Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doctor Who-The Tomb Of The Cybermen
                         This is probably one of the 60's era Doctor Who serials that has a lot of historical value. It's the only surviving serial of the fifth season of the program in 1967. It's also the only one available featuring companion Victoria,who the doctor encountered in the missing episode 'The Evil Of The Daleks". This episode also reintroduced the Cybermen,who had appeared in the final (and also largely missing) William Hartnell era serial 'The Tenth Planet'. Unless one is a huge Whovian whose read the Target novelizations or listened to audio recordings this episode has some highly disrupted continuity. For most it's probably best taken somewhat as a stand alone episode as it can only function to look to the future of the show than towards a currently missing past.

                     While getting new companion Victoria acquainted with the TARDIS,they all land on the planet Telos,home of the cybermen where a team of human archaeologists have uncovered a massive facility with representations of cybermen all over it. Funded by a man named Kaftan and including Professor Parry,Eric Klieg and the taciturn servant Toberman the doctor and his companions join with the team,only to all find themselves in a massive cyber tomb. Surrounded by machines they don't fully understand the team,despite the doctors objections begin to fiddle with every control they find to understand it's purpose.  Pretty soon  they locate a frozen underground tunnel where they find a massive tomb of cybermen in stasis. Parry locks one part of the team inside to confront the revived cybermen.

                       Turns out Klieg and Parry have been in league all along so that Klieg could harness the power of cybermen to enact control over his people. On the other hand the cybermen have plans of their own. They decide to play Klieg and his Brotherhood Of Logicians,who seek physical might to back their intellectualism,against each other to assist the re-emerging of their own species. To the point of brainwashing Toberman to do their bidding. This is completed by the Cybermats,clockwork mouse like artificial lifeforms that disrupt human brain patters. As the doctor convinces Toberman of his humanity,Klieg and Parry play right into the cyberman's hands and perish accordingly. It's Toberman who seals the tomb at last at the cost of his own life as the TARDIS crew and the remainder of the expedition flee. Since only the body of Toberman and a single Cybermat remain,the future of the cybermen is unclear.

                        Not to mention being an important episode involving the nature of the cybermen, there are some important human themes dealt with here too. Of course there's the most obvious fact that Klieg's Brotherhood Of Logicians represented how a totalitarian mind is not dissimilar to a cold and uncaring cybernetically  enhanced life form such as the cybermen or even the computer that runs their facility. Most of the actors reflect this as well,except for George Roubicek's Captain Hooper,who seems to struggle with an apparently difficult American accent. There are also many important allusions to prejudice and emotional ties. Victoria at one point worries as to her family and the doctor gives her a kind and very fatherly pep talk about the advantages of free will.

                      Also considering the racially polarized times had Toberman,a black man depicted at first as a servant being liberated by the doctor after almost becoming enslaved by the cybermen. It's Toberman who becomes the noble hero of the piece by saving everyone's life at the cost of his own. These as well as the implied anti sexist message,with the female members of the expedition always treated as weak and vulnerable but resisting this impression. All this taken together is a a great counter balance between the 100% logic based world of the cybermen and the conflicts of human nature. Overall it's one of those Doctor Who serials that,due to it's claustrophobic settings and emphasis on dialog,that really explores the characters needs and motivations.
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