‘Brave heart Tegan!’ The new Cybermen look good – more muscular than the earlier versions, while retaining most of their distinguishing features – and Saward has picked up on the idea that they tend to lurk in the shadows while their agents do the dirty work. The Cyber Leader seems a bit vague on the details of how their equipment works, which makes him a typical senior manager, exuding breezy confidence and morale-boosting exclamations of ‘Excellent!’ (these Cybermen have clearly embraced their emotions) while his Lieutenant sweats about delivery. He also has a nice little clips show of previous Doctors Who which probably gave the 1982 fan audience permission to squee.
Back on Earth, the Doctor bravely disarms the Cyber Bomb – thematically relying on instinct rather than methodical procedure. Perhaps there’s a hint, here, that Adric’s dependence on maths and logic mean he’ll ultimately fail while the Doctor’s ability to think irrationally allows him to foil the Cybermen’s Plan A. Alternatively, the Doctor is just as reckless as Adric just much luckier (supporting this: the Doctor’s lovely little smile when Adric suggests they’re being followed). The two of them enjoy a rapprochement, and Adric decides, like Tegan, that he doesn’t want to head home after all. And with Nyssa not having a home to head to the Doctor’s finally got a full crew who want to be there. Let’s hope nothing goes wrong.
Oh. The Cybermen have a Plan B. Of course they do. This involves a space freighter crewed by a typical bunch of Saward “types”: the sarcastic female officer, the sullen male officer and the grizzled, been-there-done-that captain. None of them want to be there, all of them want the promised bonus. They spend their scenes together sniping at one another archly. The most interesting thing about them is that Captain Briggs (hopefully her first name is Nichola) is played by renowned comic actor Beryl Reid, best known latterly (including by me) as the presenter of the Children’s ITV programme Get Up and Go. The campness of this is so completely at odds with Saward’s “gritty” dialogue that it can only have been either an in-joke with his approval, or sabotage. Brilliantly, she’s written almost exactly like Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Janeway, right down to declaring, ‘Don’t call me ma’am’.
Next episode: Earthshock – Part Three