Sunday, 18 February 2018

CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES: HISTORY OF THE CYBERMEN - PART 4

Well, we got through a whole slew of late 20th/early 21st Century stories. Now we're off to the far-flung future. We'll go to Telos and deal with the first Great Cyber War.   



PART 4: THE DISTANT FUTURE 

The Cyber Race is in trouble. They were quite the formidable galactic conquerors with their Main Fleet and Mondas - but both were lost during attempts to take over the Earth. Subsidiary Fleets tried to exact a revenge of some sort, but they took damage too. The Cyber Armies are strong and still have power and influence in other parts of the Universe but it is getting harder for them to maintain their grip. They are running low on energy.



THE GREAT RETREAT

After some calculation, the Cybermen decide they must rest for a time. They will disappear from the cosmos in hopes that the Universe will be changed enough to suit them when they re-emerge. They even devise a sort of trap that will indicate to them when the humans of the galaxy are more suitable for conversion.

Of course, the biggest problem is to find a place where they can hide while they rest. After some searching, they discover a world that will suit their needs. The Cryons of Telos have become masters at mass refrigeration. Their planet went through a huge climate change and is no longer hospitable for them so they fashioned gigantic survival chambers that maintained a low temperature for them to thrive in. Uniting all the subsidiary fleets, the Cybermen invade those chambers and more-or-less wipe out the Cryons. They then retro-fit the whole place into a cryogenic suspension system. Or the tombs of the Cybermen - as they came to be known.

Before going into hibernation, the Cybermen wanted to make sure they could acclimatize properly to the ways of the Galaxy when they awoke. They took a massive sweep through all the greatest warehouses of knowledge that were available in the Universe at the time (they couldn't hack the Matrix - they didn't even know Time Lords existed, yet). They would take a second sweep when they arose once more so that they could see just how much things had changed during their slumber. As they gathered all their information, they learnt more about the Doctor. They didn't know how, but he was a man of many faces. As they probed Earth records, they learnt that - with another face - the Doctor was responsible for the destruction of Mondas.

The Cybermen felt they needed an appropriate repository for all the knowledge they had gathered. Up until this point, they had been reliant on Cyber Planners. They wanted something less cumbersome and more mobile. The Cyber Controller was created.

This was their last act before sealing themselves' into a huge underground hibernation chamber. This all occurred just as the 21st Century was ending...





THE GREAT RE-AWAKENING

There was but one more logistical problem to deal with before the Cybermen went into their Long Sleep. While all the subsidiary fleets had been gathered, those Deep Space Scoutships were taking too long to return. So the Cyber Controller ordered them to remain where they were but to change their mission parameters. No longer would they search for new worlds to conquer. Instead, they would commit acts of piracy on any space vessels or small colonies that they had the strength to beat. They would plunder them and amass as much resources as possible for the sleeping Cyber Force to use when they returned to consciousness. Essentially, the scouts became scavengers.

It's difficult to say just how long the Cybermen truly slept for. In Tomb of the Cybermen, the claim of five hundred years gets used several times. This is probably a rounding up of the number for dramatic effect. It's probably more like four hunrded and a bit of change.

Convinced that humans will, someday, evolve into more logical beings that will crave conversion - the Cyber Controller sets up his own hibernation chamber near the surface of the planet. He also leaves several logic puzzles that will need to be solved in order to gain access to him. He is convinced that this will be a kind of screening system that will mean that anyone who does seek him out will be suitable to turn into soldiers in his Army.

Things don't quite go according to the Cyber-Controller's plan. He is, eventually, dug up by a small archaeological team during the early 26th Century who realize they've opened a Pandora's Box. With the help of the Second Doctor (who the Cyber Controller recognizes and attributes the destruction of Mondas to), the tombs are re-sealed.

These are, of course, the events of Tomb of the Cybermen.

One cybermat manages to escape before the main doors of the tomb are closed. Cannibalizing circuitry from the artificial arm of Toberman's fallen body, the cybermat sets up a transmitter that summons a crew of Cybermen that had been successfully scavenging during the centuries that the Main Army slept. They respond to the signal and reach Telos a short while later. The Cyber Controller is repaired and the tombs are properly re-opened. With all the resources the scavengers have amassed, the campaigns of the Cybermen can begin, anew. 



THE NEED FOR UNIFORMITY

Once restored, the Cyber Controller sees there must be some serious revision to the Cyber Race. He has only revived a small force but there is a need for greater delegation of orders. Cyber Leaders are created to help with the decision-making process. They confer and decide that the scavengers who came to save them should be sent back out into deep space. Attributing a Cyber Leader to the scavengers, they are sent off to commit more acts of piracy.

Other scavengers are contacted and they bring in their hauls, too. They are sent back out once their cargo is delivered. The Cyber Controller sees he can do a lot with the resources the scavengers provided. But he needs an even larger governing force so he also creates Cyber Lieutenants to help with the issuing of his orders.

A second sweep of all the great data bases of the Universe is done. More is learnt about the Doctor and his many faces. Some visual records are even obtained. In the process of acquiring more knowledge of their greatest foe, the Cybermen also discover the existence of Time Lords.

After creating new ranks in his forces, the next big decision the Cyber Controller makes is to take all the different models of Cybermen that are sleeping in their tombs and assimilate them into one form. This conversion occurs while many of them are still asleep. The latest model is meant to be the most streamlined and efficient of all the Cybermen. Easy to build so that the army can grow as quickly as possible as they go back out into the cosmos and begin, anew, their plans of conquest. This particular branch of Cybermen came to be known as the Neomoprh.

Full Disclosure: I am, technically, breaking my own rules with the naming of this model. I had said in my first entry that I would only use information from transmitted episodes. The term "Neomorph" is never said onscreen. It's something that's really only used in David Banks' book on Cybermen (a great read with very pretty pictures!). I've decided to employ this title when I discuss this particular model because it sounds better than the more commonly used: "80's style Cybermen".

While the Neomorph Cybermen do have their advantages, there are some shortcomings, too. The earliest models seem to be some of the most vulnerable. They aren't even immune to bullets. Also, because the conversion was done on so many hibernating Cybermen, it's created complications in the revivification process. Many Cybermen are waking up and acting in an irrationally violent manner. They are dubbed Rogue Cybermen. The Cybermen working under the Cyber Controller's authority study the problem but can find no way to repair it. Rogue Cybermen are simply eliminated any time they awaken.




TIME TRAVEL

At this point in time, the Cybermen have one of the greatest strokes of luck. They just happen to capture a time vessel and the fundamentals of time travel are opened up to them. Ruthless, logical creatures that they are, they try to exploit their new-found technology to its fullest potential.

Deciding that it all went downhill for them after they lost Mondas, the Cybermen of Telos undertake a mission to alter the course of history. They will go back to 1985 and take advantage of the fact that Halley's Comet will be passing by the Earth. They will divert its course and cause it to collide with the planet. The devastation it will cause will weaken the Earth enough so that when Mondas arrives in 1986 they will absorb the planet effortlessly.

Just to better understand the effects of such devastation, the Cybermen start lacing the surface of Telos with explosives. The Time Lords get wind of what they're up to and dispatch the Doctor to stop them. The events of Attack of the Cybermen take place, here.


ANOTHER SOMEWHAT IRRELEVANT SIDENOTE:  Some might think that Attack of the Cybermen takes place entirely in 1985 since Lytton sends out a distress beacon that year that gets received by the Cryons. How can he send out a transmission that finds its way into the future? I say that Lytton's previous experience with the Daleks and their time corridor in Resurrection of the Daleks gives him that ability. He managed to glean a bit of temporal physics off of the Daleks and built a transmitter that could emit into the future. He wanted to return to his own time (somewhere around the 27th Century) but could only get the transmitter to project so far. The transmissions made it to the 26th Century - which was good enough. He could probably work out a way to jump ahead one more century once he got there.


Cyber Control does get destroyed at the end of Attack but it was largely abandoned by that point. When the Cybermen came to Telos in the late 21st Century to go into hibernation, they landed their armada on Telos and hid it in an underground complex. Their ships were waiting for them five centuries later when they emerged from their tomb. Since Telos was scheduled for demolition, they evacuated the planet.

Once more, the Cyber Fleet was haunting the heavens.



THE FIRST CYBER WAR

The Earth soon learnt about that Cyber Fleet and grew concerned. They had suffered enough at the hands of the Cybermen back in the day. They decided that, rather than wait for an attack that they knew would come, they would take the fight to them.

But they also knew they couldn't do it alone. While the Cyber Fleet wasn't as large as it once was, it was still formidable. Earth's military forces were not sufficient to win in a war against the Cybermen. Fortunately, other worlds remembered the threat they once posed to the galaxy. Various interstellar governments began to confer with Earth. An alliance was forming..

Our Neomorphs do make an attempt to stop the alliance by trying to blow up the Earth during a vital conference that would have banded the different governments together once and for all. Again, some time travel shenanigans are going on, here. As we reach the appropriate moment in the Cybermen's timescale, we'll discuss it in further detail.

The second attempt by the Cybermen to pervert history fails. A short while later, the First Great Cyber War erupts.

The war was long and bloody. Even with so many forces combined against them, the Cybermen were still showing signs of a possible victory. The Neomorphs had managed to overcome those early design flaws and were, now, impervious to most forms of weaponry. However, in achieving their near-invulnerability, they develop a single great weakness: they are allergic to gold. If it gets into their chestplates, it clogs up the breathing apparatus and suffocates a Cyberman. The Alliance Against the Cybermen, eventually, learn of this Archilles' Tendon and use it to their advantage. Voga, the planet of gold, is approached by the Alliance and their assistance is requested. Military scientists invent the glitter gun. A weapon that can coat a Cyberman with gold (or, at least, a part of the Cyberman - you probably have to aim for the chestplate) and kill him.

This represents a huge turn in the tide of the First Great Cyber War. The Cyber Forces are driven back in a vicious onslaught by the Alliance. There is a Final Great Skirmish where, to all intents and purposes, the Cybermen appear to get wiped out. However, in that final battle, the planet Voga also appears to be destroyed.

The Cybermen do still appear to have their time vessel throughout the Cyber War. As it looks like they are doomed, a crew embarks upon the ship and disappears into the future.

We'll hear more about them later....





REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED LOGICAL 

Once more, the Cybermen seem to disappear from the Universe. Many believe they could be gone forever.

However, the Alliance has overlooked one or two important matters. Firstly, they did not realize there were still Cybermen working in the remote parts of space. They had originally been scouts and were now scavengers. They were staying hidden from the eyes of the Alliance while they were re-building supplies and hatching a scheme to create a new Cyber Fleet.

One group of scavengers does make a play at re-asserting themselves' into a more central part of the Universe. They are, quite possibly, the same group that received the transmission from the cybermat on Telos and re-awakened the main forces. They have amassed all that they need for a new army - they just want to make one important strategic move. Voga, it seems, was not entirely destroyed in the Cyber War. A chunk of it is still floating about near Jupiter with an actual population staying hidden beneath its surface. The Cybermen know they will be defeated, once more, if they try to conquer the galaxy before Voga is destroyed.

They attempt to blow up Voga during Revenge of the Cybermen. The campaign fails.

It should be noted that the Revenge-style Cybermen are one of the few models in existence at the time that weren't Neomoprhs. Not all the scavengers underwent Neomorphic conversion during the Great Re-Awakening. While the Cyber Wars were waging, however, they were still receiving minor upgrades from the dominant model. One of those upgrades causes the Cyberleader to take on very aggressive characteristics so that he's more intimidating to humans. They also sought that high level of invulnerability that the Neomorphs had. Which meant that, at the same time, they inherited the weakness to gold. However, the allergy wasn't quite as acute. The gold really needed to get into their system to cause harm. Which may explain why the guns the Vogans were using against them didn't seem to have any effect (one would presume the bullets in their rifles were made of gold - since just-about everything else on Voga is golden). But, when the Doctor loads a cybermat with gold-dust, the attack works. The sting of the cybermat injects the gold deeply into a Cyberman's body. Whereas the bullets can't quite penetrate their armor.

With the attack on what remains of Voga repelled, the Cybermen do seem to be well-and-truly extinct. But we all know that can't truly be the case.

They will be back.





And we end the entry, here. I thought I could do this whole saga in four installments but the tale is proving longer to tell than expected.  So we'll return again, soon, with the Second Great Cyber War and a series of cameos that seem to indicate that the Cybermen will keep surviving for thousands of years to come....



Part 1: 
https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2018/02/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of.html

Part 2: 
https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2018/02/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of_9.html

Part 3: 
https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2018/02/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of_13.html 
 




















Tuesday, 13 February 2018

CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES: HISTORY OF THE CYBERMEN - PART 3

With the Genesis of the Cybermen established, we can start moving on to their expansion campaign and the huge difference Earth has made in stopping them from taking over the cosmos.....



CHAPTER THREE: FIRST ENCOUNTERS WITH EARTH


DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION

Mondas and the Main Cyberfleet are now working together in perfect conjunction. They begin moving out and invading the many planets around them. Worlds with humans on them face mass conversion before they are stripped and then absorbed by Mondas. Other planets with lifeforms that aren't suitable for conversion are simply conquered, devastated and drained by the Cyber Homeworld. As mentioned in the last entry, there are also subsidiary fleets attacking minor colonies.

With their cold logic, the Cybermen are not even concerned about the names of the planets they are taking over. They are simply numbered. The major planets are, at least. Those smaller settlements the subsidiary fleets are taking care of receive a different designation. But the larger civilizations that suffer from the hands of the Main Fleet and then Mondas are referred to numerically. So the first planet they conquered gets called Planet 1. The next one they invade: Planet 2. And so on...

We also mentioned in the last entry that long range scout ships are going out into deep space to discover new worlds to invade. One of these ships was manned by a team of Cybus Style Cybermen. They travel far out into the galaxy to find distant potentials. Unfortunately for them, they travel too far and then run into some technical problems with their ship. They lose contact with the fleets and Mondas and are forced to crash on a planet of humans that they were about to investigate. The planet they land on is Earth. The ship embeds itself in the Earth's crust. The Cybermen probably emerged briefly to find the planet was at too primitive of a stage to provide them with a decent energy source. So they shut down for a few centuries as they wait for the civilization of humans to evolve and be more useful. The ship is set on automatic to detect when a form of energy has finally developed for them to exploit.



SIDENOTE: While I have already documented this in Part 1, I will include Cybus Cybermen incursions into our reality just to help us with understanding their timescale. So, some time after the scout ship has crashed and gone into sleep mode, a small band of Cybus Cybermen emerge into our reality. This takes place around 1851. The buried Cyber scoutship fails to detect them. The scanning system is quite weak from the damage it received from the crash. A strong energy source has to be practically on top of them before they can pick it up.

Lumic's Cybermen attempt to build a Cyber Dreadnought but the whole campaign fails quite quickly. This is, technically, their second incursion into our reality but our first experience with them in Earth's timescale. We forget the experience we had with them, though. It's postulated that the Cracks in Time the TARDIS' destruction created somehow absorbed our memories of the event.




PLANET 14

While Earth gets its first few tastes of Cybermen, the Main Fleet and Mondas continue their campaign over in their end of the universe. More and more planets receive that numerical designation as they are gutted. The Cybermen face resistance from the populations of each world, of course. But nothing manages to stop them.

Until, at last, they reach Planet 14.

Somehow, the Doctor in his second incarnation stops them from conquering that world. We don't know how, exactly. But we do know that the Cybermen get visual records of him and label him as a major threat. His success in thwarting the Planet 14 campaign is well-documented. The Cybermen face failure for the first time and this means a lot to them. The Doctor, in this particular form, is never truly forgotten.

Fortunately for the Cybermen, another nearby world is not defended by this mysterious Doctor character. The Main Fleet and Mondas have just enough power to get to it. Planet 15 is extinguished and the Cyber Race moves on.

When, exactly, the events of Planet 14 happen in the Second Doctor's personal timeline is somewhat unclear. He never seems to show much knowledge of the experience during televised episodes. Nor does Jamie - who was travelling with the Second Doctor for almost his entire era. So I'm guessing Planet 14 happened for him during Season 6b. It may have even been a specific mission he undertook on the Time Lords' behalf. They would know the importance it represents to the Cybermen and, specifically, send the Doctor there to ensure events happened the way they were meant to.




PRIMARY CAMPAIGNS TO CONQUER EARTH

Over the next few years, the campaigns of the Main Fleet and Mondas continue. More planets get those dreaded numbers assigned to them. The Cyber Race grows. Strategies are becoming more and more complicated though and Cyber Planners are developed to help handle this. They are used by the Space-Faring Cybermen, only.

Another long-range scout ship makes its way to Earth and quickly sends messages back to Main Fleet to inform them of their discovery. Earth is, easily, one of the most abundant worlds they have ever found. Both in terms of human population and overall resources.

The Cybermen back on Mondas research the Earth a bit. Other races who have made the journey between Earth and Mondas have noticed the similarities between the two worlds. Theories are postulated that they might be sister planets of some sort. The Cybermen, being so literal-minded, fail to understand that these are just theories or legends and accept this as truth.

Earth, with its dense population and primitive-but-strong defenses, looks like it might be a difficult planet to invade. The Cybermen that arrive in this latest scout ship construct a Cyber Planner to assist them with the problem. Mondas and the Main Fleet begin their long journey to join them.

The Cyber Planner directs its minions to form an alliance with a suitably greedy human. They select Tobias Vaughn for their campaign. Over the next five years, Vaughn conquers the Earth economically so that he can make way for the ensuing invasion force.

The events of The Invasion take place. Assigning a definite date to this adventure becomes quite tricky. It takes place sometime during the 60s or 70s. We can't say for sure. Someday, I might dare to tackle UNIT dating protocol. But I don't have enough courage to do that right now!

Whatever date it is, the events of Planet 14 are still fairly recent (perhaps only a few decades previously). Memory of the Second Doctor's image is still fairly fresh and the Cyber Planner recognizes him immediately.

At the end of The Invasion, the Main Fleet is wiped out. This represents a huge problem for Mondas. The fleet was meant to make Earth weak enough for them to absorb at safe levels. But the campaign failed. Mondas is too far into Deep Space to try turn back. There are no other suitable planets for them to conquer in the part of the universe they are travelling through. They have to continue to Earth.

Unbeknownst to the Mondasian Cybermen, Neomorphic Cybermen with time travel capabilities make an attempt from their future to save them. They go back to 1985 and use the sewers of London, once more, as a small base of operations. They also have a ship hiding from Earth detection on the dark side of the moon. Their attempt to crash Halley's Comet into the Earth would've weakened the planet suitably so that, when Mondas does arrive, it could have harmlessly soaked up what energy remained. The plan, however, was thwarted by the Sixth Doctor and Lytton. We'll learn more about these matters when we reach the appropriate point in the Cybermen timescale. 

Mondas arrives at Earth in 1986 with a simple enough plan in mind. Earth has developed the Z-bomb: a weapon of mass-destruction. Mondas plans to explode the Z-bombs on the Earth's surface once they have soaked up an appropriate amount of energy. The events of The Tenth Planet ensue.

This campaign also fails. This time, at the hands of the about-to-regenerate First Doctor. The Cybermen fail to recognize him in this form, of course. Nor does any visual record of him in this incarnation survive beyond the destruction of Mondas. At this point, the Doctor is still only known to the Cybermen in his second body. 



SOME MINOR EARTH ADVENTURES

The Cyber-Race has received a crippling blow. Both its Main Fleet and Home Planet have been destroyed in the course of a few short years. Subsidiary Fleets are still active in the neck of the cosmos that Mondas amd the Main Fleet came from. They are attempting to grow in power and size but are only experiencing limited success.. Scout ships are also out in the furthest reaches of space looking for more worlds to invade.

The Cybermen must work on a smaller scale for a time.



Enough information gets sent back to these lesser forces to ascertain two important things:

1) Earth represents too great of a threat and must, logically, be invaded or destroyed. Which course of action they choose will depend on the strength of the attacking fleet.

2) This mysterious Doctor who thwarted the conquest of Planet 14 was, at least, partially responsible for the failure of the Primary Earth Campaigns. He must be remembered and defeated.



While the subsidiary fleets and scout ships go about their business, there is still some activity that takes place on Earth that involves the Cybermen.

In November of 1988, a fleet piloted by Neomorphic Cybermen gathered in Earth's orbit. A small attack force descended to the surface and attempted to take control of a validium statue known as Nemesis. Their plans were thwarted by the Doctor and Lady Peinforte. Like the events of Attack of the Cybermen and the various Cybus Cybermen incursions, these things are happening in a bit of a timey whimey fashion. These are Neomorphs - so they have time travel capabilities. Like the Cybermen from Attack, they hail from the far future and have journeyed into the past. Like Attack of the Cybermen, we'll elaborate further on the events of Silver Nemesis when we reach the proper point in the Cybermen's timescale.

Speaking of Cybus Cybermen, a few decades after Silver Nemesis, they attempt their first incursion into our reality (although it is the second one by our own timescale). The events of Army of Ghosts/Doomsday probably take place sometime around 2007. 

In 2011, humans lay power lines close enough to the first Cyber scout ship that crashed on Earth a few centuries previously. The ship, at last, awakens. The Cybus Style Cybermen onboard  see just how much the humans on Earth have grown and advanced. They decide to be more tactical and stealthy. They even do some research before acting.

With their advanced technology, the deepest darkest places on the internet are no match for their prying eyes. While much has been kept secret from the public through cover stories and subterfuge, the Cybermen in the scout ship learn of the failures of the Main Fleet and Mondas. They even discover information about the battle at Canary Wharf. Most importantly, however, they dig up extensive files on the Doctor. Turns out Mickey never properly used the virus the Doctor gave him at the end of World War III so there was plenty the scout ship Cybermen could learn about the Time Lord. They were, in fact, the first ones to learn that the Doctor came in many forms. So when they did run into him during Closing Time, they were able to guess who he was.

Interestingly enough, these are the first Cybermen of our reality to attempt to build a Cyber Controller. We can't say, exactly, where the idea came from. Perhaps they actually downloaded some secret files from the Cybus Cybermen at Canary Wharf and saw that they, very briefly, used a Cyber Controller in their past.

Sometime around 2014, Missy attempts a mass conversion of humans with the army she's put together throughout the span of Series Eight. The adventure in Dark Water/Death In Heaven takes place. This, of course, is another tale involving a lesser race of Cybermen. It's entirely possible that the Mondasian Cybermen never even hear of this.

We should note, however, that there have now been too many experiences with Cybermen during the late 20th/early 21st Century to keep them concealed from public knowledge. A newscast heard in the background of one scene in Death In Heaven mentions knowledge of a previous attack from the Cybermen. Which one it was, exactly, we can't be sure. There are so many to choose from in this era!


SECONDARY CAMPAIGNS TO CONQUER EARTH

Things seem to settle down with Earth and the Cybermen for a bit.  But, after nearly a century of operating in their own end of the universe, the Cybermen return their attention to Earth.

A subsidiary fleet makes the journey to Earth in the Year 2070. They have recognized a tactical weakness in the way Earth controls its weather via a station on the moon. These Cybermen have calculated that they still lack the might to overcome Earth's opposition so they opt to just wipe out the population through weather catastrophes that they could generate from the moonbase. Earth cannot be allowed to prosper any further or they may, eventually, represent a legitimate threat to what remains of the Cyber Race.

The Moonbase takes place, here. Visual records of the Second Doctor still remain in the memory banks of the Cybermen. He is still designated as a dangerous enemy so the Cybermen recognize him. They may not mention Planet 14 in this instance because the passing of time may have corrupted files a bit. Or they just didn't see it necessary to bring up the subject.

Knowledge of the Cybermen attacks during the late 20th/early 21st Century have probably become very public by this point. The crew of Weather Control talk quite openly about the Cybermen. But they also mention how no one's heard from them in forever. So Missy's Army might be the last time we had any experience with them until the events of The Moonbase. It's my guess, however, that information regarding The Invasion, The Tenth Planet, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday and Dark Water/Death In Heaven are well-known by everyone. Some of the other stories that take place during that time might not have gotten any attention at all. Attack of the Cybermen, Silver Nemesis and Closing Time all happened on a pretty covert scale.

A few of the Cybermen's saucers do appear to get repelled and, quite possibly, destroyed at the end of The Moonbase. Was this all that existed of this particular fleet? We can't say for sure...

A second subsidiary fleet, eventually, makes an attempt on Earth in the story The Wheel In Space. Dating Wheel is a tricky matter. No clear date is given in the actual transmitted story. Because we see Zoe joining the TARDIS crew at the end of Wheel, mention is made of her background in other stories she stars in. This can help us determine when Wheel happened.

The best we get is that Zoe is from the 21st Century. The Mind Robber seems to insinuate she's from the early 21st Century but I'm more inclined to think she's into vintage telepress comics and hails from a much later era. I'd like to think she's from the tale end of the 21st Century. Maybe even as late as the 2090s. If I could, I'd like to put her at an even later date but she does admit during her interrogation in The War Games that she's from the 21st Century so we have to commit to that.

It would appear, though, that attacks from the Cybermen and, probably, other aggressive alien species have prompted the humans of late 21st Century Earth to set up a long-range defense system with their "space wheel" stations. The Cybermen actually see the program as another tactical weakness. If they can take over just one space wheel - that can clear the way for an attack armada.

In a very contrived manner, they attempt to infiltrate space station W3. Once more, their old enemy is there to stop them. The Second Doctor doesn't seem to get recognized until the Cyber Planner sees an image of him - but they still remember.

Space Station W3 definitely does some real damage to the Cyber fleet. Most likely, the Cybermen are facing other defeats in other invasion attempts, too. Their forces are dwindling. They're running low on resources and energy. They must rest.

They will find a place to slumber on the planet Telos.




.... And we'll stop Chapter Three here. In our next installment we'll look at the intergalactic wars that finally erupt between Earth and the Cyber Race. And, of course, we'll be looking at Telos.    


Part 1 of Cyber History: 
https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2018/02/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of.html

Part 2 of Cyber History: 
https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2018/02/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of_9.html












Friday, 9 February 2018

CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES: HISTORY OF THE CYBERMEN - PART 2

With the Lesser Races examined, we can get to the meat of things. Let's look at the strain that star in most of the Cybermen stories we've seen. 




PART 2: GENESIS



LEGENDS OF MONDAS

An old galactic legend would have us believe that Earth once had a sister planet known as Mondas. Through some strange twist of cosmic circumstance, Mondas was knocked out of its orbit in our solar system and sent to a distant point on the other end of the galaxy. There, it settled into a new orbit. The truth of this legend is subjective, at best. But Mondas certainly looks very similar to our own world. No one can properly account for the resemblance.

Like Earth, a race of humans evolved on Mondas. They seemed to advance quite quickly. Interstellar travel was developed and contact established with other space-faring worlds that were nearby. Mondas, however, was a dying world (perhaps a long-term effect from its massive trip across the galaxy - if such a thing happened). They lacked the proper resources to build a substantial fleet of ships to take them offworld but they were able to strike some sort of deal with a neighboring world to build them a colony ship.

The colony ship was massive. Most habitable planets in that part of the galaxy were already densely populated.. The Mondasians knew they had a long trip ahead of them before they could reach a place to live. During the extensive journey, their population would grow so they would need the space.



COLONY SHIP PROBLEMS

As the colony ship was travelling to Mondas, an unfortunate accident occurred. A glitch in the navigation computers caused it to ignore a black hole and the vessel started getting drawn into it. The skeleton crew onboard noticed the imminent disaster in time and switched to manual. They threw the engines into reverse as they were nearing the black hole's threshold. This saved them from plunging in but now they had to get out of it. Part of the crew traveled down to the thrusters and made the necessary modifications that would enable them to actually pull out of the black hole's influence and resume their journey to Mondas.

No one thought to compensate for the time dilation that would happen under such circumstances. At the thrusters, time flowed more quickly. Minutes would pass at the front of the ship and years would fly by at the rear. The crew that had gone down needed to stay there to maintain the modifications they made. With time moving so fast in that section of the ship, they were living out their full lives while little time was passing on the bridge.

The crew at the back of the ship procreated and grew into a legitimate colony. All the time, staying near those thrusters to keep them firing at full force in reverse. This caused some major health issues as various toxins from the engines began to affect them. On top of that, the Master arrived and took over the colony for a while. Eventually, the evil renegade Time Lord was usurped. But he disguised himself and manipulated the colony from behind the scenes. A medical program was developed to strengthen the ill colonists. Project Exodus came into play as the population began to experience varying levels of cybernetic conversions. A race of Cybermen was born. Some might even call it the race of Cybermen.

Around this time, the Doctor arrived with the Master's next incarnation. The events of World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls transpired.



CYBUS DEBATE

Since the New Series introduced Cybermen from a parallel reality, there has been much speculation regarding which Cybermen we've been seeing in certain stories. We know that Cybus Cybermen have broken into our universe. So we're wondering if any appearance that we've seen of this particular model is a Cybermen that hails from this parallel reality. Or have Cybermen from our plain of existence also developed a model like this?

The answer comes, at last, in The Doctor Falls. Once the colony ship crew had perfected a basic model of Cybermen, they began to work on upgrades. At first, they found a way to give themselves' flight. Then they actually started working on more advanced models.

One of those models looks exactly like the Cybus Cybermen created in another reality by John Lumic (with the exception of the bold "C" on the chestplate, of course). It's entirely possible that the models could resemble each other so much since we are dealing with parallel evolution. So now we know that local Cybermen also have models in the same style as the ones that come from the version of Earth that has the Cybus Corporation.

For the sake of distinction, we will refer to Cybermen from our reality that look like Lumic's Cybermen as Cybus Style Cybermen. Cybermen that actually come from the parallel universe will be called Cybus Cybermen (as they have, already, been named in the first part of this essay).

The Doctor seems to put a big dent in the stock of Cybus Style Cybermen that were built on the colony ship when he blows up the solar farm on Floor 507. Some were still probably kicking around, afterwards, though. But more advanced models were too big of a strain on resources so the colony ship crew went back to the more basic version that they first developed. For similar reasons, they also stopped building them with boot thrusters.

SIDENOTE:  We'd like to think that Nardole found a way to get the solar farm colonists off the ship before another invasion force could ascend to their level and upgrade them. More than likely, there was more than one shuttle in that hangar he found his way to. Perhaps the colonists snuck through more of the infrastructure to get to some transport. They used a fleet of shuttles to get off the colony ship and built their own home on a nearby planet.

"But how would the shuttles get off the ship without getting sucked into the black hole, Rob?!" some of you may be asking. There are a few possibilities. Either the escape occurs after the colony ship breaks free of the black hole or clever 'ole Nardole makes some sort of modification that enables the shuttles to achieve the appropriate velocity that could resist such intense gravity.




ARRIVAL ON MONDAS

It's entirely possible that what happens on the colony ship meant for Mondas is its own self-contained story. That it never escapes the black hole and that parallel evolution happens, once more, on Mondas. This would account for some fairly radical differences in design between the Colony Ship Cybermen and the Proper Mondasian Cybermen.

It's more likely, however, that the colony ship did pull free of the black hole's gravity and arrive at its intended destination. Those poor Mondasians, eager to escape their dying world, get quite the surprise. Cybermen from the colony ship descend upon them and induce a mass conversion of the population. The Cyber-race grows. The Cybermen that we see in The Tenth Planet look as different as they do because the story takes place quite a few years later. Upgrades were performed over the years that caused these changes in appearance.

It wasn't just the people of Mondas that were altered - the planet, itself, also went through some radical changes. Recognizing that there was little life left in their world, the Cybermen found a solution to the problem. The colony ship was no longer large enough to support the entire population of Mondas and the civilization that had developed on it while it was stuck at the black hole so they canabilised it. They turned Mondas into a planet that they could actually pilot and created technology that could absorb massive amounts of energy from other worlds.

These alterations, however, dramatically weakened the crust of the planet. The Cybermen needed to be careful about the energy levels of the planets they were attacking. If they overloaded on power, their entire homeworld would collapse in upon itself.

They came up with a clever strategy to avoid this.



THE CYBER FLEET

Once more, the Cybermen started working on different models. Their main focus would still be the style of Cybermen we saw in World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls, but modifications would be made. As mentioned before, some of the changes were aesthetic - others were far more significant. The biggest was the way the Cybermen became linked to their own world. As Mondas gathered energy from other planets, that power would transfer directly into its denizens. In many ways, it was a very efficient way to do things. But it did present one major weakness: if Mondas fell, all of the Cybermen would die with it.

The logical way to work around this weakness was to create versions of Cybermen that would draw energy from sources that were independent of Mondas. Several different models of this nature were made. We would see them in stories like The Invasion, The Moonbase and Wheel In Space. There were even some Cybus-Style Cybermen lurking about. They may have been left over from the colony ship or the Mondasian Cybermen may have decided to re-explore the model.

These Cybermen that existed independently from their homeworld became focused on interstellar travel. Mondas, even in a depleted state, had built a handful of spaceships (they may have also used some spare parts from the colony ship to build more). These models were sent into the solar system to attack other worlds ahead of Mondas. At first, they attacked poorly defended planets that were populated by humans. They converted the population into Cybermen and then stripped the world of the bulk of its resources. Once the conquered planet was at a low enough energy level, Mondas could move in and safely absorb what was left. This became the established attack protocol as the Cybermen expanded into the universe.

These models that were not directly connected to Mondas became known as the Space-Faring Cybermen. As their numbers grew, they developed a main fleet that attacked larger planets with better defenses. But there were also subsidiary fleets that were invading easier targets. These might be minor colonies that were not even worth the attention of Mondas but still had resources that could benefit the Cyber-Race. There were also a handful of smaller ships that were used as long-range scouts. They went to the deeper reaches of space to find new worlds for the fleet to move in on.

And so, the Cybermen began to spread out into the Universe like a plague. Space-Faring models would invade first and do the bulk of the damage. Then Mondas would come in and clean up what was left.

This method worked very well for them for quite some time. But all of that changed as they eventually found their way to Earth.....



We've, now, laid down the foundations of the society for the largest breed of Cybermen in our universe . Technically, we only really discussed two episodes in this chapter. But we've created the circumstances that will breed a whole cluster of stories that will get examined in the next post. 

Missed Part One? Here's the link: 
https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2018/02/chronologies-and-timelines-history-of.html





















Saturday, 3 February 2018

CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES: HISTORY OF THE CYBERMEN

I've been wanting to tackle this one for a while, now. Particularly since World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls aired. Seeing such a substantial contribution to the Cybermen's origins had me, practically, foaming at the mouth to explore their background more thoroughly in this blog. But I wasn't sure if Twice Upon A Time might offer further details on Cyber-History since the First Doctor was being extracted from his adventures in The Tenth Planet. So I chose to wait until after the episode was shown. 

As fate would have it, I didn't really need to hold out. The events of The Tenth Planet are only touched upon (and lovingly re-created) quite briefly. I wanted to tie up a few loose ends in January with entries that I had been meaning to write for a while and just haven't gotten around to. With that done, I can finally embrace this particular topic with vim and vigor. It's probably going to take a few entries to cover everything. It's also going to get pretty convoluted, in places. So strap yourselves' in! 




It's almost sad that the Cybermen are eternally ranked as second fiddle to the Daleks. In many ways, they are the superior monster. Their origins are far more interesting. They represent a greater threat (Daleks tend to just kill or enslave you, Cybermen turn you into one of them - that's far scarier, in my book!). They're even able to negotiate stairs in a far more practical fashion! But, for some reason, those Skarosian Meanies always seem to outdo our Mondasian/Telosian/Possibly-A-Few-Other-Planets-Of--Origin Conquerors. Even on the one occasion where we actually saw them do battle - the Daleks seemed to be coming out ahead.

As we explore a possibly coherent timeline that gets all the different stories about them to make some sort of sense, I hope we're all able to step back a bit and take a better look out how great the Cybermen truly are. They will probably never quite grab the same ratings that the Daleks do whenever they make an appearance - but I think they're a far more interesting and even terrifying alien.


PART 1: THE LESSER RACES

During the first few minutes of The Doctor Falls, our favorite Time Lord makes a very important point about the evolution of these mechanical zombies. He explains that all humanoid races, at some point, explore the idea of full cybernization and mass conversion. Put in simpler terms, the Cybermen actually originate from several different planets and cultures. In that same speech, he very quickly names just a few places where Cybermen come from.

This infers, of course, that there are several different "races" of Cybemen lurking about in the Universe. One could even pre-suppose that every time we see a different model of Cybermen in the show - it hails from a different background. The Cybermen we see in The Tenth Planet, for instance, obviously come from Mondas. But the Cybermen we see in The Moonbase do not resemble them at all. Could it be that they actually hail from an entirely different world? Perhaps the planet Selius B had a race of humans that evolved on it and decided to become fully cybernetic. It's this version that we see attacking the weather control station on the moon.

Fast forward a few more seasons and we see that the Cybermen in The Invasion look radically different from Mondasian Cybermen or Cybermen from Selious B. Could they come from the Planet Roota-Booga-Nubius?

I'm making up silly names for planets because the idea, itself, is fairly silly. But it's still something to consider...

For the sake of this essay, however, I'm going to say that the bulk of the stories we see involving Cybermen are about the race that originated on Mondas. There's a fair amount of evidence to substantiate this. Flashback sequences in Earthshock or the development of different models on the Mondasian colony ship are just a few of the stronger examples that support this notion. But there are references all over the place that show us that about 75% of the Cybermen stories that we see involve this specific species.

However, there are a few stories and references that designate that there are, at least, three other species of Cybermen out there in the Universe (or in a universe nearby). I like to see these as The Lesser Races of Cybermen. They've had some success at conquering the galaxy but not nearly as much as our Mondasians.

We'll discuss the timelines of the lesser races first.


LIFE ON MARINUS

To me, it's almost not worth mentioning these guys. But I know some of the hardcores would object if I don't cover them, at least, a little bit.

Marinus is one of the planets mentioned in The Doctor Falls as being a place that has produced Cybermen. To fans less sad and pathetic than I am, it's just the name of a fictional planet. Some of you that have gone back and enjoyed the Classic Series know that there is a world called Marinus in a story called The Keys of Marinus. But if you've really frittered your life away on this show, you know of the notorious comic strip tale entitled The World Shapers that claims that Marinus was an earlier name for Mondas and that the people of that world eventually become Cybermen.

This namecheck implies that the events of The World Shapers is, in some way, canon. Should we accept that the plot happened exactly the way it did in the comic strip, however, it would make the sorting out of this timeline even more convoluted and confusing.

I would suggest, instead, that there was a race of Cybermen that did evolve on Marinus but not in the way that the comic strip presents things. It may even be as simple as a few scientists on that particular world built a handful of Cybermen, at one point, in a highly controlled experiment. When they saw the results of their work they were mortified and, immediately, destroyed them. On the end of the spectrum, things may have gone as far as a full conversion of the planet's population and a successful galactic campaign. Whatever happened, Marinus was never re-named Mondas. It's just a world that bred its own branch of Cybernmen that we've never actually seen in action on the show. They're just mentioned by the Doctor in that one brief scene.

The fact that the Doctor even discusses Marinus would seem to indicate this. Otherwise, why wouldn't he just say Mondas? That's what Marinus will, eventually, become according to The World Shapers - so why bother to make the distinction? It seems clear that a race of Cybermen was created there but not according to the events described in the comic strip.

UNRELATED SIDENOTE:    I have a similar theory about the companions the Eighth Doctor namechecks in Night of the Doctor. He has adventures with these characters but probably not quite in the way that Big Finish tells them. Otherwise, the Ninth Doctor would have noticed how much the events in Dalek resemble a previous experience he had when he was in his eighth incarnation (the Big Finish story Jubilee was re-written to become Dalek). In both these instances, time flows in a pattern similar to some spin-off fiction - but not exactly the same.

Just to really document all this properly, we should try to pinpoint exactly when The Keys of Marinus takes place in relationship to the development of the Marinusian Cybermen. If the Cybermen were more of a limited experiment that was abandoned, it could be that Keys takes place after Cybermen walked the surface of Marinus. I'm more inclined to believe, however, that a formidable Cyber-Army was constructed on the planet and even went out to conquer some corner of the Universe. So I think this Season One tale took place before Cybermen were invented on this world. Otherwise, we would have seen some hint of them somewhere during the TARDIS crew's quest for the keys. The fact that the people of Marinus are quite comfortable with the idea of having their minds controlled by a giant computer would lead us to believe that becoming Cybermen is something they may find appealing.

Finding any kind of specific date for when the Marinusian Cybermen existed is still an impossibility, at this point. The Keys of Marinus and the Doctor mentioning them in The Doctor Falls provide no proper points of reference on the matter.

Okay, that's sorted out. You're welcome, hardcores!



MISSY'S ARMY

Our next race of Cybermen isn't just a reference made in some throwaway dialogue, it has some actual screentime. But the reign of this particular breed is pretty short-lived.

Having just regenerated - the Master re-christens himself Missy, installs a new dematerialisation circuit and flees the Mondasian colony ship. Disappointed in herself for failing to re-direct the fate of those Mondasian Cybermen, Missy decides to create a Cyber-army of her own.

Secretly following the Doctor in his travels, she begins downloading the minds of the people who get killed in the cross-fire of his battles into a Matrix Data Slice (a sort of Gallifreyan hard drive). At the same time, she is creating one of the most efficient conversion processes a Cyber-race has ever developed. The whole thing seems to happen on an atomic level.  Atoms from existing Cybermen can be used to convert the atoms of deceased organic tissue into cybernetic beings.

Once she has harvested enough human souls, Missy releases the small armies she has built in various strategic global locations to spread their seed. She was able to set up these caches of Cybermen through a dummy corporation she created known as 3M. Although she has been travelling throughout time and space to harvest souls, the proper establishing of her army happens on Earth - sometime  around 2014.

This particular breed of Cybermen were also capable of flight. Which was a necessary skill to have for her plan to be properly executed. Her Cybermen would fly into Earth's atmosphere and willingly explode. Their atoms would then seek out nearby graveyards to infect the dead buried there and convert them into Cyber-bodies. Those minds she was storing in her data cloud would then be downloaded into the waiting metal exoskeletons.

Ultimately, the process would renew itself over and over. Cybermen could, now, invade the Earth, kill its population and convert their corpses into an even bigger army. This particular breed, even in its most early stages, seemed quite unbeatable.

Had it not been for Missy's insane decision to hand this army over to the Doctor, the Earth would have been surely doomed. With the help of Danny Pink, the Doctor is able to dismantle this particular branch of Cybermen before they can do too much damage.

Missy's Army, for all its deadliness and raw power, dies before it can even fully flourish.



THE LEGACY OF JOHN LUMIC

At last, we reach the lesser race with the most screentime. Six whole episodes, in fact.

In a parallel universe where Britain seems a bit more Right Wing, a wheelchair-bound genius is  attempting to perpetuate himself into a race of cyborgs (sound familiar?!). John Lumic heads up the Cybus Corporation - one of the most powerful companies in the world. Lumic, however, is dying. He develops a way of artificially extending his life by using his wealth and resources to build a special exoskeleton that can house a human consciousness. He has also installed a special emotion inhibitor so that the mind housed inside the metallic body can function more efficiently. The first Cyberman is born.

The Tenth Doctor, Micky and Rose accidentally drop into this reality just as Lumic's plans in London are reaching fruition.  With the help of Pete Tyler and a group of rebels who call themselves' The Preachers, they stop the army Lumic was attempting to build out of the population of Britain's capitol. Lumic, himself, is converted into a Cyber-Controller before facing his demise.

It is made abundantly clear, however, that there are other armies hidden away in the various major cities of the world. As the Doctor and Rose return back to their own universe, Micky chooses to stay behind and help with the disbanding of the other Cyber-armies. These are, in a nutshell, the events that transpire during Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel.

At the end of Age of Steel, the situation seems under control. But, as we would later learn, destroying the rest of the Cyber-armies was more complicated than anticipated. An ethics debate ensued among the humans in this reality. The Cybermen were a proper lifeform onto themselves - did they have the right to kill them?

Secured in their factories - the Cybus Cybermen looked for a means of escape. Eventually, they discovered the Daleks' Void Ship. They used it as a means to pull themselves' into our reality and invade us. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday happens at this point.

For the first and only time, we get to see a battle erupt between Daleks and Cybermen. The Daleks seem to be the clear victors. However, in defense of the Cybermen, the Cybus version is pretty primitive. More advanced Cybermen from our universe would have put up a better fight.

Dating these four episodes can be a tricky task. They are contemporary to when they were transmitted - but only so much. Firstly, we have the complication that a year has passed between Rose and Aliens of London. So, although Army of Ghosts/Doomsday was shown in 2006, it's more likely to be taking place in 2007. On top of that, Pete Tyler reveals in Doomsday that the events of Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel occurred - roughly - three years previously. So it's most likely that those two episodes happened sometime around 2004. Unless time in the parallel reality runs at a different speed from ours.

The Cybus Cybermen do manage another breach into our reality. At the end of Doomsday, they are sucked back into the Void along with the Daleks. The fight they began at Canary Wharf continues within the Void. During that battle, the Cybermen are able to steal some Dalek technology that brings them back onto our plain of existence. However, it also sends them into the past. Their entry point is London in 1851. Even with these primitive conditions, however, they are still able to build a Cybermen Dreadnought and another attempt is made to invade our version of Earth. These are, of course, the events of The Next Doctor.  With the help of Jackson Lake and Rosita, the Doctor is able to thwart their plans.

It may be possible that other Cybus Cybermen have found breaches into our reality. It does look like Lumic's Cybermen make one more appearance in The Pandorica Opens. How this version got through - we can't say, for sure. But, after that appearance, there is a conspicuous absence of Cybus logos on the chest plates of this type of Cybermen. Which indicates to me that, any other time we see this model, they're local. I'll explain how Cybermen from our reality can still look like Cybus Cybermen in my next installment...






That's all for Part One. The Lesser Races have been covered. As we move on to Part Two, we'll be looking at the breed that populate most of the Cybermen stories. We'll be examining their early days...










Wednesday, 24 January 2018

ANALYTICAL: PROGRESSIVE DOCTORS - THE FIRST DOCTOR: EPISODE 2

Okay, here's a post I've been meaning to complete for quite some time, now. No doubt, I'm the only one who even remembers that I had promised a second part to this essay. But part of being a fan is being super-anal about stuff. 

WHAT IS A PROGRESSIVE DOCTOR?

Since it's been a while since I've written in this particular series, I thought I should re-state what exactly constitutes a Progressive Doctor. I'll cut and paste a section of that definition, here:

A Progressive Doctor is the result of a collaboration between the actor playing the role and the production team to move the main character through a series of changes that take place over an extended period of time. By extended period of time, I mean, several seasons or even the entire period of time that the actor played the role. The progression also usually moves in a positive direction.

If you would like a more detailed definition, click on this particular link:

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2016/02/analytical-progressive-doctors-part-1.html


THE FIRST DOCTOR'S PROGRESSION - EPISODE 2: ACTUALLY BECOMING LIKEABLE

In our first episode, we looked at how the original Doctor progressed from an uncaring, amoral character to someone who stood for justice and peace. This time, however, it's going to be a bit more of a psychological exploration rather than one of ethics. Like most "arrogant Doctors" the character does eventually soften and become more accessible. We're going to chart those points where that growth happens. Maybe, even, pinpoint a few spots where he regresses, too.

STARTING POINT

Again, we're going to cut and paste a bit from the first part of this essay on this particular Doctor:

 At the very beginning, the Doctor was far from likable. He was, in fact, a legitimate anti-hero.

Of course, the sequence that best shows us just how rotten of a fellow the Doctor is occurs in Episode Three of his first adventure. Lumbered with the inconvenience of an injured caveman that he does not want to help because it will slow down his escape, the Doctor actually appears to be making a move to kill him. That's the sort of fellow he is back when we first meet him. It's hard to believe he would ever be this way - given how high-principled and genuinely good-hearted he is, these days. But that's how he started.

His callousness doesn't stop there. In the next story, he campaigns to get a race of peace-loving people to fight on his behalf to recover his fluid link. In the story after that, he is ready to just fling Ian and Barbara out of the TARDIS into what appears to be a fairly hostile environment.

Basically, in his first few stories, he is just not a pleasant man .

If you want a better look at the first part of this essay - here's the link;

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2016/04/progressive-doctors-2-first-doctor-part.html

That first link, by the way, is an essay on the Twelfth Doctor. So I'm not posting the same link twice. These are other essays on Progressive Doctors for you to look at more intensely if you should so desire...


STREAM 2: SOFTENING THE CHARACTER

So now we're exploring a second stream in this Doctor's progression. We've seen where his moral compass develops and he becomes a legitimate hero. But the moral journey was only part of the growth we watched him go through.

In Unearthly Child, the Doctor - for the most part - doesn't like people. He's unpleasant to most strangers when he first meets them. Or, at the very least, standoffish. He's particularly rude to Ian and Barbara because he doesn't want them to interfere with the life of his granddaughter. But, in general, he's not very nice to anyone.

Had it not been for the presence of Susan in his life, the First Doctor would've been happy being a complete loner. He appears genuinely misanthropic. Others seem to just interfere with his enjoyment of life. It's almost like he would be happier with an empty Universe that allows him to explore its sciences - instead of a cosmos full of independently-thinking beings for him to interact with and learn from.

By the end of his reign, he is a very different man. Sure, there are still moments of tetchiness and he's never good at suffering fools - but the First Doctor does genuinely appreciate the company he surrounds himself with. At the beginning of his era, he is a protective grandfather to Susan. But, by The Tenth Planet, he seems to have become everyone's grandfather. He connects with people now and shows genuine care for them. It's masked by his harshness and, sometime, abrupt behavior. But we still see it.

How did he go through such a strong change in sentiment? We're going to chart that growth throughout the rest of this post.


MAKING AMENDS

It doesn't actually take long to see the first few cracks in the Doctor's hard shell. Every time he makes a mistake and apologizes for it, he allows himself to be that little bit more approachable. As if realizing that he's fallible makes him want to, somehow, connect that little bit more with the people around him. In the later episodes of The Daleks, when he confesses to the lie he told about the fluid links and apologizes for it, we see that first little bit of humility in him. Which, in turn, gets him to be just that little bit kinder to Ian and Barbara.

It is through his relationship with the two schoolteachers that we best see this process at work. How he interacts with Susan has an entirely different set of rules that we will discuss in a few paragraphs.The way he treats Ian and Barbara, however, best exemplifies how he responds to everyone he meets. Unless the person he's dealing with has something he needs or is threatening his safety, he's rather cold and impersonal. But as he learns to relate better to the two Coal Hill staffmembers, he seems to lighten up with everyone else, too.

While his apology in The Daleks does scratch away a bit at his harsh veneer, the real breakthrough happens near the end of Edge of Destruction. If you've bothered to read my 10 Most Pivotal Moments in the Doctor's Life essay (http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/05/book-of-lists-10-most-pivotal-moments.html - just in case you're interested!) you'll know I've attached a good deal of importance to this moment. It's a key point in the time traveler's life. He admits to a lot of culpability as he and Barbara sit together after the TARDIS has been repaired. He even makes a sort of promise to treat her and Ian better. This is a crucial sequence where the Doctor sheds much of his unpleasant anti-hero image and begins a consistent effort to be a kinder person. So far, it seems to be external forces that are prompting these moves. He has to make big errors in judgement before he feels prompted to change for the better. He doesn't just make these decisions of his own internal volition.

Still, his mistakes seem to be making him into a better person. Or, at least, someone who treats his company better.


SUSAN

By no means is the Doctor a complete island onto himself. As we first meet him in Season One, Susan is the one person that he shows tenderness to. But, because he's so cold to everyone else, it creates an enormous sense of emotional dependence on her. He is gentle and protective of her most of the time. On any number of occasions that Susan must face some degree of trauma, we see her running to her grandfather's arms. The Doctor always welcomes her embrace and offers her comfort. He also gives her endless encouragement and lets her know how proud he is of her. But no one else sees much of this sort of treatment from him in the first season. It is reserved only for Susan.

But there is a downside to being in her grandfather's Good Graces. Because she is the only person he has formed this sort of bond with, the Doctor desperately fears losing Susan. Should she show too much independence, the Doctor tries to bark it down. We see the best example of this in The Sensorites when Susan elects to go down to the Sense-Sphere on her own.  A furious argument erupts between the two of them as the Doctor insists she will not journey alone to the planet. He claims it's too dangerous but we all get the impression that there other reasons why he won't let her. Quite simply, such an act shows that Susan doesn't need her grandfather as much as she used to. And the Doctor can't stand that idea. He needs to be needed. The fact that he only wants that from one person can put tremendous stress on that particular relationship. Because of this dynamic, he also puts tremendous expectations on his granddaughter. The heavy scolding he gives her for the stumble that Susan has at the beginning of Dalek Invasion of Earth is a great example of this. He really comes down hard on her for such an honest mistake.

The First Doctor's need to always have a young lady in his life to protect and mentor is a drive we see throughout his entire era. He might travel with men or older women - but he needs that young girl. It's an important relationship that is vital to the way he shows tenderness. As creepy as that may sound taken out of context!


STEPS FORWARD AND BACK

As we progress through Season One, the Doctor opens his heart more and more to the two schoolteachers that have been thrust upon him. One of the best examples of this is when he, at last, re-unites with the rest of the TARDIS crew in the city of Millenius during The Keys of Marinus. He is not just ecstatic to see his granddaughter again, he's just as happy to see Ian and Barbara. This is the first real hint of the Doctor becoming a grandfather to everyone. There is genuine love in him for someone outside of Susan. He has definitely become more warm-hearted towards his new companions. We also see a serious melancholy fall over him when he fails to defend Ian properly in court for the murder of Eprin. Because he's going to lose him, the Doctor truly sees how close he's become to Ian in these last few adventures. Already, we can barely recognize him from the fleeing coward who was ready to kill off a wounded caveman only a few episodes back.

Often, however, Progressive Doctors backslide. Particularly in their early days. We see a major one happen at the end of The Sensorites. Ian just happens to express himself poorly to the Doctor and hurts his pride. In a fit of pique, the Time Lord decides he will be throwing the schoolteachers off his TARDIS the next time they land. It's a huge over-reaction, of course. One almost has to wonder if being kind to others and socializing in a pleasant manner was getting to be a bit too much for him and he's looking to cast out the individuals that have been stretching him so much. It definitely comes off as something drawn  more from interior motives than external influences. Even if Ian set him off, it's almost as if the Doctor was looking for something like this to have an excuse for the actions he takes.

Fortunately, Ian tries to talk the Doctor into having one last drink with him and Barbara before bidding adieu. The proposal succeeds and the events of The Reign of Terror ensue. By the end of the adventure, the Doctor feels more close to his two new friends than ever. Casting them out of the TARDIS has been forgotten. Season One ends on a high note as the group of adventurers anticipate what might come next for them. They are a true team, now. The relationships are solidified. The First Doctor now allows three people to be close to him.


SUSAN TO VICKI

After a fun little runaround with Planet of Giants, we move on to a story that will bring about one of the greatest changes in the First Doctor's progression. As Dalek Invasion of Earth concludes, the unthinkable happens. Susan decides to remain on Earth with her new-found love: David Campbell. There had been "teases" throughout Season One that the fledgling might, someday, fly the coop. But now it's actually happening.

The Doctor is, of course, devastated. That moment at the beginning of The Rescue where he accidentally calls out to Susan and then remembers she's no longer there is especially touching (and far more effective than all the pining Ten did for Rose - sometimes, it pays to be economical!). It is fortunate that he has formed a bond with Ian and Barbara but they are still not quite enough to fill the void his granddaughter has left.

And then Vicki comes along and the Doctor finds someone new to be protective toward. There is a nice long scene in The Rescue where he comforts the young girl. It is a crucial character moment for both of them. Vicki steps in to substitute for Susan. It almost seems like a very conscious act. She sees the Doctor has need to take someone under his wing. She also sees the advantages he offers by looking after her and accepts the role. The Doctor feels he can function again and the two become as thick as thieves very quickly. It helps that they have stories like The Romans where the two of them go off on their own adventure without Ian and Barbara.


WIDENING HIS CIRCLES AND LOSING MORE FRIENDS

While the Doctor is happy to have a new Susan in his life, he also seems to recognize a need to reach out still more in his quest to get close to people. He can't just rely solely on the TARDIS crew, he needs to form bonds with people that he runs into in his travels.

A good chunk of the Doctor's character arc during Season 2 is based on this premise. Over and over, we see him being a warmer more approachable person to the people he meets. Even forming real friendships with many of them. Lady Joanna from The Crusade is a good example of this. Yes, she's a friend in high places and those are always handy. But a real bond does form between them. Look at the way he's willing to reveal Vicki's secret to the princess once he feels he can trust her. A Season One Doctor would've been more prone to concealing such a thing til the bitter end. But the Doctor is beginning to understand the importance of sharing trust with people. It's an important step in his need to attach more to the people around him. Had it not been for Susan's departure, this may have never happened. With her gone from his life, he needed to go out and genuinely connect with people. He could no longer rely on the social stimuli that she provided for him and had to emerge from his cocoon.

When Ian and Barbara find a way to get back home during The Chase, he doesn't take that news well, either. He claims that stealing the Daleks' timeship is just too dangerous - but we all know the truth. These were the people who first got him to come out of his shell - he doesn't want to lose them. Meekly, he submits to them, though. In the end, he loves his friends and wants to see them happy.

But perhaps the best display of the Doctor's growing tenderness is seen at the beginning The Time Meddler. As much as he needs the company, he checks with Vicki to be sure that she is still enjoying her travels. With this scene, we see the Doctor truly is losing his selfish streak and understanding what real friendship is all about. Regardless of how much it may hurt, he's concerned about Vicki's happiness more than his own personal needs.

The Doctor truly is growing...  


SEASON THREE - EVERYTHING STABILIZES

In much the same way that the Doctor's moral compass seems fully defined by Season Three, the same can be said about his interpersonal skills. There will always be moments where his temper becomes short, but his heart(s) of gold always manages to shine through. He continues befriending people where he can in his various adventures and values his closer friends that are travelling with him in the TARDIS. 

Those closer friends seem to start changing up quite quickly. But the Doctor is now at a point where he can take it all in stride. This is, perhaps, the best evidence that the misanthrope is truly laid to rest. When Vicki leaves in The Mythmakers or even when Katarina and Sara Kingdom die in The Dalek Masterplan, he doesn't let this stop him from going out and forming new bonds. He mourns his losses but doesn't wallow in them. Nor does he use them as an excuse to withdraw from personal interaction.

There is, of course, one more moment where the Doctor comes dangerously close to backsliding again. Those famous last few minutes of The Massacre, sadly, only exist in telesnap and audio format - but they are still very stirring to watch. When the Doctor and Steven seem to be parting ways, he legitimately contemplates giving up on his travels and returning to Gallifrey. But for the caprice of chance, that may have actually happened. Dodo just happens to wander into the TARDIS and this prompts a change of heart in the Doctor. He decides to continue his journeys through Time and Space. He also continues on his own personal journey.


NEARING THE END...

And so, the Doctor continues on. Taking on new companions and saying goodbye to the old ones when the time comes for them to go (or, in the case of Dodo, he doesn't even do that!). He does seem to still be a bit functional in some of his relationships. In The War Machines, he senses something evil about the new Post Office Tower and feels he must do something about it. Immediately, he befriends the right sort of influential people who will enable him to investigate it. But we can hardly criticize him for it. He needed to get to the bottom of things and he does still seem to form real bonds with these people.

While this does not truly happen in his "proper era", we do see one last attempt at a sort of ultimate personal withdrawal. His refusal to regenerate in Twice Upon A Time definitely represents some serious anti-social behavior. But, again, the regression is short-lived. The Doctor is now someone who is not only fascinated by the sciences that affect the Universe, he also loves the many varied lifeforms that inhabit it. Other Doctors might come along and also have difficulties dealing with people - but we know, deep down inside, that he's a good man. And it's because of the personal journey we got to watch happen in his very first incarnation.

He really did become everyone's gentle grandfather.



Finally! I finished that particular thread of this essay. That loose end has been tied and I can get on with my life. Again, if you should want to see the first part of the series, here it is: 

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2016/04/progressive-doctors-2-first-doctor-part.html


















Wednesday, 3 January 2018

ANOTHER SPECIAL BONUS: APPENDIXES AND UPDATES

Happy New Year, everyone!!! 

In my constant effort to make sure that what's currently going on with the show lines up with the silly theories I postulate about in here - I find myself writing more and more Special Appendixes. Which is not really a bother for me. I still remember those sad Wilderness Years where there was no New Who being made. I'm far happier adjusting my opinions to new episodes than not having new episodes to adjust my opinion to! 

Usually, there's enough material in these Appendixes to merit a full entry. But, this time, I find myself in a situation that resembles my Quick Fixes Series. There's some things I'd like to discuss but they will only fill a few paragraphs, at best. So I'll just accumulate these short points into one entry and deal with them all, here. 




ANALYTICAL: THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND MULTI-INCARNATION ENCOUNTERS - APPENDIX A

In anticipation of Twice Upon A Time, I found myself thinking quite heavily about other occasions when the Doctor has had adventures with his previous incarnations. I decided to watch all those tales and see if they worked according to any patterns. I discovered that they did. And that those patterns might even have something to say about the Doctor's own psychological make-up. Here are the observations that I made: 

https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2017/11/analytical-psychology-behind-multi.html

I was bold, of course. I came up with all these conclusions before Twice Upon a Time aired. It was entirely possible that this new adventure with more than one incarnation of the Doctor might flatly contradict a whole bunch of these "rules" that I drew out from the other stories. I was quite lucky. For the most part, what we see with One and Twelve agrees with the conclusions I came to in my essay. Let's take a closer look at them:

Similarities:

My biggest concern was a premise I put forward about large gaps between incarnations. I postulate that when incarnations aren't too far apart - they tend to argue more. But wider gaps tend to make the Doctor more at peace with himself and he can get along a lot better with his past.

In case you didn't bother to follow the link, here are my precise thoughts on the matter:

"Again, if we use this Doctor not being happy with himself model, it makes a sort of sense. A person who is heavily into personal growth would have more trouble seeing their more recent past. If I ran into a version of Rob Tymec from only two or three years ago - I'd probably be frustrated to see that I was a much more immature person in my recent past than I had remembered myself to be. But if I met me when I was only ten years old - I would be far more detached and understanding. I was just a kid back then. I'm allowed to be childish at that age. So I probably won't be so harsh with me. Whereas I really wouldn't like to meet me from only a few years back. I'm pretty sure I'd just want to tell myself off for still being such a twit when I should've grown up, by now.

Perhaps it works in a similar way with the Doctor. To go back only an incarnation or two is like a human seeing himself from only two to five years ago. Depending on the human's personality - he's probably not going to like what he sees. But a Time Lord going back three or more incarnations is like a human encountering himself from twenty or so years ago. He's just too far-removed from who he once was and it's not so tough on him, anymore, to see himself behaving so poorly. Essentially, t's easier to forgive a considerably younger version of yourself. With the Doctor, of course, it takes a bigger set of years for him to feel this way. His longevity gives him a greater breadth of vision. So even if there might be a century or two between incarnations that are back-to-back - that's not long enough for him to not be awkward about what he's seeing"

Naturally enough, my big fear was that we would see One and Twelve fight like cats and dogs throughout the entire story. This would get my Gaps Between Incarnations theory to fall completely to pieces.

Fortunately enough, the First and Twelfth Doctor tend to get along fairly well. Twelve, being a bit wiser and more experienced, actually tends to bark out a fair amount of instructions to One. One doesn't put up much argument when he does, The closest they come to a legitimate debate is when they're approaching Rusty's Tower on Villengard and Twelve wants to go up alone. One fights him for the briefest of moments. But, when Twelve points out the danger of the two of them going up together, One sees the logic of it all quite quickly and falls into line. It's very similar to the fight Five and One have in the TARDIS during The Five Doctors. There's the slightest hint of resistance but One yields quickly when presented with solid logic.

Slight Contradicitons:

I will be the first to admit, the Gap Between Incarnations theory doesn't fit perfectly with this story. There are moments where these two incarnations do still "rankle" each other slightly. But their reactions aren't nearly is volatile as, say, the fights Two and Three have had. In fact, their disagreements manifest themselves' in far gentler tones.

In the case of One viewing Twelve, he does become a bit disappointed in some of the choices he's made. He certainly isn't pleased with the sunglasses. But even in his harshest moment of criticism (throwing the shades on the floor) it's handled fairly lightly. Especially when you consider how vicious One usually was when he disagreed with someone. He does become a bit angry with Twelve as he brags about how he will escape the Testimony and fight them. He quite disagrees with such a flagrant display of bravado. But the tetchiness is pretty short-lived. He gets on with just cooperating with Twelve and following his cues as they grab on to the chains hooked into the TARDIS and escape.

The times Twelve disagrees with One are largely overshadowed with embarrassment rather than anger. I know some fans disagree with how old-fashioned Moff made the First Doctor seem. But, the truth of the matter is, those moments are there in his actual episodes (it especially helps re-enforce this idea when he had One directly quote himself from Dalek Invasion of Earth, at one point). We don't usually see them in such great abundance in just one story but we can't deny that the First Doctor could have some pretty conservative values. This clash with more modern ideas was even seen back in The Five Doctors when One tells Tegan to make some refreshments for them.

When One displays his outdated ideas, Twelve tries to brush the whole thing under the carpet rather than directly scold him. Again, this isn't like the usual banter we would see between different incarnations that are closer together. I wouldn't even see these reactions as contradictions to my theory. But rather, special nuances that occur between distant incarnations. Especially since this is the greatest gap we've seen, so far, in a multi-incarnation story (a good 1 500 years by Twelve's estimation). Essentially, even with a great age difference, two Doctors will disagree. But when they're so far apart, the disagreement tends to be far less rooted in anger. "Softer" negative emotions like disappointment or embarrassment tend to come into play.


One Other Important Similarity:

Another important moment that we see over and over in most of these types of stories is the Doctor making peace with himself. This usually happens just before the incarnations are about to separate again. It happens in Twice Upon a Time as the two Doctors enjoy the Christmas Armistice of 1914. One finally has made his choice about regenerating or dying. Just before he leaves, he turns to Twelve and indicates that he doesn't care what Twelve's choice might be. It's not for him to make the decision (well, not yet, at least). But One does shake his hand and wish him good luck. I actually love that we almost always get a moment like this in a multi-incarnation adventure. It says a lot about the type of person the Doctor is.




UNADULTERATED BOORISH OPINION: THE SILLINESS OF GENERAL FAN CONSENSUS - APPENDIX A

I really thought this particular essay was going to get me more flack than it did. But perhaps it's because you haven't read it, yet. So, here it is:

https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2017/07/unadulterated-boorish-opinion-silliness.html

My main point in this particular essay is how often fans like to scream "re-tread!" when it really isn't. We might be seeing slight similarities between two things from two different stories - but this is hardly a re-tread. It's just two things that resemble each other slightly.

To be clear, a good example of a re-tread would be The Force Awakens in the Star Wars franchise. To me, it is a blatant attempt to re-create A New Hope. Both stories center around a droid trying to deliver an important message. We need to blow up another Death Star (Star Killer Base - same difference). There's another creature cantina scene. We have another tall, dark, masked villain (who doesn't really need to wear a mask - why does he wear that thing except to look more like Darth Vader?!). That's just a few of the more obvious similarities. There's plenty of smaller ones (evil villain tortures pretty heroine, big spaceship battle at the end, Death Star demonstrates its strength to the galaxy, a desert planet is a key location). When you have that many similarities (more, in fact, I just won't bother to highlight them because this is supposed to be a Doctor Who blog not a Star Wars blog), you can claim it's a re-tread and no one can really argue with you. The truth of the matter is: there's a lot of stuff in Force Awakens that imitates New Hope.

Who fans don't seem to work by that rule. They tend to see one slight similarity and have to scream "re-tread!!" at the top of their lungs. As I say in the essay itself, Sci-Fi has its tropes. As long as you explore a trope in a new and different way every time you use it - I think that's fine. The Weeping Angels and The Silence can do something nasty to you as you look away from them. But they both do very different nasty things. Weeping Angels send you back in time. Silence just makes you forget about them. There's a world of difference there - so I don't consider that a re-tread.

See how that works?

Unfortunately, some fans still don't. I'm seeing stuff in fan groups where folks are claiming that Jodie's introductory scene is an exact copy of Matt Smith's. Yup, there's one similarity going on: because the Doctor has held in his regeneration for too long, it appears to have damaged the TARDIS in some way. Making for a very nasty ride for the new Doctor. But, really, that's where similarities end.

Let's look at the differences (and there are plenty):

Matt Smith is getting jostled around a lot. The TARDIS just seems to be swerving and spinning a lot. During one of those nastier dips, it causes Smith to roll out the door and nearly run into Big Ben. The TARDIS just manages to avoid the collision and Smith pulls himself back into the TARDIS to try to get it under control. Or, at least, land.

With Jodie, the TARDIS is very consciously trying to eject her. It's not dipping and swirling, it just flings open its doors and tilts at an angle that will make Whitaker fall out. Because Jodie clings to the console, it even seems to intentionally rip itself apart to throw her out. After a few seconds of serious flinging, she loses grip and appears to be plunging to her doom.

That's a bunch of variables there, guys. One Doctor is just getting bumped around a lot, nearly falls out of the TARDIS, nearly collides with a major monument and then lands. The other Doctor is - flat-out - flung out of the TARDIS and seems to be falling to her death. Yup, in both cases, a new Doctor is getting a bad first ride. But that's where the similarities end. So, seriously, if you want to claim copycat: go watch New Hope and Force Awakens back-to-back. You have every right to complain about that one. However, in the case of Smith and Whitaker - these aren't the re-treads you're looking for... 






A SPECIAL APPENDIX TO THE SPECIAL APPENDIX:

Just as I did in the original entry about multi-incarnation adventures, I'm going to add a special appendix about story structure. Twice Upon a Time uses several of the conventions that other stories of this nature engage in.

Threads:

We don't see a particular "scoop up moment" like we do in The Three and Five Doctors. Instead, we follow the plot thread of a previous incarnation until he meets the current Doctor. And then we see him returned to his timeline, afterwards. That thread, of course, is a loving re-creation of The Tenth Planet. We get actual footage from the story blended with a modern re-shoot. We are then returned to the conclusion of Tenth Planet at the end of the tale. Again, footage of Bradley and Hartnell are mixed together.

As is often the case when it's just two incarnations (The Two Doctors, Time Crash and World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls), the meeting occurs by timestreams accidentally intersecting. Generally, when it's more than two incarnations (The Three and Five Doctor and Day of the Doctor) an external force causes the incarnations to unite.

More Technical Glitches:

As is often the case, incarnations meeting each other create temporal anomalies. Most often, we see certain incarnations being caught in Time Bubbles of some sort. But there can be other repercussions. In this instance, One and Twelve feeling suicidal together interferes enough with the timelines to cause a scoop up the Testimony is attempting to go wrong. The Brig's Grandpa accidentally plops into the two Doctors' timestream and has an adventure with them rather than just being sent directly back to the time of his death.

There also seems to be some memory issues. Which doesn't usually happen with just two incarnations (even with the Simm Master and Missy reunion, I think she's lying to him when she says she can't recall the encounter). But Twelve can't remember anything that's happened with him and One on this adventure. More than likely, all the external influences of the Testimony have created some extra interference. Those time freezes within a temporal anomaly are making the timelines too tangled and the Doctor doesn't retain things, after all.   






All righty, then - that's all my latest appendixes covered. Everything feels sorted out in my convoluted Universe, again!   



Monday, 25 December 2017

SPECIAL BONUS! A REVIEW OF SLEEP NO MORE

The very lovely Simon Meade moderates two really good Doctor Who Fan Pages on Facebook  (Journey Into The TARDIS https://www.facebook.com/groups/journeytardis/ and The Ark In Space https://www.facebook.com/groups/arkinspace/ - check them out!). He's asked some of the members to write up reviews of a Capaldi story of their choice to help commemorate his departure from the show. 

Knowing that a lot of fans don't have the nicest things to say about Sleep No More, I thought I would tackle it and give it some more positive representation. Deciding it might also be fun to put one more entry in the blog before the year was over, I decided to post it here. 

Hope you enjoy this Special Bonus. Happy Holidays!  

SLEEP NO MORE

In all honesty, I adore the "Found Footage" genre. It's not even a guilty pleasure - I think it's a great way to put a story together. I haven't just enjoyed the popular stuff like Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. I've gone into more obscure realms like The Last Excorcism. I've even gone all the way back to the beginning and sat through Cannibal Holocaust (be warned: you will lose just a little bit of your soul if you watch this movie). Found Footage works especially well for scary stuff. So much horror, nowadays, feels so overproduced. The are so many super-choreographed, slow motion sequences going on that we're too busy marveling at the visuals and actually forgetting to be frightened. Found Footage returns things to a nice brutal raw state. The horror becomes very natural again. And that can be very effective.

When I heard Doctor Who was doing a Found Footage story, I was a bit on the ecstatic side. I know a lot of fandom was very uncertain about it - but I was looking forward to it. I was pretty sure, even before I saw it, that I would love it.

I was right.

One thing that I really appreciate about Sleep No More is that it immediately sidesteps one of the biggest problems of the Found Footage genre. The "Why would anyone keep holding on to a camera during all this horrible stuff?!" problem. A few years back, I sat through the movie Cloverfield. About two-thirds of the way into the film, I could no longer suspend my disbelief. For the plain and simple reason that I could no longer support the idea that any human being would still be filming everything while he was trying to leg it out of a city that was being attacked by a Godzilla-like giant monster. He would have dropped the camera ages ago cause it was slowing him down too much and the movie should have ended at that point.

Sleep No More sets up a clever premise that enables us to maintain our belief. Rasmussen, a clearly mad scientist, has created a special story for us using the security cameras of the space station he's on and the helmet cams of a rescue team that arrives there. Later, of course, things get even more surreal as we discover that the very dust can stream footage. But, for me, it all works. We can enjoy the rawness of the genre without having its credulity pushed too far. And Doctor Who can delve into a whole new realm effectively. In order to truly cement the boldness of it all, we get the first episode in the long history of the show that doesn't use the title sequence. These clever conventions, alone, cause me to fall in love with this adventure.

But there's so much more to Sleep No More than just a clever use of the genre. It really is a cool story. Yes, perhaps a few elements are a bit hard to swallow. Monsters made of eye-boogers is a bit of a stretch. But that's probably the closest I come to a genuine complaint. Otherwise, I think the whole thing flows quite smoothly. There's definitely a lot of tension and suspense to the tale. Most of it created by the cinematography. Yes, it's a futuristic sci fi story on a space station - but it still feels like we're watching something real. And that makes it feel all the creepier.

This is, perhaps, not Mark Gatiss' best script. I don't mean that in a cruel way. It's still very solidly written - it's just that he has stories I enjoy better! I certainly like the futuristic society that he creates here, though. Particularly the way everyone says "May the gods look favorably upon you." It's a nice touch.

Sleep No More offers a few nice twists, too. Most of them evolving around Rasmussen, himself. As we learn, more and more, what this special video is all about (he did warn us not to watch it!) we have to give some serious props to Gatiss. He put in some nice layers. And the final reveal of what Rasmussen truly is becomes a very iconic and chilling moment. I will, forever, remember the image of him crumbling away and pointing out: "You have something right there in the corner of your eye"

Speaking of endings, I love that Sleep No More joins the ranks of stories like Genesis and Victory of the Daleks by having a conclusion where the Doctor doesn't quite win. The Sandmen will continue to proliferate while our heroic Time Lord merely takes off in his TARDIS happy to have his skin intact. There's meant to be a sequel, of course. So far, it hasn't happened. I almost hope it doesn't. It's just so much creepier to leave things off on this note.

I know lots of people don't share the same opinion that I have of Sleep No More. A Doctor Who episode being shot in such a manner strayed too far from the show's established formula. But that's actually why I do like the episode so much. It's yet more proof that Doctor Who can do anything. Even if it's not always accepted so well by everybody!