Browse the WBW Podcast
Browse the WBW Podcast
Browse Classic Who reviews
Browse Classic Who reviews

Discount Danny Ocean, Ice Capades and Decapitations Galore make up this glorious return to Telos

In an attempt to repair the legendarily ever-broken chameleon circuit, the Sixth Doctor and companion Peri are thrust back to where it all began, Foreman’s Yard on 76 Totters Lane. It’s 1985 this time, though, and the halls of Colehill School presumably still echo with gossip about perpetual skiver and clever-clogs, Susan Foreman. Strange things are afoot, though. Cybermen are lurking in the tunnels beneath London, plotting to set Halley’s Comet on a collision course with Earth, and up on the surface our old pal the Dalek-duplicate and discount Danny Ocean, Lytton, has assembled a ragtag team of misfits to orchestrate the most vaguely outlined diamond caper in criminal history.

But it’s all a ruse! Lytton’s not actually out to steal an unknown amount of diamonds from an undisclosed location in a manner we never explore. Instead, he’s there to cut a deal with the Cybermen and get himself off the miserable rock he’s been stranded on since Resurrection of the Daleks. In fact, he doesn’t even mind joining the Cybers back on their colony planet of Telos, seen here for the first time since Tomb of the Cybermen. Ruse alert again! Turns out he’s actually working for the Cryonians, the indigenous population of Telos, because despite being a ruthless serial murderer he’s actually a good-natured chap and simply misunderstood.

Here's what we think of C138 Attack of the Cybermen

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.7

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.8

Here's what we think of C138 Attack of the Cybermen

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.7

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.8

Here's what you think 10 Responses to “C138 Attack of the Cybermen”
  1. Peter Zunitch

    This story is decent, but that’s it. The first half is repetitive and drags. Little happens. The second half is much better but flies past some great content, characters and beautiful design. Ultimately, the pacing is way off. Also, why were they digging the surface of Telos? That’s my review, 2.8

    Rather than droning on further though, I’d like to explore how a retro-rewrite could take this mediocre serial into legendary status. For starters, let’s condense the first half, by half. We’re not losing anything here. This leaves us a whole quarter of our allotted time to expand the second half. We now have time to savor the moments and develop characters. Next we’ll have the cybermen actually land on the comet and install a control center, allowing someone to drive the comet towards Earth. However it’s too cold even for cybermen, so they use a mind controlled Chryon as a pilot. Consequently, the doctor must use all his psychic ability to reach the pilot and stop them, but it’s not enough. Therefore, knowing Hartnell’s incarnation is on Earth (The Tenth Planet) he draws on his strength to amplify his abilities and override the mind control. We insert clips from the Tenth Planet itself and thus explain the first doctor’s sudden tiredness and need for regeneration. At the last minute the comet is diverted from Earth, later to be re-inserted into proper orbit by the Doctor, and Mondas is once again destroyed. BAM! We’ve just turned it up to 11.

  2. Ed Corbet

    Episode 1 establishes a number of plot-lines; the bank robbery starts-out establishing some character dynamics, while the slaves looking for the time-vessel adds a grimmer story-arc (which will definitely pay-off, honest).
    Doc finally gets round to “fixing” the Chameleon circuit; this was quite amusing, but I’m glad they didn’t continue with it beyond this story, especially as Church-Organ-TARDIS’ seem a lot easier to break into.
    The last time we saw the Cybermen was in Earthshock, where they were impervious to most human lasers; if only they’d thought to use bullets, knives or any improvised bludgeoning weapon as they seem to do the trick quite nicely. The Cyber-scheme worked for me (if you ignore paradox), because it gives the Cybermen a motive beyond just being bad. There was a black Cyberman in one shot; we never saw it again, which is a shame as he’s the closest thing to diversity in this entire story.
    Was there supposed to be a moral about judging people at the end? Doc goes on about misjudging Lytton, but he didn’t; Lytton’s a criminal that sold his colleagues to the Cybermen, so he could go to Telos and fight for the Cryons as a paid mercenary. I think Lytton was a good character and good driver of the story, but he’s not a good person.
    A solid two-parter that maintains pace by setting part 1 on Earth and part 2 on Telos, but the grim tone may not suit everyone.
    3.5

    Ed Corbet

  3. Rich Blagg | @richiesexington

    You arrive at the sixth doctor time for my first review

    The much maligned Baker Doctor Vs the the most put upon of all of OG villains the tin foil warriors themselves the Cybermen

    What do we get, sewers, the TARDIS chameleon circuit fixed and still rubbish, Doc willing to blast fools and the is he good or bad Lytton, crazy ass freezer section of Cybers and a nod to the a tomb of the Cybermen.

    It ain’t perfect but who cares I’m going on but with a 4/5. Would have gone 4.2 but there is no molten ice

    Just re watched the Sixth doctors run no spoilers but going to enjoy listening to your thoughts

    Rich Blagg

  4. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    One of the problems of being a long running Sci fi tv show is eventually you will catch up to the future you previously depicted. Some shows will retcon the events to fit with the present, other will blend the two. In the case of Doctor Who we get Attack of the Cybermen.

    This story tries to create a cohesive thread for all the continuity of earlier Cybermen stories and, in my opinion, does a reasonably good job at it. My only real complaint is the lack of visual consistency between this and the other stories. I would have killed for some of those creepy Mondasian Cybermen.

    We also get a bunch of call backs to older episodes the scrap yard and the doctor mistakingly calling his companion by the wrong name (something that I think does a better job at showing the confusion of post regeneration than murder).

    The chemistry between the Doctor and Peri in this story is a vast improvement over the previous one. He seems to genuinely appreciate her company, even complimenting her. The Doctor reassuring the Cryon that he’ll rescue Lytton is another of these great moments for him. While this does reflect well on this story it really should be the bare minimum.

    From a production standpoint this is a very mixed bag. For once I did not really enjoy the music, I don’t think it fit well. I liked the design of the Cryons. They were intriguing but also off putting with their creepy eyes, strange movements and their clear feminine features with impressive moustaches. They had a truly alien appearance.

    Overall this is an enjoyable story and works to the strengths of its characters.

    This story earns 3.9 Curvaceous Cyber Controllers out of 5.

    (But seriously the fat controller is terrifying when he’s gushing green blood and swinging at the doctor while Chasing him in that final scene.)

    Steven From Canada

  5. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanz6fingers & @tanzsixfingers (insta)

    Greeting Leon and Jim!

    (First off, I was really surprised last time on your review of Twin Dilemma that neither you nor your listeners commented that Lft. Hugo Lang aka A Squadron was played by Kevin McNally, the same actor who played Prof. Eustacious Jericho in the Flux episodes. Usually you are all over the IMDB trivia like that.)

    Season 22 launches to an awesome start with a story that attempts to tie together a bunch of loose ends left over from previous Cybermen serials. The Moonbase is mentioned, Mondas, the Tenth Planet, is central to the plot, and the second half takes place on Telos, at the Tomb of the Cybermen. (When I saw this in 1985 at a Convention, JNT said the Cybermen in London were leftover from the Invasion, but I don’t remember that being mentioned in this serial.)
    If they had rebuilt the sets from Tomb, or at least ones that were of similar design, and used vintage Cybermen outfits instead of the contemporary design, I think the story would have been much more effective.

    Further evidence that this incarnation of the Doctor doesn’t like the previous one:
    Consider, the first thing he does (post-regeneration) is repair the Chameleon circuit of the TARDIS, which is what he was working on in LOGOPOLIS, the Fourth Doctor’s final story. This implies the entire Fifth incarnation was just a distraction.

    I loved this serial up until the Cryons were revealed; I disliked everything about them from their weird hand gestures to their voices and strange costumes. Also, either I wasn’t paying attention, or they left something out in the edit, but the action on Telos has to be centuries in the future, yet Lytton has made plans with the Cryons from 1985 on Earth, and he, they, and the Cybermen all seem to know about the fate of Mondas, and the use of time travel, even though none of them have access to it. Granted, Lytton did have access when he was a Dalek soldier, and the Dalek ship used a time tunnel to deliver him to present day London, but that doesn’t explain his alliance with the Cryons in the future.

    While the Doctor’s regeneration may have stabilized, he is still quite aggressive, and already has used a gun and a bomb. This is another Eric Saward slaughterfest, full of violence, and no one left alive at the end.

    I give this a 4.0 because it was really good, but it could have been so much better with just a few different choices.

  6. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    Aka attack of the continuity! Yeah this is a heavy one courtesy of Eric Saward and maybe Ian Levine (Paula Moore is a nom de plume). In that respect it’s like Saward’s last story Resurrection of the Daleks and in many ways it shares many of its problems of plot. Too much going on and also very violent. The hand crushing scene is probably too much for Doctor Who. And we also have Lytton back, and up to no good (well…). A diamond job? Well, yes, but Lytton didn’t say where the diamonds were…

    So the Doctor is still irritable but is a lot better than he is in the previous one. I know they were trying something in that one but if he’d been like this in that one I feel that he would have come across as a lot better. Also Nicola Bryant seems more comfortable as Peri. Apparently Colin had taken her out for lunch to break the initial frosty tension behind the scenes on the last one.

    This season is now 13 x 45 minute episodes, so the same effective length as the previous seasons. Though the writing style still needed to adapt to it in some stories I feel.

    Malcom Clarke’s score is a mixed bag: the reused bits from Earthshock work well, other bits less so. Matthew Robinson’s direction though is great, particularly on the film sequences.

    I like the ending note with Lytton actually being a good guy and the Doctor being sad/annoyed at not being able to save him. The Doctor isn’t always right.

    3.6/5

    Cheers

    Kieren

  7. GP Haynes

    Well, hooray, the sixth Doctor is sooooo much better in this serial, and far closer to the character we know. This is how he should have been played in his debut outing!

    He’s still quite arrogant and gruff, but he pulls off a more confident, intelligent, and dare I say , caring Doctor, as he genuinely wants to help the Cryons, and to rescue Lytton at the end

    The Cryons were an interesting new alien, the Cybermen looked great, and overall the production was quite high, some dodgy sets notwithstanding

    My only gripe is the Cyber Controller who looks like…well a knob head!

    It’s another high body count too, continuing on recent themes which started midway through the 5th Doctors run.

    The story moves on quite well, it’s nicely paced, as we learn of the Cybermens plans to steal a “ Time Vessel” to change the future, and maybe just destroy earth in the process.

    Peri was also far better in this episode, but I’m not sure the chemistry is there yet between her and the Doc

    It was probably a good idea to follow up the questionable debut serial with this offering ( I’ve no idea when this was filmed in the schedule ), serving up a familiar and well regarded foe for the Doctor to tackle.

    It’s by no means a brilliant serial, but it’s a solid, entertaining story and just what the Doctor ordered ( pun intended )

    Rating 3.5 Brilliantly exploding Cybermen

  8. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi Chaps

    Attack of the Cybermen is a dark, atmospheric and incredibly violent story. It’s also absolutely chock full of returning characters, actors and storylines!
    The story itself is something of a retelling of 2nd Doctor story Tomb of the Cybermen, it even features Michael Kilgarriff (who played the Giant Robot in Robot) reprising his role as Cyber Controller.
    Also returning is the dastardly Lytton although this time he gets something of a redemption and turns out to be a good guy after all.

    Likes

    • I love the Doctor and Peri in this story, they bounce off each other beautifully.
    • Some wonderful witty dialogue like ” I suddenly feel conspicuous” “I’m not surprised in that coat.” and “You said you came from Fulham”

    Beefs

    • The Cybermen are bloody useless! Another plan to crash something into Earth – do they not remember Earthshock? Also, since when did it become so easy to kill Cybermen? Suddenly they can be shot, karate chopped and die from their arm catching fire!
    • The music! Urrrgghh it’s just too loud and inappropriate – even the distorted Steptoe & Son theme as the TARDIS lands in Totters Yard.
    • The Cryons seriously need to be introduced to Veet to get rid of those moustaches

    All in all, it’s a very good story. It’s very dark – none of the guest cast survive – and that moment Lytton has his hands crushed is truly shocking. For me this is where the Colin Baker era really starts and boy does it start with a bang.

    I award this 4.0 creepy returning policemen out of 5

  9. Neil | @neilandrozani & @neiljamesactor

    This story has a terrific Part 1! The villainous Lytton was the best thing about Resurrection Of The Daleks in the previous season, so it’s great that they brought him back. His gang of bank robbers are very watchable and have some sparky banter. Other positives are: the fun being had with the TARDIS chameleon circuit, the location work for the planet Telos which looks awesome, and Peri’s pink leotard is so perfectly 80’s! The scene with the Doc and Peri getting the better of the evil policemen is well played, and I love that black Cyberman! Looks so cool. This is all brilliant!

    Then there’s Part 2. Not so good. In fact, a huge drop in quality for me. As soon as the TARDIS leaves Earth for Telos it all goes a bit downhill. I find the Cryons really annoying and although I don’t mind violence in Doctor Who, this just seems like they’d ran out of ideas so it was easier to just murder the whole guest cast. Then it ends with the Doc lamenting how he misjudged Lytton. DUDE! HE LITERALLY FIRED HIS GUN AT YOU WITH THE INTENT TO MURDER YOU IN THAT DALEK WAREHOUSE! BEHAVE!!!
    Quality Part 1, shite Part 2.
    Rating – 2.7

  10. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Likes:

    • That bloke from Alien 3! Love that guy! And the plinky plonky gangster theme whenever he appears!
    • Cyber carnage! Black stealth Cybermen, Cyber slave people, the funny helmet Cyber Controller with beer belly, Cyber attack on the Tardis (jump scared the crap out of me), Cyber deaths oozing with green gunk, and the Doctor shooting the shit out of all the Cybermen. Oh my goodness. I love this show!

    Beefs:

    • We suspend significant belief for this show, but Lyton a goodie? Really? Didn’t he just murder a tonne of people a few episodes back?

    Rating: 4.1/5 prescriptions of very strong painkillers for Lyton’s pulped hands. Yuk. How did *that* scene pass the censor!? So glad it did!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

If you haven't already... Subscribe now!

Subscribe to us on iTunes now! We're dropping a new episode every week (pretty much), reviewing Classic Who, New Who and all kinds of bonus stuff from spin-offs and conventions to Doctor Who comic books.

We last reviewed...

N153 It Takes You Away