Doctor Who: The Age of Steel

Pete: 'I thought I was broadcasting to the security services. What do I get? Scooby Doo and his gang. They've even got the van.'

A marked improvement over last week's episode. I'm not sure it was enough to lift the story up to 'epic' status, but it's certainly not languishing on the naughty step any more. The clever dialogue returned, as did the witty retorts—in fact, all of the things which make for an enjoyable episode were back. But I still have several gripes with it, which I'll touch upon once I've covered what wasn't utterly hopeless.

The Cybermen worked! They've never been my favourite Who villain, but they actually looked semi-decent tonight. Maybe it was because there were more of them, or perhaps they were just better suited to the darkened streets of London, as opposed to the harsh, unnatural light of Pete's estate. The back alley scene following Ricky's death was mesmerising. Time seemed to stand still as the Cybermen stopped and, in absolute silence, looked right at Mickey. The Cybermen are big, metallic, fearless creatures. They should elicit feelings of fear and foreboding—and tonight they kind of did. Occasionally (particularly during the synchronised walking scenes), they began to look silly again, but there were more hits than misses tonight, so we can forgive the occasional fumble.

I didn't really understand Lumic's reluctance to be upgraded. Wasn't that the whole point of him building the Cybermen in the first place—so that he could live on? So why refuse to be converted until the last minute? Was it simply to avoid the process? Let's be fair, it did look like an awfully painful procedure. Lumic did however look pretty cool as the Cyber Controller—all exposed brain, steel tubing and shiny metal. In fact, Pack's monotone delivery sounded far more effective once he'd been suited and booted. If only he'd toned it down a little last week.

And Mickey finally came of age tonight. In a sense, this week was the culmination of his journey. He started off the series as the comic relief: the one who got sucked into the plastic wheelie-bin; the one who fell over the mop bucket; the proverbial butt of every joke. In 'World War Three', despite the Doctor's uncharacteristically generous offer, he even refused a place aboard the TARDIS out of fear. But, this season he finally appears to have overcome his demons, and I have to say, it's been the making of him. As he said to the Doctor, he's not the 'tin dog' any more. In this episode he literally forced himself into the action, and in the end—and completely unexpectedly—turned out to be the hero.

Sadly, his death had zero effect on me. Noel Clarke's acting was just too weak to do the writing justice. His wobbly, puppy dog face returned, and the old mopey, dopey, ineffectual Mickey came wafting through—like the unwelcome stench of a three-month old onion, rotting in the back of the refrigerator. I'm sure the closing scenes worked for some—and I'm happy for you if they did—but, for me, they failed to have any impact whatsoever.

I did enjoy watching The Doctor and Mrs Moore team-up, however. I love the way the Doctor responds to smart humans. His face when Mrs Moore blew up the Cyberman with an EMP bomb was hilarious—both gleeful and admiring in equal measure. And the final moral message was a sound one. Yes Lumic may have been all powerful, but in the end, all it takes is one idiot to save the world.

Other Thoughts:

—Bearing in mind the Cybermen are so damn loud when they walk, how on earth did they manage to sneak up on Mrs Moore?

—'Mickey the Idiot' was the ninth Doctor's pet name for Mickey (amongst others).

—One of the deleted scenes in the boxed set reveals that both Ricky and Jake were gay and in love. And yet Mickey reckons he's only stopping to be with his Gran? Yeah—whatever Mickey, whatever!

Billie says...

Part two was definitely more successful, for several reasons. The creep factor was successfully ramped up with the wholesale slaughter in the human abattoir, and the long, dark hallway of immobile Cybermen. The three-pronged approach to defeating them actually made some sense. The writer even paid off the zeppelins. And most importantly, they made the essential core of humanity the key to defeating the Cybermen.

This whole thing with everyone being emotionless and inhuman and exactly the same and never progressing… considering that the Cybermen were created for old Who… was this a communism metaphor? Pardon me if that’s an obvious question. I will again use my unfamiliarity with old Who as my excuse.

Other stuff worked, too. I particularly liked Mrs. Moore, and her heroic demise bummed me out. She was like Q. (From Bond, not Star Trek.) I also really liked the scene where the Doctor told Mickey what to do on video, right in front of Cyber Controller Lumic. And there was something almost moving about Mickey's sacrifice, remaining on Parallel World and never seeing Rose again. (One hopes.) Mickey and Jake do seem to be made for each other, though. And that was even before I found out they were supposed to be a couple.

Quotes:

Doctor: "Rose, she's not your mother."
Rose: "I know."

Doctor: "The human race. For such an intelligent lot, you aren't half susceptible."

Mickey: "You're just making this up as you go along."
Doctor: "Yup, but I do it brilliantly."

Doctor: "Would you care to accompany me to the cooling tunnels?"
Mrs. Moore: "How could I refuse an offer of cooling tunnels?"

Doctor: "Haven't got a hot dog in there, have you? I'm starving."
Mrs. Moore: "Of all the things to wish for, that's mechanically recovered meat."
Doctor: "I know. It's the Cyberman of food, but it's tasty."

Doctor: "I've been captured, but don't worry. Rose and Pete are still out there. They can rescue me. Oh well, never mind."

Doctor: "Oh, Lumic, you're a clever man. I'd call you a genius except I'm in the room."

Mickey: "That's the Doctor in the Tardis with Rose Tyler."

Jackie: "Where's Mickey?"
Doctor: "He's gone home."
---
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.

4 comments:

shawnlunn2002 said...

I seem to be in the minority with liking this two parter as a whole because the first two parter every season is the weakest.

Mickey was great in this episode. It made sense for him to stay back with Jake and Pete and his gran. Rose didn't need him. I don't think she ever has.

I'm sure somewhere out there Lumic might have survived but let's hope not, eh?

D said...

Billie:" was this a communism metaphor?"
SEASON FINALE SPOILER ALERT:

Hey Billie. It's funny you say that, because that came to my mind during "Doomsday". The daleks were admitedly based on the Nazis, so the way the Doctor temporaly allied himself with the cyberman to defeat them was similar to the way the allies allied themselves to the URSS in order to defeat Germany during world war 2.








SPOILERS END
These modern cyberman were also an allegory to the way technology dehumanizes people. I tend to like metaphors, evcn they are a bit dated (but not when they are so specific and diminute as in "The long game")
I liked these 2 partner more than most people, because this is the first episode of "Doctor WHo" I ever watched. I then stopped watching this season and started right from the beggining.

Michael Colvin said...

Question: Are the cybermen some sort of pre-cursor to the Daleks? All of the "delete delete delete" was feeling very familiar...

Rickey/Mickey are so much more interesting if they are actually gay... Wish that it could have made it into the final episode.

Paul Kelly said...

Hello Michael,

No, the Daleks pre-date the Cybermen by about 3 years. And their battle-cry of "delete" is a modern day phenomenon (2006). They never used to say that (and were the better for it, IMHO).