Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Doctor Who [classic]
5x01 The Tomb of the Cybermen Episode 1 [3rd watch]
5x02 The Tomb of the Cybermen Episode 2 [3rd watch]
5x03 The Tomb of the Cybermen Episode 3 [3rd watch]
5x04 The Tomb of the Cybermen Episode 4 [3rd watch]
See here for my thoughts on this story.

Gilmore Girls
4x09 Ted Koppel's Big Night Out

4x02 The Special: Part II (aka The Possibility of a Mole)


Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming
Chapters 1 - 4
Faulks' James Bond continuation novel (which, in case you've managed to miss the hype, has been written to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming) gets off to a strong start, with a dramatic opening chapter in Paris followed by an excellent portrayal of an aged and weary Bond considering virtual retirement as the world moves on. Complete with numerous, well-handled references to previous adventures, it so far feels like a last hurrah for an aging hero. Standing as the 15th (and, perhaps, final) book in Fleming's Bond series, that seems only appropriate.

Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen

We continue our one-story-per-Doctor journey through the history of classic Doctor Who with this mid-era Troughton adventure, in which the Doctor, Jamie and new companion Victoria encounter an army of frozen Cybermen.

The Tomb of the Cybermen was widely regarded regarded as a lost classic until 1992, when the story was rediscovered in Hong Kong. Since then opinions have varied a little more, as fans were finally able to lose the free-roaming quality-enhancing abilities of their imagination and see the story as it really was, restrained by all the cheapness of 1967 TV production. But, a few set wobbles and dodgy performances aside, this is an excellent adventure. The Doctor and friends join an archeological expedition excavating long-frozen Cyber-tombs on the planet Telos, though some of the team members have more nefarious motivations. Unlike many four-parters, Tomb doesn't degenerate into a repetitive runaround halfway through part two, instead managing to sustain a complete narrative across all the episodes. The Cybermen themselves don't even arrive until halfway through episode two, the story until then ratcheting tension as the team explore the abandoned complex. It's effective storytelling, building mystery and laying groundwork for later. Another positive element is the team -- it's an international group, not just a collection of Brits or Yanks, which lends it a more realistic future feel. On the downside, the good guys are all American or English while it's the villains who have funny accents, the only black character is essentially a slave (to both humans and Cybermen!), and the script occasionally sinks to a '60s near-misogynistic view of women. Not everything's perfect...

The production, while occasionally wobbly, also has it's number of good points. The sets are very well designed and the blank faces of the Cybermen are particularly effective, even if their shiny jumpsuits and tennis-ball-joints aren't. Sadly, with the exception of an iconically cool (pun not intended) emergence from their defrosted tombs, they don't have a great deal to do. The story's primary villains are actually a couple of power-hungry humans from the expedition, while the Cybermen stomp around a bit and add some menace to the final two episodes. It's understandable, really -- they've just woken up; they must be a bit sleep. For early children's TV, the villains are surprisingly complex characters. Yes, their aim boils down to world domination, but their varying levels of self belief, trust in the Cybermen, and opinions of others' abilities (especially the Doctor) adds something more. Klieg is especially varied, and in a wonderful climax is defeated by the Doctor playing on his ego. The whole script is a gift for Troughton, packed with great lines and scenes for him, most specifically a moving scene between the Doctor and Victoria that manages to hold both touching advice on loss and a beautiful assertion on the series' brilliance. It's among Who's very best moments.

If one's disbelief can be suspended enough to look past the wobbliness the production sometimes exhibits, there's a genuinely classic tale here, for all sorts of reasons beyond even those I've mentioned. Hopefully Steven Moffat's love for blank-faced monsters will mean the Cybermen finally get to return to new Who when he takes charge... unless they return sooner, of course...