Wednesday, 28 March 2018


.... And we roll on with one-time-only villains ....   


Doctor Who has been running for so long and has produced so many episodes that it's a simple law-of-averages that it's going to, occasionally, offer up something less-than-stellar. Given some of the comments I see in fan groups, I wonder, sometimes, if there are any stories certain fans are happy with! I find, at least, that even when the show misfires - it still gives us something that's a lot better than most of the stuff that's out there in Television Land. 

Creature from the Pit might be the one exception to the rule. That really is just a horrible story that, maybe, we need to all forget. Particularly if you're Jewish!!   

What saddens me most about stories that "get it wrong" is that they can have really good elements to them that we overlook. We're so disconcerted by the overall failure of it that we miss some of its successes. My fourth favorite one-time-only baddie is a great example of this. 

I've said quite a bit about Timelash during the "Guilty Pleasure" countdown I did a while back ( Labeling it a Guilty Pleasure, of course, is an acknowledgement that the story is seriously flawed. There are other stories from that era that get maligned like Twin Dilemma or Time and the Rani that I feel are not as bad as some people would have you believe. But Timelash is, most definitely a "clunker". Hidden within all that bad writing, abysmal effects and dodgy acting, however, is a gem of a one-time villain. 

Don't worry. I'm not talking about Tekker!!    

The Borad is a great villain because he has everything: cool weapons, a fun backstory and a sinister plan that wasn't quite what anyone expected. He's horribly disfigured but he'll tell you all about how that's actually made him better. Thanks to his mustakozene-80 accident, he is now a massive genius with a protracted lifespan. So what if it's given him an ugly face and a flipper?! 

He wasn't lying about that genius thing either. I count, at least, three branches of science that he excels at  (temporal physics, genetics and android technology). He kinda puts Davros to shame, really. He just built travel machines for mutants - the Borad can do way more than that!     

While there are a lot of problems with the plotting of Timelash, the way the Borad is introduced into the story through various "teases" was one of its strong points. We know that the old guy that looks like Salyavin can't really be the same person as the sinister character everyone is meeting in the Borad's private chambers. There's a mystery to be solved and it's a nice build up to his ultimate revelation when the Doctor visits him.

The explanation of his origins is also very well-handled. The central thrust of the story is that it is a sequel to an unseen Third Doctor adventure. The Borad ties into that quite nicely. He has a particular hatred for the Doctor because of the fact that he reported him to the authorities. That's always a nice extra layer to a megalomaniac. Plots of conquest are only so interesting. If there's something personal there, too - that makes the conflict even more enjoyable. 

The Borad's Ultimate Sinister Plan is another really cool nuance to him. Sure, down the road, he might sweep out into the Universe and start taking it over. But, right now, he just wants a girlfriend. He's going to destroy all sentient life on a planet to achieve that - but that's still all he really wants. By this point in the show, villains that wanted to conquer the galaxy had become a dime a dozen. So someone with a slightly different agenda was a breath of fresh air. Yes, we could argue that another evildoer lusting for Peri might be tiresome. But, really, which one of us wasn't lusting for her?! Can we really blame them?!  

Some compliments must also be paid to Robert Ashby, himself. He does a very good job working through all that heavy make-up to bring the character to life. The fact that he also does some nice stuff with a ridiculous-looking rubber flipper makes him an even more impressive actor. His deep, silky voice is probably his strongest point. Particularly since we do spend a lot of time just hearing the Borad rather than seeing him. It was a very solid piece of casting, that's for sure. 

What I like best about the Borad, however, is his Achilles Tendon. He may brag up a storm about how great it is to be half-morlox - but we all know he's just compensating. He is mortified by the way he looks (and, as cheap as the story looks, the make-up department stepped up to the plate nicely with how they did him up). Some pretty obvious clues are on display to give away that he has self-image problems, but it's still a fun way to take down a foe. The Borad's surprise re-appearance at the end of the story only works so well. But when the Doctor shouts: "You obviously haven't read the writing on the wall!" and then smashes away the painting of Jon Pertwee to reveal the mirror underneath - it's still pretty cool. The allusion that he will become the Loch Ness Monster sends fandom foaming  at the mouth, of course ("That's the Skarasen!") but I still love how the Borad is defeated. He's not actually killed - he's just sent to a place where people will doubt that he even exists. That's a far worse fate than the death for a creature of his ego.    

Hate Timelash all you want. You have the right to. It's got a lot of problems. But, if you claim that the Borad was part of that problem, we may have to step outside...

Fifth Place:

Thursday, 15 March 2018


Hey there, Mister Tymec! What's going on here?!   

You're supposed to celebrating your blog's 3rd anniversary with another installment from that goofy Whocology 101 series of articles that you wrote for a fanzine all those years ago. You're meant to give us the third part. Where you freak over Adric dying. It's tradition that, every anniversary, you post a new episode from the series. So why are we seeing a BOOK OF LISTS headline, instead?

If anyone loves to buck tradition - it's me. Even if I created the tradition, myself. My end-of-year countdown that I do concerning an order of preference has become quite popular around here so I thought I'd do another one to celebrate the blog's anniversary. Besides, a BOOK OF LISTS entry shouldn't only be exclusive to New Year's. It's another tradition for me to break! 

So, we'll start the countdown on the anniversary date and continue to do regular installments over the next little while. Until, at last, we find out who my all-time favorite one-time-appearance baddie is. 

Good luck trying to guess who it might be.

The stipulations for this particular countdown are pretty simple. I'm looking at any bad guy (or girl) that has only been in the show once. Sure Doctor Who is populated with recurring enemies that have come back more times than we can count. There's even two-timers like Sil or Lady Cassandra who more-than-merited that second story. But, every once in a while, you get a baddie who was so well-written and portrayed that they earn a special place in a fan's heart. Many people, for instance, have a great love for Harrison Chase in the popular story Seeds of Doom. Admittedly, he was an interestingly-constructed character who was played with great relish by Tony Beckley. We adore it when he proclaims: "I could play all day in my Green Cathedral"!

Did Chase make it into my Top Five? You'll have to wait and see... 


Finding a one-time villain who stands out in the New Series can be a difficult task. The show moves very quickly, these days. And a good baddie needs the plot to slow down a bit for them to get some serious mustache-twirling accomplished. Most of the time, an actor just doesn't get the time to do that. The story is over before we really get a chance to appreciate their evil that much.

Some actors just happen to have so much presence that, even with the hasty plot, they can still get us to enjoy the character. Anthony Head in School Reunion is someone who quickly comes to mind. His portrayal of Mr. Finch is beautifully-measured and really stands out. His history as a character actor in another very popular Cult Show that had a strong influence on early New Who helps him. But even without his Buffy lineage, he does a very memorable turn as Mr. Finch. Particularly since this is only Series Two of  New Who and the writing is still, kind of, all over the place. He's really able to grab the bull by the horns and make his character stand out among all the clutter.

Mr. Finch, however, doesn't quite win for best one-time villain from New Who. There is one actor who I find shows even greater gravitas and makes his portrayal that bit more distinctive.

Those five episodes that constitute the first half of Series 7 are definitely a mixed bag. I loved Asylum of the Daleks. I also felt The Angels Take Manhatten was quite strong. A Town Called Mercy and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship were middle-of-the-road for me. The Power of Three was, pretty much, 46 minutes of my life that I'll never get back!

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship might not have been as great if hadn't been elevated so much by the presence of David Bradley as Solomon. I'd seen Bradley in some other stuff, of course. For me, he was most memorable in his role as Walder Frey in Game of Thrones (I'm not a big Harry Potter fan so Argus Filch didn't do much for me). It helped that The Red Wedding sequence, itself, sticks out in your memory (and, quite possibly, resonates in your nightmares) but Bradley really does carry the character well. Even without that gory scene, he just seems to stand out in any role he takes.

For me, his street cred totally goes through the roof when he lands the role of William Hartnell in An Adventure in Time and Space. He becomes even cooler when he takes on the role of the First Doctor in Twice Upon a Time. But all that is still down the road for him when Dinosaurs on a Spaceship airs. Even though we don't know, yet, just how much cooler of a role he's going to get, Bradley still seems to really shine as Solomon. Just like Walder Frey before The Red Wedding - there's just something about the man's acting style that gets us to stand up and take notice of him.

The way in which Solomon is brought into the story is, perhaps, the best demonstration of Bradley's chops. We hear him first in voiceover as he is watching events from a monitor. This is a wonderfully sinister way to introduce a villain, yes. But if the person playing the baddie lacks strength of presence, it can all go quite bad. You haven't the bonus of facial reactions to help instill a tone - it all has to come through your voice. In Keeper of Traken, we are hearing Geoffrey Beevers carrying on quite a bit in this manner. But Beevers gets a lot of scenes like this to help create some good gravitas. In New Who, Bradley isn't given that sort of benefit. He has to accomplish the same task in scant amounts of time. And yet, he pulls it off.

When we actually see Solomon for the first time, Bradley is given an even greater challenge. His character has been severely wounded. Rule #1 of creating pathos for a character: Injure them. This is a great device for making someone likable in a story. But, let's remember: he's supposed to be the bad guy. We're supposed to be disliking him. This device is actually to his disadvantage. Good 'ole Bradley works through this handicap like a pro, though. Even in his pitiable state, we see clearly that he's bad news.

Fortunately, he does do something really unlikable fairly quickly by injuring Rory's Dad. Once he's accomplished this, there's no chance left for him to be anything but a rotten old bastard. As Solomon's health is restored, he becomes more and more fun to hate. His list of sins continue. We discover that he murdered all the Silurians on board the vessel. He, more or less, forces the Doctor at gunpoint to mend his wounds. Then he does something really unforgivable - he orders one of his bumbling robots to murder a sweet, innocent triceratops. Yes, he's committed genocide. But hurting animals - that will always get an audience to want to see you dead.

Just to put some icing on the cake, we find out Solomon is some kind of pervy sadist as he tries to escape the doomed ship with Queen Nefertiti. Those crutches that he's using that could have induced more pathos end up being weapons that he menaces her with. He's really ramping up the villainy, now.

It helps that Solomon is kept so simple, of course. In a nice streamlined plot that's meant to just be about thrills and spills - you don't want a complex antagonist. A ruthless merchant who will do anything for profit is exactly what the story needs. Because he's so basic, Bradley really can sink his teeth into the part and get us to properly despise him. It's especially impressive that we don't really meet him until we're nearly halfway into the story. In the twenty or so minutes of screentime that he actually gets, he cements the character beautifully.

Part of what makes Solomon so memorable is his method of dispatch. This is one of the few times in the show's history where the Doctor kills off his enemy in a very direct and merciless manner. But because we've come to hate him so much - we're pretty okay with it. Once more, a tribute to both the crafting of the character and Bradley's performance. Solomon really deserves what he gets. It's quite the classic moment as he calls out the Doctor's name angrily seconds before the missiles impact.

Even with the restrictions of a fast-paced plot, I find there's a vibe to Solomon that really puts him more into the category of a Classic Who villain. He just has a strong presence in the story and counterpoints the Doctor's heroism very effectively. He's rotten to the core and we love to watch him exhibit that. A lot of this is down to Bradley's talents, though. In a lesser pair of hands, Solomon wouldn't have succeeded half as well as he did. Instead, Bradley takes an almost too simple and gimmicky story and lifts it into something quite enjoyable.

That's Number Five down. See you again soon with a one-time baddie that is often obscured by the fact that his story is so heavily reviled. Hopefully, as you read what I have to say about him - you'll see him in a new light....

Saturday, 3 March 2018


Oh look! An actual entry with pictures! 

As I was composing my History of the Cybermen series, I wanted to get into the various capabilities and special features of each model. I found my word-count was starting to get just a bit too high, though, so I decided to make it a special entry all on its own. Since it helps to see what the model looks like, I decided to go a bit crazy with attaching pictures to each category.    


One of the things I love best about Cybermen is the fact that we get them in so many varied models. The regular change in aesthetics certainly keeps things interesting - but it's not just a questions of appearance.

Each model seems to come with different weapons and abilities. Some use cybermats. Some are governed by Cyber Planners or Cyber Leaders or even Cyber Controllers. There is a myriad of interesting details about each model. Here is my attempt at the definitive illustrated guide to the various Cybermen that inhabit our universe. Or, sometimes, breach our universe and try to invade it. 

MARINUSIAN CYBERMEN (referenced in The Doctor Falls):  Little is known about their capabilities. As mentioned in Part 1 of the Cyber History essay, we can't really go by anything we see in the actual comic strip. It is my belief that whatever happened on Marinus in the proper show, itself, might be similar to what we saw in the comics but is not exactly the same. So, unless, we see a proper story with Cybermen from Marinus (which I doubt we will - it would just be too convoluted to explain) we'll never know their exact specs. 

(sorry, wanted to use a new pic - but this is still the clearest one I could find)

MISSY'S CYBERMEN: (Dark Water, Death In Heaven)  Like much of the Cybermen in New Who, this version possesses a charge of energy that it can release when it has physical contact with an opponent. The charge can kill or stun. It also has a projectile energy weapon built into the arm that can conceal itself when needed. Unlike most models, however, this race can fly. This branch of Cybermen can also "pollinate" by simply blowing itself up and having its base particles come into contact with dead organic flesh.

CYBUS CYBERMEN: (Rise of the Cybermen, Age of Steel, Army of Ghosts, Doomsday, The Next Doctor, The Pandorica Opens)    In Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel, Lumic's creation only seems capable of carrying a charge that is released on physical contact. There seems no hint of a projectile weapon. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday show us Cybermen with arm-mounted projectile capability. In The Next Doctor, they've scaled back again to physical contact charges. During Pandorica Opens, we see them using an inbuilt charge, an arm gun and a lazer riffle.

This race also had a Cyber Controller for a brief period of time. Otherwise, they use Cyber Leaders. This is also the only time we've ever seen them use Cyber Shades. A sort of low-grade conversion that seems to have been performed on animals. Cyber Shades are very quick and agile. They can leap a considerable distance and can climb sheer walls. But their weapons capability is negligible. They seem to just pounce on their victims and hold them still until a proper Cyberman can show up and do real damage. Pandorica Cybermen also have a Cyber Leader who looks the same as the Doomsday Cyber Leader. But in The Next Doctor, the Cyber Leader has a funky-looking exposed brain helmet.

Cybus Cyber Controller
Cybus Cyber Leader - Version 1
Cybus Cyber Leader - Version 2 

Cyber Shades from The Next Doctor

COLONY SHIP MONDASIAN CYBERMEN: (World Enough and Time, The Doctor Falls)   The first completed models show similar capabilities as other New Who Cybermen: in-built charge released on contact (they seem to have to give their victims a full hug, though) and a projectile energy weapon. Like Revenge-style Cybermen, the projectile weapon fires through the head unit.

As they evolve, however, they also develop flight. Like Missy's Army, they use jets mounted in the soles of their boots. We also see them evolve into Cybus and Nightmare-Style models - which are also capable of flying. We see projectile weapon capability with these models but we can't be sure if they also had inbuilt charges. Most likely, they did.

INVASION CYBERMEN (SPACE-FARING - MAIN FLEET): (The Invasion - extremely brief cameos in The War Games and Carnival of Monsters)  These space-faring Cybermen seemed to only rely on projectile weapons they fired from the top of their chest units. The weapon did not seem to be detachable, though. They also carried different styles of laser rifles.

This species are governed by Cyber-Planners.        

Cybermen from The Invasion  - does this scene look familiar? 
Cyber Planner from The Invasion 

PROPER MONDASIAN CYBERMEN: (The Tenth Planet, very briefly in Twice Upon A Time)  While very similar to the Colony Ship Cybermen, there are enough differences in appearance to consider them their own proper model.

There is no post-production visual effect to help re-enforce it, but we do see this model using an inbuilt charge that is released on contact. They also use a somewhat bulky detachable projectile energy weapon that hangs from the bottom of their chest unit.

This is the only version of Cybermen that seemed to draw all their energy from their homeworld. Which meant that when Mondas died, they went with it. This is also the only version we've seen that was vulnerable to radiation.

SPACE-FARING CYBERMEN - VERSION 2: (The Moonbase, Tomb of the Cybermen)   Though there are slight variations between Moonbase Cybermen and Tomb Cybermen, they are similar enough to call the same model. A good 500 years separates them so a few modifications can happen in that time.

This model shows a new weapon. They have an inbuilt charge that discharges from their hand but they don't need to actually touch the victim. The charge has a short range to it. They also use a pistol that is holstered at the bottom of their chest unit. We never see the Tomb Cybermen draw their weapons but it is there. They are operating at such low energy in that story that the guns probably aren't charged.

The Tomb Cybermen also seem capable of sending telepathic signals to subjects whose minds they are controlling. This might be a modification that was made to them during the 500 year gap that exists between these two versions of the same model since the Moonbase Cybermen don't display this ability.

The Tomb Cybermen use cybermats. They also have a Cyber Controller. From what we understand, he will convert into a Neomorph in a later story.

Moonbase Cybermen

Tomb of the Cybermen. Slightly different wiring

The Cyber Controller

regular-sized cybermats

tiny cybermat - perhaps an early version of a cybermite? 

SPACE-FARING CYBERMEN - VERSION 3: (Wheel In Space) This particular branch has a lot of cool abilities. Some that we've never seen in other models. Like the Invasion Cybermen, they have projectile energy weapons mounted into the top part of their chest units. Like the Tomb Cybermen, they can send telepathic instructions to a subject that they're mentally controlling. But they can go one step further with this ability. They can even see images being projected in the imagination of the subject they're controlling.

They seem to have inbuilt charges with limited range that can operate on very delicate levels so that they can control electronic equipment without having to touch it (we can assume that same charge can be used as a weapon). But their coolest capability that no other model has ever displayed is the hypno-ray they can shoot from their head units. One blast from the ray instantly puts their target under their mental control. How friggin' cool is that?! 

This breed follows the instructions of Cyber Planners. They also use cybermats. Even the cybermats have abilities that other cybermats don't. They can fire limited-range energy beams from their eyes.

Aesthetically, Neomorphs are my favorite. But this might be the most awesome model of them all. A pity they only got one story!

Cyber Planner from Wheel In Space  

A Cybermat from Wheel In Space - slightly different from Tomb. Check out those vicious dorsal fins!

REVENGE CYBERMEN: (Revenge of the Cybermen)   These Cybermen use a projectile energy weapon mounted in the head unit. They have a vulnerability to gold but it doesn't seem to be quite as pronounced as it is in the Neomorphs.

They made use of very bulky-looking Cybermats. A Cyber Leader seems to be their highest level of authority.

Cybermen with their Cyber Leader in Revenge of the Cybermen

A cybermat from Revenge of the Cybermen

THE NEOMORPHS: (Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen, Silver Nemesis)  Still the best looking model  (in my opinion, at least). This model keeps things pretty simple. They just have really good laser rifles with convenient shoulder straps. Like the Revenge Cybermen, they're also allergic to gold.

They have quite the system of government, though. There is a Cyber Controller - who appears to get killed (again!). They also use Cyber Leaders, And, for the first time, Cyber Lieutenants. 

They do appear to go through a slight upgrade in their later years.

Neomorph Cyber Controller

CYBUS STYLE CYBERMEN: (Closing Time. Seen briefly in The Doctor Falls (early model).  Cameos in A Good Man Goes to War and Nightmare In Silver)  Much the same abilities as the Cybermen created by John Lumic - but no Cybus logo. We do see them using the in-built charge but we never witness the use of an arm-gun. Since the most screentime they have is in Closing Time, though, they might not be using that weapon because they are operating on low power. They are handling laser rifles during their cameo in A Good Man Goes to War. In that same scene, there is an Exposed Brain Cyber Leader.

These Cybermen also use cybermats.

a cybermat from Closing Time 


NIGHTMARE STYLE CYBERMEN: (Nightmare In Silver, Time of the Doctor, Seen briefly in The Doctor Falls (early model). Nightmare Style Cybermen are also seen in Dark Water and Death In Heaven but are not the same breed)   The capabilities this model shows in Nightmare In Silver may not extend much beyond this particular story since Hedgewick's World is destroyed and a lower grade Cyberman might get used in future stories featuring this model.

But in Nightmare In Silver, they are awesome. This is another model that shows abilities no other model has. They're almost as cool as the Wheel In Space Cybermen!

One of the first things we notice is how they are capable at exhibiting short bursts of incredible speed. It's almost like they can "warp" for brief moments. The other really impressive new skill is the way they automatically upgrade themselves' whenever a weakness presents itself so that the weakness can no longer be exploited. So what might kill one Cybermen won't kill the next. Or, in some cases, the Cybermen beats the weakness as it's being used against them.

Aside from that, we see the usual arm-mounted projectile weapon and the in-built charge that kills or stuns on contact. This model also seems to like to detach parts of itself to help in attacks. Again, this is something that may have only existed in Nightmare In Silver and has been phased out during later editions.

We must also, of course, mention the cybermites. The next stage in evolution for the cybermat. The cybermites don't attack in the way their predecessors did. Instead, they are used to facilitate the conversion process. Even if a human (or any form of organic matter) comes in contact with but a few cybermites, they will fall under cyber control and begin turning into a Cyberman.

This model also seems to be using a Cyber Planner again. We never, physically, see it. But it seems to transmit its thoughts through a neural net known as the Cyberiad.

cybemites - the ultimate in cybermat evolution? 

There you go - I have thoroughly covered everything I could ever want to say about Cybermen. For the moment, at least...

All of Cyber-History:   

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5: