Doctor Who: Revenge Of The Cybermen/Silver Nemesis Boxset (DVD boxset review)

March 27, 2016 | By | Reply More

Another boxset that I spread out to watch in some semblance of order.

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(region 2 DVD: BBC. 2 DVDs. BBCDVD2854. Price: about £11.60 (UK) if you know where to look)

Doctor Who: Revenge Of The Cybermen by Gerry Davis

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 1 DVD 95 minutes 4 * 24 minute episodes with extras. ASIN: BBCDVD2854(A)

cast: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, William Marlowe, Jeremy Wilkin, Kevin Stoney, David Collings and Michael Wisher

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After resolving issues with ‘The Genesis Of The Daleks’, the Doctor (actor Tom Baker), Sarah Jane Smith (actress Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan arrive back on the space station via the time bracelet and have to wait for the Time Lord’s TARDIS to catch up to take them home to the right time. However, although it’s the same space station that they left, they are at an earlier time and investigating the station they discover a lot of dead bodies around.

Elsewhere on the station, which is now a space beacon, the four survivors of the plague accept their own quarantine from Earth and direct spaceships to another docking station. One of their number, Dr. Kellman (actor Jeremy Wilkin), a surveyor of Voga, a new moon of Jupiter, has his own agenda. While Commander Stevenon (actor Ronald Leigh-Hunt) and Lester (actor William Marlowe) are investigating the intruders on the station, Kellman realising that Warner (actor Alec Wallis) has a cybermat induced viral infection. When the others arrive back, the Doctor persuades them they are a medical team from Earth. Although they can’t save Warner, the Doctor is able to put things together. Kellman’s attempt to kill the Doctor fails but does poison Sarah Jane. The Doctor does a make-shift repair of the damaged transmat and gets his two companions to Voga using it as a means to getting the venom out of Sarah Jane.

On Voga, there is a revolution going on with Vorus (actor David Collings) threatening the rule of Tyrum (actor Kevin Stoney). Vorus’ men have captured Harry and Sarah Jane who have discovered the moon’s main metal is gold. Left alone, chained up, they are able to break their chains and escape, although Tyrum doesn’t seem any better and the battle between the two factions continues.

Back on the space station, Kellman is captured and persuaded by the Doctor to hand over the missing transmat component but can’t stop an approaching spaceship coupling and all three of them are stunned by the Cybermen. Kellman convinces them that he should go down to Voga to prepare for setting the bombs and tell them it’s safe to tmat down. The revived Doctor and two men are armed with bombs that would ignite should they try to open the release lock, which will happen when they are in position, giving them 14 minutes to escape.

What they don’t know is that Kellman is captured by Tyrum’s men and the discovery that he has been working with Vorus to trick the Cybermen and fire a rocket back at them. Tyrum manages to get a truce with Vorus and prep the rocket to be fired. Sarah Jane tells Harry she’s going back to the space station to warn the Doctor.

What she doesn’t know is the Doctor and two men are now on or rather in a tunnel in Voga going down to its core with two Cybermen near the T-Mat with the primer. The Doctor figures that by being surrounded by the gold that their signal might be better masked and that they might be able to get back and tackle the two Cybermen. These in turn are massacring any Vogans that attack them. Meanwhile, Harry and Kellman go down to an auxiliary tunnel to find them but find it blocked but the former releases it with disastrous consequences. From here on, its spoiler and you have to get your own copy.

There are several puzzles for me with this story. The Cybermen now speak with human rather than mechanical voices but as they are supposed to have been decimated in a previous war one could suggest that they haven’t completed their transformation yet. Considering that Voga has so much gold content and they know its danger to the Cybermen, you do have to wonder why they didn’t use it for ammunition. It doesn’t mean they would succeed in shooting them but it would have given them a fighting chance.

The audio commentary on this four episode story is with producer Philip Hinchcliffe and actors Elisabeth Sladen and David Collings with reminisces of being down Wookey Hole, amongst other things. Contrary to Sladen, when I visited the caves, I found the place rather chilly. She lists several mishaps that happened along the way plus one spook script event. Hinchcliffe points out that much of Tom Baker’s first season was prepared by Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks before they left simply because they wanted to ensure that viewers would come back for the Daleks and Cybermen in case the new Doctor didn’t work. He doesn’t think this story as particularly effective use of the Cybermen and would have done something different with them. There is some discussion about the latest Doctor at the time which as they mention Rose probably places the recording of this commentary in its second season.

The extras are actually significant. ‘The Tin Man And The Witch’ is 25 minutes with director Michael Bryant, Philip Hinchcliffe and Barry Letts discussing the production with footage from the time. The ‘Location Report’ is a 5 minute interview with Tom Baker which surely must have been his first interview as the Doctor at the time as he wasn’t sure at the time how becoming instantly recognised would be for him.

‘Cheques, Lies And Video Tape’ is 28 minutes of looking at the early dawn of video copies of early ‘Doctor Who’ stories, grabbed from Australia and the USA, more so because the video recorders and tapes were so expensive. This wasn’t a route I ever took, content with a good memory (most of the time) and the Target books. Seeing how some of the fanatics went getting them and some of the prices should make you grateful for what’s available today in comparison. In many respects if people hadn’t been doing such things, I doubt if the likes of the BBC would have realised that there was a market in their archives. That’s not to say I didn’t buy some on video when I finally could afford a video recorder (for the record, you couldn’t buy a video player anyway) but it seemed like a magical machine to my parents and a simple bribe of recording ‘Emmerdale’ for them when they were out that gained it a permanent place in the living room.

Oddly, the ‘Photo Gallery’ isn’t as long as some but I suspect that might have been because so much of it was filmed at Wookey.

As I rewatched ‘Revenge Of The Cybermen’, I had to occasionally remind myself I was watching the story that followed ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’, even if it had been recorded first and hadn’t seen in many a year. Although I’m not armoured by the Cybermen having human voices, this is still a fun story and I’m appreciating seeing Tom Baker’s performance in an early story.

GF Willmetts

January 2016

 

Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis by Kevin Clarke

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 1 DVD 74 minutes 3 * 25minute episodes with extras. Price: £ (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD2854(b).

cast: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Fiona Walker, Gerald Murphy, Anton Diffring and David Banks

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Set between two time periods, one of which is another one that we never seen this Doctor (actor Sylvester McCoy) do where in 1638, the Time Lord thwarted Lady Peinforte (actress Fiona Walker) from utilising the Nemesis statue she created from the silver coloured living metal validium, created by Rasilon. He got it into orbit from which it periodically returns to pass over the Earth every 25 years bringing a dose of bad luck on its return each time. However, in 1988 it is finally going to crash to Earth and is seen as something that several different factions want to take power of.

Apart from the Doctor and Ace (actress Sophie Aldred), there is De Flores (actor Anton Diffring) determined to start his Fourth Reich and Lady Peinforte and her servant, Richard (actor Gerald Murphy) time travelling from the past. Oh, did I forget the Cybermen? Thing is, the statue only comes to life under critical mass. Lady Peinforte has the arrow and De Flores had the bow until the Doctor stole it from him that will achieve this. Lady Peinforte also knows how to kill the Cybermen as Richard discovers using gold-tipped arrows. De Flores convinces the Cyberleader (actor David Banks) to let him and his surviving soldier to take care of Lady Peinforte and everyone planning to double-cross the other. That is assuming that they can all get to the Windsor Castle tomb.

One puzzle is why did the Doctor and Ace go back to 1638 a second time because it would have effectively have removed the radio interference from Ace’s tape deck. Considering this Doctor’s declared personal pacifist admittance, in the space of three stories he wipes out the Daleks and Cybermen in short order. Saying that, if you go back to my comments in my ‘Remembrance Of The Daleks’, it doesn’t necessarily follows that all the Cybermen were there. Then again, whatever happened to the Nemesis statue? The Doctor told it that he hadn’t finished with it so there must be another adventure for it one day.

The audio commentary is split between script editor Andrew Cartmel, director Chris Clough and actors Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. There are various reveals and information. Leslie French, who played the doomed mathematician in 1638, was one of the potential first Doctors and ‘The Silver Nemesis’ was scheduled to be the 25th anniversary story. Silver y’see. This was also actor Anton Diffring’s final role, ironically still playing a German Nazi. Producer John Nathan-Turner didn’t want them being called Nazis but you could hardly get away from the acknowledgements in their opening scene. The Cybermen were also a late addition to the story to ensure it was properly silver. A rather odd observation about them compared to the Daleks is that the actors within had suits full of sweat and was difficult to see out of, so if you wanted to avoid their guns, I suggest you crouch.

The tourist group consisted of various old and new writers and actors having brief cameos. I agreed with Chris Clough that the American tourist scene was redundant but he points out that it was an order from John Nathan-Turner so they could insert a name, theatre star Dolores Gray, whom I hadn’t heard of then or now.

‘Industrial Action’ is a comprehensive look behind the scenes, starting with scriptwriter Kevin Clarke explaining how he got the job and the Doctor’s deity status, albeit one who is trying to sort things out, and the Nemesis statue being the devil. The warehouse scene is where Canary Warf now is in London. The case of the missing jewellery and jazz player Courtney Pine is also a Who fan. Added to that, the lack of rehearsal time because the previous story had over-ran.

The ‘Deleted And Extended Scenes is some 22 minutes long. The audio commentary points out that a lot of scenes were trimmed down although considering the fullness of them, I hope someone considers doing a special edition one day and puts them back into the story for an extended edition.

The Photo Gallery starts with a series of black and white photos before moving to colour. There’s also a lot more behind the scenes photos showing the Cybermen sans their helmets.

‘Silver Nemesis’ holds up well regardless of the anniversary it was supposed to be supporting, mostly helped along by the acting although it is heavily laden with special effects. Granted they don’t compare to the CGI of today but for its time period when TV sets were so much spoiler, it still does well when enlarged. Make sure you carry some gold in your pockets.

Re-reading this review, something did puzzled me. The stories of the McCoy Doctor era are pretty tightly packed, especially as he only had two companions and as it was this regeneration that visited 1638 in the first place, where does it fit in continuity?

GF Willmetts

March 2016

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 1 DVD 74 minutes 3 * 25minute episodes with extras. Price: £ (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD2854(b).

cast: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Fiona Walker, Gerald Murphy, Anton Diffring and David Banks

Category: Doctor Who, MEDIA, Scifi, TV

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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