Part two of Attack of the Cybermen moves the action entirely over to Telos a place we last saw in the Tomb of the Cybermen, it doesn’t look a lot different to what it did back then, and it doesn’t look more impressive in colour either, as the primary colour is grey, grey and more grey so it suited black and white a lot better. Having said that if you didn’t know it was Telos it could have been absolutely any other barren, deserted planet so for those people who hadn’t seen Tomb of the Cybermen which would have been the ten year old me back when originally broadcast I would not have been able to appreciate that this was a place we had seen before, because I hadn’t seen it before.
What was nice about this episode was that we learned a hell of a lot more about the planet Telos than we had ever known before such as that the native Telosians were called the Cryons, a race of people we had never encountered before. I am not sure if they had ever been mentioned before this episode either but that’s by the by really.
The story such as it is moved along a bit more and we found out what the Cybermen were really up to which was to avenge the events of their very first story almost twenty years previously using the approaching Halley’s Comet which was due to appear in the skies the following year. I think that this was quite a nice idea and it did use something that was actually going to happen in a year’s time which really set the events of the story in a certain point in time.
Luckily for those of us who hadn’t seen the first Cyberman story we got a potted history of their previous appearances dotted throughout this episode just to hammer the point home that what was happening here was actually a sequel of sorts.
At the time I wasn’t really bothered about that and I am not sure that this makes the episode any better than when I saw it originally either, now that I am well aware of what happened in the past Cyber stories.
I really don’t think that it makes any difference at all if I am being honest. What was most impressive about this episode though was the about turn in behaviour of Gustav Lytton who it turned out was not such a bad guy after all and was actually working with the Cybermen for other less nefarious purposes than we might have believed in the first episode and it is to Maurice Colbourne’s credit that he manages to imply that he really is a nasty piece of work but that actually hidden deep inside him is a heart of gold who actually is working for the good of somebody else which isn’t what you would have thought he would do, so that was a lovely little character piece for Lytton and actually made you quite sorry for him at the denouement of the episode.
The Cryons were an interesting touch as well and I would say were quite well designed and though out even if they do scream eighties out loud. It was also interesting that they were all female which was just something a little bit different from what you might normally see in a Doctor Who story.
It is a pity that more wasn’t made of them in this episode apart from being a bit of a plot device to get rid of the Cybermen at the end of the story as they were worth a bit more than that and were in the end criminally underused.
I am not sure that they could actually support an entire story on their own though but it would have been nice to have seen more about them and learned a bit more about them other than the fact that they melt above 0 degrees.
I would say that the episode was quite fast paced and enjoyable and that the dynamic direction employed by Matthew Robinson really made a difference in keeping the story interesting even if the story itself actually wasn’t that good.
The Cybermen were relatively menacing and I found them a lot more menacing here when I was 10 than I do watching them here when I am 41. The scene were they crushed Lytton’s hands to prove their strength was a lot more bloody than I remembered it and was actually quite shocking and was probably a bit too much as it would have worked equally as well just showing Lytton’s face as it would have been actually showing his hands being crushed and seeing the blood as Maurice Colbourn was perfectly able to give the impression of that by his expressions alone but I guess that was there just to show how powerful the Cybermen were and I am not sure that it was entirely necessary, it is only a small thing but that scene could have been just as effective presented in a different manner.
It isn’t actually that gratuitous really but it is often shown as an indication of how violent the show was at that time but to be honest these scenes are few and far between in the stories as a whole, they just tend to be the ones who are mentioned a lot more, which is a shame.
I would have to say that this was certainly a very good episode and a good end to the Sixth Doctor’s second story and showed a by now calm and slightly less bombastic Sixth Doctor.