Doctor Who – The Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel

Aha! The first two-parter of this series, and what a damn fine piece of work it was, too. Managing to reinvent one of the classic adversaries, allowing some major development for at least one character, allowing David Tennant to sparkle even more than usual, being nicely scary and a whole lot of fun besides. What more could you ask for, apart from your own K9?

The Tardis falls through some kind of flaw in time and crashes onto a parallel version of 21st Century Earth in another universe. As it will take some time to charge the only remaining power cell which will enable it to return to the usual universe, the Doctor, Rose and Mickey decide to have a discreet look around. Well, the Doctor decides that. Mickey goes to visit his grandmother, who died some years ago in his world, and Rose, reluctantly accompanied by the Doctor, goes looking for her father Pete Tyler, who we saw die in the last series when Rose was a baby.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen the distinctly sinister John Lumic test his new “upgrade”. He’s developed the technology to replace people’s bodies with steel. New bodies that will never age, never die, and never feel pain.[1] Funny thing is, only he thinks it’s a good idea. He wants to replace his failing body so he can live forever. The British President denies his request to continue his work in Britain. So, in the finest megalomaniac manner, he decides to carry on anyway.

Lumic sends an army of his newly upgraded people – Cybermen, as any long time Doctor Who fan[2] will recognise – to crash a party which is attended by the President and many more leading figures. Of course, it has to be Jackie Tyler’s 40th birthday party[3], doesn’t it? In this world, Jackie and Pete never had a daughter. But Jackie does have an ALYD[4], which just happens to be called Rose. The Doctor and Rose have also crashed the party, posing as waiting staff.

Meanwhile, Mickey has been bundled into a van by some people who seem to know him. They take him to a nicely tatty secret base, where they meet… Ricky. In this world, Mickey’s counterpart is an altogether rougher character, leader of a resistance group called the Preachers. His colleagues are Mrs Moore, who’s good with technology, and Jake, a young Geordie[5] with lots of attitude. They’re resisting the influence of the earplugs that just about everyone else from the President down is wearing. People receive a “daily download” of news, jokes and who knows what – directly into their brains. The fact that the company running this, Cybus Industries, is owned by John Lumic might be a cause for alarm.

As the Cybermen rampage through the house, collecting “compatible” people for the “upgrade” and “deleting” anyone deemed to be incompatible, the Doctor and Rose try to leave, grabbing Pete as they go. Outside, they meet Mickey and the Preachers, who are trying to stop Lumic’s plan. The first part ends with the Doctor and his friends surrounded by Cybermen who are about to delete them all. Nice use of language, that.

All good stuff. Then came the second part, which was even better! The Doctor manages to zap the Cybermen with his Tardis power cell, and the group flee in the Preachers’ van. But there are a lot more Cybermen to contend with. And Lumic has decided to go all out for world domination. He sends new instructions to all the earbuds in London. And all the people wearing them go meekly to their destruction and conversion to Cybermen.

Realising that the transmitter is located in Lumic’s Zeppelin moored on top of his Cyber factory[6], the Doctor and his friends plan an attack. Rose and Pete plan to get into the factory wearing false earbuds in an attempt to save Jackie. Ricky having been killed by Cybermen, Mickey and Jake head for the Zeppelin to stop the transmitter. The Doctor and Mrs Moore try to get to Lumic.

Meanwhile, Lumic’s body is failing after his henchman[7] finally turned on him and smashed his life support system. Against his will, the Cybermen take him to be upgraded…

And so it goes. After the usual thrills, threats, dangers and sacrifices, the transmitter is destroyed. And once the Cybermen have their emotion repressers turned off, and realise what has been done to them – the horrors that they have become, they are destroyed. The only survivor is Lumic, in his new role as Cyber Controller. And he comes to a nicely sticky end.

And at the end came something I really wasn’t expecting. Mickey, having grown and developed from the scared, weak young man we first met last year, has become a hero. And he decides to stay in the parallel Earth, to work with Jake in destroying the Cyber factories that Lumic has built all over the world. After a tearful farewell, Rose joins the Doctor in the Tardis, which dematerialise, much to Jake’s surprise.

Classic stuff. And I have to mention some quite superb lines from the Doctor:

Talk about executions, and you’ll make me your enemy. And believe me, you don’t want to do that.

You’re a clever man. I’d call you a genius, except I’m in the room

And, when he’s accused of making his plans up as he goes along

Yup. But I do it brilliantly

Another quite superb performance from David Tennant – passionate, angry, funny, and cooler than a very cool thing with really good air conditioning. And we’re only half way through the series. Going on past form, some even bigger and better things are to come. :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy:

[1] There’s a lovely Frankenstein moment here, where just when any geek would hope for it, he really does say “It’s alive!!”.
[2] And anyone who noticed the episode title :tongue:
[3] Lots of “I’m only 39!” fun there…
[4] If the clever tag thing didn’t work, that’s “Annoying Little Yappy Dog” :grin:
[5] Played by Gateshead-born Andrew Hayden-Smith, who normally does Children’s BBC presenting type things. Apparently.
[6] Best. Use. Of. Battersea. Power. Station. Ever.
[7] You get a lot of those in this kind of thing

One thought on “Doctor Who – The Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who – Army of Ghosts/Doomsday : Losing it

Comments are closed.