Thursday, December 27, 2012

Doctor Who #401: Revenge of the Cybermen Part 2

"Well, we can't just sit here glittering, can we."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Apr.26 1975.

IN THIS ONE... Sarah is transmatted to Voga to filter out the Cybermat poison and she and Harry are captured by the natives. Later, the Cybermen board Nerva Beacon.

REVIEW: The serial makes some serious missteps in Part 2. While Harry and Sarah are allowed to have an adventure, the Doctor remains stuck on the space station where, despite Tom Baker's best efforts at keeping thing lively, they mostly just stare at a radar screen until the Cybermen board and kill everyone. Everything on the station either bores or annoys me. Kellman is an incredibly obvious villain, easily flushed out. The Doctor is a bit too gleeful in the way he threatens him. The screen-watching scenes (yes, plural) are tedious, though they might elicit a laughs and catcalls when Commander Stevenson says he's never seen anything like the decidedly phallic Cyber-ship. And the cliffhanger involves the Doctor getting shot multiple times by head-mounted Cyber-guns, so if he survives (which he will) and the rest of the crew doesn't, it's going to all very ridiculous. But no more ridiculous than the Cybermen's new weakness (like they needed another one - after all, we've seen them defeated by nail polish remover): Gold dust. Fine, whatever. Ties into this Planet of Gold business (that's provided we believe the gold standard exists and is used by non-humans), but it's not even believable the way it's used. The Doctor throws gold NUGGETS at the Cybermat and it's somehow stopped. That's not even alchemy, it's magic. It's garlic and crosses.

Things are a lot better down on Voga, however. The production makes good use of an unusual location, a flooded cavern, which allows the Vogans to use little speedboats and what Harry calls dodgems. Even when gold bits are added to them, they look like human technology, but they do add some production values, and the location itself, while not actually made of solid gold, does offer good terrain for the treacherous foot race. The action is okay, but Sarah Jane and Harry are in rare form, sparking at each other as if in the first act of a romantic comedy.

The Vogans offer some court intrigue, though even the hero masks force the actors to mumble their lines to some degree. There are two factions. Those who would use Vogan gold to buy their way into galactic politics, and the status quo, who would prefer remaining hidden lest more powerful races take their gold by force. The former seems to be working with Kellman, and thus directly or indirectly with the Cybermen. As it is, Voga is using its gold to manufacture everything, including maleable chains our heroes have no real trouble getting out of. It also seems to have both a security force and a militia, so both sides have an army of sorts. I'm not saying any of this is all that interesting, but it's a respite from Nerva's irritations.

- The companions' spelunking adventure is nowhere near enough to distract from dull monitor duty scenes and wrong-headed alterations to the Cybermen.


snell said...

So of course, the gold is the part all future Cyber-writers latch onto like a remora...

Siskoid said...

The Cybermen hadn't been featured in 7 years, so no doubt they had nothing BUT this story to go on. And the next story would be Eartshock, which is about as long a wait.

In other words, the Cybermen didn't retake the world by storm in Revenge.

Anonymous said...

And what's the Prydonian seal doing on a wall in Voga?

Siskoid said...

I addressed that in Part 1.