Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Know Your Cybermen No.17

Nightmare In Silver (2013).
It wouldn't be the Cybermen without a periodic upgrade. They've been fairly consistent since their first appearance in the new series back in 2006, but now they are much more streamlined, and have a number of special abilities.
Defunct leisure complex Hedgewick's World lies close to the location of a great war that took place between a galactic empire and the Cybermen. The Cybermen are thought to be extinct - the empire destroying a whole region of space hundreds of years ago to get rid of them.
In Mr Webley's waxwork museum there are a number of dead Cybermen. These include both Cybus and "our" universe versions. This implies that the Cybus Cybermen survived for a long time alongside the others. Then again, it might just be that the Cybermen have used any spare parts that came to hand. One of them has been transformed into a (fake) chess playing automaton.

However, there are tiny Cybermites present on the planet - capable of reanimating the shells and of creating new Cybermen. This planet had actually been used by the Cybermen as a repair facility, and there is an army 3 million strong about to be reanimated.
As mentioned above, these are much more streamlined and sculpted than the previous versions, but retain the same face and handles on the helmet. Where the Cybus logo had been on the chest is now a bright blue light. The mouth still lights up blue when they speak. New catchphrase: "Upgrade".
Special attributes include stealth mode and the ability to move at great speed. They can remove body parts, and these have autonomous life of their own. We see a head and a hand removed.
These Cybermen have built-in weapons on their forearms, and can still kill with an electric shock.
The Cybermen need a Cyber-Planner. Time Lords are now compatible for conversion, and the Doctor is chosen after an initial plan to convert Clara's young charges. When partly converted, the Doctor can access the Cyberiad - a network that links all Cybermen.
Once again, they have a susceptibility to gold, though we only see the Doctor use this to foil (no pun intended) "Mr Clever" - the Cyber-Planner part of his mind.
Despite the fact that the troops on this planet are a punishment platoon, and that the Cybermen have not been seen for generations, they have a weapon capable of destroying them. There is also a default order to completely destroy any planet where the Cybermen try to establish themselves.
An EMP pulse applied to the head can also stop them.
One Cyberman gets electrocuted when it walks into water, but it quickly adapts and upgrades to counter this.
The entire Cyberman army can be rendered immobile when the Planner is presented with a chess conundrum.
The entire Cyberarmy is destroyed when the planet is blown up - though we see that at least one Cybermite has survived.

Story Notes:

  • We all thought that writer Neil Gaiman would be a safe pair of hands to revamp the Cybermen, after the success of The Doctor's Wife. How wrong we were. It is a brilliant redesign - although a bit too close to Iron Man - but the actual story is a great let down. Annoying kids, comedy cliche soldiers, and the whole Mr Clever shtick contribute to this story being the second least liked Cyberman story in the DWM 50th Anniversary poll. It was 203rd out of 247. Only Silver Nemesis came lower - but not by much (206th).
  • Gaiman had a hand in the redesign - wanting to take them back to something akin to the early Troughton versions.
  • He had hoped to include a scene of the Cyberiad showing a collection of various earlier versions assembled. However, costumes were not available. A check with fans could have supplied these, as there are many reconstructed costumes out there.
  • The Cyberiad network sadly brings the Cybermen closer to Star Trek's Borg. The ability to adapt to weapons also mirrors the Borg.
  • Note the hand / foot holds in the Cyberman base - the design having been seen in the original Cyber Tombs. The lone Cybermite at the end also references Tomb (where we see a lone Cybermat survive).
  • Using children as potential Cyber-Planners reminds us of the Dalek use of a child in Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • As well as the earlier versions of the Cybermen in the museum, we see a few other familiar creatures - Shansheeth and Uvodni from Sarah Jane Adventures, a Blowfish from Torchwood, and some of the Akhaten aliens. There is also a God Complex ventriloquist dummy.
  • The chess-playing automaton Cyberman had only recently been used by Big Finish (The Silver Turk).
  • This is the third consecutive season where the Cybermen have featured in the penultimate episode.

No comments:

Post a Comment