Friday, June 7, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: Attack of the Cybermen

Doctor Who:
Attack of the Cybermen
By Paula Moore
Reviewed By Will Barber

Russell: You're bonkers. 
The Doctor: That's debatable.

Whilst trying to fix the TARDIS's chameleon circuit, the Sixth Doctor returns to Foreman's Yard on Totter's Lane in 1985, where he meets his old enemies the Cybermen. They have come from the future to change history by sending Halley's Comet crashing into Earth. Lytton, last seen working for the Daleks, is involved in the Cybermen's plot. Is Lytton working for the Cybermen, himself or someone else?

Attack of the Cybermen is seen as a fan favourite, one which in 2003 for a special Gold Doctor Who season was voted by the fans as Colin Baker’s best story. However, it isn’t. The first part of Attack lumbers along like a clumsily choreographed dancer with two right feet. The story clomps along rather like the Cybermen of this story, stompy, stupid and about as frightening as mouldy cheese. Even before the TARDIS lands, The Doctor is going back and forward like a galactic yoyo not quite sure what to do with himself for most of the story. He arrives in one location then leaves instantly because nothing is happening there at that time and so he goes somewhere else in search of some tangible plot point. The story is only two 45 minute parts but it feels more like a six parter. Several scenes will go by with literally nothing happening. 

The only good scenes feature Lytton and Griffiths played by the brilliant Maurice Colbourne and Brian Glover sadly scenes featuring them are few and far between. The story really has no enjoyable elements, no action, drama, psychological depth, character motivation or really anything that can sustain an audience’s attention for 90 minutes. It just bores its audience rather than thrills them and certainly does not make them want to be part of the action they are seeing on their television screens. 

Normally, I would select a certain performance to discuss from the story. Sadly, there is none which was particularly brilliant for me to discuss. Instead I shall talk about the effects, mainly because they are rather interesting. Unlike effects in previous stories (Such as the Dalek beams in Resurrection of The Daleks ) the effects in this story seems like an evolutionary back leap. Rather than using the then cutting edge light beam effects as used for the Dalek in Resurrection and later for the Cybermen in Silver Nemesis, the production team decided to use an effect which basically cut the screen into several different coloured fragments. However, they later used the more complex light beam effects later on in Part Two. Perhaps the production team was experimenting with new effects? It seems more plausible that the production team was instead cutting the costs by using a downgraded technique. Either way it is still interesting.

Attack of The Cybermen isn’t one of the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time. In fact, it is one of the worst, with its none plots and mad running around. However, it is an example of what the show was going through in the 80s and that even though we may moan about the state of the show now, we are still pretty fortunate to have on the whole, decent writing.

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