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137[1]Attack of the Cybermen
Doctor Who serial
Attack of the Cybermen.jpg
The Sixth Doctor battling against Cybermen
Cast
Guest stars
Production
Writer "Paula Moore" (Paula Woolsey)
Director Matthew Robinson
Script editor Eric Saward
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Production code 6T
Series Season 22
Length 2 episodes, 45 minutes each
Originally broadcast January 5–January 12, 1985
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Twin Dilemma Vengeance on Varos

Attack of the Cybermen is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in two weekly parts from January 5 to January 12, 1985. It opened Season 22 of the series. Beginning with this serial and continuing for the remainder of Season 22, episodes were 45 minutes in length (as opposed to previous episodes which were 25 minutes long); for syndication, in some markets, this serial is re-edited into four 25-minute segments.

Contents

Synopsis

The Sixth Doctor and Peri encounter the mercenary Lytton, stranded on planet Earth and in the employ of the Cybermen. A plot is being hatched that aims to change the history of Earth in favour of the Cyber-race, and the Doctor finds himself on an alien planet he has visited before as he tries to defeat his enemies and work out who he can trust to help him.

Plot

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Part One:

In the sewers of London, two workers are attacked by an unseen force. In the meantime, The Doctor is trying to make repairs to the TARDIS's systems, in particular the chameleon circuit, which will enable the ship to alter its external form to something more suitable than the police box it normally looks like. His efforts have little success though and cause the ship to behave chaotically in-flight, much to Peri's consternation. The Doctor eventually manages to pilot the TARDIS to Earth in the year 1985, where he treats Peri to the sight of Halley's Comet, although Peri is more worried about the prospect of crashing into it.

Back on Earth, the former Dalek mercenary Lytton (from Resurrection of the Daleks) has apparently taken up a new life as a London gangster, and is plotting a £10 million diamond raid on the Bank of England with his cohorts Griffiths, Payne and Russell. The four intend to enter the bank the same sewers that the two workmen were ambushed in, though Lytton activates a strange transmitter before they enter the sewer. This emits a distress signal that the Doctor picks up, and he lands the TARDIS in a scrapyard in Totter's Lane to investigate. The TARDIS changes shape, albeit to a rather conspicuous ornamental stove. After some searching around the area, he determines that the transmitter in that area is a dummy, and returns to the TARDIS to find the real source. They arrive at the sewer entrance (where the TARDIS reshapes itself into an organ) and find the transmitter, but are attacked by two policemen who are under Lytton's control. After dealing with them, the Doctor and Peri enter the sewers.

In the sewers, Payne falls behind the other three, and is beaten to death by the force that attacked the workers. In the meantime, Lytton and the other two come to a dead end, and find a Cyberman approaching them. Griffiths shoots it, but Lytton disarms him and surrenders himself to the Cybermen, who have a base in the sewers. Russell flees and encounters the Doctor and Peri, and after an initial misunderstanding he reveals himself to be an undercover police officer, who is investigating Lytton.

On the Cybermen's adopted homeworld of Telos, two slaves named Bates and Stratton escape from their work party and decapitate a Cyberman so that they can use its helmet to disguise Stratton as a Cyberman and enter Cyber Control. The Cybermen have captured a time-travelling vessel from Bates and Stratton, who intend to reclaim it and escape from Telos.

The Doctor, Peri and Russell return to the TARDIS, where they are ambushed by the Cybermen, who have also brought Lytton and Griffiths with them. Russell manages to kill two of them, but is then killed himself, and the Cyber Leader (seemingly for no reason) orders the other Cybermen to kill Peri.


Part Two:

However, the Doctor threatens to self-destruct the TARDIS if the Cybermen do not release her. The Leader agrees to spare their lives, and reveals that the Cyber Controller (whom the Doctor had previously thought destroyed) is still alive on Telos. Reluctantly, the Doctor sets course for Telos, and is imprisoned in one of the TARDIS's rooms along with Peri, Lytton and Griffiths. During the journey to Telos the Doctor fills Peri and Griffiths in on the history of Telos and its former inhabitants, the Cryons, who the Cybermen apparently wiped out in order to use their refrigerated cities to keep the Cybermen in cryogenic stasis. All the while, the Doctor notes that Lytton seems oddly familiar with the history of the Cybermen, Telos and the Cryons.

Meanwhile on Telos, it is revealed that most of the hibernating Cybermen have somehow become damaged, and go on a rampage destroying anything in their path when revived. The TARDIS arrives on Telos (now looking like an ornamental gate), but in the depths of the Cybermen's cryogenic tombs rather than in Cyber Control thanks to the Doctors interference. Just as the Cybermen prepare to take the four there, a damaged Cyberman breaks out of its tomb and destroys one of the other Cybermen, before the leader disposes of it. Lytton, Griffiths and Peri escape in the confusion, but the Doctor does not. Peri is nearly killed by another rampaging Cyberman before two Cryons - who it turns out are not extinct after all, and have been sabotaging the tombs, resulting in the damaged Cybermen - deal with it and take Peri to safety. In the meantime, Lytton and Griffiths meet with another Cryon, and it transpires that Lytton has been working for them all the time. Griffiths is offered £2 million in diamonds (which are very common on Telos) if he will help Lytton to capture the time vessel. The two subsequently track down Bates and Stratton, who it transpires are failed attempts of Cyber-conversion who have had their arms and legs replaced by mechanical equivalents. The four agree to work together in order to escape Telos.

The Doctor is imprisoned in a cold storage room with Flast, the former leader of the Cryons. She reveals that the Cybermen intend to prevent their original homeworld of Mondas from being destroyed, by using their timeship to divert Halley's Comet into Earth, which will render it incapable of protecting itself from an attack by Mondas the following year. By a stroke of luck however, the cold storage room happens to be filled with vastial, a mineral that becomes a powerful explosive when raised significantly above freezing point. The Doctor uses some to dispose of a guarding Cyberman, then gives Flast a sonic lance to heat up the vastial to detonation point before he escapes. Flast puts the sonic lance in a box of vastial which she then hides away, and shortly afterwards the Cybermen arrive and suspecting that she helped the Doctor escape, torture her to death by throwing her out into the much warmer corridor, where her blood quickly boils away.

Lytton, Griffiths, Bates and Stratton get through Cyber Control, but Lytton is captured near the landing pad. The Cyber Controller demands that Lytton tell him his plans, and when he refuses to do so, has two other Cybermen torture him by crushing his hands. Lytton still does not tell them anything though, and the Controller orders that he be converted into a Cyberman. The other three make it to the landing pad, but their efforts prove to be for nothing as a Cyberman emerges from the time ship and shoots them dead. In the meantime the Doctor manages to reclaim the TARDIS and the Cryons return Peri to him. However, they also reveal that Lytton was working for them all along, rather than the Cybermen as the Doctor assumed, and he agrees to try and save him.

The TARDIS arrives in Cyber Control (with the chameleon circuit stuck in police box form once more), where the Doctor finds a partially converted Lytton who begs the Doctor to kill him. The Doctor still tries to free Lytton, but the Controller arrives with a gun. Lytton attacks the Controller, who in turns strikes back and kills Lytton. The Cyber Leader and his lieutenant also arrive, but end up killing each other in the crossfire. The Doctor then grabs one of the dropped guns and shoots the Controller, finally destroying it. However, it's too late to save Lytton, leaving the Doctor feeling guilty at having misjudged his character. He and Peri escape in the TARDIS, and seconds later the rigged box of vastial detonates, setting off a chain reaction of explosions that obliterates Cyber Control and the tombs.

Continuity

  • This story takes place immediately after The Twin Dilemma. Peri is still worried about the Doctor's problem regenerating, and the Doctor says they need a rest after Jaconda. This story has been criticised for relying heavily on elements from Doctor Who's past, confusing all but hardcore fans of the series.[2]

Some references are:

  • The scrapyard where the TARDIS arrives in London is supposed to be the same location from which the Doctor departed in the first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child. The Doctor would again revisit the scrapyard in Remembrance of the Daleks. The events of that story seem to take place shortly after the Doctor left in 1963.
  • The TARDIS changes from its police box shape for the first time when the Doctor manages to repair the chamelon circuit. It takes the shape of a decorated stove, a pipe organ, and an ornamental gateway.
  • Peri claims that the Doctor has called her "Tegan, Zoe, Susan" and "Jamie", as well as the "Terrible Zodin". Zodin is a never-seen character first referenced in The Five Doctors and later mentioned in a Martha Jones blog entry labelled Infinty on the official Martha Jones Myspace site.
  • This story has a scene where the Doctor shoots the Cyberleader with a laser rifle, a rare occasion in which the character has used a gun (although the Fifth Doctor struggles with a Cyberman in a similar scene in Earthshock).
  • Other continuity references in this story include the Cybermen's first attempt at destroying the Earth in 1986 (although this story appears to take place in 1985) and the Second Doctor's earlier encounter on Telos. The Cyber-controller was originally introduced in that story and apparently survived being electricuted on the tomb doors at the end of that serial. Michael Kilgarrif reprises the role from that story.
  • The Doctor makes reference to his first encounter with Lytton in the Fifth Doctor story Resurrection of the Daleks, where Lytton was working as a mercenary, though they actually only meet once. The Doctor and Lytton are briefly seen on-screen together – when the Doctor is captured by the Daleks and is about to be duplicated - they are also seen again twice where Lytton tries to fire at the Time Lord before he escapes.
  • First introduced in The Hand of Fear, the TARDIS' "temporal grace" function, where weapons are unable to be used inside the ship, appears still to not work in this story, just as it previously did not in Earthshock – leading to Nyssa asking the Doctor about it in Arc of Infinity, clearly to no avail.

Production

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 5 January 1985 (1985-01-05) 44:17 8.9
"Part Two" 12 January 1985 (1985-01-12) 44:29 7.2
[3][4][5]
  • The repair to the Chameleon Circuit was in part a publicity effort by John Nathan-Turner to drum up more interest in the series. He hinted publicly that it might be a permanent development, but never pursued the idea beyond this story.
  • Pennant Roberts was originally assigned to direct Attack of the Cybermen; however, he proved to be unavailable, so Matthew Robinson was asked to direct instead. Roberts would later go on to direct Timelash.

Authorship

The serial is credited to "Paula Moore"; however, behind that name lies one of the most confused and controversial authorships in the entire series' history. Authorship copyright on the serial is divided between "Paula Moore" (real name Paula Woolsey) as the author; Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis as creators of the Cybermen; Eric Saward as the creator of Lytton and the BBC who hold the copyright on the series elements.

Several separate accounts offer wildly differing versions of who actually authored the story. Most accounts agree that series fan and continuity advisor Ian Levine suggested a number of plot elements. At the one extreme, it is suggested that the story was authored by series script editor Eric Saward, with or without substantial input by Levine, with Woolsey only acting as the story's author to prevent problems with the Writers' Guild, who objected to script editors editing their own scripts. At the other extreme, it is suggested that Woolsey originated the story, but Saward heavily rewrote it in his capacity as script editor. Levine himself claims that Saward wrote the dialogue to Levine's story and plot and that Woolsey "did not write one single word of that script". Saward has flatly denied this in an interview with Doctor Who Magazine.

One reason for the complexity and confusion around the script's origin is that under Writer's Guild guidelines, script editors were forbidden to commission themselves, and Levine's deal with the series specified that he could not receive any on-screen credit for his work. Thus the use of "Paula Moore" may have been an attempt by Saward to disguise the fact of his involvement from John Nathan-Turner.

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Attack of the Cybermen
Series Target novelisations
Release number 138
Writer Eric Saward
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Colin Howard
ISBN 0-426-20290-2
Release date 20 April 1989
Preceded by Dragonfire
Followed by Mindwarp
The Nightmare Fair

A novelisation of this serial, written by Eric Saward, was published by Target Books in April 1989.

In 1995 the novel was also issued by BBC Audio as an abridged audio book, read by Colin Baker.

Broadcast and home video release

  • This story was released on VHS in November 2000 from BBC Video as "Doctor Who: The Cybermen Box Set: The Tenth Planet and Attack of the Cybermen" double-tape set for its United Kingdom release (both stories were released individually in the United States, Australia and Canada in 2001).
  • The DVD version of "Attack of the Cybermen" was released on Monday 16 March 2009. The special features on the disc included a commentary featuring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Terry Molloy and Sarah Berger that was recorded on June 26th 2007, along with an interview featuring real-life Cyberman Kevin Warwick.

References

  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 138. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Howe, David J.; Stephen James Walker (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st edition ed.). Chatham: BBC Books. pp. 470–471. ISBN 0-563-40588-0.  
  3. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Attack of the Cybermen". Outpost Gallifrey. http://gallifreyone.com/episode.php?id=6t. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  4. ^ "Attack of the Cybermen". Doctor Who Reference Guide. http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_6t.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  5. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Attack of the Cybermen". A Brief History of Time Travel. http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/6t.html. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  

External links

Reviews

Target novelisation


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