“TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN” – Season 5, Serial 1, Story 37 – Written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis; Directed by Morris Barry – The Second Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria start the 5th season by setting down on Telos, where they run into an archaeological dig that’s trying to break into the Tomb of the Cybermen. It’s Victoria’s first official mission and she’s a sweetie who does her job and gets in trouble in order for the Doctor to save here. There’s all sorts of mysterious backstabbing amongst the archaeological crew as the money man- er, money woman, behind the trip wants to reactivate the frozen Cybermen because they’re actually part of a super-cool group called the Brotherhood of Logicians. No, honest, that’s what they’re called. (I made up the super-cool part, though.) They believe that the Cybermen will want to help them. Because There’s No Smart Test To Get Into The Brotherhood Of Logicians.
Author’s Note: I’m gonna be honest. This is the worst review I’ve written. I love this serial, but this is a shite review. I’ll be updating it at some point to not completely suck.
THE TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN is the earliest Second Doctor serial to have all its parts still visually available. I haven’t listened to anything from Season 4, but if you can’t have ‘em all survive on video, THE TOMB is a good place to start.
This is a rock-solid serial, containing plenty of humor and plenty of narrative twists to keep you invested in this story. Patrick Troughton’s Doctor is much more well-rounded and nuanced that William Hartnell’s version, but the biggest difference is that he’s in control of the serial in the way Hartnell had to share his serial’s with Ian (mostly) and others.
Troughton’s Doctor is just generally livelier. You’d expect that to be the case with Troughton’s youth allowing him a greater physicality in his performance, but it’s not just his actions but his mind that’s livelier, too. With Hartnell, there was the sensation that the Doctor had to think his way out of everything, giving him the contemplative air of a guy figuring out his next three moves, whereas Troughton is much more inclined to think near the surface, putting thought into action much quicker.
In TOMB, there’s also a sense that the Second Doctor just can’t help himself. When they arrive and find the archaeological crew trying to get into the sealed Tombs, the Doctor knows it’s a bad idea to help them get in, but does it anyway. Once inside there’s a new puzzle to solve to open the two doors leading off the entranceway and he just solves it, opening them easily, even though he’s got to know he can prevent them from going deeper into the facility.
The expedition’s sugar-daddies (Kaftan and Klieg) want to revive the Cybermen and they do. In a very cool visual that becomes something of a Cybermen trope, the Cybermen break free of their tombs and it’s to Morris Barry’s directing acumen that he manages to make really silly robots breaking through cheap plastic look bad ass instead of silly.
Kaftan has a black sidekick named Toberman and he’s a stereotypical silent, strong figure, but at least he gets to save the day. I mean, yeah, he dies in the process, so that’s not much of a consolation for him, is it?