BBC’s Doctor Who – “The Tomb of the Cybermen” gets the special edition treatment in its release this week. The earliest complete Second Doctor serial, “The Tomb of the Cybermen” finds the Doctor (Patrick Troughton, The Omen, Knights of God), Jamie (Frazer Hines, Emmerdale), and Victoria (Deborah Watling, Invisible Man, Take Me High) joining an expedition into a mountain. The rock supposedly hides the remains of the extinct Cybermen, who mysteriously disappeared centuries ago, but soon the adventurers learn that the antagonistic robots may not be as dead as first thought.
The Cyberman are a great recurring Doctor Who foe who continue up into the present series. Revealed to be invented on a twin planet of Earth, unlike the Earth-made parallel version Cybermen of the modern era, they are a machine that originally was organic. These cyborgs want nothing more than to survive, which they often do by trying to conquer. This September 1967 serial, as indicated by the title, features this very popular race.
A man named Klieg (George Pastell, From Russia With Love, The Mummy) is a member of a group who values logic and intelligence above everything else. Thinking he is like the Cybermen, and they will serve him in exchange for being woken up, he frees them. This is a mistake, as the cyborgs turn on him quickly. Even after the Cybermen leader is destroyed, the robots still will not listen to Klieg.
Is the mistake of logic Klieg’s or the Cybermen’s? Klieg expects obedience, but isn’t that because he expects gratitude, an emotion? Of course the Cybermen do not possess such reasoning. Klieg’s logic is faulty. Perhaps he is too smart for his own good, overlooking something that should be common sense. In the end, his great intelligence leads to his undoing.
It can be argued that the Doctor is very smart, too, like Klieg. However, the Doctor knows when to keep his “eyes open and his mouth shut,” as he tells the disgruntled logistician, and that serves him far better than the alternative.
Of course, Klieg cannot know that the Cybermen already have a leader and a plan while sleeping in their “tomb.” They are not extinct, but merely waiting. It’s a clever idea, really, to wait until no one is expecting a threat from them, then, taking their ‘savior’s’ ship, stage an invasion. In this way, by following the ship back to its origin, they can pull a surprise attack on a planet that they know is advanced enough to benefit them. And to robots, what’s a few hundred years sleep?
A fun continuity note, the Doctor admits to being about 450 years old in “The Tomb of the Cybermen.” He also says he can remember his family, when he really wants to. It’s a rare glimpse into the mysterious, complicated being at the center of this series.
Not only is “The Tomb of the Cybermen” a great story, but this two-disc DVD set has plenty to merit a purchase. For those who bought the original release a decade ago, this one is digitally remastered, and it does look good, even with a 4:3 black and white picture with mono sound. It appears as crisp and clean as can be expected, given its age. Add to that the wealth of new bonus features, and even those who shelled out money before should probably purchase it again.
Among the new extras is a fresh audio commentary track featuring Hines, Watling, and script editor Victor Pemberton. Also included is the original commentary that Watling and Hines did for the earlier DVD release, as well as a three-minute introduction by director Morris Barry.
A number of featurettes expound upon the story in this serial. “The Lost Giants” is a 27-minute look at the making of “The Tomb of the Cybermen,” with cast and crew participation. Fourteen minutes, titled “The Curse of the Cybermen’s Tomb,” examines the connections of this serial with ancient Egypt. Many elements of the tomb in these episodes are drawn from human history, though obviously adapted with a sci-fi spin. Given the human connection of the race’s origin, this seems appropriate. “Cybermen – Extended Edition” gives a pretty thorough history of the cyborgs in half an hour, beginning with their introduction in 1966, and continuing into the rebooted series.
Seven minutes are given to the VidFIRE process, which is how the quality of this release is achieved. There is also a three-minute interview from special effects guru Jack Kine, title sequence tests, a photo gallery, the expected PDF materials, and a recreation of the battle from “The Evil of the Daleks.” There is a lot here, so much so that it will take longer to get through the extras than it takes to watch the episodes themselves.
The BBC has really done a top notch job, updating this once-lost tale into a fully-fleshed out, extra-laden DVD set. Doctor Who – “The Tomb of the Cybermen” Special Edition is on sale now.