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Doctor Who - Rise of the Cybermen / Doctor Who - The Age of Steel

episode 2.6, episode 2.7

UK 2006
produced by
Phil Collinson, Russell T.Davies (executive), Julie Gardner (executive) for BBC Wales/BBC
directed by Graeme Harper
starring David Tennant, Billie Piper, Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke, Shaun Dingwall, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Andrew Hayden-Smith, Don Warrington, Helen Griffin, Colin Spaull, Paul Antony-Barber, Adam Shaw, Andrew Ufondo, Duncan Duff, Paul Kasey, Nicholas Briggs (voice)
written by Tom MacRae, music by Murray Gold, Cybermen created by Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis

tv-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (David Tennant), Doctor Who (new series), Cybermen, Rose Tyler

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Who's (David Tennant) time machine the TARDIS breaks down and it has him and his companions Rose (Billie Piper) and Mickey (Noel Clarke) stranded in a parallel world where blimps are still the main means of transport for a day or so ... and what do you know, Rose and Mickey are soon off on personal matters, Rose to find her father (Shaun Dingwall) who died shortly after her birth in her own dimension but is still alive and doing well in this world, and Mickey is off to see his blind grandma, but soon gets mixed up with the revolutionaries, who think him to be their leader - which is actually Mickey's double in this world, Rickie (also Noel Clarke).

But what are the revolutionaries fighting anyways ?

The predominance of Cybus Industries, owned by disabled millinaire Lumic (Roger Lloyd-Pack), who has earned his fortune by supplying everybody with the omnipresent earpods, which feed information directly to its carrier's brain - but can also be used the other way round ... and that's just the beginning, ultimately Lumic plans to present humanity with another upgrade to the earpod, which will effectively turn humans into emotionless Cybermen ...

Meanwhile Rose, and the Doctor with her, arrive at an official function Rose's mom (Camille Coduri) and dad are having, where even Britain's president (Don Warrington) - yep they have a president instead of prime minister in this world - is present, when the Cybermen attack and either slaughter everyone in sight or take them prisoner to turn into Cybermen as well ...

Only the Doctor and Rose and Rose's dad - who has since turned out to be a mole within Lumic Industries - manage to make a getaway, helped by Mickey and the revolutionaries - but during the escape, even Rickie, this dimension's Mickey, dies.

Still, the Doctor and company decide to attack Lumic Industires head-on ... but soon enough, the whole group is either killed or taken prisoner, only Mickey and fellow revolutionary Jake (Andrew Hayden-Smith) manage to stay out of the line of fire and hide in Lumic's personal blimp ... and they manage to learn about the Doctor's whereabout via a security camera.

The Doctor meanwhile faces Lumic, who has since been turned into a Cyberman, and the Doctor uses all his rethorical talents to get a few trade secrets out of Lumic, which enables Mickey, a computer expert, to turn off the emotional inhibitor within the Cybermen, which causes them, one after the other, to explode ... and ultimately, Lumic Industries headquarters goes up in flames. But the Doctor, Rose and Rose's dad are saved by Mickey and Jake in the blimp ...

It's good-bye time, with Rose shedding a few tears over never being able to see her father again (normally, the TARDIS cannot cross dimentional boundaries), and Mickey all of a sudden deciding to stay in this parallel universe too, because here, after having defeated the Cybermen, his life means something ... and what do you know, Rose sheds even more tears. I in the meantime rather welcome the demise of the character, who never came into his own anyways and was little more than annoying and irrelevant to the series so far. (mickey would return though in the season 2-finale, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday)

 

To be fair, this episode features some great and satirical ideas, like how mobile phones will eventually turn us into mechanical men, and for the most part the episode plays like a pretty decent if by no means special science fictioner. On the downside however, the episode features way too much bittersweet and overly clichéd kitsch about all sorts of family reunions - it is not enough that Rose again wants to see her father (after this story premise was already exploited to the hilt in Father's Day), now all of a sudden Mickey too has a grandma, who is blind - now can it get any cheesier than that ?

Unfortunately, during the closing good-byes one has to realize, yes it can ...

Besides that it has to be noted that many key story elements (like the disabled inventor wanting to turn humanity into soulless metal creatures) seem to have been lifted directly from the 1975 Tom Baker-episode Genesis of the Daleks - which isn't such a bad thing, since this was one of the best episode of the series ever.

Now if less emphasis would have been put on these family reunion subplots and on the serie's continuity as such (another thing that doesn't sit too well with this episode - and the series as such) and more emphasis would have been put on telling the actual story and exploiting its premise (man and mobile phone being merged into Cyberman) to the fullest, this could have been great. As it is, the episode is just ok.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD