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Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen

"You've no home planet, no influence, nothing! You're just a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship!"

'Revenge of the Cybermen' was the Cybermen's sole appearance during the 1970s and it’s not hard to see why. While the Daleks managed to reclaim their credibility in the previous story, the Cybermen lose what is left of theirs in this one.

Our heroes return to the Ark station, only to discover to their horror that someone has had a clearance sale in their absence and left a load of shop window dummies lying around all over the place (or possibly some Autons having a nice nap). Turns out that the Time Ring has returned the Doctor and co to the Ark at the wrong point in time (Time Lord technology, eh? Unreliable as ever). It doesn't take Team TARDIS long to work out that they've stumbled into the Cybermen's pointlessly complicated plan to destroy Voga, the planet of gold (gold being the Cybermen's main weakness. Yes, gold?). But unbeknownst to the Cybermen, the Vogans have come up with an equally pointlessly complicated plan to destroy them.

'Revenge of the Cybermen' is the absolute nadir of Tom Baker’s tenure as everyone's favourite Time Lord. If I had to describe this story in one word, it would be 'abysmal'. And that is only because I am trying to keep this review family friendly. I've never been a fan of the Cybermen, but will admit that, when done right, they can be quite creepy. The creepiness comes from their lack of emotion and uniformity, both of which this story throws out of the airlock.

This was unfortunately Robert Holmes' doing. He rewrote most of Gerry Davies' original script and decided to give the Cybermen more human characteristics. He just couldn't help giving the bad guys personalities, even the one who shouldn't have any. Oh, and I don't know whose idea it was to make gold the Cybermen's weakness, but that person deserved to be slapped. You can't just give a long established adversary a weakness this late in the game. And especially not one so stupid. It is difficult to be scared of a monster you can defeat with some tacky jewellery and a Spandau Ballet song.

But the Cybermen aren't the worst thing about this story. That would be the Vogans. It's bad enough the make-up effects look rubbish, but the endless bickering about the future of their race is dull. Whenever aliens start squabbling amongst themselves on Doctor Who, you know it is time to hit the fast forward button. They are also incredibly stupid. Seriously, they live on a small planet full of gold, the Cybermen's only weakness, and yet they can't figure out a way to stop two Cybermen. Instead they just keep shooting at them with their ineffective weapons for what feels like forever.

The only things that make this story even the slightest bit entertaining are Christopher Robbie's camp Cyber-Leader (his voice says “I’m a dreary zombie cyborg” but his body language says “Bitch, I’m fabulous”) and the performances of the regulars. Tom, Lis and Ian are as great as ever, Tom especially. Even with a Cyber-Bomb strapped to his back, this Doctor is too cool for school and just plays with his yo-yo.

Notes and Quotes

--This story was the first Doctor Who serial to be released on VHS in 1983.

--If you do ever decide to watch this one, I recommend putting it on mute and watching with subtitles. Carey Blyton's musical score is likely to induce headaches.

--The scene where actor Alec Wallis (Warner) is forced give up his precious dignity and wrestle with a Cybermat prop is one of the most embarrassing scenes in all Doctor Who.

--It is amazing how the Vogan's Skystriker turns into a NASA rocket when it takes off. Did they seriously think no one would notice that?

--The Vogans symbol would be reused by designer Roger Murray-Leach as the Seal of Rassilon, the symbol for the Time Lords, in 'The Deadly Assassin'.

--The scenes in the Vogan caves were shot on location in Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset.

Lester: "Why don't we just wait here?"
The Doctor: "I think my idea is better."
Lester: "What is your idea?"
The Doctor: "I don't know yet. That's the trouble with ideas - they only come a bit at a time."

The Doctor: "Oh please, don't call me human. Just 'Doctor' would do very nicely, thank you."

The Doctor: "Harry, did you try to undo this?"
Harry: "Well, yes..."
The Doctor: "Did you make the rocks fall?"
Harry: "Yes, I suppose I did do that."

Sarah: "But we're still headed towards the biggest bang in history!"
The Doctor: "They've locked the gyro controls!"
Sarah: "What does that mean?"
The Doctor: "We're headed towards the biggest bang in history..."

One out of four obvious pieces of NASA stock footage.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. It is the sad result of all the Cyber-Stylist being exterminated during the Second Dalek-Cybermen War. If the Daleks couldn't have fabulous hair then no one would.

  2. That picture looks like it belongs on a Doctor Who attack of the Cybermen Lego set. In other words, I love it!

  3. There's so much to criticize here. I disliked the masks on the actors portraying the Vogans. It left them expressionless and muffled. I seriously disliked that the entire plot relied on a backstory that was simply interjected, namely the war pitting Earth and its allies, including Voga, against the Cybermen. I hated the idea that the Vogans who made it through the fragmentation of their planet in their survival bunker were happy to pass on the fact that the Cybermen were their mortal enemies, but neglected to mention that they could be easily defeated using the most abundant raw material on their world. And I loathed the idea that the Cybermen had such a ludicrous weakness in the first place. Glitter guns. Seriously.

  4. I loved this one as a kid, but watching it again as an adult...it's got problems. It's not my least favorite 4th Doctor story, but it suffers from so many issues that it's not far off.

    The whole gold weakness idea, which I find ludicrous in the first place, was one thing I was very glad that new Who did away with. It's silly, it feels super cheap when used, and it just doesn't work. That being said, the fact that the Vogans are not shooting the Cybermen with gold to take them out, while living on the planet of gold, makes zero sense; if you're going to give them this weakness than the ones who know it well and have ample resources to do it should be using the dang weakness!

    A few cool ideas ruined by silliness and some rewrites. I so wanted to like this after loving it as a kid, but I just can't. It's one of my least favorite 4th Doctor stories due all these issues.

  5. I personally find this to be a guilty pleasure, it's not great and the bona plot is the most inefficient Cybermen plan we've ever been presented but I find the leads to be so much fun. It's interesting that this story is one few Hinchcliff stories not to be bleak and violent which definitely makes it standout.


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