Written by: Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
Directed by: Morris Barry
Starring: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, and Deborah Watling
- Commentary by Hines and Watling
- Tombwatch documentary
- Introduction by director Barry
- Pop-up production notes
- Unused title sequence and 8mm cine footage
- Behind-the-scenes at BBC Visual Effects
- Photo gallery
- Who’s Who cast information
Released by: BBC Video
Rating: NR, suitable for 12+
My Advice: Get it if you’re a true Who fan, rent it otherwise
[ad#longpost]Believed lost in the mist of TV history, The Tomb of the Cybermen was missing for 25 years. Prints turned up in Hong Kong, of all places, in 1992, and work began restoring the damaged prints. Here, presented for mass consumption for the first time since its original airdate (September of 1967, mind you), is the first complete story involving the Cybermen, a race of androids that would appear more than once in the Doctor Who universe over the course of the show’s marathon run on the Beeb.
When the Doctor and his friends materialize on Telos, they almost immediately cross paths with a secret expedition set on finding the last remains of the Cybermen. After losing one of their number to a Cyberman trap at the front doors of the complex, the Doctor befriends the expedition by displaying his knowledge of the Cybermen and their tricks, disarming the trap and gaining them entrance to the complex.
Once inside, the too-inquisitive members of the expedition accidentally activate the slumbering Cybermen inside, and while treachery and in-fighting threaten the stability of the expedition, the awakening androids threaten their very lives. Fearing the return of these expansionist machines, the Doctor and his friends must find a way to seal the complex again to prevent the robots from resuming their conquest and spree of murder.
There are some very familiar elements to this story to fans of other science fiction movies and TV of late. The Cybermen are very like Star Trek‘s Borg, even going so far as to utter on more than one occasion that ‘resistance is useless’. Makes one wonder if Rick Berman was the one that hid the prints in Hong Kong in the first place, eh? That aside, this is a solid story, if a bit simplistic. The tension between various members of the expedition is a bit ham-fisted, establishing what was to be a long-running tradition of mediocre (or downright bad) supporting acting from the various bit players of the Who series.
The DVD, like all the Doctor Who discs produced to date, is loaded with extra features. The commentary on this one isn’t as strong as some of the others, but it’s still interesting to hear from the Doctor’s companions. The Tombwatch documentary covers a panel discussion with various cast and crew prior to the story’s first screening after its recovery and restoration. Lots of interesting trivia to be had in the discussion.
For Who fans, this “lost episode” is a mandatory acquisition. It’s also one of the earliest story arcs so far released on video, and has Patrick Troughton at his finest as the Doctor. If you’re not a fanatic of the series, the story’s still worth checking out, but you’ll probably want to try before you buy.