Season 22 gets underway this week with the Doctor (Baker) confronting one of his age-old nemesis, the Cybermen. It also features a bit of a revamp in the way it was broadcast, eschewing the 25 minute episode, and instead going with a 45 minute episode, this story was composed of two parts, running from 5 to 12 January, 1985.
The story was penned by Paula Moore, and sees the Doctor returning to a familiar location in England to repair the chameleon circuit (which actually works, to a degree), only to come up against the Cybermen.
The cybernetic beings have travelled from the future to redirect Halley’s Comet and cause it to destroy the Earth. Helping them is Lytton (Maurice Colbourne), a mercenary, who had previously helped the Daleks in Resurrection of the Daleks. What is he up to, really?
With a group of men in tow, Lytton is prowling the sewers of London, planning something, until they come across the Cybermen. The Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) come across a body, after hearing gunfire in the sewers and quickly discover that the Cybermen are hard at work on their new plan. It seems they are trying to proactively change the future as established in previous Doctor Who stories… The original Cybermen planet of Mondas still exists, it was destroyed in 1986 (the time of this story is 1985) and they figure the only way their planet can survive is to destroy Earth first.
Upon learning of the Doctor’s presence, however, the Cybermen decide to seize the TARDIS with the Doctor, Peri and Lytton in tow!!
They end up on the Cybermen’s adopted planet of Telos, where they try and foil the villains’ temporal plan, and Lytton may be up to more than the Doctor realises. Lytton, it seems, is there to help a couple of the true tenants of the planet, the Cryons. They’ve promised to pay him well, and now, he’s working to free them and their planet.
Everything comes to a head, and the Doctor, as usual, saves the day, after a fashion, and at a cost.
Peri is still worried about the Doctor and his new self, worried that perhaps he is a little unstable. Personally, I quite enjoy this iteration of the Time Lord, but even he admits that there may be a bit wrong with him, as he constantly refers to Peri by names of past Companions.
Also unusual for the series is a very healthy dose of violence as guns are fired, Cybermen are beheaded, and the Doctor engages in some fisticuffs though most of that is off-screen, as well as handling a gun himself! Some of this must have been disconcerting for younger viewers, and the Doctor with a gun is always a troubling image…
I like the change to 45 minute episodes, it just feels a little more epic in size, and I enjoy settling in for a longer tale than a quick one.
Next time they encounter Vengeance On Varos!