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Doctor Who XXII.1-2: Attack of the Cybermen

June 24th, 2011 (12:41 am)

To show signs of being likeable in Attack of the Cybermen is to risk being turned into a Cyberman. The affable sewer workers encountered in the first scene take their places quickly in conversion cabinets. The Doctor is distant and abrasive and Peri complaining and stupid by turns. I'm not sure whether the fact the only character I warmed to in part one of the story was the Cyberleader proves or undermines my first sentence.

Part two is potentially more interesting: there is a clash in design between a mid-1980s Top of the Pops style and a fragile gothic which could have driven the episode had they been more carefully expressed. As it is one is left with a sense of futility - Bates and Stratton and Griffiths, weighed down by heavy dialogue, fail to take the Cybermen time vessel; the Doctor fails to do very much except get stuck in a room, be slow on the uptake and fail to understand Lytton's plan; the Halley's Comet subplot is sidelined; the Cryons talk slowly and flatly; every piece of exposition seems to be repeated at least twice.

Perhaps these reactions are too obviously shaped by over a quarter-century of recriminations concerning falling ratings, disputed authorship, the alleged unrealistic and outdated aspirations of the producer. For a generation, the merit of the 1985 season of Doctor Who is entangled with the cancellation crisis which emerged in the last week of February, attended by a sense of relentless inevitability.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
Me

Funnily enough, I prefer part one. The gangsters (or Gangsters) are new ground for Doctor Who and show potential, but are quickly sidelined in favour of a traditional monster story. It's many years since I last saw it, but I seem to recall some amusing dialogue early on (I liked "You said you were from Guildford!" even if it is a Douglas Adams rip-off), which sadly gets replaced by the usual Eric Saward macho dialogue later.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)

"You said you were from Guildford" would have been funnier than the line we have, which is "You said you were from Fulham".

The gangsters are interesting in that their style of dress is so mundane - I pointed them out to fellow-viewers as characters dressed by the director, as opposed to characters dressed by the producer, though I wonder if that is entirely fair.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
Me

Ah, well as I said, it's several years since I saw it!

Thinking about it, wasn't Nicola Bryant from Guildford, despite JNT insisting otherwise in the press releases?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)

I thought she was from Putney, but she could have been from Guildford...

ETA: You're right - Wikipedia confirms Guildford.

Edited at 2011-06-24 02:08 pm (UTC)

Posted by: louisedennis (louisedennis)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Doctor Who

The memory cheats and all that. But I recall at the time thinking how nihilistic the story was, in that ultimately everyone fails, and several roles as a result appear to have no purpose at all beyond padding the story out.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
ArgueMainly

I really can't remember what I thought at the time. I wasn't particularly enthused by it; my main concern about Doctor Who around then was that it wasn't moving forward in terms of its mythology, and I don't remember warming to the regulars particularly even though I wanted to. In fact, defensiveness about the programme probably overcame my critical faculties too often during this period of the programme.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
cyberleader

You're going to love this.

To publicise to staff a new service to offer to clients to help them protect their systems from 'cyberattack' (i.e. hacking), JOLF's London office in Canary Wharf is full of life-size cardboard cybermen.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 24th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)

That's a very beautiful image, and I do indeed love it.

A former DocSoc committee member lives near Canary Wharf, and while watching 'Doomsday' with friends there saw the Cyberman-Dalek wars destroy his flat!

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: June 25th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
cyberleader

I should have taken a photo. They're all over the building. They even feature in a small film shown on the screens in the lifts. They are, regrettably, nu-Who stompy-feet cybermen rather than JNT-era "I have found the ones from the TARDIS" cybermen.