Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet (S04E029)

By: (plus.google.com) +David Herron; Date: 2008-10-01 22:18

Tags: Doctor Who

Woah.. the first appearance of the Cybermen, and the first regeneration. And a real tense story to boot. The Doctor and Companions land on a new planet, which the Doctor declares to be the "Coldest Place on the Planet". It is 1986, and they are at the South Pole near 'Snowcap Base' which appears to have been a rocket base that sends up missions to study the weather. It's presented as a stereotypical military base, with a small contingent of stir crazy men, with no females in site anywhere. Shortly after their arrival a "new planet" shows up in their instruments, they're able to see pictures of the planet and it has land masses recognizably the same as Earths. Except the land masses are pictured as being upside down. The Doctor recognizes the place and declares this is the planet (en.wikipedia.org) Mondas, and that they are about to have visitors. Apparently he knows all about the Cybermen and their planet.

Soon enough the Cybermen arrive and it's said that their planet is running low on energy. So they're flying back to the Earth, the twin planet of their planet, so they can suck the Earth dry. Since that's going to kill Humanity it gives cause to fight. The Cybermen of course don't care about the fate of humanity because they have no emotions ...

There's a series of struggles between the humans and the Cybermen. The humans are able to steal the Cybermen light guns, and then use them against the Cybermen. There's an overly commanding General who decides to go against orders from headquarters and launch a rocket with a nuclear warhead against Mondas. He's in this stereotypical bomb-happy mode of Generalship and all he sees as an option is to nuke the enemy, despite having no clue as to whether the side effects of the nuke is safe or not (Mondas exploding might also damage the Earth). A little subplot includes the other humans working to sabotage the missile to avoid the risk of its side effects, because they think it will be horrible.

Ben is an active guy, doing a great job of fighting the Cybermen at all steps of the way.

The thing that finally wins it for them isn't any action of their own. It's that Mondas absorbs too much energy from the Earth, causing Mondas to melt and be destroyed. Uuuuuhhhhh????!?!?!?!?!? WHAT? This is crazy.. if the Earth was going to be badly harmed or destroyed because Mondas was absorbing the Earth's energy, then if Mondas is absorbing enough so Mondas is destroyed then why isn't the Earth also destroyed???!?!?!? This just doesn't make any sense. But it is one of those magical endings that makes everything right in the end.

Or.. wait.. is everything really okay? Or not? The Doctor, he's acting a little strange. He says something vague to Ben and Polly about this old body being worn out and he must absolutely must get back to the TARDIS, no time to say goodbye even. He of course doesn't have time to explain to Ben and Polly all the ins and outs of what's happening. He is about to Regenerate, an event the audience has never seen before. It's played as the cliffhanger, just ending the episode with a different face, no explanation. I can imagine the audience doing a big HUH WHAT HAPPENED ...

These Cybermen are rather different from the later ones. These look cloth covered while later ones definitely look like tin men in metal suits. These Cybermen have strange lilting voices while later ones have deadpan voices. These Cybermen all have individual walks while later ones have regimented a walking style. These Cybermen act like individuals and they have names while later ones are portrayed as all being the same. But a key thing is that these Cybermen like later ones are able to convert humans to being Cybermen, except here it was done without machines.

It's well known that between seasons 3 & 4 William Hartnell fell ill and they decided to let him out of his contract. Rather than end the show they created this Regeneration gizmo, which let them bring in a new actor to play the Doctor if necessary. And of course this has now been done several times and is the gimmick that has let the show last as long as it has, it being 45 years since Doctor Who was first broadcast..