22.1 – “Attack Of The Cybermen”
The Doctor and Peri are lured to London in pursuit of an alien distress signal, bumbling into an attempted armed robbery while they do so. Also Cybermen.
A story so mind-meltingly awesome not one, not two but THREE separate writers have argued over the credit. Three. This is clearly one of the good ones, right?
Stop laughing at the back.
Colin Baker is back! New season, new Doctor, new danger. This time around he has something of a budget. Well, more of one than “The Twin Dilemma” had. Plus there’s a new format: episodes are now 45 minutes long and there are less of them (it’s like a vision of the future…specifically 2013). When writing about “The Twin Dilemma” I made an overwhelming effort to try and embrace the positive. Watching C-Bakes’ second duffer on the trot though, it’s really, really hard to maintain the same attitude. This is a hard one to review, mainly because I got bored whilst watching it and my mind began to wander…
There is something mysterious going on in the sewers. Well, something certainly stinks. A sewer worker is attacked by something out of shot, but given that the episode is called “Attack Of The Cybermen” it’s kind of obvious that this is at least part of said attack. Whilst this is happening, we meet a familiar face; it’s Lytton from “Revelation Of The Daleks”! Hurrah (exclaimed precisely no-one ever). Nowadays he’s a gangster, planning a diamond heist with the worst team of baddies ever. Straight up. They bicker, they argue, they pose and they complain about everything. Given that they’re planning a multi-million diamond heist, they’ve got to be pretty bad-ass, mercenary types, no? Used to a bit of the rough stuff, handy in a fight, you know the type. Killers. Ruthless! Well quite early on they illustrate just how tough they are by wussing out when they discover Lytton has – oh no! – a gun!
Let’s just think about that for a minute. Gangsters. Planning a diamond heist. Who don’t like guns. What. The. Actual. Fuck?
And they get worse! They don’t want to go into the sewers to sneak in to do the job, they keep getting all nervous when they finally do get down there and claim they want to jack it in. Imagine this group of wasters in, oh, I don’t know, Pulp Fiction. Actually, that’d be kind of funny. After half an episode of their bitching and whining I’m starting to switch off. I start reminding myself I need to embrace the positive! The episode has a nice grainy film look in places, I guess. Then I notice that EVERYONE seems to be bickering. The Doctor & Peri, Lytton and his men, some random semi-converted Cyber-drones…it’s kind of draining.
As the episode progresses, we’re introduced to blacked up Cybermen stalking the sewers and my mind continues to wander. Thank god they didn’t do this in the 60’s, I decide. Combined with The Racist Toymaker and Troughton wanting to play The Doctor in blackface, the collective geek childhood would have been a lot more offensive. Blimey. Actually, they did do this in the 60’s. And it was good. Well, better than this. 8 episodes worth of good. I’m finding myself bored before the 20 minute mark and there are only 2 episodes of this.
EMBRACE THE POSITIVE, STEVE!! Well, the cliffhanger at the end of episode 1 is a bit of a cracker. The Cybermen have invaded the TARDIS! Nice. And oh no! They’re going to shoot Peri! Episode 2 begins with a a quick shoot-out and we’re on our way to Telos, second home of the Cybermen. It boggles the mind that – in a continuity-heavy episode so desperate to prove it’s credentials that it brings back original Cybercontroller actor Michael Killgariff despite the fact WE NEVER ACTUALLY SAW HIS FACE SO IT COULD BE ANYONE UNDER THERE – Telos looks nothing like the Telos seen in “Tomb Of The Cybermen”. Oh hang on, apparently they filmed the exterior scenes in the same quarry. Well, that makes all the difference. So, anyways, the Cybermen have captured the TARDIS ‘cos they need a time machine. They’ve already got one, but I suppose it’s always nice to have a spare. They lock The Doctor up with Peri and Lytton, and The Doctor and Lytton wave their willies at each other. Not literally. That’d be far too entertaining.
“The last time we met he had allied with the Daleks.” Proclaims The Doctor. BUT YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY MEET! I reply before realising what I’ve done and feeling embarrassed.
Having reached the halfway point, I decide that when writing my review, I’ll start with some sort of structure, then ‘hilariously’ start just chucking random, disconnected observations in, as a tribute to the way this story seems to start reasonably well but turns into incoherent nonsense. If none of the alleged three bloody writers can be bothered to write something that makes sense, why the flip should I?
“The sour rank odour of death is unmistakeable” Says Lytton to, I don’t know, someone. I make a note with the words “DIALOGUE TRIUMPH” beside it.
For some reason odd Cybermen are going cybercrazy at random intervals. It’s never explained why. One punches his way out of his tomb/bed/cryogenic chamber thing, decapitating another Cyberman as he goes. I start contemplating a decapitation count. Quite a few Cybermen have been decapitated over the course of this story. Then I realise that would involve watching this shite from the beginning again and decide to table that idea. His little cyberface is covered in something that looks like a sticky white goo. Wonder what that could be? Maybe that’s why he’s peeved. Some fucker has Peter Parker’d him in his sleep.
The Doctor, Peri and Lytton are all split up and they separately meet various Cyrons. But the Cyrons are supposed to be dead! And I’m supposed to care, but hey ho. It turns out that Lytton is actually working for the Cryons. Not himself. Or something. “I realise this must be confusing for you,” one of them tells Griffiths, Lytton’s sole surviving henchman. And again I yell at my TV “Yeah, it really is. And I’m a bloody ming-mong!” Lytton needs help to steal a time vessel. Oh dear. Everyone wants a bloody time machine. I resolve that next time someone complains about a Steven Moffat plot I’m going to sit them down in front of this nonsense and leave them to it.
Lytton and Griffiths bicker a bit more. “Your function as always, Griffin, is muscle.” Lytton tells him. For 10 long seconds I wonder if anyone has written any Lytton/Griffin slash fic. I almost contemplate Googling it. Then I decide life is too short. Yet still I soldier on through “Attack Of The Cybermen”. The Cryons have very silly voices. And by God do they look bloody silly. They gesticulate badly in pantomime alien stylee, flappin’ about more than Matt Smith in a ‘romp’ episode. Though slightly more gracefully. And I’m fairly sure Matt Smith has never pointed at his crotch while talking to anyone. The Cyberplot. They intend to prevent Mondas from ever being destroyed. OH NO! So THAT’S why they stole the TARDIS! We’re reminded that they already have a time machine though. What? See also: the Cryons want to stop the Cybermen because they’re going to blow up Telos to see what that looks like before they blow up the Earth. Why do they need to do this? Don’t all explosions look pretty much the same? Is Eric Saward on Twitter? I need some explanations.
EMBRACE THE POSITIVE, STEVE!! Erm…that’s a nice synth sound when Lytton and Griffin meet Stracken and the other one. There are some nice model shots. The cybercontrol centre on Telos looks ace. Err…
The Cybermen leave The Doctor – their uber-resourceful arch-enemy- in a cell with a load of explosive materials. A load of explosive materials that only need to be heated to 10 degrees over zero before they combust.
THIS IS WHY PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE A BIT RUBBISH, CYBERMEN!
Mind you, brutally crushing Lytton’s hands is a bit more like it. Blimey, that’s a lot of blood. And at tea-time! I suppose it was the 80’s. The effect is punctured somewhat by the farty synth trumpet version of Lytton’s theme that soundtracks this scene. “Wah-wah-wah-waaaaah!” it goes, sounding like it’s been composed by a Timmy Mallett impersonator sat at his first keyboard, pulling a comedy sadface before moving on to something more serious. “Cybermen have one weakness,” says The Doctor. “They’ll react to the distress of their own kind.” Something something “what about gold?” something something etc. Then a Cryon is executed and we’re into a full-on massacre. Hmm. Oh, and then some other guys are killed as well. Some other guys with a plot that never intersects with the main plot, so I’m left wondering what the point of them was beyond adding to the body count. Is anyone still alive? WAS there any point to them? I kind of drifted off a bit. Did I miss something important? No? Jolly good.
I refocus. The Doctor contemplates how he has misjudged Lytton. Lytton the mercenary WHO KILLED A FUCKLOAD OF PEOPLE AND WORKED WITH THE DALEKS! And then The Doctor whirls around Cybercontrol shooting the shit out of some Cybermen and I start wondering how that ‘man who never would’ line in “The Doctor’s Daughter” got past the script editor. Lytton has died somewhere along the line too. Oh well. The Doctor and Peri do a runner and then those explosives are making the Cybermen go bang-bang. I assume some Cryons probably survived that story, but every other bugger is ding dang dead.
“Didn’t go very well, did it?” says The Doctor to Peri at the end, breaking the fourth wall to sum up the whole debacle quite nicely.
Oh hang on, that bit ISN’T metafictional?
So this MIGHT have been written by Paula Moore, it MIGHT have been written by Eric Saward and it MIGHT have been written by Ian Levine. If Ian Levine did write this, then I’d say it’s better than Doctor In Distress but not as good as Take That & Party. So that’d imply a strong 5/10. But it’s total cyberbobbins. I really did try and embrace the positive, honestly, I did. BUT I CAN’T. 2/10.
Written and edited by Steve Horry