Adric’s maths badge finally pays off and Team TARDIS commits Dinocide
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Earth; the future; soldiers; caves: normally you’d only get to pick two of these to make a Doctor Who serial, but we’re being treated with all four of them right from the start! The hullabaloo this time is that a group of palaeontologists and geologists have been murder-killed while poking about underground. The one survivor leads a troop of soldiers back into the caves to find out what happened and, hopefully, rescue anyone else who managed to escape being slaughtered. Meanwhile in the TARDIS, Adric’s off to a great start and is successfully making everyone wish he was dead by being even more of an annoying brat than usual.
Doc can’t take it anymore, so lands the TARDIS on Earth, in some coincidental caves of course, and has to go for a walk to calm himself down. We get a wholly unrelated lesson about the untimely demise of the dinosaurs, on which surely the serial title bears no relevance, when — kablammo! — Cue the killer androids, who have been waiting stage left to come and turn everyone to goop. They’re just the puppets though; the real shit’s going to hit the fan when their Cybermen masters step out of the shadows and unveil their plan to blow up the Earth in order to cancel a conference.
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Long had I heard of this story’s fame. While I had heard of many of the iconic moments I was really not prepared for how perfectly it was all executed.
We are thrown into a tense reconnaissance mission in mysterious, dinosaur bone riddled caves. The Doctor and crew are dropped in, already plagued by interpersonal conflict. The tension set by this is palpable. All this insanity leads to the reveal of the Cybermen and it picks up nothing but steam!
The production value of this story is absolutely stunning, from amazing sets to gorgeous costumes. The Cybermen costumes in particular are awesome. Aspects like the human jaw being visible parallels the human hands of the “Tenth Planet” design. This human aspect of the Cybermen is their scariest part.
The cast was excellent. The sheer number of female characters in prominent roles was a surprise to be sure but a welcome one.
The music of this episode is excellent; utilizing leitmotifs for many characters, especially Adric. The awesome synth piece I rambled on about in my “Full Circle” review returns and is tastefully subtle… too bad they didn’t bother with the 60s Cybermen theme (you know the one) in any sort of prominent way.
It’s clear those behind the scenes had immense love of the Cybermen, with references to some of their greatest stories and deepest lore. It was great to see clips of previous doctors being used, it really makes the ever changing series feel more connected.
It was obvious that “Tomb of the Cybermen” was missing at this point as Patrick Troughton’s encounter is limited to still images. If there ever was Doctor Who villains more terrifying than the Cybermen it was the BBC’s junking policies.
Adric, oh Adric, I’ve had something to say about you in every review. The sacrifice made at the end in an attempt to save the rest of the Tardis crew was a noble end and very heartfelt…Too bad you had to kill all the dinosaurs, asshole!
I’ve often been very generous with my ratings but I’ve always been sure to keep the 5/5 rating for exceptional stories. This is one story I feel confident granting the coveted rating of 5 gold stars out of 5.
Steven from Canada
Oh my, here we are. The Cybermen are back! And unlike their last outing this is a corker. Eric Saward continues his writing success from The Visitation with this one, smashing it on so many levels with wonderful character moments, great set-ups/pay-offs and excellent tension. Plenty of deaths. some very gruesome. Did you notice that when Synder is killed the radio is still in what remains of her hand? Saward trope check. We also have well directed fight scenes and the death of Adric! In true Doctor Who trope, as soon as he talks about leaving at the start of the story, you know he’ll be leaving at the end of it. But do you expect him to die? Not really. This one also does a nice thing of keeping the baddie a secret in the title, no ‘of the cybermen’ here thankfully. John Nathan-Turner kept the return under wraps, even closing the public viewing galleries at the studio so people couldn’t glimpse the cybermen.
Carrying on the trope of the Doctor being involved in historical events and they might actually have a scifi explanation a la The Visitation, we have that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a time-travelling space freighter crashing into earth….Wow.
Really my only gripe about this one is Nyssa, she’s very passive and a bit naïve at various points. Yeah, I dislike how she’s written in this one.
This is, rightly so, regarded as one of the greatest Classic Who stories and it gets 4.5/5
We open in a traditional quarry with a bunch of Red-Shirts who receive nice and grisly deaths with the callous brutality that defined the Saward era. The way they used the scanner to show lights going out as people died was reminiscent of the iconic scene from Alien and worked particularly well.
I liked Scott (Future-Bagels); he was pro-active without being gung-ho. In fact this story in general showed a noticeable increase in acting quality. The scene after Kyle’s death where Nyssa tells Scott, “The Doctor won’t thank you for throwing away your life!” made me think “This one might actually be really good”.
I’m not sure why the Cybermen packed themselves in cellophane (unless it’s a callback to Tomb of the Cybermen), but I like the clear jaw; it reinforces they are cyborgs, not androids (important after so long away).
And so we say goodbye to brave Cyberman 10347; giving their life to stop Adric eradicating the human-race from time. Adric also dies after crashing into a painting of the Earth; his death no doubt met with the same glee as DC readers had when they voted to kill Robin.
There is more than one occasion where the ambitions of this serial exceeded its budget (that’s clearly 1 column of Cybermen poorly made into 3), but this is a marked step up from the beginning of the series; well done.
Holy Crap! Did the Doctor shoot that Cyberman in the chest 4 times? Isn’t this the nice Doctor?
Like the Cybermen I’m back, and have been catching up on your shows, great as always. Glad to see you all came through the pandemic untouched.
Hope Tardis Vodka Ltd got some government support.
Earthshock a tale of two halves for Doctor Who’s greatest monster (in my humble opinion).
Our villains are hidden throughout a tense episode one, in which the producer forgets it’s a children’s show and recreates an aliens like atmosphere complete with steaming piles of chucks representing the eliminated marine rescue team.
Finally revealed the cybermen appear as modern tall (I believe all the actors were 6 foot plus) menacing robots extruding power clenching their massive gloved hands with the strength to pull off an elephant.
Roll on to episode two and our silver friends storm the freighter impervious to the ship’s crew, and after a short futile attempt to stop them they ruthlessly blow the door apart and capture the bridge.
The Cyberleader is wonderfully ruthless, Doctor says no Tegan gets shot.
Over the next two episodes the Cybermen’s invincibility is eroded by the plot that can’t have the bad guys win.
First the soldier weapons now kill our cybermen, their reaction speed is reduced to zero, cue the cybermen that slowly walk up the stairs to their deaths at the hands of Lt. Scott and friends, and not forgetting the last cyberman in the Tardis that waits for the doctor to realise he is there, further waits for Doctor to pick up a Cybergun. And fire first.
And finally a gold tipped badge is ground down on the cyber leader chest whilst he stands there and screams like a little girl. I presume the non gold parts of the badge were made of biscuit.
But the cybermen redeem themselves in the hearts and minds of the galaxy by shooting the computer and dooming Adric to his fate.
In the final touching moments of Adric’s death Nyssa buries her head in Tegan’s shoulder to hide the sniggers and delight as she realises she will now get more screen time after spending another serial as the stay at home Tardis wife.
I’m sure some other things happened in this story but they didn’t include the cybermen.
Rating 4.1 silver fists out of five.
Love to Leon, Jim, Marie & Drew
Earthshock is one of the best stories ever. I would argue that there’s only one real sticking point and a few slightly slimy ones. The cyberman bumping the console and knocking the handle is so poorly staged that he doesn’t even hit the console, and it ends up moving by itself after he leaves. Worse than that, the plot device just isn’t necessary. There were more than one damaged cyberman that could have destroyed the console and then died in the most horrifically convenient manner ever. That janky scene corrupts and should be deleted.
Quirks? There are a few scattered music stanzas that make the otherwise amazingly tense mood momentarily cartoony. Also, we never get a visual of the freighter crashing into Earth, an effect pulled off successfully on a shoestring budget many times before. I call lazy. Nyssa is ever so slightly underutilized, but Tegan begins to emerge as the team’s light heavy. I hear some cheering for Adric leaving but I would point out what an amazing send-off he gets. Somebody finally wrote his character well.
I don’t need to go into how the story is amazing, the character interaction is great, how we feel for all of them. There’s no need to mention how the sets and costumes are wonderful, the effects are lovely and the pacing is perfect, so really, I won’t mention them. 4.95 slimy humanoid remnants on a cave floor being stepped in during a conversation about how they used to be our friends.
I’ll keep this to a mini-mini as I’d hope you were inundated!
Earthshock was a proper cyber-surprise for viewers back in 1982. Brilliant, with real peril and proper tension. 4.9 out of 5. Incidentally, on the DVD there is a claymation sequel that sees Adric survive the freighter crash, only to be eaten by a T-Rex. Brilliant. 5 out of 5. Go find it on the You Tubes.
Love to you all!
(singing in the tune of Ding-Dong the witch is dead from Wizard of Oz)
Ding-Dong the prick is dead…which prick?…..the Adric prick. Ding-Dong the Adric prick is dead.
So here we are Adric’s final story, and he’s literally going out with a bang and taking the dinosaurs with him. There’s just one problem – no-one gives a shit! Not even the writers, you’d think a companion exit would mean Adric would at least get to be likeable, but no, right from the off he’s like a petulant teenager sulking in his room and bickering with The Doctor. He even manages to make Tegan appear reasonable! He gets in a huff about going home, but doesn’t want to go anyway, no wonder Doc left him behind.
Throw in Cybermen and a script with more holes than a colander, and it all turns in to a bit of a mess.
I don’t really like the personality traits of this incarnation of the Doctor, but Davison does play it very well. His reaction to Adric’s death is well played. Coupled with some good sets and the return of the Cybermen it has the makings of a good episode. However, it’s let down by the plot holes and soap opera arguments. I’m hoping with Adric gone the soap opera aspects will decrease. It’s not a terrible story, but there’s too much wrong to make it great.
I award this 3.2 Cyberman Moon Boots out of 5
This episode reminded of a few different things:
Tegan was John McClane/Ellen Ripley.
Adric was Flash Gordon.
The Doctor was mostly useless & very bad tempered.
Nyssa was totally useless.
The soldier bloke with the tash was very heroic risking himself to help & rescue others while being told off by Nyssa for doing it.
Great to see the Cybermen again.
But let’s face it the whole episode was overshadowed by Adric saving the day & using his massive ego to wipe out the dinosaurs (and we thought it was an asteroid)
Loved how this series started like the Angels in new who in the caves then moved to Alien before a dramatic ending & no end music.
This was a good one, this was a 4.6 out of 5.
Bad guy who joined the cybermen always held his gun right next to Adric & the Doctor & neither of them grabbed it?
Also, the Doctor killed the leader of the Cybermen with a nipple cripple!
Earthshock was one of the early stories I bought on VHS, which included a Cyberman on the front – a bit of a spoiler for the end of episode reveal! It starts well though, with the cave setting and troops being picked off in small groups ratcheting up the tension early on. The pace is kept up throughout, and whilst it’s effectively split into two parts (cave and ship), it doesn’t feel like there is any padding.
The star of the story for me is Beryl Reid as Briggs – I think she does a cracking job portraying someone whose sole concern is delivering her cargo and securing her bonus. Her verbal tussles with Ringway contain some of the best lines in the story, especially about composing a ‘particularly nasty epitaph’ for him. In fact, with the exception of the Professor and Nyssa, all the women in this story have an active role.
As always, there are some unanswered questions, most obviously how did the Cybermen manage to plant the bomb on Earth?! The cyber-chronology is a bit dodgy too, as their encounter with the Fourth Doctor is 300 years in the future. But these are things for Whovians to argue over at the pub and don’t spoil the story.
Overall, Earthshock features a decent script, the return of the Cybermen (with a much-improved design and less strutting about with hands on hips), and the death of Adric – what more could you ask for? 5/5
Hello Leon and Jim!
and all of Podcastland!
Earthshock was a superior story with a good cast
(Strike me pink! It’s Qui-Gon Jinn!!)
good sets, great costumes and props, wonderful soundtrack, and good special effects.
Rating: 4.7 Crumbled Gold Stars for Mathematical Excellence out of 5!
Tanz SixFingers aka Ben O’Neill
Greetings Leon. Greetings Jim.
Let’s fucking do this!
Earthshock (251 words):
What an amazing opening episode! The location work is excellent, and we are presented with a genuinely intriguing mystery. What is going on in those caves? Speaking of the caves, the sets are very impressive, and I love the gooey puddles of death caused by the sexy androids!
That part 1 cliff-hanger must have been mind-blowing back in 1982!
Next, it’s off to the freighter to witness some of the worst casting in the show’s history! A crew of wooden actors and confused pensioners! Basically, it’s hilarious. Pay particular attention to the softest karate chop ever which sends the villainous Ringway crashing to the floor!
Other highpoints include: that Cyberman being trapped in the door, the metallic soundtrack, and the entirety of part 4, which includes 3 very different reactions to a companion’s death (Tegan’s anger, Nyssa’s sadness & the Doc’s disbelief).
But never mind all that jazz – there is a certain young lad who we must discuss!
That’s right, you guessed it! I’m talking about Walters, the poor bloke who was left outside the caves to monitor that massive scanner!
What became of him?
Is he still there?
Come on Chibnall! Give me some fucking closure!!!!
Oh, and Adric dies. And it’s a brilliant sequence! What an exit!
Personally, I always found him more unintentionally entertaining than I did annoying, but I do get why he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
But still, he was an important part of the history of our beloved show, and Earthshock is a BANGER!
Cheers guys. Loving your work as always.