Saturday, 23 September 2017

173 The Tomb of the Cybermen: Episode Four

EPISODE: The Tomb of the Cybermen: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 23 September 1967
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Morris Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Victor Pemberton
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 7.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who Revisitations 3: The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Three Doctors & The Robots of Death

"The energy levels are low. We will survive. You will help us. You will help us!"

Jim Callum throws himself in front of the Doctor taking most of the blast in his shoulder. In the chambers bellow, many of the Cybermen retreat to the tomb they occupied leaving the Controller with a smaller group of Cybermen. Klieg opens the hatch and summons the Controller and the partially cybertised Toberman to the surface. The Controller uses the revitalising machine to repower his weakening form. Attempts by the Doctor and Jamie to trap him in it fail. Controlling Toberman he gets him to strike Klieg down and taking his gun shoots Kaftan dead. Toberman flings the Controller into the console damaging him. The Doctor goes bellow with Toberman to seal the Cybermen in their Tombs but while everyone is tending to the wounded Callum, Klieg sneaks bellow and halts the process. The Doctor engages him about his plans for world domination

The Doctor: Don't you see what this is going to mean to all the people who come to serve Klieg the all powerful? Why, no country, no person would dare to have a single thought that was not your own. Eric Klieg's own conception of the, of the way of life!
Eric Klieg: Brilliant! Yes, yes, you're right. Master of the world.
The Doctor: Well now I know you're mad, I just wanted to make sure.
Klieg is ambushed by one of the remaining Cybermen and killed, while the Cyberman is killed by Toberman. They return to the surface, the Doctor electrifying the doors, hatch and console but as they leave the Controller reactivates and attempts to prevent them closing the doors. Toberman shoves them closed at the cost of his life as he's electrocuted with the doors completing the circuit as they close. Parry, the sole survivor of the expedition proper, leaves with Hopper, Callum & the rest of the rocket ship's crew.

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It's quite a bleak ending that with Toberman's body lying lifeless in the dust alongside an escaped Cybermat!

But the episode is great stuff again. The Cybermen retreating to the tomb has had some flack over the years but from the Controller's behaviour afterwards it should be obvious they've got energy problems and their plan relied on getting to the revitalising machine quickly. You have to ask then why they didn't have one in the tombs!

Klieg, who's not learnt at all from his experience, tries to exploit the Cybermen needing something on their side of the hatch by once again coercing them to do his bidding:

DOCTOR: You still think you can bargain with the Cybermen?
KLIEG: Certainly. And this time on our terms.

KLIEG: They're coming. And now, gentlemen, you will see how I shall use the power of the Cybermen.
DOCTOR: Use maybe, but you'll never control the Cybermen.
KAFTAN: Eric, behind you!
KLIEG: Stop. You know what this can do to you.

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KLIEG: That's better. Now you are under my control. We know you must be revitalised or you will perish. If you agree to my terms, I shall let you survive.
CONTROLLER: I will listen.
KAFTAN: Make them release Toberman.
JAMIE: If you think they'll listen to you, you're even dafter than I thought.
KLIEG: Silence. Sit down. First, you release our man.
KAFTAN: Toberman, it is good that you are back. Watch them.
JAMIE: Doctor, he seems er
DOCTOR: Yes, Jamie, yes.
KLIEG: Stay where you are! Now, do you agree to accept our plan?
KLIEG: The conquest of the Earth.
PARRY: What? You must be out of your mind.
KLIEG: Silence! Your answer?
CONTROLLER: We accept. We will give you some of our power devices.
KLIEG: Good. I knew an understanding could be reached. I shall let you be revitalised. To survive, it must be now. Come forward. Slowly.

His next step is to lock the Cybercontroller in the rejuvenation chamber where the Doctor tries to trap him in the rejuvenation machine like what happened to Victoria in the first episode:
DOCTOR: I think not. I think there must be some sort of internal timing mechanism. Jamie, I hope you made those ropes secure.
JAMIE: Oh, the King of the beasties himself couldnae get out of that one.
You can guess what happens next: The Controller bursts through the front of the machine shattering it!
DOCTOR: Jamie, remind me to give you a lesson in tying knots sometime.
Even though this attempt at bargaining with the Cybermen goes wrong he still ventures back down into the tombs for another go:
KLIEG: And so you have forfeited your right to survival. I shall make an example of you to all who question my intelligence, and the supreme power of the Cybermen.
DOCTOR: You know, I've heard all this before somewhere.
JAMIE: You know your trouble? You talk too much.
KLIEG: Oh, you're stupid. You still think that your puny minds can survive against us? You're decadent, weak. Do you know that? Weak!
DOCTOR: All right. Go ahead, kill us.
KLIEG: No, I have a better idea. Much better idea. I shall leave you to the Cybermen. I'm sure they'll have some use for you. Or parts of you.

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Unfortunately during that frothing exchange he's not noticed what's going on behind him and meets his end at the hands of a Cyberman.

The dying Cyberman, with foam emerging from it's battered chest unit, drew criticism for the BBC at the time for being too gruesome and led to co-author Kit Pedler appearing on the BBC Talkback show to debate the issue.

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However the real horror in this episode for me comes from what's done to Toberman. First we see him controlled by the Cybermen:

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Then it becomes apparent that he's been figuratively altered with his right arm replaced by a Cyberman arm. Why just that arm isn't quite clear and to be honest not a lot of screen time is given to this alteration that spends most of the episode covered over. The intention was that Toberman's partial conversion would be prefigured by having him being deaf and wearing hearing aids, a small first step to the replacement of his body by artificial parts.

In the end it's his modification by the Cybermen, allied to his already great physical strength demonstrated previously, that allows him to overcome the Controller, close the main main doors and complete the electrical circuit at the cost of his life.

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I think Tomb's a cracking story: decent monsters & villains, fabulous sets and some really good lines for Troughton. For many years it was seen as the highpoint of the series but since it's 1992 return it's taken a bit of a battering from fans compared to it's previous reputation. Don't care. I love it.

The Tomb of the Cybermen novel, by it's television co-author Gerry Davis, was one of the first Troughton stories I encountered, possibly even THE first. My local library had two Troughton books, both in Hardback: this was one, Web of Fear was the other. Their copy of Web now sits on my bookshelf thanks to a withdrawn book sale. It's complete with a once again inaccurate cover showing like the Cybermen, the novelization of The Moonbase television story, the wrong sort of Cybermen: both covers feature the Invasion version.

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In 1983 the BBC held a vastly over subscribed 20th anniversary Celebration convention at Longleat House in Wiltshire. During the weekend a poll was taken to determine which story would be the first released on video. Tomb of the Cybermen won. One problem: Tomb didn't exist at the time. So the BBC went for the next best thing that did exist: Revenge of the Cybermen. The first Revenge video release upheld the "wrong Cybermen on the cover" tradition by appearing with an Earthshock Cyberman on it's front! We'll forgive them the neon logo as that was in use by the series at the time!

Tomb 6 Revenge of the Cybermen VHS Cover Tomb 3 VHS

As we've said previously, Tomb was eventually released on video on May 4th 1992. It had been planned as a missing story audio release but the story's recovery temporarily shelved that. The audio cassette, with narration by Jon Pertwee, was eventually released in June 1993. Tomb's recovery affecting the release schedules was rumoured to put a stop on further missing episode releases presumably because the BBC thought more recoveries were imminent. I'm not sure this theory holds up: The audio cassettes were selling very, very well at the time. A new Tomb of the Cybermen Soundtrack CD was released in 2006, with new narration by Frazer Hines, completing Season 5 on BBC CD.

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Tomb of the Cybermen was released on DVD on the 14th January 2002 and was the first release to feature Patrick Troughton or, indeed, black and white material. This release wasn't VIDFIRED to restore the video look due to the process being in it's infancy at the time. However Planet of the Giants was already out on Video and does use the VIDFIRE process and there's a small Easter Egg of Vidfired material on this release. Tomb of the Cybermen was the earliest Doctor Who DVD to be deleted. A new version, with VIDFIRE and loads of new extras was released in the Doctor Who Revisitations III boxset alongside The Three Doctors & The Robots of Death in late 2011.

The DVD has a lovely little extra on it: over the selection screen for the episodes plays the audio of a trailer for the missing next Episode, the first part of The Abominable Snowmen!

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