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Keep these Cybermen on ice.

DVD Review: Doctor Who – The Curse of the Cybermen (Special Edition)

For fans of the classic British TV show Doctor Who, “The Tomb of the Cybermen” is regarded as an all-time great. The four-episode serial was initially broadcast from September 2 – 23, 1967. Besides being an excellent story, “The Tomb of the Cybermen” is also the earliest intact serial to feature Patrick Troughton, who was the second actor to portray the Doctor.

The story begins on the planet Telos, which the Doctor has traveled to with young companions Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling) and Jaimie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines). When they arrive, they discover an archaeological expedition in progress, that is attempting to enter a sealed cave-like structure. The group say they are looking for evidence of a race called the Cybermen, who supposedly had died out 500 years previously.

What they find is something else entirely. The funders of the expedition have dastardly intentions regarding the Cybermen. Their secret mission is to bring these super-villains out of their cryogenically frozen state and bring them back to Earth to take control of the planet. Through the Doctor’s unassailable logic, and the help of the young people he has brought along, the evil-doers are eventually overpowered. But it is not an easy task, and there are some very exciting action scenes. Not only that, but the Cybermen and their “pets” the Cybermats are some mean machines and look great.

I find it a little amusing that people consider Doctor Who a “children’s” show. While it is certainly appropriate for the whole family, the stories are just as compelling for adults as well. I thoroughly enjoyed all four episodes, and can imagine just how much of a cliff-hanger each episode was when originally broadcast on the BBC.

As a lifelong resident of the U.S., I was not all that familiar with Doctor Who before, so these DVD releases from the 2 Entertain Company are a great way to get to know this cultural phenomenon. The four episodes add up to 92 minutes, so the serial is basically a self-contained movie. Where these Doctor Who releases really excel though is in the bonus department. Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen (Special Edition) is a two-DVD set, with a full second disc devoted to extras.

All together, the special features add up to an impressive 83 minutes themselves. Highlights include “The Lost Giants,” which is focused on the making of the serial and runs 27 minutes. The 14-minute “Curse of the Cybermen’s Tomb” is quite intriguing as it explores the Egyptian origins of the premise. For this relative “newbie” the 32 minute “Cybermen – Extended Edition” was the most valuable of the various extras. The piece traces the history of the Cybermen from their 1966 debut, all the way up to the new series. Those features comprise the main body of the second DVD, and are fleshed out with some additional one- to seven-minute segments such as “Title Sequence Tests” and a photo gallery.

Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen (Special Edition) is a great set with a lot of background information as well as a fine story. The four episodes which comprise the serial itself are presented in all of their original black and white glory.

About Greg Barbrick

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