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Doctor Who XIX.6: Earthshock

October 22nd, 2010 (11:21 am)

Signs and signifiers across nearly twenty-nine years:

A cry of "old skool!" as the new Cybermen appear, from one who was not born when Earthshock was first broadcast (I am a relatively senior citizen at these gatherings), is a remarkable indicator of how much time (chronological and cultural) has passed since Earthshock was broadcast. The look of the 1982 Cybermen was widely hailed at the time as modern, cutting-edge, restoring Doctor Who to the forefront of respectable SF design. The next year, Philip Purser (reviewing The Five Doctors in The Daily Telegraph) thought that the 1980s Cybermen looked as though they were wearing tinfoil. Purser's view has probably prevailed. The fighter-pilot Cybersuits, however baggy and plainly vulnerable they might seem, were not only an influence on the look of Star Trek's Borg, but given that Earthshock was broadcast on the eve of the Falklands War serendipitously anticipated the militarily triumphalist mood that gripped the Conservative sectors of the British media later in 1982. The depiction of 'Britain 2010' by The Lenny Henry Show (1985) as the domain of the blonde-wigged Cyberman Thatchos was perhaps sharper than the makers knew.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
Another 'Younger than Earthshock' Viewer Speaks
Me

I've never much liked the eighties Cybermen. The helmets and chestplates are good, but the flight-suits are flimsy. The Revenge models used to be my favourites, but in recent years I have transfered my allegiance to the Tenth Planet models, which look like a more brutal synthesis of man and machine than any of the others, despite (or perhaps because) of their more primitive appearance.

By the way, did you hear Louis Marks died? He got a fairly big obituary in The Jewish Chronicle which you might be able to find online.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Another 'Younger than Earthshock' Viewer Speaks

The only flaw with the chestplate is that it isn't flexible; the lower segment is detached from the body and this is very clear when the Cybermen stand in profile.

I had heard that Louis Marks had died. He had obituaries in The Times and The Guardian, though not yet in the other two 'qualities'. Unfortunately the Jewish Chronicle website doesn't appear to include its obituaries, which is a pity. I met Louis Marks's granddaughter at Freshers' Fair a few years ago - she is I think still at Somerville.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Another 'Younger than Earthshock' Viewer Speaks
liz shaw

I didn't find the stiff chestplate a problem as it behaves in an expected way - essentially a primitive kind of plate armour. The tinfoil underneath is more worrying, and I still don't understand why no-one ever thinks of grabbing the handles on the head and yanking it backwards... ;-)

All in all, I quite like that design, though.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Another 'Younger than Earthshock' Viewer Speaks

Viewed from 2010, the invulnerability of the 1982 Cybermen is open to question. Indeed, I'd rather the whole gold business had been forgotten about after Revenge of the Cybermen, though in the event, of the previous depictions of Cybermen it's the Revenge Cybermen which are most honoured by Earthshock.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Another 'Younger than Earthshock' Viewer Speaks
Me

I suspect the Jewish Chronicle obituary didn't add much that the other two obituaries missed, but I didn't realize that Marks was a dedicated Zionist (which casts interesting light on Day of the Daleks, which many have seen as being partly inspired by the Arab-Israeli conflict).

Incidentally, my maternal grandmother's maiden name was Marks, but as far as I know there's no connection.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Another 'Younger than Earthshock' Viewer Speaks
pic#70424010

I'd not realised that Marks was a Zionist either! The parallelling of Day of the Daleks with Jewish history has potential - Daleks as Romans, Auderley House as Masada or Betar (if the Wikipedia article on Bar Kokhba's revolt is right?) and the victory of the time-travelling (Jewish) resistance fighters as a triumph for counterfactualism? You might think that such parallels go too far.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Another 'Younger than Earthshock' Viewer Speaks
Me

I'd not realised that Marks was a Zionist either!

Hmm, why am I not surprised The Guardian omitted that!

I only skimmed over that Wikipedia article, but it seemed a little odd - at times using modern research, at other times repeating rabbinic legend uncritically. I suspect it has been written by people with very different outlooks. But the references to Betar are correct, yes. Although given Shura's suicide, Masada might be the more appropriate parallel. Except, of course, that the Jews lost and the Romans won!

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)

I had all-but-forgotten that Lenny Henry Show.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)

Here it is...

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)

Ta!