Doctor Who – The Tomb Of The Cybermen [1967] [DVD] [1963]

Tomb of the Cybermen brought the Doctor, Patrick Troughton, into conflict with his silver cyborg nemeses for a third time, following The Tenth Planet (1966) and The Moonbase (1967). The Doctor, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) join an archaeological expedition on the planet Telos, where they encounter deathtraps, betrayal and a waiting army of frozen Cybermen. Scripted by Kit Pedlar and Gerry Davis, who would later write Doomwatch (1970-72), many of the essentials of the plot anticipate James Cameron’s blockbusting Aliens (1986): the barren planet with abandoned city, the tense wait for a rescue ship, the human traitors, the implacable, more powerful enemy. Unfortunately for a story so centred on logic the characters display a worrying lack of sense; the supposedly highly logical villains assume the Cybermen will just do what they tell them, and the Doctor locks the chief human traitor in a room without first checking it for ray guns! There’s also an astonishingly crass racial stereotype with the one black character, Toberman (Roy Stewart) being a muscle-bound, slave-like henchman. Flaws aside this is a superior Doctor Who adventure and a thoroughly entertaining piece of classic television.

On the DVD: as ever the BBC have done a fabulous job bringing Doctor Who to DVD, with fully restored sound and picture making Tomb Of The Cybermen the best it has ever looked. A short feature on the disc notes there have been over 16,000 repairs to the image, and includes comparison footage with the unrestored prints. The black and white 4:3 picture is as good as low-budget 1960’s television is ever going to look and the mono sound is excellent. The commentary by Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling is a little stilted and takes time to get going–often they just don’t know what to say–but contains some interesting trivia for serious fans. Rather more information comes from the detailed production background subtitles, and from a 28-minute convention style panel filmed in 1992 with Hines, Watling and many of the production crew. Also included is 8 mm footage from the end of the previous story, the long lost Evil of the Daleks (1967), 3 minutes of alternative main title tests, a photo gallery, a short introduction by director Morris Barry and a two-minute clip from Late Night Line-up (1967) with Joan Bakewell profiling the BBC Visual Effects department, including unique footage of the Cybermats in colour.–Gary S Dalkin