Hour of the Cybermen is two things. First it’s the second in a loosely connected trilogy based on 80s UNIT (or possibly a specific member of 80s UNIT), and it’s also the long-awaited return of the more talkative, fist-clenching “EX-cellent!” shouting 80s Cybermen! On top of all that, it’s actually a really good story, so let’s take a closer look!
Answering a call from UNIT, the Doctor arrives in London to find the streets deserted, apart from looters in possession of a valuable commodity – water.
Britain is suffering an extreme and bizarre drought. The cause is suspected to be extra-terrestrial.
The discovery of a signal being transmitted into space, and of a spacecraft whose crew are desiccated corpses, provides a possible answer. But the true enemy is an old foe of the Doctor’s.
The Cybermen have been patient, setting their plans in place over a number of years. As the final stage is implemented, in the darkest hour, the Doctor must identify who among his allies he can trust.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Colin Baker) – The Doctor has picked up a UNIT distress call, and to his surprise the person responsible is Lewis Price, the man who he had, let’s say a troubled relationship with in the past. Previous animosity aside, there’s an old foe to beat…
Lieutenant Daniel Hopkins (Blake Harrison) – Hopkins was once full of hope and positivity… until his wife and children died in a random house fire. Since then he has been frankly emotionless, though perhaps not as much as he’d like to be…
Reva (Frog Stone) – Reva was part of a group of survivors who were hiding out on Earth but were hunted by the Cybermen. Partially converted, she has very little hope left…
Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis Price (Russ Bain) – Price has softened his idea of the Doctor somewhat over the years since their last meeting. When London, and indeed England as a whole, is running out of water, these small grudges do seem rather pointless…
The Cyber Leader (David Banks) – Emotionless and calculating, the Cyber Leader wishes to eradicate the weakness of the flesh, made all the more apparent when he found out about their dependence on water…
The Cybermen (Mark Hardy) – The Cybermen were once human, or humanoid anyway, before being forcefully converted into emotionless machines under the command of their leader…
A good cover, still clearly meant for the old template, but well continued down the left and right side at least.
The 80s Cybermen do get a lot of insults, mostly for the cheesy fist-clenching and the near-Darth Vader voice, but I do enjoy the fact that The Doctor can have more of a conversation with the Cyber Leader, try and prove how wrong their viewpoint is (fruitlessly, obviously). I really like the simple, very TV-like plot of the Cybermen realising that humans depend on (and are mostly made of) water and then designing space ray that dries it all up. Forcing them in a situation so desperate that they have no choice but to go along with the Cyber-conversion, much like the original Mondasian Cybermen did.
The other big plot point is poor old Daniel Hopkins. No longer the naïve and friendly soldier, after the tragic death of his whole family, he went through hell, as you would. He soon threw himself into his work, and eventually found the Cybermen before they began their attack and, sadly, loved the idea of living a life without emotions, so much so he was willing to betray his own people. The idea of someone wanting Cyber conversion to forget the tragic and emotionally scarring events they went through is a depressingly but extremely interesting idea that I don’t believe has ever been done before. The fact he is being kept under guard, combined with the already released synopsis for the third part of this trilogy, has me excited to see how it all plays out in the next part of this trilogy.
While I do find it funny that even when companionless The Doctor still ended up with a female companion hanging around and asking questions, I enjoyed Reva in this story. She was just harsh enough to be more interesting than a lot of more generic followers, and her reaction of surprise to The Doctor saving Hopkins at the end despite everything he’s done was great (and almost justifiable, really).
I liked Price being a bit more of an understandable UNIT leader, and I was kind of sad to see him pop off at the end of Episode 2. The opening scenes of people having to steal water to try and survive at the start was good, though this is another major incident that is mysteriously never mentioned again, despite being in the 80s (but if I criticise that then… well, there goes most Who stories in general!)
Not much, if I’m honest. As a story it ticked all the right boxes, as a Cyberman story it had a fun, very TV style plot and the beings themselves were well realised (including the returning David Banks!), then layered on top is a unique and tragic story of Daniel Hopkins, which gives it a more serious tone. Can’t really complain…
These Cybermen are based off of the 80s versions, with David Banks returning as the Cyber Leader, a role he played in all of the 80s Cybermen TV stories (“Earthshock”, “Attack of the Cybermen” and “Silver Nemesis”, plus their appearance in “The Five Doctors”).
Hopkins and Price first appeared in Fifth Doctor story “The Helliax Rift”, and this trilogy will conclude with the Seventh Doctor audio “Warlock’s Cross”.
Hour of the Cybermen is a great story, and possibly more importantly, a great Cyberman story, which is something that is apparently quite difficult nowadays. What was described as a “UNIT Trilogy” is seemingly going to be more “Daniel Hopkins Trilogy”, and what a surprisingly interesting one that is… Looking forward to the conclusion towards the end of the year!