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Doctor Who Attack of the Cyberman DVD Review - -

Feature 5.0
Video 5.5
Audio 4.0
Total 5.0
Distributor: Roadshow
Classification: M15+
Mark Arnold


Doctor Who Attack of the Cyberman

Most people are probably familiar with the Doctor Who from the 70s and 80s, most famously portrayed by Tom Baker and perhaps the second most famous Doctor from that era would be Colin Baker (no relation.) This was the last Doctor until the series was put on hiatus until resurrected in a movie in the 90s and the latest series in the 00s.

The Colin Baker Doctor was supposed to be somewhat unstable, heralded by his attempt to kill his companion when he first regenerated. He got his wits back, but there was an attempt by the producers to try and leave a dark undertone throughout the series - the Doctor might just go crazy, and his decisions might not be completely trustworthy. Colin Baker has, perhaps unfairly, been accused of being the “unlikable Doctor” who ended the series’ run.

Attack of the Cybermen is essentially his first “real” outing after completing the regeneration cycle and wrapping things up that caused his said regeneration. He is detoured to Earth, 1985, where he comes across his old foe the Cybermen, who are up to no good as usual. To reveal more would be to include spoilers, so suffice to say the plan involves bad things for Earthlings and The Doctor and his companion Peri is here to save us all.

This particular episode is riddled with old Doctor Who through-backs – the Cybermen themselves for example, as well as the return of another Doctor Who foe. It would be good to tell you what other nuggets can be found scattered throughout the episode, but again that would be spoiling things. Try checking Google afterwards to see if you spotted them all. It can be revealed that the Doctor fixes the chameleon circuit on the TARDIS - so for the first time ever it is not in the shape of the iconic police box.

The episodes should immediately cause reminiscing for anyone alive during this time. Late afternoon reruns of cheesy, budget BBC shows were a staple of the ABC from the eighties. Now we’re all a bit older, though, you’re bound to notice some quibbles you might have overlooked as a kid. The Cybermen’s costumes are nothing short of laughable, as is their acting, weapons, and death sequences. Their retooling for the latest series was much needed – the new Cybermen now move and sound robotic (rather than guys in jumpsuits with synthesized voices.) The new Cybermen “delete” opponents, whereas the old Cybermen were simply supposed to be incredibly strong (as are all robots, don’t you know?) Their attacks generally consist of putting a hand on someone who then has to pretend they are in great pain as they are squeezed, or they tap their opponent who then has to seem like they are thrown across the room. You should get a great guffaw whenever these grown adults throw their arms up and stumble about the room after being “hurt.”

Unfortunately The Doctor’s companion does nothing to help salvage the attention away from the Cybermen. Peri is American, annoying, and couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag. The Doctor treats her with a fair amount of derision, and it’s a far cry from the Doctor/companion relationship of say Hartnell and his teacher aides. In that relationship the Doctor was quite bumbling and the companions were along to keep him out of trouble. By 1985 it seems the Doctor was quite capable – even to the point of using a weapon and disarming several foes – and Peri is tagging along so she can annoy us all.

The biggest problem, however (one which it is hard to believe was overlooked by even children of the eighties) is the constant background music tooled by a single synthesizer. It is spectacularly terrible, and ever-present. Every action and scene is riddled with the blooping and plunking of the most ingraining instrument ever devised. It doesn’t sound like an organ, or a panio, or any earthly device – it just sounds like a synthesizer, and the composer seems to have been unaware of the fact that good background music blends in and is barely noticeable. If an hour and a half of listening to that doesn’t make you want to bay at the moon and terrorize innocents with the blathered ramblings of impending doom – you aren’t human.

Most fans of Doctor Who should be able to recall the days when these two episodes aired, and this story arc in particular is linked to a number of related subjects for the Doctor. If you pull on all the threads you might just turn up some interesting gems, however, the episodes are in the dead area where it is not quite old enough to be “classic”, just painful, and not quite new enough to be passable. It has its pros and cons, but if only for your sanity, you might be better off reading a plot outline.

There are two episodes and no special features on this disc.


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