Sunday, 20 September 2015

199 - Last Of The Cybermen

There is an oft used phrase in sport (or so I am told) “It was a game of two halves”, well, obviously yes it was; it is usual in most sports for some sort of half-time break. But stopping being so literal, I can see what this means; the quality, tone and general atmosphere had palpably changed between half one and half two.
This phrase is rather apt for Last of the Cybermen. Last months main range release introduced the idea of future Doctor’s being swapped in time with their former selves and having adventures with past companions a sort of “mash-up” as I described it last month; as I have used that phrase last month, I won’t be using it this month…
So Last of the Cybermen; the Second Doctor is displaced in time with the Sixth Doctor, he stumbles in to the TARDIS to meet an initially doubting Jamie and Zoe, but soon wins them round – after a punch up with Jamie! There are some stories that are good jumping on points for new fans, Talons, City of Death, Rose – Last of the Cybermen is not one of these. It is densely packed with almost 50 years of Cyber Continuity you need to know your Mondas from your Telos, your Glitter Gun from your blaster and your Tombs from your beacons – because this story in part at least tells the story of the last great Cyber War – the humans final assault on Telos armed with Glitter guns. But I am getting ahead of myself. I said earlier that this was a game of two halves, and boy it is.
The first half is almost a retread of Tomb of the Cybermen. The Doctor and his companions are taken to a giant Cyber beacon in the shape of a 500 foot high cyber head and set about opening up the way to the top for the icy cold Zennox (Lucy Liemann) logic gates, electrocutions, traps, counter traps leading too, well that would be telling. It’s very worthy, but in truth rather dull and very much a Tomb retread.
It’s in the second half that thing REALLY start to step up a gear. Set during the final assault on Telos with the Cybermen losing badly to the Humans who have discovered their weakness to gold and developed the Glitter Gun, this is where it really gets going. The stakes really are high, lives are in danger, the full horror of Cyber Conversion is visited, a victim is heard to say “I won’t give you the satisfaction of hearing me scream” before screaming in agony – truly horrific. Its a very clever plot, and unlike lots of TV episodes of Doctor Who that involve Time travel a) makes sense and b) does not cheat.
Colin is just wonderful as always as the Doctor, Frazer is belligerent as Jamie – but the star of this show is the one and only Nick Briggs, who plays not only the Cybermen, but a wonderful character called Lanky (spoilers if I tell you anything about him), so fab was the performance that I didn’t realise it was Nick until I listened to the special features. An interesting story, and again as with last month’s release a bigger picture with a Big Bad hinted at – who is it that is displacing The Doctor in time and why? Hopefully we will get some answers next month…
So, flat and slow for the first half, hitting the ground running and not letting up for the second half. Overall 7/10.