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,
the surface, 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 on a parallel
Earth, so 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.
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 this is traditional for
the Cybermen. The guys in the costumes are clearly no longer
wearing 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
upgrades. 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 Paul Kasey and Nicholas
Briggs, return to the 1960s style of modulation - though fortunately,
unlike the '60s versions, it is always possible to tell what
they are saying.
dialogue relating to the ubiquitous earpods is less clear.
If you're not listening carefully, it sounds like people are
talking about "earplugs" instead. And the visual gimmick of
the earpods forming handles above people's heads when John
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.
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 save 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...
The Age of Steel,
the continuation of Tom MacRae's two-part Cyber-story, the
Cybermen go all Borg on us. Graeme Harper (the first director
to helm stories in both the old and new versions of Doctor
Who: he directed the classic The
Caves of Androzani
of the Daleks)
generates palpable terror as the Doctor and Mrs Moore (Helen
Griffin) have to walk past ranks of inert Cybermen. 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 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
was also genuinely surprised by the plot developments surrounding
Mickey (Noel Clarke).
this two-parter, Roger Lloyd Pack dominates his scenes as
the slightly Davros-like wheelchair-bound Cyber-creator Lumic.
I wonder whether he ever repeated his famous Only Fools
and Horses catchphrase, "Alright Dave", when he greeted
David Tennant on set?
the downside, like the threats faced in the previous episodes
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 time travellers head back to 1953, the year of HM Queen
Elizabeth II's Coronation. As the nation tunes in to the event
on their prized new television sets, the Doctor and Rose become
aware of a disturbing menace lurking in the depths of the
The Idiot's Lantern is my favourite episode of Series
2 to date (bear in mind that I haven't seen Doomsday
at the time of writing).
Mark Gatiss (who gave us the previous season's The Unquiet
Dead) has filled his narrative with lots of lovely little
touches. These include the name of the street where most of
action takes place. Florizel Street was the working
title of the soap opera Coronation Street (until a
tea lady pointed out to creator Tony Warren that Florizel
sounded like the name of a disinfectant). Coronation... street...
geddit? In another scene, the Doctor tells two policemen that
you can't make your fingers meet around your elbow. Look carefully
and you'll see the copper in the background trying to do exactly
Tennant gives one of his strongest - certainly his most forceful
- performances as the Doctor. Witness his confrontation with
Mr Connolly (Jamie Foreman): "I'm not listening!" And his
vow to avenge Rose: "They took her face and left her in the
street. And as a result, that makes things simple. Very, very
simple. You know why? ... Because now, Detective Inspector
Bishop, there is no power on this Earth that can stop me!"
rest of the cast is uniformly good, but Maureen Lipman is
particularly noteworthy in a creepy turn as the Wire. Her
victims are also quite unnerving in a Sapphire & Steel
kind of way.
I was compiling my feature on possible "half-time"
this episode proved to be an absolute gem. The scene that
ends 21 minutes and 42 seconds into the episode is so dramatic
that it's hard to believe this story wasn't originally written
as two 25-minute instalments with this as the cliffhanger.
This is the exact opposite of the situation I faced a year
earlier when I had great difficulty finding a suitable half-time
break in Gatiss's The Unquiet Dead.
climactic pylon sequence is perhaps a little over-long, but
otherwise this is the perfect excuse to stay glued to your
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