatons, simply devices to advance the plot. Not so in this case. Patrick Troughton's Doctor displays his characteristic humour and charm, while taking a break to comfort Victoria when she grieves her father. An unusual scene for Doctor Who, but it's one of Tomb's and the series' finest moments. Despite the blatant sexism and racism in Tomb, Victoria and Toberman, the black servant, both manage to dent their stereotypes: Victoria, who shows she's a brewing feminist and Toberman when he saves everyone 's butts from the Cyberleader. Despite some hilarious accents, the rest of the survey team stands out too. And Jamie, of course, is his usual riotous self! Finally, the Cybermen themselves pose a lingering threat in this tale. Many viewers, familiar with the detailed Cybermen of later years, might scoff at the simple designs of the Troughton-era. However, their monotone voices, lack of features and some good directing make them a frightening threat! The scenes of them emerging from the tomb are enough to give one shivers and very prereminiscent of Star Trek 's Borg. These great characterizations, along with a simple, but intriguing story of alien assimilation, make Tomb of the Cybermen one of Doctor Who's classics.
A Good, Solid Offering by Jeff Sims 9/1/97
The Tomb of the Cybermen is a good, solid story, one of the finest surviving offerings from the b/w era. The proper atmosphere of mystery and suspense is well maintained as the show unfolds: arrival on the dead planet, the discovery of the "ruins", the quest for information, the solving of puzzles, and then the realization of mortal peril. The Cybermen make excellent Who-style monsters, certain of their invincibility, crippled by their arrogance, plotting the most loathsome crimes. The sets are simple, clean, and effective in portraying the control room and the huge underground "tomb". The regular cast are great, as are the supporting actors, especially George Pastell as the scheming villain (something he does well; he also plays the evil Egyptian in Hammer's "The Mummy"). Best scene: the famous awakening of the Cybermen, set to interesting music.
A Review by Michael Hickerson 19/12/97
When this story first returned to light a few years ago, I was both excited and hesistant about seeing it. It had such a reputation as being a "classic" from the Troughton era that I wondered if the story could ever live up to the hype surrounding it. So, that day I was finally able to get my hands on a copy, I anxiously put in my VCR, fully intending to take it in one episode segements and thorougly enjoy it.
Four episodes later, the ending credits were rolling and I was ready to rewind and watch again.
Is the word ‘classic’ too strong for this story? Absolutely not. The best story that is still available from the Troughton years, this is a pure joy to watch. It ranks in my top five of all time Who stories and is one I often return to when I'm in the mood for great Who . Everyone concerned gives wonderful performances, the strongest being Troughton as Doctor. He has a touch of the dark, manipulative Doctor that we will see in McCoy (his tricking the group into opening the tomb is wonderful) but also a bit of the sensitive side of our favorite Time Lord. His scene with Victoria about his family is one of the nicest "quiet" moments that show has seen.
But there is also a driving story that has suspense and strenght. Seeing this, it's easy to see why the Cybermen were the monsters of the Troughton era. They literally tower over the Doctor. They are a menacing presence to say the least. Their emergence from the tomb is the stuff of Who legend and a much stronger statement (to me) than their emergence from the sewers in The Invasion. But the most disconcerting thing about them is their voices. I still get chills at the end of episode two when the Cybercontroller stalks over and announces, "You belong to us. You shall be like us."
All in all a perfect story and one that I am glad was returned to the archives. Now, if only my wish that The Evil of the Daleks would be found could come true...
A Review by Matt Michael 23/4/98
At the time this video came out, I had no idea it was the most eagerly sought-after missing story ever. I just saw it in Woolworths and bought it. This means that I came to it without any of the hype or the expectations of some fans, and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
There are a myriad of great scenes: the Doctor talking of his family, the opening of the tombs and the awakening of the Cybermen. The Cyber-Controller is very scary, and the Cybermats are cute but fun. The design is lovely, with the tombs themselves taking special credit, and the Cybermen are superb-- I much prefer these emotionless zombies to the camp 80s scenery-chewing monsters.
There are shades of the darker seventh Doctor in the second Doctor's subtle manipulation of events, and his baiting of Klieg. The acting is uniformly good, and the direction is well suited to the Hammer-esque story, with the clanging tomb hatch and the lurching Frankenstien's monster-type Toberman.
Perhaps the only downside to the production is that the suspense and tension of the first half is lost once the Cybermen emerge from their tombs, at which point it becomes another Troughton siege story. Nevertheless, it is far superior to either The Moonbase or The Wheel in Space, and, for my money, is the best Cyberman story of all (although to be honest I've never really liked the Cybermen very much).
Overall, The Tomb of the Cybermen is a superior monster story, and while perhaps not quite as wonderful as its reputation once had us believe, it is one of the better surviving Troughtons (competing only with the excellent The Mind Robber for the title of best). And although I secretly wish The Evil of the Daleks had survived instead, I'm going to give it 9/10.
A Review by Ari Lipsey 5/6/98
Tomb of the Cybermen has long been considered a classic by many fans, before and after its retrieval in Hong Kong. I quite like it personally, but it's not one of the all-time greats. I don't think that it even tries to be, but many fans just haven't taken it at face value. Tomb of the Cybermen is comic book, not a groundbreaking piece of television drama. The bad guy, Eric Klieg, is not meant to be taken seriously, as he is a coward. The ship's Captain is the all-American hero with a not so all-American accent. Most importantly, like any comic book, all the characters we like live! The best part of this story is that the real menace is human ambition, not the Cybermen. The dual bad guy element works really well, each having there own agenda.
The Cybermen are quite scary emerging from their tombs, and when they attack the good guys from that round door. I just don't like their voices. They were probably much scarier on original transmission, but it is meant to be fear playing off computer ignorance. I don't find computers scary, just a nuisance, like the Cyberman's voices. I also think the writers had a little too much fun with the Cybermats. They're quite silly looking, and a rather dull idea.
The Cybercontroller is portrayed very mysteriously, and though I prefer the much more sophisticated Controller of Attack of the Cybermen, this one is nevertheless an interesting character. I really like his large brain. Troughton is great as usual, the speech about his family is one of the most classic scenes. I'm not sure what I make of Victoria, as I don't see how she differs from Susan, Vicki or Dodo. And who doesn't like Jamie?
The story lacks any real emotion. It's just a fun adventure, appealing to peoples curious nature (the archeologist). Some drama over a death or an injustice prevents it from being a full blown classic. As I said before, it's a comic book appealing to children and adolescents. Classic Who can be appreciated by all ages.
A Review by Leo Vance 10/11/98
When I first watched this, I had no idea that from 1967 to 1992 it had been lost. I had no idea that it was widely regarded as a classic. Therefore I looked on it as just another story, with the added pleasure of my favourite monsters, the Cybermen, and in particular, the Cybercontroller, which seemed (from the novelisation) to have a glowing brain inside its head.
Going through the cast, its hard to find problems. Captain Hopper and Viner are both well played, but Professor Parry is not so good. Eric Klieg impresses, and is one of the better 1960's villains (that I've seen). Kaftan is unquestionable well played, and Toberman is better. The Cybercontroller is very well played, and the Cybermen are extremely chilling. Patrick Troughton is being phased out of his comic role by now, but he is still hilarious, and Jamie is well played as always. Deborah Watling is better as Victoria though, and improves the obligatory TARDIS scene.
The set design is superb, the direction is unsurprisingly good, but in particular, the costumes are great. From the Cybercontroller to Victoria, they are well thought-out and achieved.
The effects are good, and in particular, the Cybermats are highly effective. The Cybermens voices have rarely been better, and the effects are generally good.
Despite an absence of gripes, The Tomb of the Cybermen fails to find the elusive it of classic Doctor Who. But its still the undebatable King of the Complete Troughtons (excepting The War Games, which I haven't seen). 9/10
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 3/4/99
The Tomb of the Cybermen is a strong story to open season five, a story that allows the titular Cybermen to return with an impact. It is easy to see where it`s roots lie, films chronicling Egyptian Mummies terrorising the cast, but basically the tale is just a base under siege story, similair to the previous two outings for the Cybermen.
The Cybermen themselves come across as a real threat, the Cyber-Controller even more so, and this is enhanced by the chlaustrophobic setting. The cast themselves are variable, Hopper and Viner are somewhat cliched, and Parry doesn`t fair much better. Frazer Hines as Jamie is adequate, given the story`s requirements. But Patrick Troughton sparkles with some of the comic elements being phased out of The Doctor`s character ,in favour of sly calculation and nervousness. Deborah Watling also shines with a little more depth being added to the character of Victoria. Perhaps best of all though are the trio of Toberman, Klieg and Kaftan, who all make the story work better with it having two sets of villains.
Mention should also be made of the sets (the tombs in particular looking very impressive) and of the incidental music which adds greater atmosphere to the tale. If there is anything to find fault with, it is in the story`s conclusion: after reopening the tombs, the Cybermen are simply resealed inside them again, with only the Controller suffering any real damage. The idea of the Cybermats also seems unnecessary, as the Cybermen, Kaftan, et. al. prove to be enough of a threat. Also some of the action shots don`t help the proceedings either, but instead highlight the budgetary restraints of the show.
Overall, however, The Tomb of the Cybermen lives up to it`s reputation of being a classic.
The Definitive Dr Who Story by Gerry Hume 5/2/00
I think what makes this a really great story is that it encapsulates some great mythical elements at the heart of Western culture.The first is the Faust legend which is considered to be the myth of Western culture as its about a man who sells his soul in return for ultimate power. Kleig plays the role of Faust;the man who wants absolute power but doesnt realise that he's going to have to sell his soul to get it by being turned into a soulless Cyberman.
On a more general level its also about western science and the danger it poses, through artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, of robbing us of our humanity. One of the real beauties of the story is that the trap is designed for intelligent beings. Science is a potential trap for the intelligent unwary because we can be led on by our curiosity or notions of progress into losing our humanity. Whilst we think, at the rational level, that we are being motivated by noble ideals what is really driving us along is something baser and more primal which our wonderful intellectual constructions are unwittingly in the service of.
So, The Tomb of The Cybermen updates the Faust myth by giving it a science fiction setting and contemporary relevance. It's also a little cleverer in that, whereas in the original story, Faust knows what he's letting himself in for here he does not and is perhaps more realistic about the way in which even noble ideals can lead us astray.
The other great "myth" is the Christian one of the god who sacrifices himself in order to save humanity. In Tomb, Toberman is first dehumanised, regains his humanity, and then performs the ultimate act of empathy by laying down his life to save his companions.his last act is to close the gates of hell against the evil of the Cybermen.
Those creatures, like all the Dr Who monsters, represent the monsters of our imagination, in particular a supressed fear about the dehumanising effects of science. The Daleks and Cybermen are parodies of scientists; brilliant creatures who have fallen under the spell of their own powers and have become parodies of humanity. They are completely power crazy and totally paranoid.
I think the above fear is what Dr Who is all about, like all stories which become popular it's because they reach down into the depths of our psyche.The monsters are our fears about ourselves and the Dr is the new synthesis; a man of science but without the mad will to power which haunts Western Civillization.He is capable of great empathy and frequently lays down his life for his friends - only to rise again. Familiar?
Tomb exemplifies these primal truths in Dr Who to the highest degree. It says that we become more human, not through the mad pursuit of science, but by developing our capacity for empathy to overcome our selfish natures. At the end of the story it is not the Dr but a human being who performs the ultimate act of empathy so that the myth becomes reality.
A Review by Samuel Payne 21/4/00
This story which is a favourite among all fans of the series goes straight in at number two as being one of the most glossy black and white stories of all time. The sets are amazing in this story. One wonders how on earth the managed to build a thing like and still be able to afford everything else. Needless to say, the production crew does not hold back on the other sets either, which are massive in comparison to previous attempts at futuristic set design.
The plot is quite simple. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria land on the planet Telos where they come across a group of archaeologists who aim to open up the sealed ancient tomb of the Cybermen. They do so with help from the Doctor, but are soon regretting their actions at two of the crew, Professor Kleig and Kaftan attempt to gain control of the Cybermen to bend upon their will to become all-powerful. They succeed in awaking the Cybermen from their deep sleep and attempt gain power through them but they are eventually overthrown and fail as the Cybermen kill them both. The Doctor makes sure the tombs are sealed up forever.
The Cybermen are at there best here. They are not vulnerable to gold coins or arrows (see Silver Nemesis) and their movements and ideas are justified by intelligence and logic. The suits they wear are excellent, and are the best the Cybermen will ever look until Earthshock. Of great interest is the giant Cybercontroller, with his giant head and blank chest, played by Michael Kilgarrif. The tombs themselves are amazing, with the Cybermen emerging from them like new-born, with each cavity holding a Cyberman like a womb holds an embryo.
The accompanying soundtrack is amazing and is used to it's full potential, which all adds to the build of tension when the Cybercontoller finally emerges.
The Doctor is great in this story and with the company of Victoria and Jamie, bestows upon them a unique concern and still wizard flair that makes Patrick Troughton one of my favourite Doctors. The acting in the production is fabulous, with even the Buck Rogers' comments of Captain Hopper being well delivered: "I'm going to get off this place with my skin still fitting tight all over - all right?"
The effects are slightly dated, as it is obvious that Toberman is held up by a cable is the attack scenes with the Cybermen, and that a dummy is used when Toberman returns the favour later on by spinning the Controller above his head. Yet this does not detract from the amazing scenes which involve the rupture in the Cyberman's chest unit, the freezing of the Cybermen and the advice which the Doctor gives Victoria about her deceased Father.
All Substance and Nothing Else by Nate Gundy 16/11/00
While I can find no fault with Gerry Hume's insightful analysis and praise for Tomb of the Cybermen's themes, I feel I must point out that important themes alone do not a good television production make. Adequate acting and dialogue also come into play.
True, the sets are fun and the Cybermen are spooky. In fact, I find these cold-hearted beings much more frightening than the pompous tin soldiers that followed them. What I don't like is the over-the-top yet empty fear delivered by the scientists, the monotone wisecracks from the American astronauts and the rather clunky dialogue that doesn't make Troughton's Doctor come off nearly as clever as he does in, say, The War Games ("Jamie, remind me to give you a lesson in tying ropes sometime").
Also, the racism. All the villains are of some ethnic persuasion or other, while none of the good guys are (I know, it was the sixties, but there were other shows back then that were not so oblivious). So while I'll admit to liking George Patell's portrayal of Klieg's absurd, and finally pitiable, hubris, I have to wonder if the accent was really necessary. And then there's Toberman. Childlike, monosyllabic Toberman. Yes, he sacrifices himself in the end, but why does he really do it? It seems to me that his driving motivation is to avenge the death of his mistress, Kaftan. This is eerily reminiscent of U.S. schools recently teaching their students that many blacks were happy as slaves.
Don't get me wrong. I love Doctor Who. And maybe with its themes, this is the definitive Doctor Who story.
It's still not very good.
A Review by Keith Bennett 27/9/01
I think it would be fair to say that, along with The Mind Robber, this is my favourite Second Doctor story, at least out of the ones that have survived. It is simply a wonderfully enjoyable story to watch from beginning to end, helped certainly by the outstanding sets, and the well performed characters.
Patrick Troughton is superb as the Doctor, showing that he was as good as any other portrayal at his best (I can't help feeling Pat gets looked over to often when the "which is your favourite Doctor?" question comes around). Kleig is fun to watch, and I also actually like Captain Hopper. I find his style appealing, and at least he's an American who sounds like an American!
Toberman, on the other hand, seems an unsure character. Is he just a dumb servant, or, to a certain extent, a shrewd thinker like Kleig and Kaftan? It doesn't seem clear, and, even allowing for the Cybermen taking him over, his character seems to fluctuate throughout the story.
The Cybermen themselves are quite good, although I have to admit I'm not a big fan of their voices, especially when they give out those squawking sounds when fighting, which makes them sound like a race of rubber duckies.
But this is a wonderful story overall, full of memorable scenes, like the Cybermen coming out of their tomb, and the Doctor's lovely talk with Victoria. It's consistently enjoyable throughout, and deserves its reputation as one of the best Doctor Who stories of all.
Feels strong by Tim Roll-Pickering 10/12/01
The Tomb of the Cybermen is unique as the only surviving complete story from Patrick Troughton's first two seasons as the Doctor. Consequently it has suffered since its rediscover since some of the effects aren't as spectacular as fans had been hoping for. But this should not detract from the story itself, which is strongly constructed and holds together even after repeated viewings, although it is probably best to see the story with no pre knowledge of it.
The opening scenes are interesting, particularly the humour where Victoria enters the TARDIS for the first time and the Doctor and Jamie explain it to her. We then go to the surface on Telos to see the discovery of the city - which at first appears to be little more than a remote outpost but rapidly becomes so much more. A recurrent theme of the story is the danger of biting off more than one can chew - Parry, the Doctor and Klieg all suffer from this as events grow out of all scale from how they expect and so suffer for their arrogance in believing they can control the situation. This contrasts nicely with the Cybermen, who have none of these feelings and so consequently fail only due to circumstances and not over assumption.
The characters are mixed, with Victoria alternatively scared out of her wits or determined to head into dangerous situations whilst the Doctor is at times directly responsible for the disaster that ensues by discreetly helping the opening up of the tombs. Of the guest cast George Pastell (Eric Klieg) is strong and sinister, but George Roubicek (Captain Hopper) is incredibly clichéd (prompting Victoria and Jim Callum's wonderful exchange: 'Is he always like that?' 'Most of the time, Vic, yeah.'). All three archaeologists come across as realistic even though limited time is spent showing their differences. From today's perspective Toberman is hard to defend since it is now far less acceptable to feature a strong, (mostly) silent and simple black character than it was at the time the story was made, particularly since other Doctor Who stories from these years were breaking away from such stereotypes, such as The Tenth Planet. The Cybermen themselves come across as truly threatening, especially when the Controller proves so hard to destroy and is still struggling in its final scene.
The music is familiar from previous stories (most significantly The Tenth Planet and The Moonbase) but it proves highly effective in setting the tone for the story. The effects suffer in a few places, such as in the shot where Toberman is lifted into the air by a Cyberman and the suspension wire is all too visible or the polystyrene when the Controller burst out of the revitalising unit, but this are only brief shots and the pace of the direction quickly moves the story past such brief disappointments. All in all The Tomb of the Cybermen is a strong opening to Season 5 since once more all the elements of production are working to complement one another. 9/10
A Review by Daniel Spelner 23/1/02
No-one wrote better for the Cybermen than their creators and this classic is verification of that. An archeological party have arrived on Telos, their objective - to uncover the mythic tombs of the long dead Cybermen. The flawless script is crisply written and the tale unfolds perfectly. There's an uneasy atmosphere of menace and trepidation that permeates the story, courtesy of director Morris Barry utilising the black and white filming to creepy effect. The cast are first rate conveying the nervousness and eventual terror they find within the tombs, but it is Patrick Troughton's understated, skittish but perceptive Doctor that lingers in the memory as he enigmatically manipulates the expedition unbeknown to them. Watch out also for Deborah Watling who is startlingly strong willed and assertive as Victoria, far removed from the screaming little girl you expect. As for the Cybermen, they are infinitely more convincing and chilling than their eighties counterparts, with their blank simplistic design, impassive electronic voices and their relentless pursuit of their goals. One of the all time greats of Dr Who.
A Review by Baysan Ahmet Tulu 12/7/02
WOW! This is a great DVD. Doctor Who : The Tomb Of The Cybermen DVD is excellent. All the Doctor Who DVD's are great, this one is really good as like the others. The extras are great, there are a lot of extras. The commentary, the 30 minute featurette and the rest of the extras are very great, and the easter eggs are very great too. The picture of The Tomb Of The Cybermen is very clean, and the best picture quality for the Patrick Troughton era. Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, and the other actors and actresses have great performances in this serial.
The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria are about to face the menacing Cybermen and the fearsome Cyber-Controller. What a great four parter, a really great story. One of the best Cybermen stories.
Besides being a wonderful DVD, this is also a wonderful Doctor Who story. This is one of the best Second Doctor stories. I am so pleased that this Doctor Who story was found in it's entirety back in 1991 and then released on video in 1992. Now in 2002, this story is on fantastically clean DVD. Everyone should get this brilliant DVD, it is one of the best Doctor Who DVD's.
Fit for the Tomb of Doctor Who by Daniel Clarke 26/7/02
The word "classic" is frequently overused when it comes to Doctor Who stories, but never has it seemed so out of place as it does with Tomb of the Cybermen. Doctor Who has and always will be a series about ideas, concepts and above all imagination. Imaginative stories were the cornerstone of the two great eras of Doctor Who, the Pertwee and Williams eras, but here, in season 5, imagination is nowhere to be seen. Every single story is the same... base under siege, followed by base under siege, followed by base under siege. Yet the underlying problem is not solely repetition, but the overall ethos of the show. The production team at the time were not concerned with making escapist, imaginative television, but instead with scaring children... and each and every season 5 story is geared towards this aim. Whether this aim is admirable or not, it should never have been allowed to impede the telling of coherent, well-plotted stories. However in Tomb, such an interference does indeed seem to take place.
The story up tp mid-way through episode three does indeed seem quite compelling. The Cybermen have set up a trap to turn intellectuals into Cybermen, in order that their race can survive. It is that this point of the story takes a turn for the worst. The Cyber controller suddenly announces "The humanoids must first be destroyed". WHAT?! Five minutes ago they wanted to humans into cybermen, not kill them! They have lain dorment for thousands of years in order to bring intellectuals to their tomb and turn those intellectuals into cybermen, yet in five minutes flat they abandon this plan just because the humans are causing a bit of trouble. Quite ridiculous! But of course the production team never intended to tell a story where the characters acted as characters in such a situation would. They intended to scare kids and if that meant the cybermen reacting contrary to their own well thought out plan then so be it.
It is of course not only the Cybermen who are behaving oddly...so is the Doctor. He himself acknowledges the danger of the Cybermen, yet throughout the story acts as if to help them. He opens the tomb, helps Klieg to open the hatch, revitalises the ailing Cybercontroller etc without any sensible motive. This cynic within me tells me that the script writers had not considered his motive at all, just as they had failed to consider the motives of all the characters. The characters in Davis and Pedler's eyes were just vehicles to the plot. The Doctor's actions demonstrate to me that the production team were not concerned with characters or well plotted stories... their sole concern was scaring children.
Praise for Tomb of the Cybermen shows the true extent of fan hypocrisy. Fans say that Mindwarp is ruined by the Doctor acting without motive, yet the same fans put Tomb in their top 10 (despite the fact that it is a story where the Doctor behaves in a similarly illogical manner). Fans praise the story for its well thought out scenes, for example the Doctor and Victoria scene, yet as most fans themselves acknowledge good scenes do not equate to a good story. The Time Monster episode 6 has some wonderful scenes (the hermit and timeram scenes), but how many fans praise The Time Monster as a good story? Fans curse the Pertwee era for being (apparently) formulaic, yet there seems to be almost universal praise for season 5. Consistent views seem to be lost on some people.
In my opinion, Tomb represents Doctor Who at its worst... an unimaginative story where characters act illogically to further the plot which itself is badly thought out. Imagination is sacrificed to help fulfill the production team's aim... to scare children. If the ethos of the programme had been different and the Cybermen had actually attempted to fulfil their plan of turning humans into Cybermen, we could have had a gem on our hands; The idea of dehumanisation is genuinely chilling. Alas it was not to be. I will leave the final word with my brother who I would describe as a "casual viewer". "The Cybermen didn't actually doing anything in this story except wander around and say 'I will survive' that is". I couldn't agree more. 2/5
Reductionism by Andrew Wixon 5/10/02
There are a lot of things in Tomb that might make the story look rather quaintly dated. Some of them are technical, like the very obvious wires holding up the actors in some of the fight sequences, or the ghost train style dummy Cyberman in the cliffhanger to part one. And some of them are in the narrative: while the script makes a brave stab at internationalism as far as the members of the expedition go, I'm a little uncomfortable with the way all the heroic rocket crew are (trying to be) American, while the villains are suspiciously mittel-European. This is before we even get to Toberman, who's arguably the worst kind of racial stereotype.
However, this is one of those stories that succeeds not because of its performances (because with one glaringly obvious exception, they ain't up to much), or its production values, but solely on the strength of its ideas. As such, it's storytelling stripped down to the bare essentials, and this is quite appropriate given that the great theme of this story is the folly of reductionism, and the dangers it carries with it. The Cybermen may be superhuman in many ways, but they are also less than human, their existence reduced to brute survival without any higher purpose. They have tried to quantify the unquantifiable, to their great loss, and now they try to inflict the same fate on others. Human beings are reduced to property: 'You belong to us,' grates the Controller in the story's most chilling line. Klieg is as guilty of this as they are, equally unable to recognise the value of life and freedom and compassion, the fact that there must be more than the stolid march of one day after another. Cleverly, the script reinforces this with a number of scenes emphasising the value of friendship and loyalty: most obviously, the one between the Doctor and Victoria where they discuss their families. That scene is justly famous, but it's there for a reason.
What's also interesting about the way the story handles the Cybermen is that its wholly and inextricably about them despite their having rather limited screentime. Other than the dummy target, they don't even appear until near the story's halfway mark, and only the Controller has much to do. Yet the setting of the story, its themes, nearly everything about it, make this in many ways the ultimate Cyberman story (on TV, at least).
But the story is also remarkable in its treatment of the Doctor. He is commanding, energetic, hugely likeable - undoubtedly the hero. And yet his motivations and agenda have seldom been more shadowy or apparently self-contradictory. He's the one who warns the expedition of the extreme dangers presented by the tomb - but he's also the one who prompts Klieg into opening the hatchway to the lower level, even correcting his work. Is he already aware of Klieg's ulterior motive, or is he simply curious himself? The story offers no answers, content to present us with the hero-as-mystery, embodied in Troughton's brilliant performance. The definitive Cyberman story, and also the definitive second Doctor tale? I wouldn't bet against it.
"We will survive!" by Joe Ford 10/6/03
Oh Jesus, its come round to this one has it? I have to say this is the purest example of sixties campness I have ever seen, give or take the odd scary bit. I mean lets just take a look at the evidence... Captain Hopper has a brilliantly false US accent and has 'ard man dialogue like "Some fella has balled up the lot!" and travels around in a rocket ship!!! In space they wear quilted anoraks and have stupid names like Viner and Klieg. And those wonderfully quaint knobs that turn up everywhere! The Cybermen are controlled by a guy who is seven foot tall and has a head shaped like a huge cock! But best of all are the Cybermats... those evil little meanies who have huge close ups of their fuzzy felt teeth and bulging eyes! Add to the mix the gloriously overdone music and this is Doctor Who so terribly camp it leaves Batman in the second division.
But it's brilliant though, isn't it? Especially with those terrifying Donald Duck quacks the Cybermen make when they are particularly stressed out! I thought they were all laughing! And how about how about Klieg and Kaftan who are so obviously the villains of the piece from the first second you see them? Klieg is just the king of comedy with lines like "It was logical!" and "I will be Master of the world!" and "Now Doctor let's see how you deal with this..." The guy who plays him hams it up so much he is impossible to take seriously. And what about that bit where Kaftan sneaks behind the Cybercontroller's back and closes the hatch again... she can barely conceal the giggles as he shoots her to death!
Now I'm not saying Tomb of the Cybermen is total bollocks... actually no, I am saying Tomb of the Cybermen is total bollocks but it's so laughably naive and innocent you can't help but enjoy it. Me and Simon watched it today and were wetting our pants with laughter throughout, indeed this could be the best Doctor Who comedy ever if we were counting actual genuine giggles.
However (and this is the most astonishing thing...) Tomb of the Cybermen looks fantastic (give or take the odd penis shaped Cybercontroller). The lighting is striking, cold and hard in the tombs and pulsing with danger everywhere else. The small section of location work is stylishly shot and looks almost movie-quality on screen. And some of the effects... especially the laser gun that actually fires a shot and leaves its victims smoking to death, looks totally cool. What about the sets, the multi layered tombs which make for a visual spectacle as the Cybermen emerge. And all the regular Cybermen with their chest plates, piping and non-penis shaped heads... well they all look glistening and sparkly and expensive.
In amongst all the B-movie actors are three excellent performers whose engaging interplay and sparkling chemistry shines. I'm talking of course of Debbie Watling, Pat Troughton and Frazer Hines. The Doctor and Jamie are well established at this point and playing their relationship for every ounce of comedy it's worth. I love it when they grab each others hands to enter the tombs and then drop them, embarrassed. And Jamie's total stupidity reigns supreme (although isn't he just gorgeous?) as the technical dialogue leaves some gorgeously baffled expressions on his face. And Troughton's motivational "If anyone wants to leave go now... not you Jamie!" is great! Victoria might be a little prim and proper (at times she reminds me of my other half!!!) but she is immediately engaging, shooting the cybermats, threatening Kaftan and mocking the chauvinistic Hopper (what a name!). Yes she screams and moans and shrieks alot but I don't care, Victoria rocks because I say so! Plus, she's a bit of alright, isn't she?
There are (as I believe ive already mentioned) some good, dramatic moments. One such scene comes in episode three where they are all escaping the tombs and a Cyberman grabs Troughton's leg. Cut to lots of reaction shots as they smack the Cyber-git in the face and close the hatch on him. Best of all is as he batters the hatch repeatedly. Scary... And the climax is brilliant with loads of stylish action... Toberman struggling with the Cyberman with the tombs in the background, the foam oozing from his chest plate in a grim mock up of blood, the Cyberman who pukes smoke from his mouth when shot and the gorgeous set piece with Toberman and the Cybercontroller struggling with the electrified door.
So I'm not saying it's all bad, it's actually hugely entertaining it's just so much of is... dated. Quite naturally, of course. But the thing I don't understand is that this is so easy to mock and yet The Ice Warriors, The Web of Fear ep 1, Abominable Snowmen 2, Enemy of the World 3 and those tantalising clips from Fury from the Deep are not.
As far as I'm concerned this is not the all conquering classic it is made out to be. It is just a fun runaround with some dire scripting and crap acting. It's really, really funny, though.
A Review by David Barnes 20/7/03
Tomb of the Cybermen eh? What hasn't been said about this story? Well, nothing really, which negates this review from the start. This will probably just be covering old ground. I mean there's about 17 reviews on this site alone. I suppose the view I go with most is Joe Ford's, above, since he's said about how rubbish it is. Though when I was watching it, I wasn't laughing. It's a story that's neither really good, or really bad. It sort of just sits there, mewing quietly to itself, not really doing much at all or generating any sort of reaction from myself.
What shall I start with?... Um... cough... oh, characters maybe. Possibly. No, let's have a look at the plot... no, characters. Er... well, they're all a bit dull aren't they? Aside from the Doctor that is. What a git he was. His motivation for opening the tombs seems to consist of "Well, someone was going to do it at some point, so it might as well be me." He then acts like an imbecile, showing Klieg how to do everything with a self-assured "I'm better than you!" smile and then tells him not to do what he's just shown him to do ("Though I really wouldn't do it!" and so forth. Bah, be off with you!) Then he sort of mopes about for a while, talks to Toberman as if he's a child ("They are evil, you understand? Evil must be destroyed!" - I could talk about racism for a while, but it's a nice sunny day...) and reacts with horror when someone so much as says "boo" and almost gets Jamie killed during the "you go that way, I'll go this way" routine with the Cyber Controller at the end by making Jamie run straight by the Controller. Patrick Troughton does his best, like the holding hands with Jamie bit in episode 1, but the script lets him down on the whole, giving him, at best, functional dialogue (aside from the "keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut" bit. Obviously. I mean, everyone likes that bit don't they?)
Victoria and Jamie are a bit underused, doing little except look worried, explain stuff to the audience ("They're Cybermen!" remarks Jamie gormlessly when he looks at the tomb, doing his best Robin Askwith impression) and to have a go at the American pilot ("Look, where is everyone? What's happening?" "You don't know? You loser! And you're sexist! God I hate you!") Of course there's that bit in part 3 where the Doctor and Victoria have that lovely chat about the fact her dad's dead. Ahhhh, how peachy!
We have our expedition leader, always trying to do his best, our worried shrew-person ("DON'T TOUCH THAT!" yells Cyril Chaps at every opportunity), our megalomaniac scientist, our strange "foreign" woman, the big dependable strongman (Toberman, who has the taxing job of having to say "Uh." About twice.), our cocky American pilot with his "I'm 'arrrrrd, see?" dialogue and the pilot's mate who says "Er, Vic," a lot. Oh, and a few young chaps wearing hats. Who die. Like that bloke at the beginning who rushes up to the tomb doors and electrocutes himself. Cretin. ("Fifty pounds to the man who opens the doors!" WOW! 50!!! I think I might retire early!)
So, we've got our group of happy hopefuls haphazardly hiding in the tomb foyer. We've also got Cybermen! Yeah... oh. No we haven't. Not for a while anyway. We've got to make do with this... empty suit. It might scare the kiddies. Move it about a bit... um, wooo! Woooo! Look, it's coming to get you! - No, let's not bother. Please. It just makes for one of the silliest cliffhangers in the series.
The Cybermen eventually turn up at the end of part 2 (where we see the astonishing Cybermen awakening scene - so good they made us watch it twice in the space of 5 minutes after the shrew yells "NO!" to the advancment of plot and turns the Tomb off. And then gets shot for his troubles.) Unfortunately, they're a bit rubbish. Oh yes, they look and sound magnificant (I could go on for a while about the wonderful skull-like faces, and the unemotional monotone voices - but I won't) but really, do they do anything? Their plan seemed to consist of them burying themselves in a quarry for centuries, wait till someone notices they've gone, wait for some people to come and find them (and weren't they lucky this archeological expedition looking for some of the most deadly creatures in the Universe didn't bring any soldiers? Or even guns, or any sort of weaponry at all come to that), revive them and then take over the rescusers. If you want to take over some people to make new Cybermen, why kill half of them off beforehand by playing silly buggers with deadly doors and menacing mannequins? Why not have a switch so that you can actually get out of the lower levels? Why not keep one Cyberman on constant guard, so that you won't all get killed whilst you're sleeping?
Anyway, after they explain this rather iffy plan, they then... do nothing. Well, they take over Toberman, and send some completely harmless silverfish to menace everyone's shoes, but that's about the size of it. Even they get bored, since they all bugger off back to bed again midway through part 4! The Cyber Controller staggers about a bit going "Weeeeeeee willlllll sUUUUURRRRvIIIvvvE!", gets knocked about a bit by Toberman and dies. And so endeth their evil plan. Oh wait, there's a bit of homoerotica when Toberman and a Cyberman roll around on top of each other as well.
Of course, then we've got all those other unanswered questions, like how come Victoria can shoot a Cybermat with the first bullet, how come no-one suspects Toberman of destroying the spaceship (and how come no-one saw him do it?), what were the Cybermats for, why give Toberman a plastic arm, why is there now a strange echo in the TARDIS console room, why do the Cybermen have pin-ups around their foyer etc. There's probably a few dozen others as well, but I have neither the inclination, nor the Spike Milligan, to do it.
Well, that's about it really. This has been another Secretive Bus review (the word review being used in the loosest sense of the word). Thank you for your time. Please don't steal the collection plate on the way out.
A Review by Terrence Keenan 1/8/03
Tomb of the Cybermen is a strange tale. If you ever wanted to make a case for the Doctor as manipulative weasel, then Tomb would make a great exhibit A. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive on Telos just as a group of archaeologists have found the tombs. The Doctor bluffs his way in, and starts to fiddle about.
But the key is how the Doc says one thing, but does another. We hear him talk about how dangerous the Cybermen are and how they should leave things be, but he helps Eric Klieg with the logic sequence and even presses the right button secretly to open the main hatch into the tombs. It's only when he realises what a nutter Klieg is that he backs away from his curiosity.
Although his curiosity could be based on his knowledge of the dangers of the Cybermen and that he wishes to prevent their awakening by posibly sabotaging the tombs permanently.
A few words on Klieg. He reminds me of Wile E. Coyote. He comes up with a plan to rule over the Cybermen, which backfires. Then he comes up with another plan, which backfires again..... and so on, until he's strangled and beaten to death by a cyberman. Also, intelligence and ego-stroking are sex to Klieg. Take a gander at the expressions on his face while he talks about how smart he is, or when Kaftan and the Doctor do it. The ecstatic look on Klieg's face speaks volumes. I couldn't help laughing at the poor shlub.
Now the Cybermen, on the other hand, have serious menace and weight. Part of it comes from the electro-voices. The other is a simple matter of sticking giant guys in rubber suits in a tiny space with smaller actors. Instant menace factor. The Cyber Controller is the big star, with his glowing dome brain and his way of commandeering each scene he's in. Possibly the Cybes best appearance ever.
The TARDIS crew are all on top form in this one. Mighty Pat Troughton... what can I say, he's awesome, as usual. He bounces around from fear to righteousness in a flash, yet still makes it believable. As mentioned before, he also shows a great weasel side to his Doctor's persona, and then there's a brilliant sweet moment with Victoria where he talks about his family. Frasier Hines is rock solid as Jamie. He has a rapport with Troughton that's similar to Big Tommy B and Lis Sladen in their stories. Deborah Watling shows off a set of impressive lungs, a bit of spunk, and plays off well with Troughton.
The rest of the cast.... Ib^@^Ym more forgiving of hammy acting in the 60 serials due to their shooting formula (one episode per week). Lots of EMOTING going on, with the winner of the scenery-chewing award going to George Pastell. The other are all right, although Geroge Roubichek's American accent does suck rocks.
The story itself, like most of the serials of the 1960's works better on a per episode basis. What I mean is if you treat each 25 minute episode as a story unto itself, it works better than seeing it all fit together as a one big story. Episode 2 is the strongest, with the tombs being opened for the first time and finally having Klieg's madness come out.
So? I like The Tomb of the Cybermen, warts and all. There's a lot happening in four episodes, and I found it entertaining on a couple of levels. That's always a good sign for me.
Oh, by the way, it should go without saying that if you have a DVD player, then get the DVD version of Tomb. Not only is the print restored to a pristine condition, the disc is stuffed to the gills with extras, including a press conference with the surviving cast and crew from Tomb (the Tombwatch thing), and a bit of an exerpt from the ep 7 of The Evil of the Daleks.
Uncle Tobe's Cap'n by Rob Matthews 20/2/04
Odd, isn't it, how the real-life trajectory of The Tomb of the Cybermen has mirrored the events of the story itself.
Consider: In the story, a bunch of archaelogists finally locate the half-mythical lost tombs of the Cybermen. When they do they're bieseged by terrible creatures, but a hard core of obsessives refuse even to the bitter end to admit they were wrong about the expected rewards for cracking open the tombs. There's a lesson to be learned, namely that 'there are some things better left undisturbed'.
In the real(ish) world, meanwhile, a bunch of people from the BBC archives finally locate the half-mythical lost tapes of The Tomb of the Cybermen. When they do they're bemused by a terrible crock, but a hard core of devotees refuse even to the bitter end to admit they were wrong about the expected rewards for finally unearthing a copy of Tomb. There's a lesson to be learned, namely that 'there are some things better left undisturbed' - rose-tinted memories of old Doctor Who stories being a prime example.
Hee hee. Actually I'm probably being a bit harsh, and if you do happen to like this story more power to you. Unless you happen to like the blatantly racist treatment of Toberman, of course, in which case a good deal less power to you and your BNP cronies...
Seriously, I believe that Tomb of the Cybermen is an alright-for-a-children's-show B-movieish little Doctor Who story that for many years has enjoyed a bloody good reputation it does not really deserve. That reputation has deservedly lessened a bit since its rediscovery, but it's really worth questioning exactly why it's always been considered a classic.
My belief is that Tomb of the Cybermen's good reputation is entirely a product of striking set design. Oh, and a sturdy spine of thematic stuff, even though the latter has dated really badly.
On the set design front, though - well, this story was lost for many years with only unreliable childhood memories and a few production photographs left to give us an idea of what it might have played like on screen. And I think it would have been easy to assume something was a 'classic' story if it looked exactly like one. Personally, I used to assume just that when I looked at all those photographs and illustrations in David Banks' spiffy Cybermen book. The big 'Logic Clock' in the central control chamber looks fantastic, even though all those clever looking symbols probably don't really mean anything. The hieroglyphic-like Cyber-faces that adorn the walls give the Cyberfellas that particular stamp of seeming quality and legitimacy that comes from having a well-established brand with a nice logo. The 'recharging' chamber combines claustrophobia and menace, with a sort of enormous mechanical scorpion tail waving up and down at the subject, to creepy effect. And best of all there's the tombs themselves, that iconic honeycomb of giant silver knights, all frozen in caves of ice like something from a Nordic myth. It's telling that the most strongly remembered image from this story is that of the Cybermen tearing through those sheets of obvious clingfilm - because even though you know it is just clingfilm and men in funny silver costumes, that image of something utterly malevolent tearing its ways through from there to here, to where we are, is resoundingly scary on a deep, instinctual level. It's an image akin to Mrs Bates tearing aside the shower curtain in Psycho, the threat going from opaque to stark, the sense of a thin, thin film between us and something monstrous. A pretty apt point of comparison, I reckon, since that's the defining 'eek' image from the Hitchcock movie in precisely the way that the emerging-Cybermen scene is the defining 'eek' image from Tomb of the Cybermen.
Okay, alright , Psycho comparison over. I don't want to get into the business of associating Tomb of the Cybermen with masterpieces :-)
Point I was trying to make is that this is very much an image-led story. You can just about picture it as a silent movie, in fact, because without words, without all those awful words like 'Fifty pounds to the man who opens these doors!', or 'Er Vick', or 'Do you understand? Evil must be destroyed!'/'Um yessah massah', it'd be be almost great - though of course the horrible racial thing would remain just as apparent.
But add to all that visual impact the fact that the aforementioned tombs are below ground - down there in the basement, right below our feet in that same scary subterranean iddish place as the corpse of Mrs Bates (shit), Dracula's casket, the beating of the hideous heart and Old Nick himself, and you have another iteration of the 'evil forces that must be contained' idea - lotsa visceral scenes of the Cybermen clambering up into the control room from deep down below, and desperate doomed attempts to bat them back down. Then there's the Cybercontroller, and many years before Giger's creature showed up in Alien, we have a villain who resembles an enormous, towering, eight foot high metallic nob. Add him to the Ice Lord Slaar and the Emperor Dalek for that phallic-villains-in-the-Troughton-era thesis. I'm probably being glib here, since I'm not all that Freudianally (?) inclined, but basically, things that tower over you, giants, are scary. And his big fat baldy veined head resembles that of poor deluded old Klieg, which suggests a considered approach to the visual content. 'Klieg's a right dickhead' would thus be a perfect valid reading of the imagery... though I think the idea is to link his big, clever but barren brain to that of the cyber boss. 'Don't get too big for your boots, smartarse!' is the other big moral of this story. Even though Klieg is patently as thick as two short planks in his dealings with the Cybermen themselves.
But more on that in a minute, as I was on about the visual design. I think one of the reasons this is, in some quarters, remembered as a 'classic' is that it's very much a proto-Hinchcliffe story, albeit completely lacking in the finesse of that era. Proto-Hinchcliffe in that it takes a hardy old horror trope - let's call it The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb - and dresses it up in science fiction jumpsuits. The Cybermen are a mechanised equivalent to the Egyptian Mummies of popular chiller lore, except here there's a whole bloody hoard of them in the tomb as opposed to just one (Aliens as compared to Alien!). It's an appropriate choice of story setup - one that feels right and makes you want to like the story -, since the Cybermen are after all Doctor Who's take on the living dead. Rationalised undead of course, because that's where the Doctor Who mythos is at, but on a gut level you just know that thumping, resounding deathly word "Tomb" fits them so well. Completing the picture, you have the insect-like Cybermats which bear comparison with Egyptian scarabs; little harbingers of villainy.
Nate Gundy makes the excellent point somewhere up above that Tomb of the Cybermen is 'all content and nothing else', and I can see just what he means. With its don't-let-technology-dehumanise-you message (that's a rewording of 'don't get too big for your boots, smartarse!' I suppose), and its dramatic though questionable illustration of martyrdom (via Toberman), it is a story that appears to have some thematic depth in spite of widespread ropiness in the script and performances. Gerry Hume comments upon this very adeptly, somewhere even higher up there than Nate Gundy, and I do recommend scrolling up from my rantings and investiagting what he has to say too.
(hums a little tune as he waits)
Ready? Well, I don't question his argument, which is excellent, but I do want to point out that in my own opinion the techno-anxiety subtext has not aged all that well. Bluntly I just don't believe it's relevant anymore, inasmuch as it's not a dominant fear in the societal psyche the way it might have been back in the sixties. It's all 'retro' and quaint, and is only particularly interesting to me now for its historical value, the way the Peladon stories have a historical value with their European Union-anxiety. Or the way HAL in 2001 is an important part of our cultural memory, but couldn't be done in a movie now without its seeming naively dated.
You can't really blame a story for outliving its own relevance, of course, but that's not all; because though I agree with Nate too, I think it has to be admitted that this serial does at least have some style as well as some content. As I've mentioned, ad nauseum probably, it has those iconic, archetypal sets that virtually tell a story in themselves. It was easy to look at leftover photographs and assume Tomb of the Cybermen was probably a pretty good story. What's interesting, though, is that it's still possible to watch it now and think its better than it is, if you're not paying too much attention.
I hope that doesn't sound patronisingly dismissive of the point of view of anyone who likes it; it's not meant to be. I'm just speaking for myself, my own experience of viewing the story. And the thing was, it didn't seem anything like as awful on a first viewing as it did on a second one.
It's those sets, that imagery. There's an inbuilt sense of anticipation first time round, waiting for the tombs to gradually reveal their secrets. You could watch it with the sound off and get the gist. As I've suggested, it might be better if you did.
So, assuming a bit optimistically that you accept my argument for the primacy of the sets as characters in themselves, and rather more confidently that you accept that of Gerry Hume for the intelligence of the subtext, there's a good case for saying this story has both style and content. Which you'd think is all a good TV Doctor Who story needs.
What a shame, though, that between this stylish patina and this Pandora's box of fears and mythic content, we have one of the most cack-handed scripts and unevenly-talented groups of actors ever to blight Doctor Who.
The great acting and memorable scenes here comes from Troughton and Hines, natch, as well as George Pastell as that silly, silly old duffer Klieg. But they don't have an awful lot to work with in script terms, and they're surrounded by some pretty dreadful performances. Kaftan stinks like a haddock with halitosis, appearing most of the time to be acting out of a completely illogical malignity - there's a lot of scenes between her and Victoria where I think to myself 'What the hell is that madwoman doing now with those sodding levers?'. Victoria herself is about as shrill as Fran Drescher on a bicycle with no seat, one of the most awful, annoying companions I've ever seen. It's no bloody wonder the Doctor seems hellbent on teaming her up with the blatantly homicidal Kaftan, even though that is itself one of the major stupidities of the script. And the crew of the rocket!... 'Er, Vick' will haunt me to my dying day. Is all that banter between Victoria and the ship's captain supposed to be funny or something? God help us, are they meant to be flirting?!
Lots of people like these older monotone Cybermen. Not me! Give me the expressive vocal performance of David Banks anyday. All that 'You-a will-a be-a like-a us-a' stuff is a right snooze, and for God's sake they even add an extra syllable onto each word just to drag their every piece of speech out further. Where are they from anyhow, the planet Italy?
Worse, even the good performers are sucked down by the sparsity if the material. One top scene here is that bit in episode four where the Doctor strokes Klieg's ego to bursting point and the deflates everything with 'Now I know you're mad. I just wanted to make sure.'
Good scene? Yes, in performance terms, but oh so underwritten. Surely for Klieg to actually believe the Doctor means all this sudden outpouring of enthusiasm for his genius we'd have to be given a solid reason for the Doctor's saying this and Klieg's buying it. Say it had been introduced into the script earlier that Klieg had been the man who cracked some particular scientific code that had revolutionised science and vastly improved quality of life across the Earth. Say he'd been the man to decipher one of the oldest mathematical conundra known to man, and the Doctor had been shown to get grumpy that he hadn't been able to do the same thing. In that context we'd believe that the Doctor was capable of actually admiring Klieg, 'Yes, you, the great Klieg who pioneered subatomic baffling and saved millions from starvation, who better to lead us?!'. I mean, Klieg might be mad, but surely he shouldn't be stupid too. It's testament to Troughton's immense skill that he makes the scene really good anyway, but it'd be that much better if the onus of believability wasn't entirely on a luckily charsimatic lead actor.
And what about the Cybermen's grand plan, seemingly to use a motely crew of cleverclogs as an alarm clock then add about six new Cybermen to their ranks? 'We-a knew-a that-a someone-a like-a you-a would-a come-a along-a someday-a'. Wow, what a marvellously conceived strategy.
And then, yes, there's Toberman. Note that I was exaggerating earlier, and that Toberman doesn't really say 'um yessah massah', but that's about the level of intelligence implied by what must be the Doctor's most patronising piece of dialogue ever. Were the worringly racist implications accidental here? Was Toberman supposed to be some kind of simpleton colossus who just happened to become a black man because that was who they happened to cast? I'd like to think so. But what concerns and baffles me is that it's never really clear what's up with him. Is he meant to be seen as someone who's not quite the full shilling, or do the makers of the show really believe this is a perfectly reasonable way to portray the only non-white fella I can recall in sixties Who?
Yes, it could well be argued he's the hero of the story. Moreso than the Doctor in fact, since all he does here is mess around and get everyone into danger. But it's almost like a variation on the good dog dying for its master - a 'loveable' thing to do, and suggestive of a belief that someone like Toberman would act more on instinct than intellect. Jolly good of him, pity he's dead. In fact, no-one really acknowledges the heroism of his sacrifice (apart from the Doctor perhaps, though silently). It's more a matter of 'of dear, someone else dead. Well, better hurry or we'll miss our bus'. But maybe I shouldn't analyse that bit so much, as it's not really his actions I take issue with, but the monosyllabic grunting-heavy characterisation.
I guess an argument could be made for indulgence: that we should expect less of sixties Doctor Who than anything made post-season 7, because the series was far more obviously aimed at young children at that time. On the other hand, why lower our expectations of a story just cos it's old? A serial like, say, The Aztecs stands up well against your Weng-Chiangs and your Frontioses from later periods of the show - just as an eighties crapfest like Time and the Rani can be filed safely away with a sixties crapfest like The Chase. The reason we don't need to indulge or excuse The Aztecs is that it's genuinely good.
As it stands, then, Tomb of the Cybermen could be seen at best as a piece of thoughtful and inoffensive children's entertainment. But that's rather undercut by the thoughtless and offensive bits, so I can't feel very generous towards it.
Okay, cybermoan over. Except to say what a missed comic opportunity it was that Kaftan didn't tug at her collar and say 'Alright, sixty pounds!'