Sunday, October 19, 2014

The (Cyber)Man in the Moon

Moonbase

Second Doctor, Fourth Serial, 33rd Story.

4 episodes, Companions: Ben, Polly, Jamie

Summary: Following a disastrous attempt to control the TARDIS, we find ourselves on the Moon. After a few missteps in the low gravity, they encounter a Moonbase, a weather center (They control the weather on the Earth) and, unfortunately, illness. Viral infection is the least of their problems, as there's a spy at work on the base, trying to take it over. Bodies are going missing from sick bay, the Graviton beam is malfunctioing and a Hurricane is threatening the USA, and the station crew can't seem to figure out what's going on! Worse, the disease and everything else is an invention of the spies - the Cybermen!

The Doctor: I would never have expected the Doctor to not want to explore, but he seems awfully reluctant to explore the moon. His knowledge of time comes in handy, mostly guessing nearly right! He's clever, though, figuring out quickly that the virus is artificial. Once bodies start vanishing, the Doctor is eager enough to participate - to fight Evil. You can hear the capital E when he says it! I think Troughton's finally getting the role, and his performance here is wonderful.

Companions: Jamie spends half the serial unconscious. Ben spends a lot of time with very few lines. Polly, on the other hand, takes over as the brains of the crew, soundly and cleverly assaulting the cyberman menace. She's the first one to identify the abductors as Cybermen, but of course nobody listens. Ben and Jamie make good muscle, and are an excellent foil to the clever Doctor and Polly.  It's a shame that four's a crowd, as we already had to learn back in Susan's day, and will, sadly, have to learn again. Polly also refuses to be obedient when Ben tells her it's 'men's work', which is awesome. She's never really endeared herself to me, but I really like her in this story.

Continuity: We pick up from last week's loss of control, although we do hear the TARDIS Whooshes twice for no good reason. The Doctor mentions that in Glasgow in 1888, he got a medical degree - or some sort of Doctorate.  This is the first mention of such a thing.The Cyberman have definitely been Upgraded, for the best. They spend a lot of time silent, doing their jobs, and it's creepy as hell. This is also the first time we see victims being turned into Cybermen, and it's wonderfully scary! Their vocals aren't quite there, yet, but it's better than the Mondasian Cybermen vocals. I love how condescending they are, though "Only simple Earth Brains like yours would be fooled!" We also see the return of the Time Scanner, not used, if I am correct, since The Chase.

Rating: Enjoy it. It's not the best, but it's much stronger than Underwater Menace was. As much as I dislike the characters being slidelined for long periods, three companions is a bit much, and keeping Jamie (and Ben) out of the way worked to move things along. The second Episode is really slow, however, and is barely helped by the strong performances of the Doctor and Polly. Otherwise it's a pretty strong story, with a good villain. There's a lot of threats, but it doesn't feel like a pile O'Threats made just to complicate things, which is rare.