Cybermen in London: The Invasion

Following on the heels of the wildly inventive “The Mind Robber,” “The Invasion” is a more typical Doctor Who story.  It is the fifth appearance of the Cybermen on the show and shares some similarities with their previous stories.  Despite its familiar feel to the modern viewer, however, it was in many ways a departure from the stories up to this point.  It features the first appearance of U.N.I.T. headed by Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, who would become an integral part of the show the next season.  It builds on what was started in “The Web of Fear” and becomes the first real attempt at what would become the format for much of the Pertwee era.  While I can’t say that they nailed the format out of the gate, the episode is still enjoyable.

Cybermen St. Paul's

The iconic image of the Cybermen

Much of what works in this story is familiar.  Several ideas are “borrowed” from the best Cyberman story, “The Tomb of the Cybermen.” I am a fan of the 60’s Cybermen, but I feel that they work best as an antagonist when the story uses them sparingly.  In this era in particular, they are often difficult to understand, so the less dialogue they have, the better. For this to work, the story needs another antagonist who is working with the Cybermen.  Just as “Tomb of the Cybermen” had Eric Klieg, “The Invasion” has Tobias Vaughn.

Much like Klieg, who was trying to awaken the Cybermen to help his Brotherhood of Logicians seize power, Tobias Vaughn wants to use the Cybermen for his own purposes: world domination.  Similarly, Vaughn both Vaughn and Klieg believed that they could manipulate and use the Cybermen.

Vaughn is already a successful man; he is the head of International Electromatics, a company that has a monopoly on the electronics business. What he wants, though, is to rule the world, and he thinks the Cybermen are the tools he needs to do so. The megalomaniacal Vaughn is reminiscent of the James Bond villains of the time; it might have been interesting to see him facing off against the James Bond of Doctors, the third Doctor.  Still, he’s a fun villain to have, regardless of which Doctor he encounters.

Vaughn colludes with the Cybermen, using his electronics to help them invade the earth. Of course, since Vaughn is a power-hungry egomaniac, he has no plans to obey the Cybermen once they successfully invade. Therefore, he is simultaneously kidnapping scientists and forcing them to come up with a way for him to subjugate or destroy the Cybermen.

His role throughout most of the story is to bark orders at the Cyber Controller and his evil henchman, Packer (because every megalomaniacal villain needs a henchman he can order about and yell at when things go wrong).  Rather than a flamboyant James Bond henchman, Packer is pretty much your basic, sensibly attired henchman, trying his best to satisfy Vaughn.   Vaughn is the star of the show here, and Kevin Stoney knows that.  He embraces the over-the-top villain and gives a memorable performance, if not a nuanced one.  Vaughn always thinks that he is the smartest man in the room and expects everyone to obey his orders.  Therefore, Vaughn basically displays two emotions throughout the story: smug condescension and rage.  Despite this, he remains one of the more unforgettable human antagonists the Doctor has ever faced.

Vaughn and Packer

Vaughn in one of his condescending moments, with Packer.

The other notable new characters in this story are Professor Watkins and his niece, Isobel.  They are clearly fulfilling the role of Professor Travers and his daughter Ann from “The Web of Fear” (they are even living in the same house).  Professor Watkins is just there to develop his machine, and is less memorable than Jack Watlings’ Professor Travers.  Isobel receives more development and drives the story a bit more.  Isobel is very much the image of the perfect 60’s girl: former model, fashion conscious, fun-loving, and slightly feminist.  I say slightly because she speaks about feminism, but it seems to be more lip service than actual belief.  True, she takes the Brigadier to task for being anti-feminist when he tells her that his men will go take the photo that she wants to take, but her going down to the sewers to get pictures feels more like a little girl in a fit of pique then a woman doing her job.  Unlike Ann Travers, who actually was the equal to the men in terms of scientific knowledge, Isobel feels more frivolous. However, this frivolousness is key to understanding her real narrative purpose, which emerges in her interactions with Zoe (which I’ll get to in a moment).

The story is a good showcase for the new characters introduced.  U.N.I.T. has plenty of screen-time and, indeed, controls most of the action.  Even at this early stage, the personality of the Brigadier comes through; he’s an excellent leader who remains practical and unflappable, even in extraordinary circumstances. Even before the Doctor arrives, U.N.I.T. has targeted the right person and is on their way to uncovering the truth.

The problem with this story is that this new format does not fit the regulars particularly well.  Part of this is because both Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines got their vacations during this story, so both Zoe and Jamie disappear for an episode.  In particular, Jamie has little to do but go along into some dangerous situations.  Even after just watching it, I’m hard pressed to say exactly what Jamie did.

Zoe, however, fares better.  The first time I saw this story, I wondered why she was so silly in the beginning: posing for pictures, running around in that feather boa…  Once I had seen “The Wheel in Space” though, her behavior here made sense.  Zoe’s journey is to learn how to feel things and have fun; she wants to be more than just a human computer.  Perhaps because Derrick Sherwin was the script editor, he was the only writer to actually make use of that journey in a story.  Isobel is probably the first “regular” girl with whom Zoe has ever spent time. Therefore, it makes sense that she would enjoy some time to be silly.  Additionally, she is spending most of her time with two men, so it might be nice for her to have a bit of “girl time.”    

Zoe and Isobel

Zoe and Isobel laugh maniacally after Zoe destroys the computer

Zoe’s portrayal is not all silliness, however.  She also shows off her incredible logical, mathematical brain.  She is able to outsmart a computer, and her biggest moment comes at the end of episode 7.  When the roomful of men at the military base are not sure how to take out all the Cybermen’s transport ships, Zoe steps up.  To the Brigadier’s credit, he tells the men to listen to this young girl.  She does the complex calculations in her head in minutes and figures out how to launch the missiles so that they will take out all of the ships.

While Zoe manages to find a role in this story, the Doctor does not fit comfortably into this story.  As you will know if you’ve read anything else I’ve written about the Troughton era, I love Patrick Troughton; I think he manages to make just about any moment that he is on the screen entertaining, which is still true here.  He plays well off Vaughn, not letting Kevin Stoney’s scenery chewing upstage him.  Indeed, it is in these moments that the Doctor really shines because it is Troughton’s Doctor in his traditional role: the underestimated opponent to Vaughn’s overconfident villain.

He is less comfortable in his role with U.N.I.T.  It feels a bit strange to see the Second Doctor in charge of a military force.  It’s also unusual to have someone in the Brigadier who, having encountered him before, takes him seriously right from the start.  While this is exactly the relationship Pertwee’s Doctor would have with U.N.I.T., it’s a bit more of an uneasy fit on Troughton’s Doctor.  His clowning is not well suited to having a military force behind it. It requires a much more serious take on the material, which again is more in line with Pertwee’s take on the Doctor rather than Troughton’s.  Troughton does find some ways to inject humor into the proceedings, such as his rather comical fleeing from the firing Cybermen in the final episode, followed by his “reluctant” posing for Isobel’s photos.  Still, the story is a bit short on comedy, which is where Troughton really shines.

The fact that this story was particularly ill suited to the second Doctor’s era really emerges in the final episode.  The story sidelines the Doctor and his companions as U.N.I.T. takes over.  It feels as if the Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie could have gotten into their invisible TARDIS at the end of episode 7 and things would have played out in almost exactly the same way.

The Doctor and Vaughn

The Doctor and Vaughn face off

Despite my feeling that “The Invasion” is better suited to the Pertwee era than the Troughton, it is still enjoyable. I know Derrick Sherwin padded the story to stretch it out, yet it never drags. At the point of its recording, you could count the number of episodes set in the modern day on one hand. The Doctor spent most of this time abroad in either space or time. An episode set in then contemporary London was unusual; it is fun to see the Doctor and his companions in recognizable surroundings (U.N.I.T. dating controversy aside). It proves that an earthbound Doctor in the modern age could still be interesting to watch.  And, who knows, maybe this episode sets up the Pertwee era in ways we haven’t yet discovered.  Could Isobel have slipped the Doctor some more fashionable clothes?  Her fashion sense seems like it would compliment that of a certain dandy…

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Thoughts on The Wheel in Space

“The Wheel in Space” is a decent episode; it’s not great, but it’s not terrible either.  There’s quite a few things wrong with it, but it does a few things perfectly.   It was written by David Whitaker, who wrote some great episodes for both Hartnell and Troughton (and one for Pertwee, but we’re not there yet).  This, however, is Whitaker’s only story featuring the Cybermen (he adapted it from a story by their creator, Kit Pedler), and it’s not one of his best efforts.  Considering that Whitaker wrote two of my favorite Troughton stories, “The Power of the Daleks” and “The Enemy of the World” perhaps I was hoping for too much.

Zoe is hard at work as some Cybermen dance behind her...okay, that's really their menacing pose.

Zoe is hard at work as some Cybermen dance behind her…well, at least that’s what it looks like to me..

After the Doctor and Jamie say goodbye to Victoria, the TARDIS materializes on a rocket drifting through space.  The TARDIS’s fluid link is malfunctioning, and vaporizing mercury forces them to leave the TARDIS; the Doctor grabs a small rod, the vector generator, on his way out.  Much like in “The Daleks” the TARDIS need mercury before she can continue on her way.

Jamie and the Doctor carry the entire first episode, as it is just them and a non-speaking robot.  They do not interact with the crew of the wheel until they are rescued from the rocket in the second episode.  Well, the Doctor doesn’t interact with them in episode 2, since Patrick Troughton was on vacation, but Jamie does.  The commander of the wheel is Jarvis, a man who seems incredibly ill-suited to running a space station.  He can’t accept that there are unknown elements to life, things that might require him to go beyond his training.  He is exactly the wrong kind of man to run a space station, especially one that is part of an elaborate plan by the Cybermen to take over the earth and exploit its mineral wealth.  One of the most interesting parts of the story was watching how he slipped further and further into denial as the evidence for a Cyberman attack mounted.  He even seized on the idea of Jamie and the Doctor being saboteurs/terrorists early in the story since that was the only possibility he could understand; I wished more had been made of the storyline of Jamie essentially becoming a saboteur to stop the wheel crew from destroying the TARDIS.  Of course the story had to move on to focus on the Cybermen and their evil plot…

The story starts out well.  I enjoy the chemistry between the Doctor and Jamie, so I didn’t mind the first episode containing just the two of them, and it ends with a nice cliffhanger as the wheel crew are about to blow up the rocket.  The rest of the story basically held my interest, but it did drag on a bit too long for me; there was a lot of padding in the story that slowed it down.

The main reason that I felt the story was slow-moving was that I didn’t really care about the people on the wheel.  It felt like each crew member was assigned a trait or two and that was it.  Basically, until I learned their names this is how I thought of them: there was condescending, chauvinistic guy (Leo), alert but ignored Russian woman (Tanya), woman who clearly should be in charge of the wheel (Gemma), plant-loving guy (Bill), and feisty Irish guy (Flannigan).  Their characters weren’t developed beyond that.  I know this is true of other stories as well, but a good episode at least introduces some interesting dynamics or conflicts between the supporting cast.  Except for Jarvis’ mental collapse, there wasn’t much going on with the crew besides simply doing their jobs.  This was disappointing since Whitaker had done a great job at keeping the supporting cast interesting in stories like “The Crusades,” “The Power [and ‘The Evil’] of the Daleks,” and “The Enemy of the World.”

My biggest problem with an individual chaacter was with the character of Leo.  He was so chauvinistic and condescending that I kept hoping he would get killed by the Cybermen.  When the women were against blowing up the rocket FOR NO GOOD REASON, without making sure there was no one on board, he basically said they were being a stick-in-the-mud.  When Tanya cautioned him, he said, “if you get scared, I’ll let you hold my hand.”  How condescending is that?  And did his attitude towards them change when they were proved right time and time again? No.  I know “The Wheel in Space” was written in the 1960’s, but come on.

Leo probably making some condescending, sexist comment to Tanya.

Leo probably making some condescending, sexist comment to Tanya.

Of course Leo was not the only character having problems with women in this episode.  Jamie begins the story missing Victoria and spends the rest of it sparring with Zoe.  I did like the touch of having Jamie mention Victoria several times in the first episode, since they were very close.  He and Zoe, however, get off on the wrong foot when Zoe basically says that he is wearing female clothing.  He then threatens to spank her (really, Jamie, you should know better by now) and they spend the rest of the story trying to one-up the other.

Of course, Zoe’s introduction as a companion is what makes this episode notable and is the best thing about it.  I have to admit that watching this episode gave me a great deal more insight into and appreciation of Zoe’s character.  It was easy to see why she ended up trying to sneak aboard the Doctor’s TARDIS.  She is a “librarian” on the wheel.  She is a parapsychologist and essentially seems to be used as a walking computer; she provides information and does difficult calculations in her head.  She never seems to interact with the others in a human way.  Leo even calls her a robot and says she’s “all brain and no heart.”  After getting into a debate with the Doctor about pure logic being the best solution for everything (the Doctor argues for common sense and says, “logic merely enables one to be wrong with authority”), she begins to question her role on the wheel.  Her training has tried to eliminate emotional reactions, but Zoe realizes that she wants to experience emotions as well.  All this provides her with a clear motivation for wanting new experiences with the Doctor and Jamie.

What I haven’t spent much time on is the actual plot.  As usual, the plan of the Cybermen is rather convoluted.  Their speech was also still a bit difficult to understand; there were a few times I had to play a scene multiple times and I’m still not sure I understood everything that the cybermen said.

As far as I could tell, their plan was to use the rocket to get near the wheel and send the cybermats aboard (I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure how they got on the ship, but I’m not going to dwell on that).  The cybermats would then corrode the Bernalium needed to run the x-ray laser.  The cybermen had also managed to make a star go nova, ensuring that the wheel crew would need to use the laser to protect themselves from meteors; therefore, they would have to send crew members to the rocket to look for extra Bernalium.  This allowed the cybermen to control the mind of the men and sneak aboard in the box containing the Bernalium.  Once they were on board, they disabled the transmitting portion of the radio and let the crew protect the wheel from the meteors using the laser. After this they were going to kill the crew and use the radio signal transmitted to the wheel from earth to enter earth’s atmosphere and invade the planet.

It was nice of the Cybermen to politely wait for an invitation to enter the room and kill the Doctor.

It was nice of the Cybermen to politely wait for an invitation to enter the room and kill the Doctor.

Overall, however, “The Wheel in Space” is not a bad episode.  As I mentioned, it does a good job of introducing the viewer to Zoe, which is its main purpose.  My main complaint would be that Troughton’s Doctor just felt a bit off for me in this one.   Perhaps if I could actually see more of the episodes I would feel differently, but he just felt rather subdued in this one.  At times, I saw shades of the first Doctor in him; he seemed to spend most of the episode sitting on the sidelines, out of the main action.  I also wasn’t thrilled with how callously he seemed to send Jamie out into space to return to the rocket.  For all the people complaining about Capaldi’s Doctor’s unfeeling nature, all the Doctors have always been willing to make sacrifices.  The Doctor here states that it is worth risking the lives of Jamie and Zoe to save the lives of many.  In this case, unfortunately, the scene plays as if the Doctor is avoiding going himself which doesn’t match with the second Doctor’s personality.  The story felt a bit like it was leftover from Hartnell’s time on the show, which doesn’t make it a bad episode, just a poor fit for the Troughton era.

Impressions of Dark Water

After much deliberation (and delay), I finally decided to write about each episode of the finale separately because I have a very different opinion of each half.  “Dark Water,” the first part of the Steven Moffat penned finale, was a promising beginning.  It did exactly what a finale should do: leave you eagerly awaiting the second part.  It sets up a trajectory for each of the four major characters (Danny, Clara, the Doctor, and Missy) that left me wanting to see how everything would be resolved.

It is the pre-credits death of Danny Pink that sets everything in motion.  He becomes so distracted by Clara’s declaration that the words “I love you” will never be said by her to anyone else, that he steps into the road without looking and gets hit by a speeding car.  While I was never a big fan of the character, I didn’t wish him dead.  However, due to my lack of connection for the character, I found his death surprising, maybe even shocking, but it didn’t make me feel terribly sad.  I felt badly for Clara, but I’ll get into that in a moment.

Danny, moments before his untimely demise.

Danny, moments before his untimely demise.

For the rest of the episode, we see Danny’s progress through the Nethersphere, as Seb takes him through the process of getting settled.  I can say that this was the episode in which I liked Danny Pink the best.  I guess it’s largely the way he relates to Clara that makes me dislike the character.  I felt for him in his confusion, and the rush of emotions that he felt upon being confronted with the boy for whose death he was responsible.  I was, however, a bit disappointed at the big revelation (finally!) of Danny’s trauma.  While it is something for which I could see him having to bear guilt, I didn’t feel that it really explained his dislike for the Doctor (and officers in general).  We leave him on the cusp of deleting his personality (to get rid of those troublesome emotions).

It was Clara’s storyline, however, that really made this episode work for me.  This episode contains a powerhouse performance by Jenna Coleman.  She conveyed Clara’s grief at the loss of Danny perfectly (I felt more for her loss than I did for Danny himself).  The scene in which she is throwing the TARDIS keys into the volcano is one of the most memorable of the season.  Aside from it being extremely well-written, the anger and despair that she clearly feels perfectly displays Clara’s grief, as the control freak tries to find a way to take back control of the situation and find a way to save Danny.

Clara, trying desperately to find a way to bring Danny back.

Clara, trying desperately to find a way to bring Danny back.

It is Clara’s desire to see Danny again that brings her and the Doctor to the 3W tombs.  In their interactions with both Missy (when they think she is a welcome droid) and Dr. Chang, you can see a Clara who is still grieving, but starting to act a bit more like herself.  The way that she alternately leans on the Doctor for support and gets upset when he takes too much control (“Speak for me again, I’ll detach something from you.”) was true to the character.  She also gradually realizes that the Doctor is right, and she needs to be clever and on her guard.  Both she and the Doctor are so distracted that they don’t notice the danger that surrounds them until it is upon them.

I can’t really discuss Clara without talking about the Doctor, since their story lines are completely intertwined  for most of the episode.  I feel that this episode really showed the fact that this Doctor isn’t as detached as he likes to pretend.  I felt the Doctor’s response to Clara’s plan to throw all the TARDIS keys in to the volcano sums him up well, “Why? Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?”  This Doctor actually cares so much about his companion that nothing she could do would ever make him care less for her.  He just isn’t going to show that he cares in a traditional, more affectionate way.

There were many other nice touches that further showed the Doctor’s concern, such as when he takes Clara’s hand after saying there would be something wrong with her if she felt okay.  However,  Peter Capaldi does a great job of conveying the Doctor’s feelings without making him seem as if he is acting out of character.  As I stated before, this Doctor doesn’t go all gooey and emotional just because he cares about Clara.  He approaches the problem in a very logical way; he proposes an investigation to see if their really is an afterlife.  He also doesn’t like Clara to get too emotional, but not only because displays of emotion can make him uncomfortable.  He knows that he needs Clara sharp, since they are journeying into the unknown.  He has no patience for weepiness; it will only make things more dangerous.

Only in the final section of the story does the Doctor’s story line separate from Clara’s, and that is in his interactions with Missy.  His reactions to her during her charade as the welcome droid provided some much-needed humor to the episode.  His reaction to both her kiss and her placing his hand on her chest displayed Capaldi’s great comedic talents, something that he hasn’t always been able to demonstrate this season.

The Doctor backpedals from Missy's aggressive kiss.

The Doctor backpedals from Missy’s aggressive kiss.

Which, of course, leads me to the final major character, that of Missy.  While I can’t say her reveal as the Master was a huge surprise, I was pleasantly surprised to learn how much I enjoyed her character, now that we saw more than just a fleeting glimpse of her.  Previously, I had seen her as a bit too similar to Madam Kovarian.  However, this episode allowed her to finally develop some really personality.  I loved the way that her relationship with the Doctor just oozed familiarity.  Once she revealed her true identity, her decision to “get physical” with the Doctor earlier made perfect sense; she knew that he would be caught completely off guard, enabling her to put her plan in motion without detection from him (and we know the Doctor and the Master always had a bit of a love/hate relationship, so she probably couldn’t resist the opportunity).  She gave him the chance to notice her two hearts, but was probably banking on the fact that he would be so thrown by her placing his hand on her breast that he wouldn’t notice.

Her plan, or as much as we learn of it in this episode, is the typical convoluted plan of the Master.  She is once again working with another alien race, in this case the Cybermen.  Although it is not clear, Missy either led Dr. Skarosa to believe that the dead were speaking through television static (leading to Dr. Skarosa hearing the 3 words for which 3W is names, “Don’t cremate me”) or Missy took advantage of Dr. Skarosa’s preexisting belief, but either way, she has used the idea that the dead are still connected to their bodies to get people to have their bodies in the 3W tanks of dark water (water which only shows organic material, allowing other structures to remain hidden).

In reality, she has been using the bodies, and the cover of the dark water, to build herself an army of Cybermen.  She has been uploading their minds to a bit of Galifreyan technology: “Upload the mind, upgrade the body.”  I also wondered if the connection between mind and body was how she managed to convince the people of the Nethersphere to “disconnect” themselves.  Was it just emotional pain that Seb used to convince them, like he did on Danny, or would it help protect them for the physical pain of what their body was going through as well?

Michelle Gomez’s Missy seems just crazy enough to have hatched a complicated plan like this, and her Master is wonderfully imbalanced.  The ending scene in which she finally reveals her identity to the Doctor is perfectly played.  Her delight in revealing her true identity and the Doctor’s horror upon realizing that his old adversary has returned, while Cybermen march out of St. Paul’s Cathedral, was a perfect cliffhanger.

The Doctor and the Master: together again.

The Doctor and the Master: together again.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode.  I have some issues with the Cybermen, which I’ll come to in part two of the finale, but they were suitably creepy and atmospheric.  The way that they would turn their heads when the Doctor and Clara passed by was a nice, unsettling touch.  I’ll also admit that I had completely forgotten that the Cybermen were in the finale (I know, it’s hard to believe that I could’ve been that forgetful), so the reveal that the skeletons were, in fact, cybermen with the metallic covering hidden by the dark water did pack a bit of a punch for me.  I know I should have put it all together much sooner, but I just didn’t.  So score one for a bad memory; if only I could forget a few things about “A Death in Heaven”…

The Tomb of the Cybermen

“The Tomb of the Cybermen” was the first Troughton episode that I ever saw.  I had no idea about its history as the last lost Doctor Who story found in its entirety (until the more recent discovery of “The Enemy of the World,” that is), but I loved it instantly.  I loved Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Victoria.  But what surprised me the most was the fact that I loved the Cybermen.  I had never been terribly impressed with the Cybermen in their later adventures; they seemed to me like a less effective variation of a Dalek.  This story, however, showed me what had made the Cybermen into such popular villains and how effective they could be when used well.

The Cybermen emerge from their "tombs."

The Cybermen emerge from their “tombs.”

Basically, the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria land on the planet Telos, just as an archeological expedition is uncovering the tomb of the Cybermen (who have supposedly been dead for the past 500 years).  The expedition is ostensibly being lead by Professor Parry, but the backers of the expedition, Kaftan and Kleig, seem to really be pulling the strings.  The Doctor joins the expedition, and helps the group make their way into the tombs.

Once inside, however, it becomes apparent that these Cybermen are far from dead, and Klieg and Kaftan’s plan is revealed.  Klieg is a member of the Brotherhood of Logicians and believes that he can make a deal with the Cybermen.  He thinks that they will appreciate his logic and agree to lend their strength to help the brotherhood take over the world, and from there, the universe.  Of course, his plans don’t work out quite the way he hoped they would…

I know the story doesn’t completely make sense, but the story is enjoyable anyway.  Basically, the Cybermen’s plan boils down to this: they decided to lay dormant in booby-trapped “tombs,” until someone is clever enough to survive all of the traps and awaken them from their dormancy.  It’s a convoluted way to find intelligent people that they can then convert into Cybermen, but I really don’t care.  I get invested in the story and, since I’m engaged, I don’t spend my time nitpicking every aspect of the story, as I do when the story doesn’t completely hold my interest.  The plot is continually moving forward and the entire story is steeped in a great atmosphere.

Unfortunately, in “The Tomb of the Cybermen” the racism that was still fairly explicit in the 1960’s does rear its ugly head.  For the second story in a row, we have a mute or almost mute black man (in the original story Toberman was to have a hearing aid to foreshadow his transformation by the Cybermen) with almost superhuman strength.  Poor Toberman is not given much intelligence, he is just there to follow Kaftan’s orders and do all of the heavy lifting.  Additionally, it is typical of the era that the villains are given foreign (i.e. non- British) accents.  Quite often in this period of the show the human adversary of the Doctor is a foreigner which is another problematic aspect.  Still, I feel that is possible to enjoy the story.  Obviously, the viewer needs to remember the time period in which the story was created, even though this does not excuse the racism.  I also feel that the character of Toberman is ultimately responsible for stopping the Cybermen, which helps to redeem the story. He is wiling to sacrifice his own life to stop the Cybermen from leaving the tomb, something that no other character is willing to do.

Besides the eerie atmosphere and the entertaining story, there are also a lot of nice comedic moments.  An example is the moment when the group is entering the tomb and the Doctor and Jamie enter holding hands, each thinking that he is really holding Victoria’s hand.  This is a moment that Frazer Hines and Patrick Troughton improvised on the set (which is why they are holding their hands so high; they didn’t know where the bottom of the frame was), but it is a great comedic beat at that moment in the story.

The Doctor, Kaftan, and Toberman outside of the tomb.

The Doctor, Kaftan, and Toberman outside of the tomb.

This story also makes excellent use of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor.  He gets to display his trademark mixture of curiosity, impulsiveness, and intelligence. He also relies on his favorite trick: getting people to underestimate him. It is thanks to the Doctor that the expedition is able to enter the tombs at all.  He is responsible for de-electrifying the doors, and he figures out the logic sequence that opens the hatch to the tomb (although he lets Klieg think that he figured it out). The Doctor’s motivations for helping aren’t completely clear, since without his help, Klieg would not have reached the Cybermen, but I believe that the Doctor helps out of his desire to know if the Cybermen still pose a threat and to make sure that he is there to stop any trouble that might arise.

There is also a wonderful moment, one of my favorites in all Doctor Who, that occurs between the Doctor and Victoria.  The Doctor and Victoria share a quiet moment in which they discuss the loss of her father (who sacrificed himself for the Doctor in the previous story), and the Doctor tries to comfort her.  He tells her that he knows from experience that it won’t hurt so much in the future to think of her father.  He mentions that he can now only see his own family when he wants to see them; they are not always in front of his eyes.  It’s the first time that the Doctor seems to acknowledge that he has suffered a loss, and it’s something that I can’t picture his predecessor (or his successor for that matter) taking the time to do.  It’s a touching moment that the two characters share, and you can see it here:

Speaking of Victoria, she seems to adapt to her new role quite well.  She has great chemistry with her new traveling companions, and she is more than a damsel in distress in this story.  Yes, she still screams several times and she gets drugged by Kaftan and held as a hostage by Klieg, but she also is very brave and clever in this story.  She manages to fool Kaftan, help the Doctor break free of a Cyberman, and hold her own with the rather condescending pilot.  At one point, he makes a crack about Victoria being a girl, not a woman, but she gets back on equal footing when she points out  his cowardice later in the story.  She also, quite surprisingly, is a crack shot; it only takes her one shot to destroy the advancing Cybermat, which is a pretty small target.

One of the strengths of this story are its human adversaries.  Klieg and Kaftan are memorable and are excellent villains.  While Kaftan (played by the producer’s wife, Shirley Cooklin, in a role written expressly for her) realizes too late that the Cybermen must be stopped, Klieg never does.  He is such a megalomaniac that he cannot see that his great plan to unite his intelligence with the Cybermen’s strength has failed.  Up until the end, when the Cybermen finally attack him, he keeps believing that his intelligence is enough to bring the Cybermen under his control.  George Pastell does a great job of showing how Klieg gradually becomes consumed by his desire for control and eventually loses all touch with reality.  Klieg is such an effective villain because he does not come across as a madman from the start; his descent into complete madness makes him a far more disturbing character.

There are a few new twists added to the Cybermen in this story.  This is the first story to feature the Cyber Controller and the Cybermats.  The Cybermats are not particularly scary looking, which makes it hard to feel too frightened when the Cybermats surround the expedition party in the cliffhanger at the end of episode three, but they are an interesting idea.  It’s a bit hard for a Cyberman to sneak up on you or advance too quickly, but the Cybermats can.  An even better addition is the Cyber Controller; he makes the Cybermen a bit more cunning than they had been previously.  I also like the design of these Cybermen, as they are robotic looking, but they haven’t completely lost their human form.  My only complaint is with the voices of the Cybermen.  They alter the voice of the Cyber Controller too much in this story, making him difficult to understand.

Klieg tries to reason with the Cyber Controller (he's clearly the leader because he has a taller head than the others).

Klieg tries to reason with the Cyber Controller (he’s clearly the leader because he has a taller head than the others).

Overall, “The Tomb of the Cybermen” is an excellent story.  It’s an entertaining story, populated with some memorable characters.  It’s also a good showcase for the regulars, allowing Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines to display their excellent chemistry and providing a chance for Deborah Watling’s Victoria to establish herself with her new companions.  Perhaps most of all, however, this story uses the Cybermen effectively.  They are fighting for the survival of their race, as they were in “The Tenth Planet,” and the Cyber Controller will do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of his race.   The Doctor and his companions are continually facing danger from both Kaftan and Klieg and the Cybermen, which makes the story fly by.  If only the Cybermen were always used this well…

The Cybermen Return: The Moonbase

The Patrick Troughton era is also very much the era of the Cybermen; Troughton’s Doctor faced them more than any other Doctor.  Although their first appearance was in William Hartnell’s final story, “The Tenth Planet,” Troughton’s Doctor faced them four times (5 if you count “The Five Doctors”).  After making a memorable debut on the show, “The Moonbase” is the first of the Cybermen’s many returns to the show.  In Kit Peder’s sequel, it has been about 90 years since the destruction of the Cybermen’s home planet, Mondas, and it features a significant change in the goals of the Cybermen.  In “The Tenth Planet,” their ultimate goal was to convert humans to “be like us.” Their return sees them out to destroy humanity, now that they perceive humans as a threat.

The new Cybermen

The new Cybermen

The adventure begins because the Doctor attempts to prove to his companions that he does, in fact, have control of where the TARDIS lands.  He decides to go to Mars, but instead has a very bumpy landing on the moon.  At this point the second Doctor does not appear to have the curiosity of his predecessor, since he wants to leave immediately, but Ben and Polly want to take the opportunity to explore the surface of the moon.  While they are exploring, Jamie injures himself and is taken by unidentified men into a nearby base.  The Doctor, Polly, and Ben follow him into the base.

They soon learn that they are in the year 2070 and this base is run by an international group in charge of the gravitron (no, not the carnival ride), which controls the weather on the earth.  A mysterious illness has struck the base; men are collapsing and dark lines develop, almost like veins, across their body.  Hobson, the leader of the base, suspects the travelers of somehow being responsible for the disease, but he is soon forced to acknowledge that the Cybermen, who were all believed to have been killed when Mondas exploded, have infiltrated the base.

The mysterious disease with which the men have come down is, in fact, due to something the Cybermen have put in the sugar; it results in the affected men being under cyber control.  The Cybermen have decided that earth is a threat to them, so they wish to use the gravitron to destroy the earth.  It is up to the Doctor and his companions to stop the cybermen before it’s too late.

The story is an entertaining one.  The story moves along at a good pace, and the early Cybermen make an interesting villain.   However, it is not without its faults.  Although it does not reach the levels of absurdity that were found in the previous story, “The Underwater Menace,” there are some moments that require you to abandon logic or accept characters making incredibly idiotic decisions.  One such example of the former is when the Cybermen have shot a hole in the glass dome around the gravitron.  Hobson first plugs up the hole with his jacket and then with the coffee tray.  Somehow I doubt that either of these objects would actually prevent the oxygen from escaping!  An example of the latter comes after the people have disabled the men that the Cybermen took over.  They remove the headgear that the Cybermen are using to control them, but they place it right next to them in their sick bay.  It was very helpful of them to leave it within arms reach for when they get reactivated.  It’s also amusing that each member of the international (basically European with at least one Australian) group wears a shirt with their rank in the order of importance and the flag of their home country.  The Frenchman, Benoit, even wears a scarf tied jauntily around his neck, because that is clearly what all French people do.

Benoit (in his jaunty French scarf) looks to Hobson for advice about his fallen colleague.

Benoit (in his jaunty French scarf) looks to Hobson for advice about his fallen colleague.

There are also interesting developments with the Cybermen.  As I stated before, their mission has changed.  They are now out to simply destroy everyone on earth, rather than convert them.  Additionally, almost every time they appeared on the show their appearance changed (at least it makes sense that they would continue to “upgrade” themselves), and this is no exception.  Gone are their cloth faces, replaced by a far more metallic looking head.  These Cybermen look more robotic than their predecessors, and they have the ability to shoot energy from their hands.  It is also interesting that the Cybermen recognize the Doctor; the last time they saw him he was William Hartnell.  However, the timeline for the Cybermen has always been a bit confusing (something I’m hoping to work out as I watch these episodes), so this could be explained by “The Invasion” which was not yet made but takes place in an earlier time. In one final random note,  John Levene, who went on to play the popular Sargent Benton in the UNIT stories, makes his first appearance on the show playing one of the Cybermen.

As for the Doctor himself, this is, perhaps, the most clever we’ve seen the second Doctor.  He seems a bit more in control and more certain of what he is doing in this story.  Of course, Hobson doesn’t listen to him and even suspects him of sabotage, but ultimately he shows that he was correct.   Thankfully, he is also without the ridiculous hat he has sported in all of the other stories and he doesn’t play the recorder once.  After watching all of these early Troughton stories, you can really see his Doctor taking shape.  By this point, the playfulness, the impulsiveness, and the quick thinking that are the hallmarks of his Doctor have all been added to his characterization and gone is some of the early bizarre behavior.  He’s still eccentric, but it’s been toned down quite a bit.

The companions, as in “The Underwater Menace,” do not fare as well.  Polly, as usual, has moments in which she gets to show how clever she is, but she also screams a lot.  She also makes coffee twice, which is, apparently, her job when the Cybermen attack, since that was her job in “The Tenth Planet” as well.  She spends most of the first half of the story tending to the sick Jamie (since nursing is clearly women’s work), but she is the first to see the Cybermen.   Her best moment is when she is the one to figure out how to defeat the Cybermen inside the base.  She realizes that the plastic apparatuses on the Cybermen’s chests are their most vulnerable point because plastic can be dissolved.  Of course she is able to figure this out by thinking of nail polish remover (I guess Pedler wanted her scientific knowledge to be anchored in a traditionally feminine activity?), but the fact is that she is the only one to think of this.   I was a bit annoyed that when it came time to actually attack the Cybermen, Ben tells her to stay behind because, “this is men’s work.” Happily, though, Polly ignores him and joins the attack.

The moment before a Cyberman quite nimbly leaps out of the bed at which they're staring.  Who knew Cybermen could be so agile?

The moment before a Cyberman quite nimbly leaps out of the bed at which they’re staring. Who knew Cybermen could be so agile?

Ben and Jamie are still not really developed.  Ben demonstrates a great deal of scientific knowledge in this story, which is his main contribution to the story (those were the lines that they couldn’t give to Jamie, since he’s from the past) and is, again, a man of action, quick to fight back against the Cybermen.  Jamie is unconscious for most of the first half, muttering about the phantom piper, but joins in for the second half.  You still don’t get to know Jamie all that well, however, since he is basically just getting lines that would have been given to Ben.  There does seem to be a bit of a rivalry developing between Ben and Jamie, though, as Ben seems to worry about Jamie trying to impress Polly.  Something tells me that Ben’s feeling for Polly are a bit more than friendly at this point.

Overall, I quite enjoy “The Moonbase.”  It’s not the best Cyberman adventure, but it’s a story that holds your interest until the end.  Perhaps the most random element of the story is introduced in the final moments, when the Doctor suggests they turn on the time scanner.  The time scanner allows the Doctor a glimpse of what will happen in the future, which in this case shows an image of a claw, leading into the next story, “The Macra Terror.”  If he has the ability to peek into his own near future, why doesn’t he use it more often?  This seems like a useful tool that he has never used before and doesn’t use later.  Although I have to admit that knowing what’s coming next is never of particular importance to Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, so maybe I can see why he wouldn’t want to use it too often.  Where’s the fun in having a plan?

Thoughts on “Nightmare in Silver”

The last time Neil Gaiman wrote an episode of Doctor Who it was widely considered the best episode of the season; his second episode, therefore, was greatly anticipated.  Unlike “The Doctor’s Wife,” his memorable first outing, “Nightmare in Silver” was a bit of a disappointment.  That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but it is a flawed episode, mainly, I think, due to time constraints.  It was a good episode, it just fell a bit short of the bar that Gaiman himself had set with his first episode.

The battle in the Doctor's head

The battle in the Doctor’s head

If I try to explain all that was going on in this story, it could take all night, so I’ll just run through the basics.  The Doctor brings Clara and her charges, Angie and Artie, to Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, the universe’s best amusement park.  Unfortunately, the park is in disrepair having been closed for some time.  The only inhabitants are a military (punishment) platoon, Impresario Webley and his assistant, Porridge.

The Doctor becomes intrigued by strange insects, so he (and, therefore, his companions) stay to investigate.  He and Clara soon learn about the society in which they find themselves, the main points being that the emperor is currently missing and there was a massive battle between the people and the Cybermen 1,000 years before.  The war ended because they destroyed an entire galaxy to eliminate all the remaining Cybermen.  Of course, it soon becomes apparent that the Cybermen are not extinct and the tiny insect looking things, called Cybermites, begin to take over the minds of Webley and the children.

The bulk of the episode has Clara leading the platoon (and Porridge) against an advancing army of Cybermen and the Doctor battling the Cyber-Planner (who is inside the Doctor’s head) in a high stakes game of chess: the winner gets the Doctor’s mind.

One of the strengths of this story is its characters.  Just about every character you meet has at least a bit of personality to them (even the platoon members, although they are the least developed characters).  Neil Gaiman has a knack for creating interesting, eccentric characters and this episode is no exception.  He even made Clara an interesting character in this story, when I traditionally have had a more neutral attitude towards her.  I really enjoyed the character of Webley, the showman who was willing to settle for a sandwich as payment, and I was disappointed that he was the first converted by the Cybermites (yet, I did enjoy Jason Watkins’ portrayal of the Cyber-Planner, but that also was over too soon).  The most interesting character in this story, however, was Porridge/the Emperor.  Warwick Davis did a great job with the character, portraying a man on the run from his responsibilities, yet he was not an irresponsible man.  He and the Captain of the platoon have some great moments that help develop how each of them ended up on this particular desolate planet (without completely giving away Porridge’s identity).

Warrick Davis as Porridge

Warwick Davis as Porridge

A deserted amusement park is a great setting for a story.  The idea of conducting a battle for survival with only old rides for cover is a great idea, I just wish more use would have been made of it.  We only really see the Spacey Zoomer and Natty Longshoe’s Comical Castle (I know they don’t have the budget for more), and I was disappointed by the Comical Castle.  The platoon captain emphasized the comical part to Clara when she chose it as their defensible location, but nothing really comical was ever seen; it seemed like a regular castle. I wonder if their was more to the castle that got cut because of budgetary reasons or time constraints.

One of Neil Gaiman’s goals with this episode was to make the Cybermen scary again, and I thought he achieved his goal.  One of the big complaints about Cybermen was that they are quite slow and clunky when they move which is no longer the case with the upgraded Cybermen in this story.  They also are a far scarier enemy with their ability to instantly upgrade to correct weaknesses.  While some of this was a bit hard to believe (I can see them fixing programming errors, but they also seemed to be able to fix physical weaknesses), it made them an undefeatable enemy.  How can you defeat an enemy who can very quickly correct any weaknesses you can find?  I was also a bit disappointed, however, that these Cybermen are even less human than any of the others we’ve seen.  Part of what makes the Cybermen so disturbing is the idea that they used to be just like us, that somewhere in that metal casing is what’s left of a human being. These Cybermen might as well have been completely robotic; with their ability to detach parts of their bodies, what’s left of the human element anymore?

As a huge fan of the Troughton era Cyberman stories, I loved the references the Gaiman scattered throughout this story.   He brought back the Cyber-Planner first used in “The Wheel in Space” and “The Invasion.”  The Cybermen are seen coming out of the tombs first referenced in “Tomb of the Cybermen.” I also think there were also several references to “The Moonbase.” The travelers appear to have landed on the moon when the episode opens and Artie even thinks they are on some kind of “moonbase.”  There is also a reference to the weather controls malfunctioning, which was the purpose of the aforementioned moonbase in the Troughton story.  Finally, the Doctor referenced the Cybermen’s susceptibility to cleaning fluids, which was discovered by Polly and used by Ben, Polly, and Jamie to stop the Cybermen.  Gaiman even references the Cybermen’s weakness to gold, mentioned in the Tom Baker story “Revenge of the Cybermen.”

“Nightmare in Silver” had a great, complex plot, but a lot of things were left unexplained or unclear.  I have a feeling this was due to the editing of the script.  Even Neil Gaiman has mentioned things that were cut for time, like a scene explaining why the children don’t sleep in the TARDIS.   I think an example of this can also be found when the Doctor is first confronting the Cyber-Planner.  He mentions the people who disappeared from the park like it has been mentioned before, but this is the first time the viewers have learned this information.  It seems like their must have been an earlier scene in which the Doctor learned why the park closed, but when it was cut, the Doctor’s line wasn’t changed.  Maybe I’m just biased because I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, but I don’t think the gaps are from poor writing, just some sloppy editing to fit the episode into its allotted time.

The newer, scarier Cyberman, a Mondasian/alternate universe combination

The newer, scarier Cyberman, a Mondasian/alternate universe combination

Other than that, I only had a few problems with the story.  I thought the children were a big weakness in the story.  I didn’t particularly care about them (especially not Angie, who just seemed like an obnoxious brat) and they spend most of the story in a walking coma.  Why did they need to be there at all?  Another tiny complaint, but this one was not a big deal for me, was that I would have liked to have seen Matt Smith differentiate a bit more between the Doctor and the Cyber-Planner.  He did the shoulder jerk, and the Cyber-Planner was a bit darker, but he still acted and spoke a lot like the Doctor.  I know he was in the Doctor’s body, but I thought there could have been a bit more of a distinction.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode, but I think it would’ve benefited from being a two parter.  I think that would have eliminated the unexplained events and allowed for more character development.  A two parter would have allowed for the characters to develop at a bit more of a leisurely pace and the back story of the Cyber War and the amusement park could have been explained more fully.  As I mentioned before, I feel like pieces of information that would have been nice to have were cut for time.  Maybe next time, if there is a next time, Moffat will let Gaiman write a two parter.  Maybe, as he’s stated he’d like to, when he creates his own monster?

The Tenth Planet: The End of an Era

I’ve always wondered how audiences reacted to the ending of “The Tenth Planet.”  The idea of regeneration seems perfectly normal now, but it must have come as a bit of a shock to the viewers back in 1966.  What really strikes me is the boldness of the decision.  Not only did they decide to make the main character of the program become a different person, this new person had very little in common, either physically or personality-wise, with who he used to be.  Thinking about it now, I’m not sure you could have made a much more drastic change than to turn the elderly, crabby, dignified William Hartnell into the younger, easy-going, comedic Patrick Troughton. While viewers would have to wait until the next story to really meet the new Doctor, in the fourth (and final) episode of “The Tenth Planet” Polly and Ben witness the first regeneration in Doctor Who history.

Polly confronting a Cyberman with the Doctor looking on.

Polly confronting a Cyberman with the Doctor looking on.

The Doctor, Polly, and Ben have materialized in the year 1986 at an international space tracking station in Antarctica.  Their arrival causes great suspicion, but everyone’s attention is soon diverted by a space probe (and pilots) that are mysteriously being drained of energy and a new planet that appears in the sky near earth.  Everyone is surprised, except the Doctor, who seems to have anticipated this event.

We soon learn that this planet is Mondas, which was Earth’s twin planet until it drifted off to the far reaches of space.  Earth soon gets a visit from the inhabitants of Mondas: the Cybermen.  The Cybermen are people who, as their bodies grew weaker, had their scientists create replacement (i.e. mechanical) parts for them.  Soon, they became almost totally mechanical, even removing emotions, which they consider to be a weakness. They have returned because they are in need of energy; they are planning to drain the energy from Earth and convert the remaining humans to Cybermen. It’s up to the Doctor and his companions to foil the Cybermen’s plans.

I quite enjoyed the story; it was clever and it kept me engaged.  The behavior of the Cybermen was perhaps a bit inconsistent, but not enough to really detract from the story.  By inconsistent, I mean that they seemed, quite randomly, to decide to spare people’s lives and maybe render them temporarily unconscious, while most of the time they just killed people.  I do, however, get that these were people who disobeyed the Cybermen but had to survive that particular encounter because they were needed, plot-wise, later.

Really, the only episode that dragged a bit for me was the third episode, which was the episode in which the Doctor collapses and spends the entire episode resting and the story suffers a bit for his lack of involvement.  Bizarrely, Polly and Ben seemed to have a complete lack of concern for the Doctor when he collapsed.  I had a problem with the fact that the Doctor collapses (and was completely incapacitated), but they don’t seem terribly worried.  Instead, they leave him to recover while they go back to the control room.  I know they still had the problem of the Cybermen to deal with, but since they needed the Doctor to return to their own time, I would think they would be at least a little worried.

While I’m on the topic of Polly and Ben, I will say that they have a bit more to do in this story than in some of their  other stories.  I still feel that they don’t have clearly defined personalities, but they start to become a bit more interesting in this story.  In particular, Ben is crucial to the action and contributes quite a bit to the plot. I will say that he always seems quick to get into a physical confrontation with his adversaries, but he wasn’t particularly successful in the previous story, “The Smugglers.” This time, he figures out how to disarm a Cyberman (by shining the light of a film projector at him) which allows him to help the base overthrow the first round of cyber invaders.  Later on, he is the one who figures out that the Cybermen can’t stand radiation and comes up with a way to temporarily slow the Cybermen’s plans down (until Mondas takes on too much energy, as the Doctor predicted, and destroys all the cybermen). Polly even stands up to a Cyberman, early in the story, but reverts to being pretty useless again soon after.  Her one contribution seems to be that she makes coffee for everyone (which is, apparently, her way of dealing with Cybermen because she makes coffee again in “The Moonbase”). Of course, the Cybermen choose Polly to be their hostage towards the end of the story (she does seem to make an excellent hostage), so by the end of the story all she basically does is scream and get hysterical.

The Cybermen approach

The Cybermen approach

What makes this story particularly interesting is being able to see the origins of the Cybermen.  They are an interesting villain in their first appearance, even though their costumes aren’t quite as good as they are in later stories.  Basically, their outfits look far more fabric-ish than metallic, and they look like they’re wearing a flashlight on their heads (but I wasn’t bothered by the Monoids in “The Ark,” so maybe I have an unusual fondness for bizarre aliens on a low budget).  I liked the fact that the  Cyberman who was speaking simply opened his mouth; it made it easier to identify which Cyberman was which.  Compared to “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen” I also felt that it was much easier to understand what these Cybermen were saying. Overall, the combination of the costume and the voice of these Cybermen made them come across as a bit more human.  This first appearance really shows that there is a human at the heart of the Cyberman, unlike that later versions which seem far more robotic to me.

Even though this story is the first appearance of the Cybermen, it is most famous for the Doctor’s regeneration at the end of the fourth episode.   It is a very simple scene, yet it is extremely effective.  The first regeneration is quite gentle compared to the more violent regenerations we see on new Who; essentially, Hartnell’s face dissolves into a kind of white light and comes back into focus as Troughton’s face.  It’s interesting that Hartnell’s Doctor does not explain to his companions what will happen, since he is barely strong enough to open the TARDIS doors for them.  This is also the only time that a violent event does not lead to a regeneration. The idea in this story is that the First Doctor’s body simply wears out and he needs a new one.

“The Tenth Planet” is not the best Cyberman story (I’d probably go with “The Tomb of the Cybermen” for that), but it is enjoyable, as I have found all of Kit Pedler’s Cyberman stories to be.  The Cybermen explore the development of man’s interest in cybernetics and “spare part” surgeries in the 1960’s, and nowhere is this more apparent than in their  first appearance.  Pedler created the Cybermen because he wondered what would happen if mankind became too reliant on artificial parts, blurring the line between man and machine. The idea that they are an alternate version of man makes them a bit more complex than some of the other early aliens.  To be perfectly honest, I prefer the early Cybermen stories to the Dalek stories.  Maybe I just prefer the writing of Kit Pedler to Terry Nation, but I was not a huge fan of the early Dalek stories.  I liked “The Daleks,” even though I thought it could have been at least an entire episode shorter, but the other stories didn’t really engage me.  For instance, I can appreciate “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” as an important story, but it wasn’t one of the stories that I enjoyed the most.

The Doctor collapses as he is about to regenerate

The Doctor collapses as he is about to regenerate

Overall, I found “Then Tenth Planet” to be a worthy story for Hartnell’s final story as the Doctor.  It’s not his best story, since he was obviously severely limited in what he could physically do at this point, but it’s not a bad story for him to leave on. Of course this was not William Hartnell’s final appearance as the Doctor, as he had a memorable return in “The Three Doctors,” but I have to admit that I found his regeneration scene a bit more emotional than I expected.  I was actually very sad to see him go.  I wouldn’t have guessed it when I started watching Doctor Who, but I guess I’ve become rather fond of the cantankerous old man after all.