Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sod the Cybermen, Bring Back the Cybermats!

The advantages the Cybermen have over a lot of other Doctor Who monsters is that, while they have to look like fantastic monsters and in fact look like a part-time bricklayer encased in bits of a carpet sample catalogue the Cybermen are men in suits. My favourite Cybermen were probably the first lot, which looked as though the Cyber-race had been invented that morning. I loved the way they opened their mouths and speech came out (said by someone carefully placed off-camera), they closed their mouths and the speech stopped. It's the sort of beautiful idea that comes from making science-fiction in the Sixties with no money.

By the time they'd assimilated the bloke from The Bill in the 80s their star had really fallen. The Cybermen have a big problem. Namely, that they are crap.

Compare the Daleks and the Cybermen. Although the Doctor regularly defeats both of them the Daleks are known to be a serious problem in the universe, Captain Jack speaks with some awe of them and the Time Lords are so concerned they try to get the Doctor to destroy them at their genesis.

The Time Lords have noticeably never thought to send the Doctor to deal with the Cybermen at source. Whyso? Because the Cybermen are a bit shit.

It's not their fault, it's more that the Doctor has an annoying, to them, habit of turning up before their evil machinations are underway. With most other monsters the Doctor has the decency to wait until the evil plans are underway, see: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Talons of Charlie Chan, Survival. But with the tall silver ones? The Tenth Planet? The Doctor, sailor Ben and Sloan Ranger Polly are already on the moonbase when the Cybermen attack. In fact the Doctor is dying (for the first time) and still wipes the floor with them. The Tomb of the Cybermen? The Cybermen have been trounced in intergalactic war and have been forced to hide, so the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria finish off a small group of them. The Fourth Doctor, Harry and Sarah-Jane stop a group of Cybermen from blowing up a planet made of gold, even though as plans go this would surely be suicide for the gold-phobic tin men. When it comes to the Seventh Doctor, he returns to a game he'd already set in progress some time previously with the Daleks and the Hand of Omega but with the Cybermen he destroys their fleet (with the Hand of Omega Groin of Rassilon or something, I forget) before they've even got around to being menacing. If you watch The Five Doctors any time soon, notice how while every other person and monster get transported into the game singly, an entire batallion of Cybermen are teleported in all and still get wiped out in quick order. And those are just off the top of my head. Here is some sample dialogue from Silver Nemesis.

Cyberleader: So Timelord, you have regenerated, again. But this time, we will emerge victorious and you shall die.
Doctor: Yes, yes, yes. Get on with it.
Cyberleader: I shall. Your associate has been captured, you have no assistance, you have no radiation and definitely no gold. This time, you shall die. (raises gun)
Doctor: Go on then.
Cyberleader: I will kill you and then the Cybermen shall be triumphant.
Doctor: Come on, Kill me. (Points Cybergun to his chest) Just pull the trigger.
Cyberleader: At last, we have waited so long for this moment!
Doctor: Not as long as I have. I missed out on Jackanory for this. (Sticks muzzle in mouth) 'Ooot ee!
Cyberleader: Die Doctor, die! (presses trigger)

Doctor: ...How could you miss?
Cyberleader: Shit.

Now they are back. I was a bit annoyed by last night's efforts to keep them obscured until almost the end of the show, as every detail of their appearance had been given away on the BBC's website, in RT and by adverts themselves playing coy merely generated an impatience for them to show up. Their legs were shit, rather flared trousers, while their chests and heads were great.

While Roger Lloyd-Pack obviously enjoyed himself as the baddy it's a bit annoying that we have a Davros-clone creating the Cybermen, seeing as the concept of the Cybermen is all about what effect will technologies such as transplants and synthetic organs have on us, it's a shame that the new version of this question is just: "What happens if a megalomaniac gets his hands on your body?". It would have been nicer, and more true to the spirit of the original, if RLP's character was trying to find a way to cure his damaged body and became the first Cyberman and then set out to make everyone else like him. Yes it's The Borg but then the Master was Moriarty (as Terrance Dicks once said: "For a great story you only need one unique and brilliant idea. It doesn't have to be your unique and brilliant idea.")

Meanwhile, I hope Mickey hasn't started reading any long books. He's a black man in sci-fi, the omens aren't good. There's some great work between him and the Doctor in this episode and the moment when he says something like "you don't know me" and tells the Doctor he knows the Doctor would always chose Rose over him has me momentarily moist-eyed for the lunk. I hope we're not swapping Mickey for Full Mickey Jacket.


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