Friday, October 4, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel

Doctor Who:
Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel 
By Tom MacRae

“Yeah, but that's it. That's exactly the point! Oh, Lumic, you're a clever man. I'd call you a genius, except I'm in the room. But everything you've invented, you did to fight your sickness. And that's brilliant. That is so human. But once you get rid of sickness and mortality, then what's there to strive for, eh? The Cybermen won't advance. You'll just stop. You'll stay like this forever. A metal Earth with metal men and metal thoughts, lacking the one thing that makes this planet so alive. People. Ordinary, stupid, brilliant people.”

The Doctor, Mickey and Rose have fallen through a hole in time and ended up on an alternate Earth.  The problem is it also seems to have killed the TARDIS in the process and they might be stranded on this alternate Earth where Rose discovers that her Dad is still alive on this planet.  So she goes off in search of her father and Mickey goes off in search of his grandma.  The Doctor decides to follow Rose as he found a piece of the TARDIS still working and it will take time for it to properly recharge.

The Doctor and Rose end up sneaking into a party at Pete Tylers house with guest the President of England and John Lumic who is desperately trying to get his invention approved but is willing to go to any lengths to do it.  After being turned down again Lumic releases his creation and has them attack the party and killing those who try to escape while rounding up the others for conversion.  What he has unleashed has filled The Doctor with dread as he has seen these creatures before.  Lumic has created the Cybermen on this alternate Earth and they are just as deadly as the ones he knows and it’s up to The Doctor and Rose and a small band of freedom fighters to stop Lumic’s Cybermen.

The Cybermen make their first appearance in the new series and just like the Daleks before them they too get a makeover.   New look, New weapons and an new voice are the obvious changes made with the Cybermen.  But the biggest change that was attempted here was their origin.  Even though it is an alternate Earth they appear to have been made by an Earthman in Lumic and not from Mondas like they are in our universe. 

One of the main themes in this story is the conflict Rose and Mickey have with seeing their dead relatives alive again.  They both see it as a second chance to have a relationship with that relative more so with Mickey as he decides to stay on the alternate Earth.  Rose tries hard to have a second chance with her alternate Earth version of her dad but it just doesn’t go right even though she was warned by The Doctor. 

Part one is slower paced than the second part but that works with “Rise of the Cybermen” as it sets up everything nicely before the action packed “Age of Steel”.  It is interesting to see the events that led up to the creation of the alternate universe Cybermen.  John Lumic is looking for a way to cheat death and thinks he can preserve his brain in the body of a Cyberman.   When that attempt is turned down by Earth’s government he goes ahead anyway by kidnapping homeless people and converting them into Cybermen to make a small army for himself.  I think the conversion processes was down pretty well and scary and for one thing you won’t think of the Tokens “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in the same light again.

There were quite a bit of behind the sofa moments in this story most notably when The Doctor and Mrs. Moore are in the sewers and it is filled with Cybermen.  That was pretty freaky and cool at the same time especially when they started to wake up.  Plus another moment was when the Cyberman on the blimp woke up and attacked Jake and Mickey.  It was predictable as you knew that Cyberman was going to awaken but it was still freaky all the same.   I thought the Cybercontroller/Lumic looked pretty cool sitting in that throne of his.  With all those tubes and stuff like that it looked really impressive and gave you an feeling of complete evil is sitting there. 

The ending and conclusion was pretty good even though there were quite a few things wrong with it.  For one it looked to convenient that the cell phone fitted into the computer.  It would have been more believable if they used an interface cord instead.  One glaring problem was how did Lumics factory explode at the end.  Did the unprogrammed Cybermen   blow it up in the rage or what.  It just seemed odd seeing it blow up when the Lumic Cyberman fell back down to earth and then it just blew up.  Kinda weird that it wasn’t explained or addressed properly. 

One of the more touching scenes is when Mickey tells Rose he is staying behind.  The Doctor looks on proud as the idiot we met in Series 1 was no longer the coward but has now matured into a hero.  Rose learns a lesson that she took Mickey for granted and now he is gone as she realizes what she could have had.  But no tears for Rose as she does ok in the end as we find out later.  “Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”  is a really good Cybermen story which was a long time coming as there last two classic appearances were not all that great.   This story has some similiarities to “Spare Parts” the Big Finish story by Marc Platt and it is good to see an origin story sort of since this does take place on an alternate Earth.  A wonderful Cyberman story to enjoy for years to come.
Grade A

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