5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN
"Well, we can't just sit here glittering, can we?"
From the (very nearly) sublime to the (very nearly) ridiculous. After Genesis of the Daleks, it would have been a long way down anyway, but did we really have to land with quite such a jolt?
Cybermen are only cut-price Daleks at the best of times (let's see: logical, emotionless, ruthless... where have we heard that before?), but Revenge Of The Cybermen's lot are lousy even for a bunch of pepperpot knockoffs. They have a stupid plan - why bother destroying Voga? Even if it is the "planet of gold", it's hardly the only gold in the universe, is it? They carry it out stupidly by actually going down to said planet of gold (fortunately for them, the locals are even thicker, lining up to be slaughtered when they're surrounded by the stuff that makes Cybermen turn up their tin-plated toes). And for emotionless beings, they act stupidly too, with the Cyberleader sneering, fuming and gloating up a storm. Please. Just. Stop.
The Vogans (no, not Vogons) are just as dull - we can't tell you what their bit of the plot's about, really, because we kept nodding off - although the Wookey Hole location scenes do at least add a bit of atmosphere. But why are they wearing the Seal of Rassilon? And another rocket? Good God, couldn't they think of anything else? Dear oh dear.
Revenge Of The Cybermen's a fun adventure for Sarah and Harry, though, although Sarah does seem to be getting screamier by the minute. And while we like her bravery in returning to the beacon to try and save the Doctor, we think she's far too smart to just pointlessly fling herself at the Cybermen, let alone to instantly blurt out key information to them. Harry's quite sweet, too, especially in his "solid gold stethoscope" and "imbecile" scenes.
Tom's great, but then, when isn't he? Although perhaps the most enigmatic of the Doctors, we also see his emotions far more than with the rest of them, but in a very subtle way. He doesn't gush over his companions as the Third Doctor was sometimes guilty of, but his panicky "I know, Harry! I know!" to Harry's warning that Sarah's running out of time tells us all we need to know about the way he feels about them. There's a remarkable moment when he takes his hands away from his eyes and smiles slightly as he sees the transmat beam's worked that says more than a three-page speech about how relieved he is that Sarah's okay. And after the Third Doctor's love affair with Earth, it's refreshing to hear the Fourth Doctor insisting "Oh, please don't call me human, just Doctor will do...".
Even though the story itself is pretty pants, we like the reuse of the station from Ark In Space. If Monster of Peladon was an object lesson in how not to reuse a location, this really shows how it should be done. It's fascinating seeing the station at another period in its history, and makes us ponder the brief evanescence of our lives against the awesome majesty of the eternity of space and all that kind of stuff. Choice.
It's got the Fourth Doctor and Sarah in it, so it's no Web Planet. But please, don't make us watch it again.
MORAL: It might be glittering, but it sure ain't gold.
JOBS FOR THE BOYS
Why don't they just automate the beacon?
INDIANA JONES, EAT YOUR HEART OUT
That's a great scene where the Doctor works his way around the bad guy's cabin without touching the floor.
THIS TRANSMAT RATED PG-13
The transmat separates out human tissue from other stuff, which is how it gets rid of the Cybermat poison. But if this is the case, how come Sarah and Harry don't arrive at the other end with their clothes and their fillings in a neat little pile? And what about the bombs?
SEE NO EVIL
Just after their capture by the Cybermen, the Doctor and the two crewmen are sitting cross-legged in a row on the floor. They're doing the Three Wise Monkeys, the cheeky little devils.
SIMTHING USN'T RIGHT
"I want sim unformation from you, Cyberleader..."
This stuff about the way gold kills Cybermen is a load of twaddle. What's being noncorrosive got to do with clogging up anything? And if their breathing apparatus can be clogged by gold, why can't it be clogged by something else? Water, even? And if it is a clogging thing, surely it's only gold dust, not gold itself, that's a danger to them, otherwise how would it get in? And anyway, what breathing? First we've heard of it.
They might not be able to unbuckle the bombs, but once they get onto Voga, why don't they try to saw through the straps?
ROLL OUT THE BARREL
Oh, God, that horrible scenery on a drum as the beacon approaches Voga.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
When the Doctor goes into the TARDIS, the paper he subsequently brings out can be seen hanging up on the left just inside.