March 27: The Tomb of the Cybermen Episodes 1 & 2

Whew.  It's something of a relief to finally get to a complete story in the archives -- and thanks to the recent recoveries by Phil Morris, we've reached a point where over two-thirds of the remaining Troughton episodes are in existence.  I think I was getting a little tired of being tantalized by soundtracks and telesnaps and not being able to see much of anything.  This story, of course, was until 2013 the most recently recovered complete story, having been returned from Hong Kong in 1991.

Standard and special edition DVDs
Episode 1 of The Tomb of the Cybermen opens mere moments where The Evil of the Daleks left off, as Victoria is brought into the TARDIS and the Doctor and Jamie explain that it's a time machine, just like her father was working on -- which leads to Victoria's rather marvelous non sequitur, "I mean, if what you say is true then you must be, well, how old?"  As if being incredibly old is a requirement for time travel.  But this serves as a nice little recap not only of what happened between seasons, but also of the show in general.

But then we shift to a rocky planet and an archaeological crew trying to blow a hole into the side of a mountain in order to unearth the lost city of Telos36, the legendary tomb of the Cybermen.  It seems the Cybermen have disappeared from history "many centuries ago", and now archaeologists are keen to learn more about them.  The Doctor and his friends stick around as they explore the lost city (which looks more like just a largeish building up top, but never mind), and then in the cliffhanger, a Cyberman emerges to kill one of the party...

There's an air of confidence about this, even as the odd accents and bizarre characterizations abound; Kaftan and Klieg might as well be wearing flashing "villain" signs for all they try to disguise their ulterior motives.  Kaftan in particular seems spiteful, apparently trapping Victoria in a Cyberman recharging closet just for the hell of it.  But there's a self-assuredness about the direction that makes up for these lapses in the serial.  And being able to see the episode adds to one's enjoyment enormously -- you wouldn't know about all of Troughton and Hines's interplay from the soundtrack alone.  Note in particular the lovely moment where the Doctor, entering the tomb for the first time, takes Jamie's hand in the belief that it's Victoria's, realizes what he's done, and throws it down in disgust.  Great fun.

Episode 2 continues the fun, as Klieg manages to open the hatch leading down into the tomb (thanks to some help from the Doctor, oddly -- he seems to be conflicted here, as he warns the expedition against meddling with things that should be left alone, yet he's eager to give them a helping hand when necessary; maybe his curiosity is getting the better of him).  But before that there's some stuff with the Cyberman in the testing room (actually a robotic dummy), with another fun Troughton/Hines moment.  The Doctor's trying to work out the sequence of events that led up to Haydon's death, and he needs Jamie to show him what buttons and levers he used.  "Now there is a distinct element of risk in what I'm asking you all to do, so if anyone wishes to leave they must do so at once.  Not you, Jamie," the Doctor adds, as Jamie moves to leave.

The Cybermen emerge from their tomb. (The Tomb of the
Episode 2) ©BBC
But yes, the hatch has been opened, and the majority of the party descend into the actual tomb, only to discover that the Cybermen aren't dead; they're merely in suspended animation, waiting for someone to come and reactivate them -- an action which Klieg is only too willing to perform.  He seems to think that, as a member of the Brotherhood of Logicians back on Earth, the Cybermen will be only too willing to help them take over (or something...the motivation here is a little vague, to be honest).  He doesn't seem to have counted on the Cybermen being unwilling to go along with this plan.  But they are, and as we meet the Controller of all the Cybermen (as indicated by his lack of a chest unit and his giant brain case), Klieg learns how wrong he is.  "You belong to us," the Controller says, grabbing Klieg's arm tightly.  "You shall be like us."

These two episodes are often a little loose in acting and plotting, but that aforementioned confidence helps carry things off.  It also helps that these two episodes are building up to the end of episode 2, when the Cybermen finally emerge from their tomb.  Their presence hangs over all the proceedings, and their emergence is justly iconic.  So far, The Tomb of the Cybermen is a winner -- we'll have to see how things go next time, to see if they can keep it up.

36 And note that at this point in time the name "Telos" seems to refer only to the city itself, not the entire planet.