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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witches and Curses Galore, 1 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen / Silver Nemesis [DVD] [1975] (DVD)
This 2010 BBC DVD boxed set is exactly what we need more of. Getting stories out faster and cheaper but maintaining the quality along with the quantity. Here we have 2 not so classic but still great Cyber stories from two very different eras of the show. One, Revenge of the Cybermen, my favourite, from 1975 and starring Tom Baker as the iconic 4th Doctor and the other, Silver Nemesis, from 1988 and starring the less than iconic Sylvester McCoy as the much maligned 7th incarnation of everybody's favourite time traveller.

Revenge of the Cybermen
A Classic tale in my eyes, the first ever BBC VHS released way back in 1983 when everybody was still concerned with the mundane things in life like nuclear annihilation and Cher. The reason I think this story ranks so highly with me is that it is just great fun, putting aside the unimportant things like continuity and emotion {I know}, you are left with a cracking story that rattles along at a great pace and is complemented by some fabulous location work in the infamously haunted Wookey Hole cave system and some rather "alternative" incidental music by Carey Blyton. Performances here are also worthy of mention. Tom Baker exudes conviction throughout and adds such a level of dramatic tension that his later years lacked in spades. Liz Sladen is also on great form here as Sarah Jane Smith, the ever reliable audience identification. And we mustn't forget good old Harry Sullivan, played expertly here by Ian Marter. Harry might be the butt-end of the more humourous aspects of this tale but his inclusion really adds to the overall enjoyment of the show.

Another note of mention must go to the direction by, at this point, stalwart Michael Briant. Even at this late stage in Briant's association with Doctor Who the man has not lost his zest and ambition. Any other "standard" director most probably would have just set the whole thing in the studio and be done with it, but here, Briant's brilliant shot selection, especially in the cave sequences are just sublime. He really uses the camera in a way that just makes the whole show so comfortable to watch. With Philip Hinchcliffe keeping his eye on the production and Robert Holmes providing yet another great script, this story was always going to hit it off, with me at least.

I think some fans land blows at Revenge due to its depiction of the Cybermen themselves. Their new appearance in silver-sprayed diving suits is one thing, but people just can't get over the amount of emotive dialogue in the scripts. Now, I am fully aware that this sort of "new" Cyber breed goes against everything established at this point in the show but I somehow find them so much more watchable and interesting. Don't get me wrong, I love the 60's Cybermen no end and under Pat Troughton's reign as the Doctor we visited them no less than 4 times in 3 years as opposed to 4 times in nearly 20 when the show resumed with Pertwee. Here however, their limited appearances gave them a certain gravity again and made their return all the more exciting, especially in subsequent stories like Earthshock and Attack of the Cybermen.

Overall, I have always been a fan of this tale, the action packed nature of the scripts and their realisation makes for compulsive viewing. Tom's on great form, Sarah's got something to do, Harry's trying his hardest not to kill everyone and the Cybermen have finally something interesting to say. What more could I ask for?

Silver Nemesis
Now then, Silver is a very different beast to Revenge. I am not as enamored of this tale as I am with its boxed set counterpart. Silver Nemesis is an odd tale to say the least, the crazy Nazi's, Lady Peinforte, the Doctor and Ace, I could go on. It's a shame that this story doesn't work as its one of the last ever produced and the last appearance of the Cybermen in classic Who. The Performances vary between the inspired and the ludicrous. This being the Cyb's last appearance is something of a godsend. By this time they had been so extensively remodeled that they were bordering on fashionable. Furthermore, the Cybermen in the late 80's were no longer a force to be reckoned with, at this point they had been so emasculated that they had lost all threat and thusly appeal. I mean Earthshock had Adric's death, Attack had the return and death of Lytton and the Cyber Controller but Silver is purely here to celebrate the fact that Doctor Who has made it 25 years without being canned.

Quite an achievement considering the dire storylines and declining ratings of the late 80's. I mean, think of it, a show today that does not perform is cancelled outright. But Doctor Who, in part due to its massive fan base kept on going well after its shelf life. That's not to say that was the worst thing that could happen as even this late in the shows run it was still producing the odd classic, Remembrance, Fenric, Greatest Show etc etc. I just think that over 10 million viewers down from its shining period, the show really needed to either die or boot its producer out and get some fresh blood in. But, I digress, Silver Nemesis may be an example of what I have been prattling on about for the last 10 minutes but I do find that it is a story that really should have lived up to better expectations.

The BBC DVD releases of both stories is great, you get a making-of documentary for each story and the truly brilliant 40 minute doco on the history of BBC Video's Doctor Who releases and fans dodgy-dealings concerning pirate tapes from across the globe. It is the centerpiece documentary on this release and is one of the best features I have seen on a classic series DVD in a long while. The restoration is as per usual fantastic and the commentaries are a fun and enjoyable listen. Not much else you could ask for really. Apart from that hour long American doco on Silver Nemesis, I wonder why that got left out?

Many thanks for reading my reviews of these two Cyber entries, it's greatly appreciated.

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