Tuesday, 13 September 2011

37: The Tomb Of The Cybermen - Base-Under-Siege Reversal.

Written by: Kit Pedlar and Jerry Davis.
Companions: The Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Victoria Waterfield.
Monsters/Villains: The Cybermen, Cybermats, Cyber Controller, Kaftan, Eric Klieg.
Brief Synopsis: On the planet Telos an archaeological team penetrates the lost Tomb of the Cybermen.
Rating 9/10.

Well, Ladies and Jellyspoons, we've actually made it. Only eight stories in and we have finally arrived at Troughton's first story that actually exists in it's entirety, The Tomb of The Cybermen. I won't lie it has been a tough slog through some of the audio only stories and there are still quite a few to go, but do not loose heart, we shall not be halted. In honesty we are very lucky to have the audio for every missing story.

The episode, and indeed the Season, establish with a great newcomer-watcher's jumping on point as the Doctor and Jamie introduce Victoria to the TARDIS. The Doctor reveals that he is 450 years old in earth terms.

On the surface of the planet Telos an Earth archaeological expedition arrives and blows some explosives revealing a large pair of doors. The team consists of: Professor Parry, his assistants John Viner and Peter Haydon, the ship's captain, Captain Hopper, his crew including Jim Callum and Ted Rogers, the expeditions financier Kaftan, her colleague Eric Klieg and her manservant Toberman.

Kaftan promises £50 to the man who opens the doors. A crewman tries to open the doors but gets electrocuted. They hear the TARDIS land and see the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria appear around a corner. At first the group thinks the Doctor is a rival, Parry even notes that the Doctor has got "archaeologist written all over him." The Doctor proudly retorts, "Oh really, does it show?" Which is somewhat of a departure from what Tennant's Doctor says when he first meets River Song in the Library. 

Professor Parry.
Parry admits that they are searching the universe for the last remains of the Cybermen. Telos became their home after Mondas was destroyed in The Tenth PlanetCaptain Hopper, along with his terrible American accent and his men return to the ship. The Doctor claims that he can open the door, and touches it. Toberman opens the doors as the Doctor reveals that the man who died drained all the electricity. It's an interesting and fairly uncharacteristic decision for the Doctor to precipitate the group's access to the Cybermen. Later he will claim he knew all along and just wanted to reveal Klieg's plans. Personally I think he just let his curiosity get the better of him.

Past the giant door the only exits are a large hatch and two smaller doors. Parry recommends that they split up to cover more ground; rookie mistake. Viner, Kaftan and Victoria find a room for revitalising Cybermen. Meanwhile, Jamie and Haydon enter the other room and find a Cybermat. The Doctor and Klieg remain at the hatch. The Doctor explains that the base is controlled via symbolic logic and thus enables Klieg to crack the code and reactivate the power.

Eric Klieg
In the Cyber revitalising chamber Victoria stands in the place where a cyberman would to be reinvigorated and Kaftan pulls a lever trapping her inside. In the other room Haydon pulls a lever on a control console and the lights go out and mesmeric shapes congregate on the wall. Jamie starts to become hypnotised. Haydon saves him, and against Jamie's better judgement they continue to experiment with the machinery. The Doctor frees Victoria and begins to distrust Kaftan. Following Haydon's curiosity Jamie presses a big button on the console, the Doctor and co burst into the weapons testing room, but too late. A fake Cyberman target and a large weapon are revealed. The weapon discharges, killing Haydon instantly.

Peter Haydon.
Everyone begins to leave the room when Victoria picks up the Cybermat thinking it's a fossil. The Doctor pulls out his 500 year diary and finds that it is called a Cybermat. Victoria stupidly puts it in her bag. 

After Haydon and the crewman's death, Parry is ready to abandon the expedition when Hopper arrives and says there is something wrong with the fuel pumps on their ship and that it will take 72 hours minimum to fix the ship. The Doctor implies that Toberman could have been strong enough to cause a fair amount of damage.

Klieg continues to crack the symbolic logic codes and manages to open the hatch. Everyone goes down except for Kaftan and Victoria.The group stand in awe as they realise the have discovered the Tomb of the Cybermen. Kaftan slips something in to Victoria's drink causing her to fall asleep. Kaftan closes the hatch. Klieg operates a sequence pretending to try to open the hatch, but as he is well aware it is actually to defrost the Tombs. 

The Cybermen start to awake ready to breakout but Viner shuts down the machine. Angry, Klieg shoots and kills Viner and restarts the defrost sequence allowing the Cybermen to begin to break free. Klieg explains that he wants to learn the power of the Cyberman to harness it and aid the Brotherhood of Logicians: an assemblage of intelligent humans who emphasise pure logic.

The Cybermat in Victoria's bag starts to reactivate. She awakens to see that the hatch is closed and tries to open it but Kaftan shows her hand and threatens Victoria with a gun. The Cybermat emerges from the bag, Victoria tries to warn Kaftan, but she doesn't believe her. It jumps to Kaftan's neck, but Victoria throws it off and shoots it with Kaftan's gun and runs to fetch help from Captain Hopper.

The Cybermen awaken the Cyber Leader, who has a bad case of camel toe. Klieg introduces himself and explains that he has resurrected them. The Cyber Leader pushes him to the ground and exclaims quite simply, "You belong to us, you shall be like us."

The Cyber Leader.
The Cybermen knew that someone would come in search of them one day, and they purposefully made it difficult to enter their Tomb in order to bring only intelligent people for conversion. The Doctor asks why they submitted to be frozen. The Cyber Leader explains that it was to survive and that they know of the Doctor, mentioning the attack on the Moonbase which took place as the Doctor had destroyed their first planet. The Leader says they will be converted into Cybermen, unhappy with this conclusion Toberman attacks. Unfortunately or perhaps comically you can clearly see the wires used to make it appear that a Cyberman is lifting Toberman with ease.

Captain Hopper.
Victoria returns to the tomb with Hopper and Jim Callum in tow. Kaftan awakes but pretends to be unconscious. She grabs her gun and orders them to keep the hatch closed. Victoria screams, looking to the destroyed Cybermat, this time Kaftan falls for it and Hopper knocks the gun from her hand and they open the hatch. Hopper goes down to investigate, whilst Jim holds the gun on Kaftan.

The Cyber Leader says that Klieg will be the first and the leader of the new race of Cybermen when Hopper arrives and throws smoke bombs allowing everyone to escape. It takes three Cybermen to hold down Toberman, and two bursts of lighting from the Cyber Leader's hands to knock him out. The group escape up the ladder and out of the hatch, closing it behind them. Toberman is still down in the tomb. They lock Klieg and Kaftan inside the weapons testing room, where Klieg finds the Cyber gun from the target model.

The Cyber Leader orders the activation of the Cybermats. The crew rest while they wait for the ship to be repaired, and Victoria takes the first watch, and lets the Doctor sleep an extra half an hour, because he is 450 and needs his rest. We then get what is all to rare in these early episodes: an emotional scene allowing the characters to reflect on what has already passed. Victoria misses her father and the Doctor comforts her, "I can remember my family when I want to. I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they... sleep in my mind and I forget. And so will you. Our lives are different to anybody else's. That's the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we're doing."

A beautiful moment of reflection...
A Cybermat enters the room, it goes for Callum but the Doctor knocks it off. They avoid the Cybermats by standing behind a power cable that looks like a washing machine pipe which gives the Cybermats a "full metal breakdown."

That was easy...
Klieg and Kaftan emerge and Klieg fires the Cyber gun at the Doctor, but Callum gets in the way of the blast. Klieg opens the hatch and the Cyber Leader and a controlled Toberman appear. The Leader claims to have released Toberman, but he is clearly still under Cyber control. Klieg plans to conquer the Earth and the Leader pledges Klieg some of their power devices. Klieg allows the Leader to enter the revival room and sends everyone else in to the room apart from Victoria who he keeps as a hostage.

The Doctor agrees to help the Leader to revive but traps him inside the machine. Jamie ropes up the machine with the Leader inside, but it still manages to burst out. The Leader sends a command to Toberman who strikes Klieg with a metal arm, allowing the Leader to capture the Cyber gun. 

The Leader opens the hatch. Kaftan tries to close it and shoots the leader with her normal gun. It has no effect and the Leader kills her with the Cyber gun. Meanwhile the Doctor appeals to Toberman's humanity, he has a change of heart and picks up the Cyber Leader and throws him at the controls. Jamie picks up the Cyber gun and shoots two emerging Cybermen.

Look Ma, no wires!
Klieg uses Kaftan's trick and awakes but pretends to be unconscious, while the Doctor and Toberman go back into the Tomb, he grabs the Cyber gun and follows them unseen. The Doctor begins to refreeze the Cybermen, but Klieg stops him, still believing he will be the new controller. 

The Doctor flatters Klieg and pretends he want to serve Klieg, the all powerful, Master of the world to test how mad he really is. The Doctor challenges Klieg to kill them, but just as the madman decides to leave them to the Cybermen, he is attacked by one of the silver giants. Toberman uses the Cyber arm he has been given to destroy the Cyberman's chest unit. The Doctor begins the refreezing process and escapes out of the hatch.

The Doctor plans to re-electrify the main doors and also the hatch and the control panel, but the doors must be closed. The group are ready to leave for the repaired Rocket when the Leader lurches back to life. They try to close the doors but will get shocked if they touch them, so Toberman bravely closes the doors but not before a Cybermat escapes unnoticed. 

Toberman redeems himself.
The doors are closed leaving both the Leader and Toberman dead. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria say their farewells with only Parry, Hopper and Callum left alive. Jamie tempts fate by saying "It's the end of the Cyberman" and we are left with the foreboding images of the escaped Cybermat, Toberman's Cyber arm and finally the Cyberman markings framing the tomb.

Not the end of the Cybermen.
The Tomb of The Cybermen is an interesting variation on the base-under-siege structure we see so often in the Troughton era. In this iteration the Doctor and his colleagues are the ones besieging the base of the Cybermen. Reversing the normal style. Some don't believe that Tomb lives up to it's hype, as for many years it was believed lost until it was discovered by a Hong Kong television company ATV (formerly called RTV) in late 1991. The serial was released on VHS, to much fan excitement in May 1992. To me it makes me think of Egyptian archaeology, like Indiana Jones, with it's traps, hidden passages and lost secrets. It may not have the strongest plot but it has all the staples of a classic episode of Doctor Who and for that I love it. Matt Smith, shares my praise and has stated several times that this serial is his favourite Doctor Who story.

Join me next time for The Abominable Snowmen and the first introduction of what would go on to become a classic Doctor Who villain, the Yeti.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

DWAS Day of The Daleks Preview Screening Report

Hello faithful bloggers. Firstly welcome to my new followers, and I also wanted to apologise again for my lack of blogging. I have been very busy, which is certainly a good thing. I recently started rehearsals for a new musical and I simply haven't had enough spare time to dedicate to you all, and for that I am sorry. However I am now going to share with you the wonderful way I spent my sunday.

I returned to my birthplace of Hammersmith and arrived at Riverside Studios under some fairly heavy rain at about half one, a little damp but very excited as I found myself the lucky recipient of a much sought after ticket to the Doctor Who Appreciation Society's (DWAS) preview screening of the new 2|entertain Special Edition DVD of the Jon Pertwee Classic: Day of The Daleks. The edition has clearly been a labour of love for producer Steve Broster, who was influenced by previous releases like The Ark in Space and Earthshock which both featured new effects shots and has worked on the project for over a year. And what better place to hold this excellent event than Riverside Studios where scores of Hartnell and Troughton Who was actually filmed.

I soggily trudge up numerous flights of stairs and enter a swelteringly hot cinema auditorium and locate the best empty seat my eye first falls on. I can hear the group of people to my right discussing favourite episodes and the pair to my left talking about current Big Finish audio releases. You can practically see the nerd sweat dripping from the walls, but I don't care. I'm here to see a new version of an old Doctor Who story that I love, and best of all along with this throng of fellow Whovians I get to see it first, before it's released and review it for you. 

First we were treated to a Prologue specially arranged just for this launch event. It was a Dalek transmission linking the continuity between the later filmed adventure Destiny of the Daleks to it's story sequel, which was actually made before it. It explained that the reason for the Daleks Invading for a second time was to mine Earth's resources to fuel their endless battle with the Movellans who we wouldn't meet until about 7 years later.

The Day of The Daleks is the perfect story for this kind of overhaul with some famously bad line fluffs and missed opportunities like an unfortunate invading 'army' of only three Daleks. Without further ado we launched right into parts 1 and 2. I simply enjoyed getting to experience the story on the big screen. The one dampener on my day aside from the rain, was the guy sitting beside me, who felt the need to audibly tut each time we reached an amendment in the story. If you knew you weren't going to like it why did you come? Oh well. I notice a couple of line changes. When the Brigadier is speaking to the Minister he doesn't say "rather" a million times any more. Steve Broster has also decided to lose the most unintentionally funny moment in the whole story, when the Controller asks, "Where there any complications?" and an over-eager Ogron actor replies just a little too quickly, "No Complications." Funny stuff, but not in this version.

There are apparently something like 250 amendments throughout the whole edition, the more obvious ones are: lasers that fire from the guns, the time machine effects are greatly more impressive, and the exterminations are up to a modern standard. There are also some little trims to cut out some sticky moments and conversely allow for new footage of 22nd century Earth. There are some wonderful scenes, which feature the "obey" logo and you can also see the Dalek saucers flying about as well.

After the end of part two, everyone applauds apart from the man sitting next to me who just looks disappointed. We get a short panel from producer Steve Broster and graphic designer Michael Dinsdale. Broster tells us how he wanted to try to recreate the version of Day of The Daleks that he thought he saw as a six-year-old. 

A comparison of versions, old and new.
We learn that the project all stemmed out of the idea to replace the somewhat stilted Dalek voices with ones more fitting and in keeping with other classic Dalek stories. And who else would a self respecting Doctor Who producer turn to? Why, none other than Dalek Voice man and Big Finish producer Nicholas Briggs. After the suggestion of new Dalek voices, new footage seemed like an obvious step. 

Broster also explained that for the most part he had tried to create what might have been possible in 1971, if the production had had more time and money. For the most part the team has stuck to this creating not a version with obvious modern special effects, but an elaborated and more streamlined version of the original.

We then got an extra special treat. One of the DWAS leaders came forth and announced Nicholas Courtney's successor as president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society and welcomed, Colin Baker to the stage.

We then had a break, and I had the good fortune to finally get to meet the wonderfully talented, true gentleman: Toby Hadoke. We had spoken a bit on Facebook and Twitter in the past, but it was really great to speak to the Doctor Who aficionado and Knitter himself. After a good chat about all things Who, I returned to my seat and the 'tutter' and we continued with parts three and four. 

There was some more good changes and additionally filmed footage; shot on a vintage Arriflex 16BL camera and de-graded to give it that matching 'washed out' film look. The footage was filmed at Dropmore House, the location originally used for Auderley House, and consisted of: a new sequence of a soldier witnessing the arrival of the Ogrons, the Daleks and the Ogrons approaching the house, Daleks attacking, some exterminations, and Daleks and Ogrons entering the house. These were integrated expertly and I often couldn't tell what was original and what was newly added.

When the Special Edition came to a close, we all applauded, even the tutter. We were then treated to another panel, this time with Scott Fredericks who played Boaz, Richard Franklin who played Captain Mike Yates and the lovely Katie Manning who played Jo Grant.

Afterwards I had a good chat with Richard Franklin who has just finished "The Tempest" with Shakespeare troupe Antic Disposition along with my best friend and fellow actor, Robin Rightmyer. I chatted to Ogron and Dalek builder and operator Toby Chamberlain. I was also able to snap this little beaut with the glamourous Katy Manning. I can't believe she's 62. She looks amazing.

All in all I had a great day, met some nice people and throughly enjoyed the Special Edition of The Day of The Daleks. The DVD is released on monday 12th September and amongst various special features contains both the original un-edited version and on a second disc the special edition. I highly recommend it to any fan, old or new. It's an essential for die-hard fans and would make a great introduction to the classic series for noobs. Thanks to 2|entertain and the Doctor Who Appreciation Society on a successful product and event.