Doctor Doctor Who Guide

It has to be said, Patrick Troughton was the best actor to play the Doctor. Not my favourite (that's Tom Baker), but when Tom got a average script, he just hammed it up. The Tomb of the Cybermen, with it's maze of contradictions, caricatures, silliness and slight racism is not a masterpiece of writing, and is only saved by the Trout's masterful performance. He never seems in the least bit tired by the clichés he is presented with.

Actually, that's maybe a harsh assessment of the script (by Pedler and Davis, for what it's worth), as they succeed in holding our attention despite the limited array of locations. And they probably wrote better for the Cybermen than anyone else. The metal giants aren't plotting to blow up the Earth here, they're doing what they do best (or worst, depending on your stance)- converting hapless humans into new recruits for their fearsome army. 

They are brilliantly executed on screen too. As much as I like the Cybermen in Earthshock, it's hard to believe they are emotionless, unlike the ones who appear here. Costume design plays it's part, but the hollow, electronic tones used for their voices are most successful at doing this. The CyberMats are OK too, I suppose, even if they don't transcend the fact that they are essentially a marketing opportunity.

Performance-wise we have a very mixed story. The worst turns are from Shirley Cooklin, who is nothing more than a panto dame twenty years early for the Sylvester McCoy era, and George Roubicek, not bothering in a part he probably acknowledged was 1-D. But when Patrick Troughton is the Doctor, you tend to focus less on those around him. The high point of his performance here is the scene where he recalls his family. When reviewing Tomb, almost everyone mentions it, and who am I to break with tradition? New companion Victoria isn't that great but Deborah Watling is at least better looking than *shudders* Jamie. The rest of the cast seem to have been recruited from Bond films. There are four of the blighters, by my count...

Earthshock is still the best Cybermen story, as Tomb, despite promise, lacks that story's brilliant direction. But it comes so agonisingly close, thanks to Mr Troughton.

Filters: Television Second Doctor Series 5