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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
The Cybermen Collection


Starring: David Tennant and Billie Piper
RRP: £15.65
Certificate: PG
Available 13 April 2009

The Doctor, Rose and Mickey crash land on a parallel Earth. Zeppelins dominate the London skyline, Pete Tyler is very much alive, and the megalomaniac John Lumic plans to live forever by “upgrading” humanity into a new breed of deadly, unfeeling Cybermen...

If the Christmas special The Next Doctor has given you the urge to revisit David Tennant’s previous encounters with the Cybermen, the good news is that they’re in this box set, which contains both Cyber-two-parters from Series 2.

On the surface, the first episode, Rise of the Cybermen, has a lot going for it: the Cybermen (obviously), an alternate Earth, the “return” of Rose’s (Billie Piper) late father Pete Tyler (Shaun Dingwall) and lots of awesome special effects. Yet for some reason I didn’t find this episode as exciting as I had anticipated. This is probably precisely because it takes place in a parallel universe: the events that transpire, though dramatic and shocking, don’t really “count” in the way that they would in a story set on “our” Earth.

That said, the Cybermen’s 21st-century makeover, by writer Tom MacRae and production designer Edward Thomas, is very successful. The creatures’ appearance has changed more radically than that of the Daleks in 2005, but then such upgrades have been traditional for the Cybermen throughout the classic series. The guys in the costumes no longer wear flimsy, flexible cloth or rubber suits. Instead their outfits have the appearance of real metal for the first time. Their catchphrases and methods of conversion are derived from modern phenomena such as mobile phones, iPods and software updates. As well as the old “You will be like us” line from The Tomb of the Cybermen, the cyborgs have a new chant - “Delete!” - to rival the Daleks’ “Exterminate!” Their voices, provided by Nicholas Briggs, return to the 1960s style of modulation - though fortunately, unlike the ’60s versions, it is always possible to tell what they’re saying.

Unfortunately, dialogue relating to the ubiquitous earpods is less clear. If you’re not listening carefully, it sounds as though people are talking about “earplugs” instead. And the visual gimmick of the earpods forming handles above people’s heads when Lumic (Roger Lloyd Pack) asserts control over them would surely arouse suspicion if this were to happen in a public place. I was also a bit surprised to see some misty Cyber-breath during the cold night-time scenes, but then it has been said before that gold dust can effectively suffocate Cybermen, so it follows that they must need to breathe sometimes.

Rise of the Cybermen is OK, but the next episode rises to the occasion rather better...



As the Cybermen take control of London, Rose and Pete try to rescue Jackie from conversion. Meanwhile, the Doctor attempts to infiltrate Cyber Control, leaving Mickey and the rebel Jake with what could be the most important mission of all...

In The Age of Steel, the Cybermen go all Borg on us - which is only fair, as the Borg were clearly inspired by the Cybermen in the first place.

Graeme Harper (the first director to helm stories for both the old and new versions of Doctor Who - he directed the classic The Caves of Androzani and Revelation of the Daleks) generates palpable terror as the Doctor and Mrs Moore (Helen Griffin) walk past ranks of inert cyborgs. These scenes are markedly similar to several such instances in the Borg episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. Rose and Pete infiltrating the Cyber-factory and coming face to face with what has become of Jackie (Camille Coduri) is also reminiscent of TNG’s The Best of Both Worlds.

As with the Borg, there’s also some genuine sympathy for the converted individuals as several Cybermen are released from mental control and recover their memories and emotions - scenes inspired by the excellent Big Finish audio drama Spare Parts.

Throughout this two-parter, Roger Lloyd Pack dominates his scenes as the slightly Davros-like wheelchair-bound creator of the Cybermen, Lumic. I wonder whether the actor ever repeated his Only Fools and Horses catchphrase, “Alright Dave”, when he greeted David Tennant on set!

On the downside, like the threats faced in New Earth and Tooth and Claw, the Cyber-menace seems to be defeated rather quickly. In other respects, though, this is an excellent example of the upgraded series.



The Doctor and Rose visit Jackie, who is keenly anticipating the arrival of her father - but he died years ago. What is this mysterious ghostly figure, one of many apparently friendly apparitions appearing all over the world? The answer lies at the enigmatic Torchwood Institute...

Army of Ghosts pays off on references made in several previous episodes (most of them not in this box set) to Torchwood. Writer Russell T Davies finally takes us inside the sinister organisation (which is similar to the shadowy department C19 in the Doctor Who novels Who Killed Kennedy and The Scales of Injustice), in preparation for the Captain Jack spin-off series. Tracy-Ann Oberman is compelling as the Institute’s leader Yvonne Hartman, though I did find it hard to take my eyes off her attention-grabbing cleavage (which I reckon is probably augmented by some of Torchwood’s captured alien technology). Ironically, a scene from EastEnders viewed by the Doctor and Rose features the ghost of Den Watts, a character who was killed by Oberman in her role as Chrissy Watts.

Recent instalments had also hinted (or outright declared) that this two-parter would be Rose’s final story. Of necessity we therefore also sadly wave goodbye to the rest of her clan, including, of course, her mum Jackie. Davies makes the most of it by writing in plenty of brilliant Jackie scenes, including an amusing first flight in the TARDIS, during which the Doctor requires her to pretend to be an older version of her daughter: “Here she is: Rose Tyler! She’s not the best I’ve ever had... a bit too blonde. Not too steady with her pins. Just last week she stared into the heart of the Time Vortex - aged 57 years.” “I’m 40!” “Deluded, bless! Do you need anyone? She’s very good at tea! Well, I say very good, I mean not bad. Well, I say not bad...” Great stuff.

Other recurring motifs of this series include a character, usually the Doctor, at some point saying, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry” and the Time Lord declaring something to be impossible. Further to such pronouncements in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, it is intriguing to note that the other names for the Void (the nothingness that exists between parallel universes) include Hell. Could the Void be the place from where the Beast came? Was he protected from the destruction of a previous universe by some kind of Void Ship? The Doctor does state that the sphere would be capable of surviving such a trip.

Add to all this some excellent music by Murray Gold and the mother of all cliffhangers, and we have a very spirited episode indeed.



Confirming his worst fears, the Doctor comes face to face with his two oldest and deadliest enemies - both the Cybermen and the Daleks! As the two terrors battle it out, the human race is caught in the crossfire. The Doctor can stop them, but he will risk losing Rose forever...

It’s a fanboy’s wet dream come true: for the first time on television, the Daleks and the Cybermen meet and battle it out!

My only real criticism of Doomsday is that it feels a bit rushed (apparently, the original cut of the episode over-ran by several minutes) so maybe this serial should have been a three-parter. I would certainly have welcomed more and lengthier battle scenes, but I suppose the series’ budget still has its limits. (Incidentally, in case you’re wondering where this instalment’s TARDISODE teaser occurs, I believe it fits in at the scene change at time index 28:35.)

What we do get is some excellent verbal sparring between Doctor Who’s greatest monsters. Each species’ childish refusal to be the first party to identify itself to the other is hilarious, while Dalek Sec’s boast of “We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek” is reminiscent of the Dalek Supreme’s declaration to Mavic Chen in The Daleks’ Master Plan that “One Dalek is capable of exterminating all!”

What we also get is, like the previous year’s The Parting of the Ways, a moving story of separation and loss. Anyone who doesn’t have a lump in the throat by the end of this episode must be an emotionless cyborg. And anyone who feels that the “death” of Rose is a cop-out should ask themselves how they thought she could possibly relate the events of her own demise otherwise.

Doomsday is a fitting send-off for Rose, Jackie and Mickey (Noel Clarke), a fantastic climax to Series 2 and indeed this box set - though it would have been even better if The Next Doctor had also been included, to complete the collection.



The content doesn’t really necessitate two discs, and you can buy these four episodes plus another two for about the same price by purchasing Volumes 3 and 5 of the individual Series 2 releases. However, to tempt fans to part with their cash during these straitened times, there’s an additional ten-minute interview with David Tennant (converted - I think - from material recorded for Doctor Who Confidential) and a thrilling (and funny) half-hour documentary, which gives equal coverage to Cybermen old and new.

If you’ve so far only got these episodes on your video or digital recorder, then you can now press delete... delete... delete...

Richard McGinlay

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