The Tenth Planet part 2

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  JimTheFish 6 years, 2 months ago.

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    Craig @craig

    The Cybermen have arrived at the antarctic base from the tenth planet, Mondas, Earth’s former sister planet. While everyone is trying to get the Zeus IV astronauts safely back to Earth the Cybermen infiltrate the base. The base personnel and Polly plead with the Cybermen to allow them to save the lives of the Zeus IV crew, but the Cybermen say that their lives are irrelevant.

    I do love the Mondasian Cybermen, with their sing-song voices, the body horror of replacement parts and all emotion removed. Kit Pedler was the head of the electron microscopy department at the Institute of Ophthalmology, University of London. He was hired to inject more hard science into Doctor Who and began a writing partnership with Gerry Davis, the story editor. Their interest in the idea of science changing and endangering human life led them to create the Cybermen.

    This story is available to buy from your favourite DVD/Blu-ray retailer, or it may be on your Netflix, Prime or Hulu, or whatever else you subscribe to.

    Remember, we’re discussing this story one episode per week, as it was originally broadcast. If you’ve seen it before, for the convenience of anyone approaching this for the first time, NO SPOILERS for subsequent episodes please.

    Craig @craig

    I don’t ‘think’ this is a spoiler (apologies if you think it is). I think of it more as an exciter, if you’re following along. I recognise that control room used for this Christmas episode publicity shot. Seems this story will be very relevant. So if you’ve not already joined in, get started. This is where worlds collide. You can find part one here:

    The Tenth Planet part 1

    Doctor Who Christmas Special

    Tenth Planet Control Room

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    The Mondasian Cybermen are seriously creepy; what with the human eyes peering out of the helmet, and the human hands that are impervious to frostbite, I don’t think the series hit this height of body horror until that Cyber-head ejected a decayed skull, in Pandorica Opens. I think I prefer the sing-song to the later, more robotic tones; though I can see why seventies producers preferred to avoid Zippy.

    World Enough And Time doesn’t help, of course. Add in that they’re in constant pain. They just don’t care.

    Interesting that Robert Beatty plays the different tone to his astronauts for all it’s worth. A man, possibly, completely focussed on getting his people back safely from their mission. The feelings of the people on the ground don’t matter; they’re not in danger. It makes him very slightly less of an idiot- though the fact that he spends most of the episode peacefully snoozing might also make him seem more intelligent. 😉

    Cybermen do not see the difference between the people in danger that you can, potentially help and the people all over the world that you can’t. It’s kind of the ultimate in equality; an equality that does not care. And everyone is equal because they’ve been made equal, no race, cultural or even gender differences. In that light, it’s disturbing that they’re obviously trying NOT to kill the humans. For what purpose?

    The scientists, who aren’t soldiers, have no shame in playing for time. Still trying to save the astronauts- who keep trying to save themselves even as Zeus 4 disintegrated around them. A total contrast to the Cybermen, who are calmly using their deaths as a teaching moment.

    In light of later Who history, Ben’s “imagine trying to tackle one of them geezers with a screwdriver” goes down as ‘most unintentionally ironic line ever‘. But his humanity is demonstrated when he is nauseous after killing the Cybermen. Ben is more human than General Cutler; who doesn’t care. Except about his astronauts, and about his son.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    The phrase ‘Sure as God made little apples’ seems to originate from ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’ (1874)  by English-born Australian writer Marcus Clarke.

    The TARDIS crew are once again made to wait outside the control room like naughty children…

    An ITN newsflash. ITN had been going since 1955…

    Many among the top astronomical circles are clearly thick or bad-sighted (Unless there’s a planetary perception filter going on…)

    Hoodies are yet again an extremely effective diguise!

    The mysterious monsters are revealed to be ‘Cybermen from Mondas’, a great new creature!


    ‘The Mondasian Cybermen are seriously creepy; what with the human eyes peering out of the helmet…’

    I couldn’t agree more. Deeply, deeply creepy…

    General Cutler receives a vigorous head-massage, which is not as exciting an attack method as those ‘crotch ray-guns’.

    The ‘Emotions’ speech is in this episode, so part 2 could feature more than the others this Christmas…


    After a bit of a slow start last week, this episode rattles along. Despite this story’s more dry, scientific approach, it’s becoming truly gripping…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Aaaand the ‘everyday Sixties sexism’ comment.

    Good as the story itself is, it’s a very bad example of the way to tackle a ‘male-only, semi-military’ setting. While it’s perfectly reasonable to have a male only base in Antarctica in 1986 (a lot of countries still see it as a difficult environment for women, and even the mixed gender bases run about 3:1 male:female), there’s been no attempt made to rebalance the genders in the non-Antarctic roles. During Verity Lambert’s era, I’d lay odds the Director in Geneva would have been a woman and the minor role of the Technician male or female. Here, all the main roles go to male actors – except Polly, who’s built-in.

    Even Polly’s role could be seen as the stereotyped ‘women’s role’. She pleads for the lives of the astronauts, showing the ‘caring’ side of human beings. In terms of action, she has had very little to do apart from hold William Hartnell’s hand. Furthermore, there are no girlfriends or wives mentioned. Apart from the pin-ups in episode 1, women are basically invisible. The astronauts appear to be bachelors, Cutler’s son doesn’t seem to have a mother. Invisible.

    Compare this to the Verity Lambert era, and while the story is great, the roles for women are very circumscribed indeed. If you compare it with the more modern Cold War, which has a similar ‘male-only, military’ setting (and in fact only has one female part – Clara ), you can see the difference. Gattis didn’t have any other female actors, but he made sure that the sailors had wives and girlfriends, and one of the major off-screen presences is almost a mirror image of Gen Cutler/Cutler Jr. Except that Gen Skaldak and the presumably dead Skaldak Jr are father and daughter. Clara is also playing a much more active role, negotiating, making suggestions and reminding Skaldak very much of his ‘young officer’ daughter.

    I wait to see if Polly gets to do anything exciting in the later two episodes.

    Whisht @whisht

    I enjoyed this.
    Not much to add to others’ observations.
    I think the sing-song voice is a bit odd at times, but the fact that he doesn’t move his lips for words but simply as a speaker is very creepy).
    I think some of the reasons its more ‘gripping’ is the use of the countdown (with cuts between faces each second) as well as some of the other group scenes in the base, as the camera pans between people (and has to focus which makes it feel very ‘live’ – because it is!).

    I also like the credits but not sure if this was common to use affects for opening and closing credits of Who.

    N N N N
    0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    N N N N N

    Craig @craig

    @whisht Supposedly the ‘computer tape’-style opening and closing title graphics were specially created for this story by graphic designer Bernard Lodge.

    It’s in the “Trivia” section here:

    Whisht @whisht

    ah, cheers @craig – I’ll take a look after its all over (in case of trivial spoilers!)


    While watching this episode, I thought to myself how shouty it was (perhaps the first one too).
    Then I was pondering on my way home tonight, how angry Cutler is (as is the Doctor to be honest).
    And now I’m wondering if this will be mirrored by Cutler’s decision-making in terms of his son in space. Whether crucial decisions may be undone through his emotional attachment and how this echoes how unperturbed and rational the Cybermen were in terms of Zeus IV’s situation.

    Or maybe we’ll see Cutler being emotionally detached, as that’s the ‘right’ (military) way to make decisions… but by doing so seeming to be monstrous.

    hmmm looking forward to it !

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Audio commentary time

    The Cybermen are rated ‘terrifying’ by the actors. The costume was like a very tight tracksuit covered in plastic – very, very hot. There was some Cyber-fainting.

    Anneke Wills notes that the crew were all dedicated to making Who work. The designer talks through the design process: read the script, discuss with director, produce drawings and models for the director. Once the look is finalised, produce plans and drawings for the people building the sets. They had three weeks for the design phase, and one day to build the set in the studio.

    One aspect of the modern Cybermen that is preferred by Donald Van der Maaten (Cyberman) is the choreography – the metallic, robotic movement. These Cybermen have a very human movement – while it makes them spookier, the modern ones seem more dangerous to him.

    Some discussion of the then current rehearsal period/one day recording versus modern on-set rehearse-record. The conclusion is that a rehearsal period is more fun for the actors, but doesn’t really impact on the performance seen by the audience. Simply a different method of working, made essential back in 1966 by the sheer expense of video tape and only being allowed a maximum of four filming stops. The actors had to be able to give an ‘as-live’ performance, which needs rehearsing as a whole.

    Donald van der Maaten has two claims to fame – being one of the very first Cybermen, and appearing in the final stories for both William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.

    Earl Cameron’s role as Zeus Four’s commander is noted. Star Trek, incidentally, was airing in the States but wouldn’t make it over the Pond for another three years – so Cameron’s black astronaut was very much a first for UK.

    Some discussion of William Hartnell- this would be his last full episode. Again, I get that distinction between those who knew him before he was ill, and those who didn’t. Hartnell’s gift (according to Alan White) was looking like he wasn’t acting. Alan White, who’d worked with Hartnell before, is perfectly happy to say how good an actor he was, and sounds like he liked him. But talk to the two who were youngsters back then (Anneke and Chris), and they clearly found him nasty, terrifying and do not remember him fondly. There’s a very, very awkward pause when Chris Matthews is asked if Hartnell was a good actor – this story is, I think, the only time he worked with Hartnell.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Yes, the Doctor is rather shouty here. I wonder whether that was to do with Hartnell’s ill health in any way.

    In general, I’d say this is possibly the most ‘modern’ of all his serials. As I said before, it’s setting the template for a big chunk of the Troughton era and also has that Quatermass-ey vibe of early Pertwee too.

    And I’ll be very interested to see just how much this episode/story is actually revistited in the Xmas episode. I’m guessing not that much. The fact that the set is being touted in the pre-publicity is usually a dead giveaway that it’s not going to be an integral part of the story.

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