Sunday, January 25, 2009

classic who: revenge of the cybermen

Revenge for what? I don't know. This is the first time I've seen the silver beasties since we started out Grand Classic Who Project. I think there was something about them having been enemies of the buddha-faced aliens of the Golden Asteroid, so maybe that's what for...

So, anyway, having been freed by the Cheesy Time Ring, the crew lands back on the Space Station Nerva, where all this started ages ago in the future with the bug-monsters. This time, they've gone back in time to an earlier point, also in the future, where the station is highly populated by non-frozen people, because these people are all dead of a plague before freezing had been invented. Except, as the Doctor discovers almost immediately, it's not a plague so much as a biological weapon. So, of course, Sarah-Jane gets infected almost immediately. Hey, remember when she was a feisty feminist? Anyway, the Doctor has to get around all the bickering and paranoia to try to save her, because there's only a few minutes before she's dead. 

It just so happens that there's this mysterious asteroid that's actually a hollow world called Voga, full of the afore mentioned Buddha-faced aliens. The humans have been down and set up a transmat array, and the Doctor thinks he can widget it so that it'll filter the poison out of her before she's kaput, but parts are missing and he has to stay behind to do it manually, which means that Sarah-Jane and Harry wind up stuck on Voga while the Doctor is stuck on Nerva. There's a great moment when the Doctor gets blinded by a short, and there's such dispair that he's run out of time and she's going to die, and then when his vision clears and he sees that she's safe, it becomes such joy. That's why I like me some Tom Baker so much. And also really one of the main reasons I like David Tennant so much-- wild emotional swings conveyed without words and in minimal amounts of time. The Doctor is bigger than life, so it's appropriate that his emotions are, too.

So down on Voga, there's a miners-vs-thinkers social struggle going on, because it's always about miners. Head miner wants to sell off the gold that the whole place is made of of make his people rich, while head thinker, who has lovely long bouncy hair, wants to remain locked away from the world / universe because of past damage done to their people. Sarah-Jane and Harry are captured by miners on a ludicrously small train, and hauled into the middle of this arguement. And the Vogans know that the Cybermen are monitoring them.

Even though gold is toxic to the Cybermen, and they'd already lost a war with the Vogans previously. But we won't think about that too much.

Miner-man questions SJ and H and lets it be known that there were supposed to be only 4 survivors, and none of those 4 were these two. And we figure out that it's the Station the Cybermen want, to continue their guff with the gold-plated buddha-faced enemies they couldn't defeat before. This makes it a three-way musutal self-destruction: moners against thinkers against Cybermen, and the humans in the middle going 'wha? huh? Cyberwhatnow?' and the Doctor trying to keep the sides from killing eachother. There's a big bomb from the miners that is getting loaded into a rocket and sets a clock ticking.

Sarah-Jane and Harry get into trouble, and there's much running from guns and slogging through mines. The Cybermen dock and the Doctor is stot down-- only that's totally just the cliffhanger, and it's eimmeidately revealed that it's a stun ray. He wakes up with the last two humans and three big bombs strapped to them. The Cybermen want to send them down to the center of Voga, then to blow them up, and the aster-world with them, scattering gold dust all through this region of space and making their ship malfunction... no, wait, ending the war with them victorious. Yeah.

More slogging through both real and set-built caves, much mud, several film-stocks, lots of pretending it's not as cold as it is, everyone moving around in different directions, and then they're suddenly all together again. Except the Doctor's still all a-bombed. And Srah-Jane's now captured on the Station, having gone back trying to warn the Doctor wbout the rocket. 

Side note: this invasion is, like, six cybermen. One of them is a little chubby, and one has a really nice kaboose. All are not terribly mechanical in voice or action or logic, and I guess I've been spoiled by images of millions of seven-foot-tall cybers, but six normal-sized ones mostly look dumb.

Anyway, onward. Cybermen have beamed down (??) and are slaughtering the Vogans, regardless of class. Some of them are taken out by brave sacrifice and their own cyber-bomb, allowing the Doctor to continue on with his attempts to stop the coming war. Which he dould be really good at by now. But the explosion allowed the Doctor time to disarm the bombs, and now everything's peachy, though Sarah-Jane didn't know that when they ordered a detonation and she tried to stop them, getting herself tossed asside and then tied up. The Cybermen notice the lack of explodedness, and decide to use the Station as a massive bomb, and commence loading it with explosives. By this time, the rocket is ready, but the Doctor goes all fair and loyal and asks for 15 minutes to rescue Sarah-Jane and try to stop the asplody. Which I loved. Very dramatic, and the loyalty was just great. When he gets there and does save her, there's this great moment when she has to remind him that it's a good thing that he saved her, and he looks sweetly embarased and chucks her on the shoulder because they aren't allowed to hug on what's still basically a kid's show.

So they fail to stop the Cybermen, and get tied up again. The rocket is launched. The Doctor gets the thing under his control, and there's drama as he steers them through a gravity asist to freedom. They tell the Vogans to send the rocket ofter the Cybermen, and they do-- and then it's over. Because that's how these things work. 

The Tardis catches up with them, and they all board and head out. And that's the end of that. They've gotten a telegram from teh Brig that says he needs them urgently, and so they head on back.

Asside from the fact that blowing up the gold doesn't make any sense, it was a fun, fast-paced story, and there weren't any lags or boring parts. It was four eps, and we watched them all together, so it kind of reads like a fun movie-- lots of action, not too much running through corridors and getting thrown back in jail, multiple plotlines that come together in the end, and the usual suffen ending that I've come to know and tolerate. I've missed the Brig, though, so I'm glad we'll be getting back to Earth to spend a little time with his gruff disbelief and short temper. I believe this is the last of Harry... and I'm kind of alright with that. He wasn't bad, but his habit of calling everyone 'old girl' and 'old chum' got to be a bit much, and he never really came in much use, though he at least seemed to enjoy himself.

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