Tomb of the Cybermen

Dir. Morris Barry
Tomb of the Cybermen is exactly the kind of DVD to pull out when you still have a cold a week later,
and can’t be arsed to do anything else.
One of the few surviving Patrick Troughton-era Doctor Who serials (most of which were thrown out by the BBC to make room on their tape shelves) and one of two available on DVD, this was thought lost until discovered in a Hong Kong basement in 1992. Proclaimed a “classic” by now-grown-up impressionable children who hadn’t seen it since, this four-part story fortunately is a cute dose of early Who.

In fact, the story is a bit like Alien/s, and the TARDIS crew meet up with an archeological dig on the planet of Telos, who have come to unearth the tomb of the title. The archy-crew contain nowt but stereotypes: deceitful Krauts, wishy-washy Limeys, gung-ho Yanks (although sensible in that one always avoids action and stays outside to fix the spacecraft), and a large black slave chap called Toberman. Good name that. Well, he’s not actually a slave, but the evil German lady’s bodyguard who speaks very little English, all strong and quasi-savage like. Who says the future is progressive?
So, with the help of the Doctor, who keeps aiding them in going further towards danger, then telling them off when someone gets killed, they enter the tomb. The deceitful Germans manage to rouse the Cybermen from deep sleep (in an impressive-for-the-time cyrogenic chamber set into the wall), then foolishly try to bargain with them. However, the Cybermen and their main controller-leader will have none of that, and set about capturing humans and turning them into half-cyber hybrids to continue the race. The Cybermen, by the way, talk like Mark E. Smith through a kazoo. “We are cyberman-ah! We will survive-ah!” Good stuff. And the lead controller Cyberman has a pointy brain-dome thing to show you he’s the main guy.
Companions Jamie (Scottish bloke, always ready for a tussle, but rarely tussles here) and Victoria (very hot, but a bit of a plank) perform their usual duties (getting in the way, screaming, running around). The Doctor, as I said, steps in at the last moment to fix everything, but for a lot of this story, he lets the humans get on with it and screw it all up.
I don’t know if I really find the Cybermen that interesting a Doctor Who villain. The Daleks were already set up as inhuman, metallic things, so the Cyberman have little else to make them stand out, except for the blank face and the silver outfit. For a lot of Tomb they wander about, doing very little exterminating. “Kill the humanoid-ah!” Go on! What, no? They don’t like humans, but they seem reluctant to kill any off. I look forward to next year’s new season of Doctor Who to see how Russell Davis reimagines these guys. Hopefully it’ll make sense.

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