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02 August 2016 @ 05:26 pm
The Randomiser: Revenge of the Cybermen  
Revenge of the Cybermen lies at the tail end of Tom Baker's first season. This is before the fourth Doctor truly got into his stride (or at least while Baker is still giving a, for him, very subdued performance) but with a Tardis crew (using the term loosely, considering how little actual travelling in the Tardis they do) that was already nearing the end of its time together.

Harry Sullivan was always somewhat overlooked as a companion (as I recall) in the DWMs of my youth. He was considered an unwanted extra, I think, to the dream team of the Doctor and Sarah. Someone who was "only" there on the possibility that the actor cast to play the fourth Doctor would prove unable to handle the more physical demands of the scripts. I think it can be argued that Harry is a lot more than that. He tends to give the impression of often being a step or two behind the Doctor and Sarah, but he's also dependable, good-natured and, well, thoroughly decent. Ian Marter does a pretty good job with a part that was written more or less as an archetypal English Gentleman just as the archetypal English gentleman was becoming a figure of ridicule. He treads a fine line between sending the character up and demonstrating his good qualities. Harry's had a bit of a renaissance in fan opinions as his stories have appeared on video and DVD and while I wouldn't say I was one of his fans, there have been worse companions and less appealing Tardis teams. This isn't a bad story for him, he's comfortably established in the part and interacting well with both the Doctor and Sarah.

Tame layman liked the Vogan costumes and make-up. It must be said I was a little disappointed that a weapon that appears in the middle of the 1970s and is called a "glitter gun" wasn't a bit more disco. We were both rather puzzled, as the Cybermen effectively dispatched Vogan after Vogan about why more glitter guns weren't being deployed. In fact the story in general looks pretty good. Filming at Wooky Hole supplied a better class of cave set than is normal in Doctor Who.

Revenge of the Cybermen is a fairly twisty tale with several factions at work: the Cybermen, two Vogan groups, the crew of the space station (though they don't have an agenda as such beyond staying alive) and Kellman (who I pegged as a baddie as soon as I saw him since I was familiar with the actor from Blakes' 7). I'm not sure any group really gets more than the most superficial attention paid to it, but that may be just as well. Doctor Who is often not at its best when actors in silly masks (even if Tame Layman liked them, I'm not sure the Vogan costumes were good for facial expressions) sit around talking to each other. The padding in this story consists, therefore, not only of the traditional capture-escape cycles but also a fair amount plan and counter-plan.

I'm struggling to have a strong opinion about this story however. It's a good solid Tom Baker story, that avoids any egregious production or acting problems. On the other hand, I don't find I'm particularly excited about it. I suspect the narrative was a little too rambling with too many groups having to change their plans too often to really hold together. It's easy to say, of any Doctor Who story from this era, that it would have benefited from one less episode, but I feel that is truer of this story than it is of many.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/202039.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on August 2nd, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC)
As you say, it's OK but not great. I think the early episodes indicate that Gerry Davis wasn't entirely au fait with how the programme had developed since he left - there's a Troughton 'base under siege' feel at odds to the developing style of The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks in particular.

I like Harry too, even if he doesn't often get much to do.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on August 2nd, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
You're right, it is distinctly base under siege-y in places, especially at the start before the action moves down to Voga.