Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen (part one)

We had the animated “Power of the Daleks” as an appetizer, and tonight we introduced our son to proper, live-action Doctor Who with the first story of season five. We’re not quite done with animated fill-ins – there are four more cartoon episodes to come – and there’s a one-off telesnap reconstruction ahead of us as well, but it looks like this first episode went over very well.

Our son’s favorite moment in the episode was when a member of the archaeological dig electrocutes himself grabbing the doors to the Cybermen’s tomb. That’s a bit grisly. You’d like to think he was most taken with the Doctor being witty or funny, or the creepy exploration of the rooms on the entrance level of the entombed “city” – it’s really more of a “complex,” isn’t it? – but no, he went for the shocking death. Hmmm.

So, a few changes to note since “Power.” The companions in season five are Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield, played by Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling. The story is by Gerry Davis, who had been script editor for most of seasons three and four, and Kit Pedler, a scientist, sci-fi author, and futurist. This was first shown in September 1967. Two and a half years later, Davis and Pedler would devise and write many episodes of a really interesting SF series called Doomwatch.

Season five has some interesting behind-the-scenes flux across its seven serials. Peter Bryant produced this serial, Innes Lloyd (who had produced all of the previous season) the next three, and Bryant the final three. Bryant acted as script editor for Lloyd’s three serials, so he was deeply involved in all seven stories.

“The Tomb of the Cybermen” was one of the many Doctor Who serials destroyed by the BBC. A complete set of films was returned from Hong Kong in 1991 and released on VHS a few months later. I bought the first edition DVD shortly after it was released in 2002. It got a major quality restoration for a special edition in 2012. I’m actually kind of kicking myself for not picking up that version before sitting down to watch it again. Well, maybe I’ll find an inexpensive copy one day and upgrade.

More tomorrow, including that cliffhanger.

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