on 19 July 2015
Colin Baker has often remarked that when given the role of Doctor Who he wanted a 'dark costume' not dissimilar to the leather jacket worn by the 9th Doctor. And I could certainly see how the 9th could have fitted in quite comfortably in this tale of gangland villains and Cybermen in the London sewers - and how such a costume would have helped Colin convincingly portray a more pugilistic action man approach to the role.
I always find that the 1st episode of this story maintains my interest with the mix of an adult story of violent gangsters planning a heist and the usual Dr Who tropes. In many ways this is quite a fresh and contemporary episode putting the Dr in an unexpected environment - with a real threat. So taken am I with the contemporary setting and characters - the move from West London to Telos is a move back to standard Dr Who - rebels against the overlords plotline - there are some great moments in part 2 but it is more uneven and these have already been pointed out on the other review on this page - so I won't enumerate them again. I've probably watched episode one more times than two - because it is still so fresh and new.
As is the case with nearly all of Colin's 1st season - there is some controversy regarding the level of violence. I find this odd from long term fans because Phillip Hinchcliffe's tenure of Doctor Who as the golden age - and this too was very violent (with numerous gory shootings and knifings).
What does interest me is the reaction to the hand crushing of one of the characters by the Cybermen. Personally I find this truly the stuff of nightmares and really does exploit the fear of cold logic matched with boundless strength and no empathy. As a schoolboy I recall being disgusted watching another child coldly and methodically dismembering an insect leaving just the twitching torso. The legs and wings fastidiously arranged into neat little piles. For me that attitude to living things is the dread that the Cybermen evoke - and which, so far, has been rarely explored overtly on the TV series. There was recently some hype about 'making the Cybermen scary again' on the new series, but nothing before or since has ever approached the visceral horror of that scene. I understand from the DVD commentary that they originally included the sound effect of bones being broken - but this was deemed too much. I agree - the idea alone is enough to make once squeamish.
I've never had a problem with Colin Baker as Doctor Who and I remember much preferring his bold style to the rather 'weak tea vicar' fifth incarnation. I like the way his Doctor just fearlessly and heedlessly charges into every adventure and situation with poor Peri clinging onto his coat tails for dear life! Poor Peri has every justification for whining! And despite its many detractors - I quite like the coat of many colours. This doctor is really 'a madman in a box' - and it makes me laugh to see the unconvincing posturing of the 10th and 11th doctors acting tough when compared to the 6th doctor. If it was a punch up between these doctors my money would be on the 6th every time - funny coat or not.
So I would recommend this DVD as both entertaining and a historical document of Doctor Who attempting something fresh and new with the character and the format. Not fully successful , for one reason or another Dr Who on TV rarely is, but well worth your time.
Be aware that this is a single disc release not 2 as stated in the description but there are still plenty extras included here, enough for most tastes.
The story has quite a few strands working together the Cybermen trying to use Halley's comet to destroy the Earth, prisoners on Telos trying to steal a ship to escape, a fake bank robbery and Telos' original inhabitants the Cryons seeking revenge on the Cybermen. Not all of these work to the same standard and the first episode is generally viewed as being the better of the two.
Like many people I did not take to the Cryons at all, that might have changed if they were filmed as they were originally conceived but to me they just look silly but the chunky Cyber-controller makes up for some of that disappointment.
With decent actors like Maurice Colbourne and a nice vein of humour largely focused through Brian Glover, both of whom are now sadly deceased, oh and Peri's pink outfit which is fairly well discussed in the very interesting commentary by Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Terry Molloy and Sarah Berger who reveal many things including that there was an underwear thief at the BBC at that time.
The extras include a documentary about the making of the show which highlights the disagreements over several plot areas. It was meant to be slightly more violent, the Cryons were written as males, there's even dispute over who was responsible for coming up with the actual plot itself.
There's a nice look at the history of the Cybermen that examines how the design has changed over the years as budgets increased and a brief look at the possible future of cybernetic implants in humans.
As a whole it's a pretty decent package and one that I will be watching fairly often.
on 6 May 2011
This oft-criticised mid 80s offering features Colin Baker as The Sixth Doctor and Nicola Bryant as his Lycra-clad whingeing American botanist travelling companion - with heart-attack inducing shocking pink leotard/shorts combo; only in the eighties! - With guest stars of the calibre of Brian Glover and Maurice Colbourn, plus the eponymous alien threat, this should be classic Doctor Who; but although it's still watchable it's uneven tone and excessive violence mean it doesn't quite live up to its potential. With the late-lamented Michael Kilgariff as an inappropriately portly Cyberleader, and the poorly realised 'Cryons' (including future Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene among their number), it is easy to see why it gets some flak, however, despite some forgettable moments, (The Doctor rising from the ground wearing the helmet of a fake policeman he'd just battered is just one inexplicable example), this is a pleasingly dark and claustrophobic story with some great moments too - the TARDIS' chameleon circuit (briefly) working provides some good humour.
Perhaps this particular serial would have been better as a three parter instead of the two 45 minute episode format that the production team inexplicably adopted towards the end of The Fifth Doctor's tenure, but as a companion piece to the less impressive 'Resurrection of the Daleks' - both featuring scheming intergalactic mercenary 'Lytton' - and despite its flaws, this is rather satisfying piece of 80s drama.
DVD extras are actually pretty impressive, and include a potted history of the Cybermen from their 1966 debut right through until their most recent appearance in 40 years later; looking at how the costume design has changed, and exploring how Cyber technology may soon become a reality; an intriguing making-of documentary, 'Cold War', that raises the question of who actually wrote the serial; and the obligatory PDF files, stills from the shoot, and commentaries. The package as a whole is okay and if you're a fan like me'll you'll definitely want this in your DVD collection no matter what its shortcomings.
on 12 May 2013
Well, isn't it? Cybermen get the Sayward treatment, all of the Cyberman stuff in one big story, and in the end everybody's dead. It's even got Terry Molloy in it.
And in the main it's good; all the right bits in all the right places, or thereabouts. A well made Who.
Colin Baker starts off pompous and annoying, but that passes, and the return to Totters Lane is spurious at best, and the chameleon circuit thing might as well have been a JNT publicity stunt for all it has to do with the story... oh, hang on, it was a JNT publicity stunt. It is a shame that those sinister policemen don't get a better exit. I feel quite sorry for them.
And then there's the Cryons, and apparently the story is all about them; they nearly work too. Once Upon a Time Telos was home to a race of people that were slim and beautiful and accomplished and somehow very annoying in a way that it's really very hard to put your finger on. Admittedly they do look good.
So the story is about a bloke that used to work for the Daleks, heading up a firm of armed robbers to steal a time vessel and thereby screw up the plans of the Cybermen, and his paymasters are these altruistic, but otherwise very cold Cryons. OK, dafter things have certainly been put on telly, and the Sweeney-style villains seem to work, even if the bits of West London they work in do look rather dull. There's one downside with Attack; most of it happens in non-photogenic places.
There are Cybermen in the sewers of London - left over from The Invasion in 1968, shame they're not of the same design, now that would be cool! - and there's lots of humans in varying stages of conversion, which is laudably gruesome, and there's a black Cyberman wandering around as well for some reason (we never find out why). The Cybermen's plan is to change history so that Mondas destroys Earth in the Tenth Planet (1966) rather than the other way round. Understanding this story is much easier if you're a fan - I said *easier* not easy.
There is good acting, notably from Michael Attwell, Brian Glover and Maurice Colbourne (none of them saw the age of 65, and Mr Colbourne never got as far as 50 - great losses to the profession). I'm not sure who thought that Terry Molloy was going to be natural casting for undercover cop, especially with Billy Murray and Alan Ford in the business.
Moving us nicely to gratuitous violence; it's not actually a very violent story, so it's a bit of a shock when the Cybermen crush Lytton's hands (OK, Bates did give Griffiths a nasty squeeze earlier on). It does seem a bit out of place, and I have to wonder if Deadly Assassin had been considered and a false correlation drawn between high ratings and the annoyance of Mary Whitehouse; 'If we annoy Mary Whitehouse the ratings will go up'. No, Mr Nathan-Turner, the ratings go up if you tell a good story. Now, how do I explain this...
There is a lot of story here, but not necessarily all good. Occasionally there seems to a surfeit of ideas in the mix, and at the start the Doctor runs around doing really something so close to nothing that it might as well be nothing, and that by the time we get to the highly laudable punchline about badly misjudging Lytton it's too late; the dichotomy between his villainous exterior and his heart of gold has never really been played hard enough, nor sufficiently close to centre stage. It rather gets lost in the muddle.
on 6 February 2009
Attack of the Cybermen kick starts Season 23 in a huge way.
The damb squib that was The Twin Dilemma ended Season 22 and was Bakers first full story, in which the producers unwisely gave us a Doctor no-one really liked who tried to throttle his companion and then left us with this thought for a year.
Whether the return to Saturdays was an attempt to mitigate this disaster is unknown but suddenly the show was back with a bang.
This story should have been Bakers first one, and should have started his tenure as Doctor without the twin Dilemma complicating things.
In this we soon like the Sixth Doctor and suddenly he IS the Doctor by the end of the first episode. It is a real shame Colin Baker didn't get more of an innings.
We have the following good points;
1; The powerful return of the Cybermen in very effective mood.
2; The return of the CyberController played by the same actor who played him in the Tomb Of The Cybermen way back in the 60's.
3; Some very cool Cybermen kitted out in black instead of silver.
4 Brian Glover who adds a note of ordinary humanity.
5; The return of Lytton, a brill villain who should have been in more stories.
6; The TARDIS gets to change its shape, and in typical fashion, doesn't do it very well.
7;An Ingenious plot idea, the attempt to change history and save Mondas etc. (One thing i would have liked to see but was not done was the inclusion of some footage from 'the Tenth Planet' with Hartnell or a first generation Cyberman somewhere along the way, but never mind.
8 Peri, (what a babe!)
9; The actor normally behind a Davros mask (Terry Molloy) gets to show his face.
10; The present day setting for the early part of the tale adds a real touch of class a la Third Doctor type stories.
11; There are some brilliant continuity references going right back to the first episode.
12; the 45 minute episodes in my opinion, really work well and allow the action to be paced better.
13; Violence. Yes, it should be here in Doctor Who. The Cybermen torture Lytton and at one point crush his hands to a bloody pulp; with their silver fists!! Excellent, brutal and exactly as Cybermen should be.
And the following bad points;
1; The Cryons are a bit, well, naff, and have silly voices (why do they sound like camp Cybermen; shouldn't they have normal voices? The modulatory thingy gets used too much again!)and wavy-abouty- hands and are just a little annoying.
2: The storyline loses it a bit into the second part, becoming a bit meandering, mostly due to the aforementioned Cryons.
3; The Doctor's costume. Well, never mind.
4; The tombs bear no relation to those seen in Tomb of The Cybermen, and look like left over bits from Focus or MFI.
5; No Cybermats. You would expect there to be some on Telos. When is someone going to bring these brilliant creations back?
So, this one has a lot going for it and is great fun. One of the better Baker stories, (there aren't that many bad ones actually) and a definite high point of Doctor Who before the downhill slide that would begin the following year.
on 21 August 2012
Colin Baker - The Doctor
Nichola Bryant - Peri
(Ranked 161 in DWM'S 2009, Mighty 200, Pol)
Nichola Bryant is great The Cybermen are great, Colin Baker is not that bad in this one however the Cryons annoy me a little. Still, great release and a great story!
on 21 July 2014
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in this one. I never really was a big fan of Colin Baker as Dr Who and this DVD is not his strongest performance as the Doctor. Somehow the Cybermen costumes are a bit unconvincing, especially the cyberleader. Its a perfectly OK story but not in the same league as previous Cybermen adventures. Give me Patrick Troughton in Tomb Of The Cybermen any day.
on 1 October 2015
This is another story I had not seen for ages, and had not really remembered anything other than Lytton's shocking bloody hands. After a somewhat strange start it really gets going well once the cybermen turn up; before that we are left a little perplexed by the Doctor beating up fake policemen and Lytton and his burglars wandering around the sewers. In fact, somewhat like Earthshock before it, this story really only makes most sense once the action is moved off Earth, in this case back to Telos and the setting of Tomb of the Cybermen. With this move, it discovers a solid plot, gains great sets, intriguing additional characters and a new alien species, and becomes very enjoyable indeed.
on 15 January 2016
Absolutely awful, what were they thinking ?
The story is overly complex and related to several older adventures, yet doesn't properly link in to any of them.
As the first story of a new season it's madness to expect viewers to know 19 years of Cyberhistory, there's an implausible and pointless link to Haley's Comet and lots of good actors are wasted.
As usual Colin Baker as the Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri squabble a lot before joining in the story proper and then contribute nothing to it until the Doctor shoots dead all the Cybermen at the end after an unacceptable bit of gratuitous violence when Lytton's hands are crushed.
A couple of other pointless plot lines lead to characters just being killed off, as there was space to be filled in the episodes and the Cryons are completely rubbish.
One of the worst stories ever, only watchable for Peri in her awful but very revealing costume.
oh, and a great, but futile performance from the wonderful Brian Glover.
on 8 February 2010
Attack of the Cybermen has to be my favorite of the original series Cyber stories.
New, slightly "unstable" Doctor played beautifully by Colin Baker and supported by a great cast of strong actors.
The strength of the Cybermen really comes together well in this as does the constant referrals to people, adventures and times gone by.
The repair of the Camelion circuit and the arrival in Foremans scrap yard are a highlight as is the takeover of the Tardis by the Cybermen.
The only letdowns are the costuming of the Cryons and a somewhat "well fed" Cyber Controller, however don't let this deter you as this is a classic well worth your time and effort!
Plenty of extras on this dvd. overall an EXCELLENT buy!Doctor Who - Attack of the Cybermen [DVD]