The Tomb of the Cybermen part 1
12 October 2013 at 09:02 #18317Craig @craigEmperor
With new episodes having been found from Patrick Troughton’s second season, let’s celebrate by discussing the story that opens that season – The Tomb of the Cybermen. It too was a story that was thought lost until it was discovered in 1991.
On the planet Telos, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria join an archaeological expedition which has uncovered a hidden entrance in a mountain.12 October 2013 at 13:48 #18327
I do love the central partnership of the Second Doctor and Jamie. The mutual ribbing makes it an easy relationship to watch.
“Try to make it a smooth take-off – we don’t want to scare Victoria”
(on Victoria’s skirt) “A bit short? I don’t know – look at Jamie’s”.
Capped off by the business with the Doctor grabbing Jamie’s hand as they enter the Tomb, before they do a double take, and head back for Victoria. It looks so well oiled, considering they had such short rehearsal times. I’m really looking forward to seeing the unearthed material.
Kaftan’s offer of fifty quid to the first man who can open the doors can raise a chuckle in modern times – you half expect the crew to say “fifty quid?! Open them yourself love”. The novelisation (78) raised the stakes to five hundred dollars.
You look at the setup, and this is an isolated archaeology expedition, with mixed motivation and power plays in the group. From the scientific enquiry of Parry to what looks like a more hidden agenda by Klieg. It’s every Cursed Egyptian Tomb exploration story you’ve ever heard. You can’t help feeling the word “Doomed” is likely to be used in the future to describe this one.
I love the design elements used, the icons of the Cybermen carved into the “Temple” are simple, but effective. This actually looks as good as many B&W sc-fi and horror movies. The control stations are minimal, but isn’t that the nature of the Cybermen.
We talked on the Terror blog about false impressions occasionally given by Target Novelisations. The early copy I had of this was one of them, featuring completely the wrong type of Cybermen. It’s actually still used, for the audio reading of the book:12 October 2013 at 14:22 #18328Anonymous @
@phaseshift – I noted the same comedy moments as you did. I’d add ‘Well, I’ve not had much exercise lately!’ from Jamie. (I do love me a man in a kilt 🙂 )
Also this exchange: ‘It’s a lighting system that never goes out. Works by letting cosmic rays bombard a layer of …’ ‘Oh, aye, yeah, yeah.’ I don’t know where Jamie is in his travels with the Doctor, but this sequence and couple of others pin-point that he’s a few centuries behind the viewer in terms of technological/scientific advances. (Was he picked up in the 1700’s or 1800’s?)
I’m utterly chuffed to be watching a Troughton story. A few more episodes of this story and he might knock Sylvester McCoy off my personal Doctor plinth. Coming into this completely fresh, I see an easy, friendly, joshing kind of relationship between 2 and Jamie.
I want to like Victoria and hope to do so in later parts of this story. But in this one, she’s a bit ‘fainting’.
I”m confused why the Doctor would explain the binary code solution, then insist ‘but don’t do anything with that / don’t use it!’
There is a whiff of racism about the only black character (‘He is my servant, I will not have him risk his life’) but I assume that will be resolved – or perhaps not. This story is of its time and place and we can’t overlay current PC values onto it.
The quarry they’re filming in looks a bit like the quarry where Caves of Androzani was shot – is that true? The steep cliff over which Stotz did his mind-torture of his fellow gun-runner looks awfully familiar here.
What’s with the man and the woman who both have shoulder-bags on? Will we see in subsequent parts what they have stashed in them? And why is she so utterly dastardly? (rhetorical question)
I like that they’ve set up the shoulder-bag couple as the financiers of the expedition and the power plays between them and the actual leader of the expedition. There is somthing nefarious going on, which I assume will be fleshed out in further parts.12 October 2013 at 15:48 #18333Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
@Shazzbot – Victoria is supposed to be 15 or 16 in these stories. She’s from 1866, Jamie is from 1746 – Jamie has been travelling with the Doctor for a while now, so is pretty confident with all this weirdness, whereas Victoria is a) on her first trip and b) has just been orphaned by the Daleks.
So she can be forgiven for having a reputation for being one of the more ‘fainting’ of the Doctor’s companions. Since we’ve now got a chance to see two more of her stories (yay!), we can see if that’s true.
Dunno if it’s the same quarry, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I think the budget generally stretched to quarries within 25 miles of BBC TV Centre. Anything outside that, and you had to pay for either travel or overnight hotel fees, you see – it was the maximum allowed distance for daily commuting.12 October 2013 at 18:11 #18352Anonymous @
I noticed this DVD in a pre-owned shop earlier in the week for the wallet-friendly price of £5 so, remembering it was being reviewed, thought I’d give it a try.
I’ve never seen any 2nd Doctor episodes so approached it with a certain amount of trepidation. Would I like it? Would it be a waste of (admittedly not much) money? There’s only one way to find out! *
I sort of know Jamie’s background but haven’t a clue about Victoria**. First impression, she seems pleasant enough though I fear she may turn out to be a bit of a ‘screamer’ 🙂
Oh look! A quarry! In ‘Doctor Who’? That’s a surprise! 😉
Being in black & white and a bit ‘grainy’ gives it a different feel from the quarries I’m used to seeing though. I thought it had quite a classic ‘Western’ look to it, sort of like Utah.
The audio quality, although mono, is brilliant – my rib-cage rattled during that second rock-slide and I don’t have the volume that high! Loved the shot of the Tomb entrance in the background. Was it a visual effect or did they construct it? A very slight camera wobble gave me the impression that it may have been a forced-perspective shot of a model on a cliff that’s closer to the camera than it looks.
Many have mentioned the similarity between Matt’s and Pat’s portrayal and already I can see it. Family resemblance aside, I’ve also noticed a similarity between Pat and his son, David (‘Prof. Hobbes’ in Midnight, King Peladon in ‘The Curse of Peladon’ and an extra in the recently rediscovered ‘The Enemy of the World’). Was Troughton Jnr paying homage to his Dad?
The ‘rejuvination’ chamber looked familiar and, as this was aired 3 months before I was born, I couldn’t think why. Then it hit me that it was featured (albeit an updated version) in the ‘Blood of The Cybermen’ game.
Loving the comedy elements between Doc2 and Jamie, reminds me a bit of Doc11 and Rory.
@shazzbot – I too was puzzled by Doc2 telling Krieg how to solve the logic problems and then panicking when Krieg starts throwing switches. I’m assuming either he’s got carried away in showing off how clever he is or he has a plan and the panicking is just a feint.
Blimey, a very young Bernard Holley (the ill fated Peter)! I remember him from a number of programs during the 70’s and 80’s but most vividly as one of the various ‘storytellers’ on’ Jackanory’ (as was ‘National Treasure’ Bernard Cribbins).
I’m struggling a bit with the production values but I have that problem with most programs from this period (most notably Star Trek:TOS)
* I’ll give my answer after Part 4.
** In the original draft I did in ‘Word’ earlier I asked about Victoria’s background but @bluesqueakpip has answered those questions – thanks 🙂12 October 2013 at 23:44 #18380
I think @bluesqueakpip has answered your questions on the companions, and @fatmaninabox is right. One of the Doctors common traits is to occasionally want to prove how clever he is to his overall detriment. Remember Pertwee’s glee at trapping the Master?
The Second Doctor had a real competitive streak played for laughs sometimes with a later companion, Zoe. There is a hilarious sequence in The Krotons as he attempts to beat her score in a test which will place them both in danger.
I’m afraid the quarries are different. This one is in Buckinghamshire, while Caves was in Dorset. I think the one in Buckinghamshire was later used for landfill. Fascinating facts these are not.12 October 2013 at 23:48 #18381
If you want to own the DVD yourself you are kind of spoilt for choice. I think it’s an effort to make sure that, having lost it once, there are going to be so many copies in circulation that even in the event of a meteor strike, one copy will survive.
I currently have the first release which is available on amazon for £11.98. An alternative (which I intend to get) is the Revisitations 3 box set featuring an all singing/all dancing version with new versions of The Three Doctors and Robots of Death. A steal on BBC Shop for £13.99. Or you could buy the Cybermen Collection, The Tennant two parter and Tomb (without any special features) for £6.99. That’s before its inevitable release as part of the Doctors revisited sets that have already gone on sale in the US.12 October 2013 at 23:58 #18382Anonymous @
I’m afraid the quarries are different. This one is in Buckinghamshire, while Caves was in Dorset. I think the one in Buckinghamshire was later used for landfill. Fascinating facts these are not.
Oh, you’re so wrong. 🙂 That is interesting, indeed. How do you know this stuff?!
I’m going to wait until the waves of fangasm die down a bit before buying the 2nd Doctor’s DVDs. Of course, as per HTPBDET’s blog post, it’s probably better that I watch ‘Enemy of the World’ before ‘Web of Fear’ but having had access to the first part of the latter, it’s already too late. 😀13 October 2013 at 00:32 #18385
I’m the kind of sad person who reads the exhaustive production notes on DVDs! Honestly – I don’t think there is much that isn’t documented about the productions. Tardis Wiki can be useful for that kind of detail. I just looked at the entry for Tomb, and this was Gerrards Cross Sand and Gravel Pit at Waspey’s Woods in Buckinghamshire. It may not be the one I was thinking was turned into a landfill then (although it wouldn’t surprise me if it was as well – that was the fate of many worked quarries in the period).13 October 2013 at 01:21 #18388Arkleseizure @arkleseizure
If anyone was wondering what Michael “Cybercontroller” Kilgarriff looks like under his mask, here’s a picture of him reading aloud from one of the joke books he later wrote. The pic is from the 1983 Hamleys Christmas catalogue (and thanks to @craig for his help with this (Hope this works):
Oh yeah, see that little boy on the bottom right with the bright orange hair and the slightly scared look on his face? That’s me, that is!13 October 2013 at 09:38 #18390Anonymous @
@arkleseizure – awww, weren’t you cute as a wee bairn. 🙂 Did you know who Michael Kilgarriff was when that photoshoot happened? Were you already a Doctor Who fan?13 October 2013 at 10:44 #18395Anonymous @
Tomb is one of the stone-cold all-time Who classics, up there with, if not above, Talons. Troughton is brilliant in it and the interplay between the Doc and Jamie is a joy to behold. It’s an odd thing but to my mind there are a few of the Troughton stories that seem to stand up to modern viewing a lot better than a lot of the old Who that came after it. It’s probably, as has been pointed out above, something to do with the grainy black and white giving the stories an atmosphere all of their own.
And there is something epic and almost filmic about parts of this episode. The quarry does manage to look like a bit alien and like a desert expanse. The bickering archaeological team works well too (so much so that it was kind of reprised in Earthshock) and takes it cue, I suspect, from Conan Doyle’s Lost World, Rider Haggard and (given the sinister foreigners bent) perhaps even Sax Rohmer.
Which brings us to Tomb’s big stumbling block. The casual sexism and racism of the time. Victoria is not exactly the most dynamic of companions. Yes, this is her just starting out and, yes, she is a product of Victorian England but to me she stands out as the most passive and uninteresting of companions ever. And it can’t be just put down to the ‘a sign of the times’ because Who had managed to produce much more interesting female companions prior to Victoria, including Barbara, Vicki and Sara Kingdom. I think that the production team of the time was even aware of this as when Victoria was written out we got the infinitely more interesting Zoe. And the only other woman in the story is Evil and a shifty foreigner to boot. (Plus am I right in thinking that we get a bit more casual sexism from the rocket pilots later or am I misremembering?)
And poor Roy Stewart as Toberman (which always sounds to me like some weird hybrid between a Doberman and a Toblerone). I’m afraid @Shazzbot that it doesn’t really get better for him. There’s been a lot of talk recently about Doctor Who being racist and I reject absolutely some of the claims made against it. But at the same time, you can’t help but notice that you have to wait a very long time until you see a positive portrayal of a black character and even then they’re rather thin on the ground. But what with Toberman in Tomb and Big Tony in Terror of the Autons, Who is not exactly covering itself in glory in its depiction in race relations.
That said, I’m inclined to be slightly more forgiving in the depiction of Klieg and Kaftan. As I said before, I think their depiction is riffing more directly on Victorian and Edwardian literary tropes which did, unfortunately, tend to use foreigners almost exclusively as their villains. It’s also perhaps riffing on the contemporary popularity of James Bond which tended to do the same thing.
Although we haven’t really seen them yet, this is right slap in the middle of the period of when the Cybermen were ace villains — much, much scarier than the Daleks in my opinion. The Troughton era Cybermen holds many lessons for nu Who, which is still struggling to re-scarify the Cybermen, although Nightmare in Steel did manage to at least kickstart the process.
The first thing is to keep them offscreen for as long as possible and to talk them up as much as possible. I remember an Orson Welles interview where he said the reason that his portrayal of Harry Lime in The Third Man is so well loved and remembered is because the first two thirds of the movie just consist of people talking about nothing else but him. By the time he does show up, the audience is totally psyched for it. Same with the Cybermen. Because everyone is talking in hushed tones about how scary they were and how extinct when one does show up at the end it’s a bit of a ‘bloody hell, there’s one now’ moment.
The other thing that I think has been lost in modern times is the sense of escalation. From RTD onwards it seems to have been the default setting has been to show lots and lots of Cybermen at all times, seeking, I suppose, to impress with numbers and scale more than anything else. But I think Tomb and the other Troughton Cyber-classic The Moonbase show that the best thing to do is to start with talking about them, then show one or two lurking in the shadows before proceeding to the full-on ‘bloody hell, there’s millions of em approach’.
I also think that the design of the Cybermen is much better here. (Personally I still think that original Tenth Planet Cybermen are the scariest). I think a mistake, from Earthshock onwards and certainly in Nu-Who is to over-emphasise the metallic, robotic aspects of the Cybermen. But Cybermen are not robots. They’re literally ‘men in suits’ and I think it’s a mistake when the costume doesn’t reflect that. Fabric and hydraulics should be a part of Cyber-design — and I seem to remember Troughton even pointing out that Cybermen are clad in ‘material’ at one point.13 October 2013 at 13:41 #18405Arkleseizure @arkleseizure
@Shazzbot: <blushing> I dimly remember the day that photo was taken. I was in Hamleys with my family (my brother is the dark-haired boy with the wide open mouth at bottom left), and a shop assistant simply called us over for the photo (after speaking to our parents, obviously!). I didn’t really understand what was going on, as my facial expression shows.
It wasn’t until some many years later that I realised I’d been photographed with the Cybercontroller (and also the titular Robot from Tom Baker’s debut). I bought the VHS release of Tomb as soon as it came out, and it included a short interview with Morris Barry, the director, who spoke of how he cast Kilgarriff in the role. A still of how he looked at the time appeared. Even then I didn’t twig: it was only when I saw the name Kilgarriff on my own copy of one of the joke books that realisation began to dawn. I compared the Hamleys picture with the one on the video, and yes, it was definitely the same man! I’d been photographed with the Cybercontroller!
Was I a fan back then? I think, under my dad’s guidance, that I was just beginning to become one at five years old. It was about this time that the Five Doctors was broadcast, and I remember absolutely loving it. I got the VHS of that at the first opportunity, too, my teenage self reliving the dim memories of what I recalled as that silver robot thing that kept disappearing, and that funny hairy robot thing the funny doctor met. Patrick Troughton’s performance there was a big part of me being so eager to get Tomb on VHS (and, just this week, caused my thirtysomething self to download Enemy onto my iPad at the first opportunity). So my burgeoning fandom when that picture was taken ultimately led to me working out who I’d been pictured with!
I try to forget that, a couple of years after this picture was taken, Michael Kilgarriff reprised the Cybercontroller in the appalling Attack of the Cybermen. I’m still convinced that didn’t really happen.13 October 2013 at 16:03 #18425Rob @rob
Watching this on Watch now awesomeness in black and white 🙂13 October 2013 at 19:04 #18439
Great pic. I met Michael Kilgarriff at a fan event when I was younger. I was about 6 ft at 15 and he towered over me. Lovely bloke though – very self deprecating. Did you see the footage of the Tomb Cybermen event at the BFI? He was a guest.
the appalling Attack of the Cybermen. I’m still convinced that didn’t really happen
I know – they incinerated Moonbase, but couldn’t bring themselves to do the same with Attack. What’s that all about!?16 October 2013 at 09:49 #18575stevethewhistle @steve-thorp
I eventually caught up with watching this episode last night (recorded from Watch channel).
I didn’t notice the graininess after the shot of a model Tardis in a heap of sand, and a lot of the graininess would have been hidden by the poor resolution of the 405 line TV sets of the time.
A major theme of this episode seems to be the act of pushing buttons and pulling levers without knowing what action they performed, and was established in the early Tardis interior scenes. (2 killed so far).
NOTE: A rewatch of the ending this morning confirmed my initial thoughts that it wasn’t the Cyberman that killed the archaeologist but a weapon that appeared out of a wall. I am not even sure that this Cyberman was a functioning unit, but I should find out in the following episodes.
Re: Jamie’s era.
A quick bit of research found that he was picked up after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
BTW I wonder if the designers of computer mice were influenced by the (what we now know are called, although not named at this point) Cybermats.16 October 2013 at 11:41 #18581stevethewhistle @steve-thorp
I reckon that if this had been an AG episode, the surprise entry of the Cyberman would have been splashed over all the BBC channels in a trailer for about two weeks before.
BTW Apologies to @bluesqueakpip for absent-mindedly repeating info about Jamie.16 October 2013 at 21:17 #18601CraigNixon @craignixon
Right, I’ve never reallywatched old Who before, but I watched th Aztecs last week so I’m going to watch ToTC now and post stream of conciousness as I go! This is on Watch so unsure if it states Ep 1 / 2 etc as Aztecs didn’t.
Please @craig (or someone else) edit out any Ep 2 info if I stray into accidently.
I’ll try and do every episode but I can’t promise it!16 October 2013 at 21:21 #18603Craig @craigEmperor
@craignixon Episode One ends when you see the first Cyberman (or what looks like a Cyberman – we’re not sure if it’s real yet) so you can stop live blogging after that 😀
Look forward to it.16 October 2013 at 21:59 #18607CraigNixon @craignixon
oooh, PT in Credits! Flashy light on Tardis door – important?
PT is quite casual about bigger on inside – Almost like a museum tour for a new companion!
450 years old? Wonder how the timeline works if you figure it out Tardis wardrobe? We’ve not seen that since DT regenerated
An expedition – thats gonna end well(!)
I like the dialogue in this. Humour is not bad and quite snappy.
Oooh, an obligatory woman!
Yeah, never volunteer mate – Ha, typical!
What happened? He’s dead is what happened.
Again with the volunteers!
PT is concerned straight away. He’s the Doctor all right.
Oooh, You show me yours, I’ll show you mine! Share and share alike I say
Ooooh, chilling – CYBERMEN
Head back on your own….just don’t say “I’ll be right back”
Is that jacket too big for PT – looks like his dads Is Frazier Hines actually scottish or is his accent just bad?
So is the Obligatory Womans (OW)
Is that a early Macguffin? I like PT
No Victoria, this isn’t going to go well!
Ah a compliment, I wish every that worked for me!
Definately either Cybermen or someone who worships Bender from the symbols
Scheming OW. Oh a hatch – have none of you watched a scary movie?
Oh you have to show off don’t you Doctor? Hahahaha, owned
I think Toberman is gonna die, seems like a redshirt
For some reason PT reminds me of Steptoe
Oh Fiddles! I’m stealing that
Oh revitalised – Chekovs Gun?
Oh don’t get in Victoria.
Alpha Mason Phospher – I want one
Wheel of fortune!
Secrets insoluable – can you disolve a secret? Maths – too late at night
You know that moment where you think the doctor is being a bit scheming to get others to do his dirty work. Yeah – explain
Binary Notation then say ‘Oh I wouldn’t’!
No, no no! DOn’t start the wheel of fortune!
And now it begins!
Scheming OW – here we go!
Oh you have to touch it!
Oooh, Hypno Wall
Duh duh duh duh! Dr to the rescue.
Jamie loves the wall!
Father figure doctor.
You probably don’t want to go down there do you?
I know you’re probably ignoring my warnings….oh, lasergun and dead. CYBERMAN…..4 February 2014 at 16:42 #25002FallingForTwelve @fallingfortwelve
Really so enjoying getting caught up on the second Doctor. He’s one of my very favorites, honestly.
He’s got a playful quality to him, and the plots and dialog are fanciful and well-thought-out.
Totally new to me, catching up on these episodes today. Watched the Mind Robber yesterday, and enjoyed it every bit as much as any of the other episodes I’ve seen (and far more than some)!1 March 2014 at 17:11 #25947Troughton1966-69 @troughton1966-69
I have to say this is one of the only black and white episodes of doctor who that I can actually watch no mater what mood im in. Tomb of the cybermen was missing from the BBC archives for nearly two decades and was recovered from Hong Kong in 1992. The whole episode revolves around people pulling leavers and pushing buttons and not knowing what’s going to happen next. At the end of the episode someone gets shot by what you think is a cyberman, however he gets shot from behind by a machine activated by one of the buttons.20 April 2014 at 05:45 #27025lwolivan7 @lwolivan7
This story is absolutely fantastic! The story is so brilliantly written and shows some brilliant examples of the power of the cybermen. Anyone who hasn’t watched this story, go out and buy Revisitations 3 and watch it. Its great!
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.