Shows - Review
Doctor Who (1963-1989)
Episode: Tomb of the Cybermen (Part 1)
Review by: Michael Hickerson
Tomb of the Cybermen drew me in and didn't let go for four solid, entertaining and compelling episodes. Before I knew what had happened I'd watched the entire story and was ready to rewind and watch it all again. For me, that's the mark of great Who. Of course Tomb of the Cybermen is great Who. Tomb is easily the best, complete story we have available from the Troughton years. After seeing Tomb, it's easy to see why so many fans raved about it and regretted that it was no longer in the available Who library and just why the Cybermen were such a powerful and prominent feature of the Troughton years. It's here we see the Cybermen at their best--menacing, powerful. They literally tower over the assembled cast. The scenes where the Cybermen emerge from the Tomb are breathtaking and full of a wonder and excitement that other Cyber-stories will try to feature but not quite succeed in obtaining. In short, it's a virtually flawless story.
Part of the stories strength is the supporting cast around the TARDIS crew. From the duplicitous Kleig and Kaftan to the tragically noble Toberman to the harried leader, Professor Perry, the supporting cast is richly drawn and acted. The most memorable are, of course, Kleig with his wild-dreams and schemes of bending the Cybermen to his will and conquering the Earth and the silent, but deadly Toberman who gets partway cyberized. Both performers deliver excellent performances that capture your attention and leave you hungry for more. Or in the case of Kleig, they leave you cheering that the villain got what he deserved while you still feel a bit for his misguided attempts and wonder what could have been had he put his intelligence and devotion to logic to use for good instead of his own selfish purposes.
About the only major glaring point in the entire supporting cast is Captain Hopper who is just a bit too 60's (or an attempt to be so). His comments "Professor, you just blew yourself a pair of doors" is a bit cringe-worthy but it comes and goes so quickly that it's easy to overlook.
Tomb also works because of the awe-inspiring power of the Cybermen. The metal giants loom large throughout the story--even before they are thawed out at the end of episode two. The Cyber-suit that appears at the end of episode one is a good example as well as the introduction of the Cybermats, who get their best use in the entire series here. Throughout the story, the Cybermen inspire awe and a bit of terror. Part of this goes to the performances of the individual Cybermen, but a lot of it goes to their inhuman voices (I prefer the voices from Tomb to any of the other voices used in the 60s stories) and the music. The repeated theme that was introduced in The Tenth Planet works well here. Also, the idea that the Cybermen will convert the humans into a new breed of Cybermen is an interesting one--especially as we see part of the process used on Toberman. This one also has a lot of the catchy Cyber one-liners, the biggest being the "You belong to us, you shall be like us" to finish episode two. That is a cliffhanger that had me on the edge of my seat, glad that I didn't have to wait a week for the resolution of it.
But the real treat of this episode is the second Doctor. Every Doctor from Davison onwards refers to the second Doctor as having a dark side. And it's in full force here. Troughton delivers a tour-de-force performance as Doctor, injecting a lot of nuances and subtleties into his portrayal. We see the Doctor's manipulative side as he moves events toward the inevitable showdown with the Cybermen. He gives Kleig the answer to get into the vault (indeed, he gives the answer and then "begs" him not to use it--a great moment) as well as adjusting a switch so Kleig and the others can open the tombs. We see a bit of the arrogance of the Doctor here in way. He could easily leave and not give the solutions to the team, thus making the expedition invalid. However, he stays and helps them, thus insuring that he rids the universe of the Cyber-threat forever. Indeed, he states that the TARDIS crew must stay because of the Cyberthreat, implying that only he can really deal with it. Troughton injects so much into his performance that it's easy to see why he's so well remembered in this role.
But in the dark corners, we also see some light. The scene in episode three with Victoris about memories and those of his family is nicely done. The reporte between Troughton and Victoria Watling shows through. And we get to hear Troughton deliver one of his famous lines--"When I say run, run!"
All of it adds up to one of the best Who stories ever to see the light of day. In fact, Tomb rates right up there in my top five. It's a superb story and we're lucky that it was found.
Along the way, we do learn some interesting things as well...
--In the future, the Cybermen are thought to come from Telos not Mondas. Apparently Mondas is virtually forgotten. --The Cybermen are susceptible to extreeme cold--it puts them into hibernation. --The Cybermen can convert humans into new Cybermen.
Another interesting choice in the episode is in the initial scene with the Doctor, Jaime and Victoria in the TARDIS. The use of an echo to convey just how huge the TARDIS is, was a nice touch. It's interesting that there aren't any directors after Morris Barry who used this concept.
So, all in all, the Cybermen stories have hit a high point. And it's a high point that really the Cybermen will never hit again. And that is a shame. AS we see in Tomb, they have great potential.
Last Updated: 3/1/2006
Other Reviews by Michael Hickerson
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