Sunday, 10 May 2015

401 Revenge of the Cybermen: Part Four

EPISODE: Revenge of the Cybermen: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 10 May 1975
WRITER: Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 9.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set

"It means we're heading for the biggest bang in history!"

Lester stops Harry from removing the bomb harness. Harry explains what has happened. Stevens continues on the planned course while The Doctor, Harry & Lester attack the Cybermen in the caves with gold. Vorus & Tyrum argue over Vorus' actions. The Doctor's attack goes wrong and Lester is killed destroying the Cybermen with his bomb. The Doctor turns off the Cybermen's monitoring device. They attempt to set off the bombs remotely but Sarah interrupts them, getting herself captured. However the detonation is prevented by the Doctor's sabotage. The Doctor confers with the Vogan leaders and decides to transmat back to the station to deal with the Cybermen and rescue Sarah. The Cybermen set the Beacon on a course to collide with Voga, loading it with bombs and preparing to leave on their spaceship. The Doctor uses the Cybermat to attack the Cybermen with gold. Vorus, worried by the station's movement, launches the rocket early and is gunned down by the other Vogans. The Doctor & Sarah are captured by the Cybermen and tied up in the Beacon's control room powerless to do anything. The Cybermen leave as the Beacon moves towards Voga. The Doctor & Sarah escape their bonds and get the Vogans to divert the rocket towards the Cybership which is destroyed. The Doctor wrestles with the Ark's controls preventing it from hitting Voga. The Tardis arrives at the Ark as Harry returns by Transmat, but they all leave quickly as The Doctor finds a message from the Brigadier summoning him back to Earth ....

The episode closes with the travellers finally being re-united with The Tardis, after a 3 story and 11 episode absence (Ark in Space 4 is the last time it appeared).

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But the episode opens by returning to a very familiar theme this season....

LESTER: Harry, don't touch it. Open that buckle and you'll be blown to kingdom come.
HARRY: You mean it's booby trapped?
LESTER: These buckles can't be opened until the Cybermen beam the release signal.
DOCTOR: Harry, were you trying to undo this?
HARRY: Well, naturally.
DOCTOR: Did you make the rocks fall, Harry?
HARRY: Er, well, I suppose I must have done, yes.
DOCTOR: Harry Sullivan is an imbecile!
Harry later demonstrates that maybe his memory isn't that great either:
DOCTOR: So where is Sarah?
HARRY: I'm not sure, Doctor. When I last saw her, she was trying to get back to the Beacon.
HARRY: Yes. You see, we thought you were still up there, and she naturally wanted to warn you about the rocket. Sorry, I can see you're not with me.
DOCTOR: Harry, I'm not with you.
HARRY: No, you see, it seems that Kellman, er, he's dead, by the way. Kellman was really working for the Vogan people, and he got the other half, the, what do you call them?
STEVENSON: Cybermen.
HARRY: Cybermen, that's right. Terribly bad on names. Got the Cybermen up on the Beacon so that they'd be sitting ducks for the Vogan's rocket. Only the Vogans haven't finished the rocket yet, so things have gone a bit wrong.
Just a bit. we'll come back to Vorus' plan with the rocket in a moment.....

But just like last episode he displays his ambitions:

TYRUM: As the human said, recrimination is pointless now. But I promise you, Vorus, if by some miracle our planet should survive, you will face trial for treason.
VORUS: It's you who should be tried, Tyram. You and your creeping sycophantinous city.
TYRUM: As leader of the Guardians, you abused your trust. You opened the route to the surface. You made clandestine contact with aliens, and you beamed radio transmissions out into space. There are no greater crimes in our calendar.
VORUS: In your calendar, Tyram! Your cowering, furtive, underworld life. If we survive, I will face trial gladly. I will give the people my reasons. I wanted to free them from this tyranny of dark, living rock.
TYRUM: Living the way we had for generations, at least we were safe, Vorus. Safe from the genocidal threat of the Cybermen.
VORUS: I had a dream.
TYRUM: A folly, conceived out of arrogance through overweening ambition.
VORUS: We could have traded with other worlds, exchanged our gold for armaments. We could have been strong enough to defend ourselves against Cybermen or any other attackers.
As I said last episode this is what the story is about: two groups of people wanting more than what they've got and each planning to achieve it by getting rid of the other!

As "bonkers Cyberman plans" go, Revenge is nearly sensible: Capture the beacon, Transmat the humans to Voga carrying the bombs and blow them up. You're guessing they use the humans to avoid getting killed by the gold. Except they then send two Cybermen down anyway who the Doctor promptly attacks with the gold. No matter, we'll load the beacon with explosives and crash it into Voga. Well if you've that much explosive why not just transmat it down and blow the planet up from there?

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Except, as Lester's sacrifice shows, the Cyberbombs may not be all they're cracked up to be. The supposed all powerful Cyberbombs have enough force to kill a human and 2 Cyberman but there's enough of Lester left for Harry to be checking his body to make sure he's dead. They're going to destroy a planet with just two of those?

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You have to assume Kellman, an exographer, had found some weak spot in Voga the Cybermen where the planets weak..... and now we're peering at the details the cracks are beginning to show.

Still it's a bit more solid than Vorus' plan to blow the Cybermen up with a rocket that he's only finishing as they show up!

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They've cheated again by using NASA footage for the rocket launch but there's some nice modelwork elsewhere in the episode.

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One truly dodgy special effects sequence in this episode involved Voga's planet surface on a roller being spun round in front of the camera. Unfortunately the roller is a bit small making the effect look very poor!

Other than that it's not a bad episode with a nice bit of action and tension and far more Cybermen than I remember there being.....

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.... which is a good thing really as we now bid farewell to the Cybermen, who we'd not seen for six and a bit year, for nearly another SEVEN. This episode was shown on 10 May 1975 and, barring an aborted cameo in Shada and a flashback in Logopolis, they wouldn't be seen till 09 March 1982 when they made their surprise comeback. In fact during the entire rest of Tom Baker's reign there's only two returning monster stories: The Sontarans in the Time Warrior and the Daleks in Destiny of the Daleks. Include the Master's appearances and this number rises, but he's more of a villain than a monster and two of those are right at the end of the fourth Doctor's reign. The majority of this period is done without any resort to the show's back catalogue of monsters, though we do get to see the Time Lords on a more regular basis.

We also good bye now, this time permanently, to Gerry Davis, co-creator of the Cybermen and former Doctor who script editor for the last year of the first Doctor and first year of the second. In the 1980s he worked in America, including collaborating on an attempt with Terry Nation on a bid to take over production of Doctor Who. He died on 31 August 1991.

Revenge of the Cybermen also marks the end of the shortest season (so far) in Doctor Who's history at 20 episodes, beating the 25 episodes for Seasons 7 & 8. Even if Terror of the Zygons, recorded at the end of season 12 but eventually shown at the start of season 13, had been shown with season 12 it would have only been 24 episodes long. As it was the practice of holding a story over to the start of the next season was commonplace in the early seventies. The short season here enabled filming to resume earlier than usual in the summer of 1975 and for the show to return not in January 1976 but in September 1975, giving that year 35 episodes of Doctor Who, the most since 1968.

1963 6
1964 45
1965 46
1966 46
1967 44
1968 41
1969 25
1970 25
1971 25
1972 27
1973 28
1974 24
1975 35
1976 22
1977 30
1978 28
1979 26
1980 18
1981 12
1982 26
1983 23
1984 24
1985 13
1986 14
1987 14
1988 13
1989 15

Revenge of the Cybermen was novelised by Terrance Dicks, the only one of Gerry Davis' four Cybermen scripts not be adapted by Davis himself. My local library had it and it was a very early Doctor Who read, before Earthshock happened. In fact my library had all the stories this season, bar Ark in Space, and generally a very strong representation of the last two Pertwee and first two Baker series.

Revenge of the Cybermen was the very first Doctor Who story to be released on video cassette as a compilation version on both VHS & Beta Max formats in October 1983. The story has it that fans at the BBC's Celebration event at Longleat were polled on what story they'd like to see released. They chose Tomb of the Cybermen, which at the time was missing from the archives but it's absence wasn't generally known. So BBC Video chose the first complete story they could find with the Cybermen in it. Following the grand tradition set by Target books the cover to the first release of the video featured the wrong type of Cyberman. We'll forgive the neon logo on the box because it was the current Doctor Who logo at the time.... It was quickly reissued in the packaging standard that would become the template for the Doctor Who videos with only the font used for the story title being carried over. This design would be kept for the majority of the videos up until 1996 when the covers were redesigned. In 1999 Revenge of the Cybermen was reissued on video in episodic format.

Revenge of the Cybermen was one of two Doctor Who stories to be issued on Laserdisc in the UK by the BBC - the other being Brain of Morbius.

Revenge of the Cybermen was issued on DVD as part of Doctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set with Silver Nemesis on 9 August 2010 setting a record of the longest gap between initial release on video and release on DVD.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

400 Revenge of the Cybermen: Part Three

EPISODE: Revenge of the Cybermen: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 03 May 1975
WRITER: Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 8.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set

"You've no home planet, no influence, nothing. You're just a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship."

Episode 400? Wow.

Sarah & Harry are taken to Tyrum. Kellman briefs the Cybermen on Voga. He goes to Voga, ostensibly to check the Transmat is working. The Cybermen intend to destroy Voga so Stevens, Lester & The Doctor are sent to Voga by Transmat with powerful Cyberbombs strapped to them. Kellman attempts to find Vorus but is captured by Tyrum's men. The Cybermen escorting the Doctor & the humans are attacked by Vogans. Kellman tells Tyrum of Vorus' plan to launch a rocket at the beacon destroying the remaining Cybermen. The Cybermen move through the caves killing any Vogan they find as the Doctor & the humans move towards their target. Sarah goes transmats back to the beacon to warn the Doctor. Vorus prepares to launch his Skystriker rocket at the beacon but fears he has run out of time now the Cybermen have arrived with their bombs. Harry & Kellman attempt to find the Doctor & his party but cause a cave in killing Kellman and knocking the bomb carriers out. Harry attempts to free The Doctor from his bomb harness little knowing that the harness is booby trapped......

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There aren't that many Cybermen in this episode but you get an idea of how powerful they're meant to be as the two on Voga move through the caves seemingly impervious to everything the Vogans throw at them. Where's the so called Glitter Guns that we hear about during this episode? Given that the Cybermen have showed up you'd expect them to be armed with an appropriate weapon quick enough!

Got a little first from the Cyberleader here:

LEADER: This is the main shaft?
KELLMAN: Yes, this is a shaft I explored for you. It runs right to the core of Voga.
LEADER: How far from the shaft entrance is the transmat receptor area?
KELLMAN: Just a matter of yards. I set the receptors as close as possible.
LEADER: Excellent, Kellman. You have done well. The humans will carry the explosives into the shaft.
Yes it's out first Excellent! He likes it so much he gives it two more airings:
CYBERMAN: Our warriors report all initial opposition has been crushed.
LEADER: Excellent. They are now one hundred metres below the surface.
And then:
CYBERMAN: Average progress rate is fifty metres per minute.
LEADER: Excellent. They will be in the central chamber of Voga.
Meanwhile the Cybermen coerce someone into doing their dirty work for them:
LEADER: And you, Doctor, and your two friends will help us in this task. That is why your lives have been spared.
STEVENSON: I was wondering why you hadn't killed us.
LESTER: We don't have to help them. They can't force us.
LEADER: Oh, you are mistaken.
LESTER: You'll discover who's mistaken, chum.
LEADER: The heart of Voga is almost pure gold. Gold is hostile to our function, therefore Kellman was asked to preserve three animal organisms for this purpose.
DOCTOR: Isn't it wonderful to feel needed, Commander?
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LEADER: Cyberbombs, the most compact and powerful explosive devices ever invented.
DOCTOR: Yes, and their use was banned by the Armageddon Convention.
LEADER: Cybermen do not subscribe to any theory of morality in war, Doctor. Our calculations indicate that two bombs placed in the central fissure of Voga will fragmatise the planet.
DOCTOR: Fragmatise? Oh well, I suppose we can't expect decent English from a machine.
LEADER: Prime the buckles. Two bombs should be sufficient. Three will make certain.
STEVENSON: Now what have they done?
LEADER: The buckles are now primed. Any attempt to remove the harness before the countdown reaches the red zone will cause a secondary explosion. Do you understand?
LESTER: You mean, if we attempt to release the harness before then, we'll get blown up.
LEADER: Correct. It is as well to keep that thought in your minds.
DOCTOR: And when we reach the centre of Voga, we'll be fragmatised, as you put it.
LEADER: Incorrect. You will have fourteen minutes, the time period of the red zone, to reach your surface and save yourselves by the transmat beam.
STEVENSON: That is not long enough.
LEADER: Fourteen minutes is considered adequate.
DOCTOR: Anything else before we go?
LEADER: Yes, Doctor. Your progress will be followed by radar. Any attempt to deviate from the planned course will be immediately detected and the bombs exploded by means of these manual controls.
DOCTOR: Thank you.
LEADER: Countdown has commenced. You, Doctor, will leave first.
DOCTOR: Careful, careful. I might explode.
That's not going to end well, is it?

The idea that the Cybermen have been lured here by the ability to destroy a threat to them but it actually being a trap to destroy the Cybermen appeals to me. Both sides here, the Cybermen and the Vogans, have been greatly reduced by their conflict and wish to re-obtain their former greatness:

TYRUM: You're insane, Vorus. You've brought about the destruction of our race.
VORUS: I wanted to bring them freedom, Tyrum. Freedom from fear, freedom to live as Vogans should, on the surface, not cowering like worms in the earth.
Compare that to this exchange between the Doctor & Cyberleader:
DOCTOR: You've no home planet, no influence, nothing. You're just a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship.
LEADER: You speak unwisely. We are destined to be rulers of all the cosmos.
DOCTOR: No, I don't think so, somehow. You tried that once and you were nearly wiped out.
LEADER: Because of Voga and its gold. If humans had not had the resources of Voga, the Cyber War would have ended in glorious triumph.
DOCTOR: It was a glorious triumph, for human ingenuity. They discovered your weakness and invented the glitter gun, and that was the end of Cybermen except as gold-plated souvenirs that people use as hat stands.
LESTER: Watch it, Doctor. I think you've riled him.
LEADER: That is why Voga must be destroyed before we begin our second campaign.
DOCTOR: Oh, there's to be a second campaign, is there?
LEADER: We have enough parts in our ship to build an entirely new Cyber Army, and this time, Doctor, it will be invincible. Cybermen function more efficiently than animal organisms. That is why we will rule the galaxy.
DOCTOR: Loose thinking. The trouble with Cybermen is they've got hydraulic muscles, and of course hydraulic brains to go with them.
A clip showing the Doctor's first line from this exchange was reused in Earthshock episode 2 in 1982.

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There's a couple of lovely touches with the transmat in this episode as the Doctor beams down playing with a yoyo and Sarah's crossing her fingers, actions that are continued from departure to destination giving a continuity even though one point was shot in studio and the other on location some weeks apart.

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And if you think the transmat terminal in the caves looks familiar, then you're right: it's exactly the same sphere arrangement seen a few episodes earlier in the Sontaran Experiment, except there they were assembled out in the open.

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Location filming for this story was conducted at Wookey Hole in Somerset (itself an actual location in the Doctor Who New Adventure novel Blood Heat) between the 18th-21st November 1974. The filming there was plagued by accidents: an electrician broke his leg, Elisabeth Sladen's motorboat went out of control throwing her into the water where she nearly drowned and the stuntmen who rescued her was injured getting her out of the water. Some members of the cast & crew attributed the incidents to a local curse but in reality most of the incidents can be ascribed to the small amount of air in the caves being consumed by a larger than usual number of people.

The location filming for this story has been homaged by The League of Gentlemen in the fifth episode of their first television series. Mark Gatiss, a future Doctor Who writer and actor, plays a cave guide in the fictional Stump Hole Cavern and at one point says

This particular cavern might be familiar from it’s countless appearances on the small screen. In 1974 you couldn’t move down here for Cyber Men. In fact, in an amusing incident, Tom Baker sprained his ankle on that rock there…
A live version of this sketch can be found on YouTube but I'd suggest you don't watch it at work!

Lovely bit of almost Douglas Adamsesque comedy from the Doctor as they troop round the caves with the bombs strapped to them:

LESTER: Why don't we just wait here?
DOCTOR: I think my idea's better.
LESTER: What is your idea?
DOCTOR: I don't know yet. That's the trouble with ideas. They only come a bit at a time.
The story is nicely bound together with some great music from composer Carey Blyton, doing the music for his third and final Doctor who story having previously worked on The Silurians and then the previous season's Death to the Daleks, also directed by Michael Briant who's in charge here too. The sort of heavy ponderous metallic theme for the Cybermen is fabulous. There's over 5 minutes worth of it on the 4 disc Doctor Who - The 50th Anniversary Collection CD, which is well worth owning, and more on the now our of print limited edition 11 disc set.

Like Magrik actor Michael Wisher several of the supporting artists playing Vogans were also in Genesis of the Daleks, so we've seen them already even though there appearance in this was filmed first: Barry Summerford & Roy Caeser were both Kaled Elite Guards,
David Billa was various Thals and Cy Town, as per usual, was inside a Dalek. Leslie Weekes had been in Mission to the Unknown as a Varga Plant and The Mind of Evil episode Three as a UNIT Soldier. He'll be back in The Masque of Mandragora as a Peasant villager in part one and a brother in part 3. Finally a big welcome back to Harry Fielder, appearing for the first time since 1968's Wheel in Space where he was a wheel Crewmember in episode 1 & 2. He'd made his debut earlier that year as a Central European Guard in The Enemy of the World episodes 2 & 3 and will return as a guard in The Seeds of Doom parts three and four, he's actually credited in 4, the Second Assassin in The Face of Evil part one, which gets him an appearance on the commentary, a Titan Base Crewman in The Invisible Enemy part one, a Levithian Guard in The Ribos Operation part three, a Guard in The Armageddon Factor part two, another credited role, a Tigellan in Meglos part one and a security guard in Castrovalva part one. He's got a fair few episodes of Blake's 7 to his name: an Armed Crewman in Space Fall & Cygnus Alpha, a Scavenger in Deliverance and a Federation Trooper in Weapon, Trial, Voice from the Past, Children of Auron, Games, Warlord & Blake. During his career Aitch has been in everything and his website & book are well worth a look. He's not been too well of late so hope you're feeling better soon!.