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November 8, 2012 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Can Neil Gaiman restore the Cybermen to their original greatness? - Neil Gaiman's second episode of Doctor Who will feature the classic cyborg villains introduced by medical scientist Kit Pedler in The Tenth Planet
posted by Artw (115 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sweeeeeeeeeeet.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:23 AM on November 8, 2012


Evidently, one of the young stars of the episode left her copy of the script in a cab ...
posted by jbickers at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't realize the Cybermen needed restoration.

Anywho...It's with trepidation that I look forward to the Doctor's new companion...According to some of the things I've read, one of her endearing points to the producers was she can speak as fast, or faster, than Matt Smith. Good grief. The dialog in the shows is already on the level of speed freaks on triple-espressos shouting over each other. It's barely listenable at times.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I didn't realize the Cybermen needed restoration.

They've been a bit absent of late, mainly turning up on bit parts. Before that the NuWho cybermen were pretty much interchangeable with Daleks, only a bit crap. It would be good to see them regain some of their technological distinctiveness.
posted by Artw at 7:35 AM on November 8, 2012


The new Cybermen are basically what you get when you throw the Daleks and Borg in a blender. They've had a few good episodes, but it's been a very long time since the real thing was on screen.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2012


Artw: "...mainly turning up on bit parts."

Yeah, but this scene was pretty damned awesome.
posted by zarq at 7:41 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Before that the NuWho cybermen were pretty much interchangeable with Daleks

Daleks have that whole self-hating racist thing going on which makes them a little more interesting than the Cybermen, who are usually played with no nuance whatsoever. Although, until the Daleks had to start collecting genetic material from other species their actions made little sense (why not just blow up every planet?) That Cyberman/Borg/Pokemon gotta catch 'em all thing works as a repeat plot hook.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:42 AM on November 8, 2012


The Borg are basically just a Cybermen rip-off - they've got the whole hive mind thing going on I guess but it seems like all space bastards get one of them these days. Visually they're a bit more zombie-like than the more sleek later cybermen, but they're nothing on the nightmare fuel that is the balaclava and accordion era cyberman, who resembled a WWI burn victim hooked up to clunky medical prosthesese.
posted by Artw at 7:59 AM on November 8, 2012


In the old days, the Cybermen were the scariest things in the universe — just as badass as the Daleks (for many of the same reasons) AND they could walk up stairs!. They also tended to be found in cold, dark places that were already scary. The new Cybermen have been mostly outclassed by the new Daleks (who, coincidentally, have mastered stairs, but lost the war with their emotions). It will be very interesting to see what Gaiman does with them.
posted by ubiquity at 8:01 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and then the Cybermen were defeated by a father's love for his baby.

Almost as bad as bouncing gold coins off their chests...

Still they finished off Adric and put the shits up Mary Whitehouse so they've always had that going for them.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:10 AM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


So, now that the Borg have come up, what's the verdict on Star Trek TNG/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 so far?
posted by bettafish at 8:27 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have to ask: what story would be told better with the Cybermen than the Daleks? I say there aren't any.

See, the Daleks are supreme when you need an enemy beyond and unbeatable by humanity so the Doctor can jump in to save the day. If you want someone humanity can fight you have the Sontarans (HA!) (if you don't want to feel bad about them dying) or the Silurians (if you do).

The Cybermen fall into a gray area. We've seen that modern humans who are expecting them can defeat them (one gets blown up by a human-portable rocket, so they aren't SUPER tough), but there's no drama to be had killing them. The end result is a boring baddy.
posted by BeeDo at 8:28 AM on November 8, 2012


The scariest thing about the Cybermen is that they can turn you into them. The episode in the department store was a lighter one, but still frightening.

That said, I'm tired of old enemies. I'm tired of just fighting enemies - I want to see more exploring Doctor Who where they see new things that may or may not be evil (like the Library or the Girl who Waited or the Doctor's Wife).
posted by jb at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Would a reanimated Mary Whitehouse be a bit too Sylvester McCoy era to work on the modern Who?
posted by biffa at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


biffa:
"Would a reanimated Mary Whitehouse be a bit too Sylvester McCoy era to work on the modern Who?"
I think Sylvester McCoy era Who sits just fine with Matt Smith. Of all the Doctors eleven resembles, it would probably be seven.
posted by charred husk at 8:44 AM on November 8, 2012


The Cybermen were always amongst the scariest adversaries for the Doctor in my opinion. There was something about the loss of self that scared the crap out of me as a kid.
posted by arcticseal at 8:50 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to see more exploring Doctor Who where they see new things that may or may not be evil (like the Library or the Girl who Waited or the Doctor's Wife).

This. Enemies can be a lot of fun (and my husband loves the Daleks and Cybermen to death), but I find these sorts of episodes far more fascinating overall. We get it; The Doctor can handle the baddies, and with flair. But show us things that are more complex/nuanced, too.

That said... NEIL GAIMAN.
posted by cellar door at 8:50 AM on November 8, 2012


I want to see more exploring Doctor Who where they see new things that may or may not be evil (like the Library or the Girl who Waited or the Doctor's Wife).

Yes, please!
And get the hell off Earth for an entire season. I'd love more episodes where Doctor and companion are more like quiet observers to a moment in time of an alien civilization. There to watch and record history. Not to inject themselves and change the course of history to fit their personal morals.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Daleks can turn you into one of them too, now.

My son is 2 and is terrified by the new cybermen on sight. He plays with his Alphie robot just fine though. Am I the only one who sees the resemblance?
posted by BeeDo at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2012


cellar door:
"But show us things that are more complex/nuanced, too."
What worries me about this is that they've had opportunities to do this within their big story lines already. River Song's story could have been so much more conflicted in the same amount of time, but instead we got brainwashing.

Also, I'd like to repeat my displeasure that Asylum of the Daleks continued their encroaching into Cyberman territory.
posted by charred husk at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Silurians are usually good for "Humans and monsters should just get along" type plots, sadly they seem to be mainly in Chris Chibnall stories - still, Madame Vastra Christmas Special!
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on November 8, 2012


I always thought the Borg were a blatant knock-off of the Cybermen, as they might have continued to develop as special effects improved had Dr. Who not gone on such a long hiatus. So my worry is that with the Borg, Star Trek already took the same basic idea and updated it so successfully for newer audiences--becoming so iconic as a result--that it'll be hard for the Cybermen to ever come out of the shadow of the Borg and regain a grip on the viewing public's imagination again. But to see Gaiman take a stab at it will be fun either way.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:05 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad:
"There to watch and record history. Not to inject themselves and change the course of history to fit their personal morals."
Ever notice the original features of the TARDIS?
It can blend seamlessly into it's surroundings.
It has a big view screen and a wide array of sensors.
The doors are massive things than can only be opened by pulling a lever.
The TARDIS contains all you ever need to live.

You aren't supposed to leave the TARDIS. Just walking out those doors changes history.
If the Doctor respected that, we would never have had a show!
Of course, I wouldn't mind a nice historical. Haven't had one since the fifth Doctor and that was horrible.
posted by charred husk at 9:05 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Cybermen fall into a gray area. We've seen that modern humans who are expecting them can defeat them (one gets blown up by a human-portable rocket, so they aren't SUPER tough), but there's no drama to be had killing them. The end result is a boring baddy.

Have you ever seen The Tomb of the Cybermen? I think it provides the definitive Cybermen story. That's where the "you will become like us" quote comes from, and given that the Brotherhood of Logicians had already committed cold-blooded murder in order to pursue their goals of allying with the recently rediscovered Cybermen to rule the Universe, it means a whole lot more than being forced into silver-colored attire and speaking through a vocoder.

The problem with Cybermen is that they're too often treated simply as technological vampires ready to jump out and assimilate unsuspecting victims. Cybermen are the monsters who live at the bottom of the slippery slope waiting to welcome anyone who loses their footing. They dwell in dark, forgotten places waiting for the right, ambitious, and morally-deficient person to enable. They aren't things that "get" you like the Daleks, but rather they're the things you turn into after misplacing your humanity in the pursuit of power.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:08 AM on November 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


re: Star Trek TNG/Doctor Who: Assimilation2

It has a slow start -- It takes maybe two full issues to get going -- and some inconsistent artwork. Once it gets going, it works as a Star Trek story for me. One of the better Trek comics I've read, actually. The Doctor and Ponds are there and doing stuff, but it doesn't feel very Doctor Who-ish overall.

(Also, the flashback to TOS/Dr#4 is pretty cool.)
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have to ask: what story would be told better with the Cybermen than the Daleks? I say there aren't any.

I always felt that the Cybermen were best suited to body horror type stories. As silly as the original versions were, they were also very, very creepy with how they talked. I'd say it's hard to update them with how i feel they should be without seeming like a borg rip off. My ideal version of them would be like a burn victim, with parts replaced by mechanical and biological parts, and if you tried to damage them all that they would have to do is remove something from someone or something. Tetsuo the iron man is actually pretty close to how i see a new version of the cybermen could be.
posted by usagizero at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whole Cyberman deal, from The Tenth Planet:

Cyberman: You must come and live with us.
Polly: But we cannot live with you, you're... you're different, you've got no feelings.
Cyberman: Feelings? I do not understand that word.
The Doctor: Emotions! Love, pride, hate, fear! Have you no emotions, sir?
Cyberman: Come to Mondas and you will have no need of emotions. You will become like us.
Polly: Like you?
Cyberman: We have freedom from disease, protection against heat and cold, true mastery. Do you prefer to die in misery?
Polly: But look, surely I... it's possible for us not to lose Earth's energy?
Cyberman: It is inevitable.
Polly: Then you don't mind if we all die.
Cyberman: Why should we mind?
The Doctor: [outraged] WHY? WHY?
Polly: Because millions and millions of people are going to suffer and die horribly!
Cyberman: We shall not be affected.
Polly: Don't you think of anything except yourselves?
Cyberman: We are equipped to survive. We are only interested in survival. Anything else is of no importance. Your deaths will not affect us.
Polly: But I can't make you understand, you're condemning us all to die! Have you no heart?
Cyberman: No, that is one of the weaknesses that we have removed.

posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm kinda meh about the prospect because I thought his first episode felt more like this Gaimanesque fantasy thing than Doctor Who. Don't get me wrong, it was artistically lovely, but just felt . . . off.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


The first ten minutes did bring up the ghost of Neverwhere for me... After that it was glorious.
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on November 8, 2012


a bit too Sylvester McCoy era

No such thing. ;) He's my second favorite doctor after the fourth. (although i really, really wish Eccleston would have had more than one season.)
posted by usagizero at 9:18 AM on November 8, 2012


"Where are we Doctor?"
"a terrible, terrible place. The set of Mirrormask. Look out! Mimes!"
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


The whole Cyberman deal, from The Tenth Planet:

And with a few brief brush-strokes, perfectly updatable for the contemporary U.S. audience that NuWho is seeking!

Polly: But look, surely I... it's possible for us not to lose Earth's energy?
Cyberman: It is inevitable.
Polly: Then you don't mind if we all die.
Cyberman: Why should we mind?
The Doctor: [outraged] WHY? WHY?
Polly: Because millions and millions of people are going to suffer and die horribly!
Cyberman: We shall not be affected.
Polly: Don't you think of anything except yourselves?
Cyberman: We are equipped to survive. We are only interested in survival. Anything else is of no importance. Your deaths will not affect us.
Polly: But I can't make you understand, you're condemning us all to die! Have you no heart?
Cyberman: No, that is one of the weaknesses that we have removed.
Polly: But that's monstrous! Surely it must be better to work towards a world where all can live in peace and contentment!
Cyberman: Your words sound suspiciously like soc-ial-sim.
[Cybermen shoot Polly and the Doctor and throw their bodies into the rendering pit]
Cybermen [all chanting]: U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.

posted by Shepherd at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Although I didn't like that NuWho brought in parallel world Cybermen rather then originals, it made them appropriately and distinctly creepy at the beginning. It really emphasized that Cybermen slice you up and change your personality. Lots of knives and whirling blades and body horror. The scene where the Tenth Doctor restores the memories of one and she can only ask why everything feels so cold... very unsettling.

But then we get Victorian Steampunk Cybermen and department store Cybermen that are treated as monsters of the week.
posted by painquale at 9:30 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe people are talking about NuWho Cyberman desecration and nobody has yet brought up the Torchwood where the guy has a Cyberman girlfriend hidden in the basement and they have to defeat it using barbecue sauce and a pterodactyl.
posted by Shepherd at 9:37 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Man, Chris Chibnall really likes dinosaurs.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:38 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can Neil Gaiman restore the Cybermen to their original greatness?

No.

This has been another episode of Simple Answers To Stupid Questions.

I didn't quite realize how much I hated Gaiman's previous episode until I watched Doctor Who Confidential, and saw him declaiming his script, including stage directions, from the empty set. He spoke in a stentorian voice like he was reading Shakespeare. And to him, his own words are as goddam important as Shakespeare.

Doctor Who doesn't need the Neverwhere mythos grafted onto it. Gaiman wants to retcon his ridiculous ideas into the series and change its direction. Quick tip for scriptwriters: if your whole script depends on retconning, you're non-canonical and you should throw it out and start again.

Cybermen are a canonical villain and while an occasional wardrobe upgrade is interesting, they don't need any revisions to be more menacing. They just need some action.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have very few memories of Torchwood outside of Childrenbof Earth and like to keep it that way.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another difference between Cybermen and Daleks:

Daleks are first-act villains. Their typical introduction in a story usually consists of the Doctor landing on a planet, looking around for a few minutes, and stumbling upon them. Quite often their presence is even foretold by the episode title.

Cybermen are second-act villains. The audience is usually introduced first to whatever human is working (often selfishly) on behalf of the Cybermen, and they usually appear on screen after the Doctor has figured out that said human couldn't possibly be working alone.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I love me some Cybermen, but I'd like to see them as Tim Burton villains (a la Sweeney Todd) rather than Neil Gaiman villains.
posted by immlass at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2012


Unused Cybermen concept art.
posted by Artw at 10:04 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't believe people are talking about NuWho Cyberman desecration and nobody has yet brought up the Torchwood where the guy has a Cyberman girlfriend hidden in the basement and they have to defeat it using barbecue sauce and a pterodactyl.

I thought that was the greatest episode of anything ever when I watched it.... whilst being blind drunk.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You liked the sex alien one as well, didn't you?
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nah, that one was rubbish... they even made lezzing up boring
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:36 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been a fan of the Doctor since around 1982. I both love and hate the new format reboot of the franchise. I know it's 7 years on, but it seems to have developed a fanbase that's more interested in "gee look at the t-shirt I bought!" than actually discussing the grand concepts of the show. (I'm looking at you, r/doctorwho.)

I could rant for hours about the show, and I am going to restrain myself. I will say I am almost religiously grateful that I'm still alive to watch each new episode, even if it's a stinky one.
posted by Catblack at 11:03 AM on November 8, 2012


Man, I only wish they had used designs #1 or 9 (from Artw's link above) for the Cybermen in NuWho. They both really drive home the body horror aspect of the characters. Quite honestly, since Asylum of the Daleks, I don't think the Cybermen can even begin to touch the Body Horror that I felt in that episode.

What's more, if this SPOILER: (it's a listing for an upcoming DW toy) is any indication of where the rest of this season is going w/ regards to Daleks, Cybermen & Weeping Angels, I just may give up on NuWho until the show-runner reins are passed again. I hope it's just an ill-conceived marketing thing that is not part of actual show continuity.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:03 AM on November 8, 2012


I'm kinda meh about the prospect because I thought his first episode felt more like this Gaimanesque fantasy thing than Doctor Who. Don't get me wrong, it was artistically lovely, but just felt . . . off.

Yeah, you're definitely right that it was much more Gaiman than Who (I feel like the bricoleurs at the end of time is practically a trademark of his, for instance) but that episode will always have a place in my heart for the first thing the TARDIS says when she inhabits the human girl.
posted by gauche at 11:21 AM on November 8, 2012


I know it's 7 years on, but it seems to have developed a fanbase that's more interested in "gee look at the t-shirt I bought!" than actually discussing the grand concepts of the show. (I'm looking at you, r/doctorwho.)

Oh, fuck NuWho "fandom". Worst fandom there is.
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Catblack, as another long-time viewer I keep from ranting by reminding myself that the quality of the show has always been been wildly inconsistent.
posted by mikepop at 11:23 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So both Daleks and cybermen have always done the assimilation thing, or at least have done it since their appearances - did the Daleks do it before Inasion Earth? - but there's a difference in character to it - Daleks are hateful little xenophobe squid creatures inside miniature Tiger Tanks, and their interest in other races is making slaves out of them like the Robomen or those stealth Dalek drone things - though tere's a lot of muddying of the waters here in with all sorts of vague stuff about "DNA" and human/Dalek hybrids of course - but those are always considered second class.

The cybermen, on the other hand, convert people into being "like them" - they want people to join them in the being a techno zombie modified in a last ditch effort to stave off the entropy of a dying world. They're not make second class Cybermen or slaves, they're sharing the horror.
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really it only gets worse the more it's a self inflicted but desperate choice - the Big Finish Audio "Spare Parts" about the dying days of Mondas uses this excellently.
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Daleks are Fascists, Cybermen are Communists.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:12 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tomb of the Cybermen really is everything that's great about early Who and scifi of that era in general. Crazy camera angles, actors with bad fake American accents, and that MUSIC. So wonderful.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cybermen bursting out of clingfilm is pure Kindertrauma.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


They could everybody some trouble and just air "Tomb of the Cybermen" again.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:20 PM on November 8, 2012


CYBERMEN CAN BE IN YOUR WARDROBE OR BEHIND THE SOFA. HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN EIGHT?

Anyway, Cybermen are cool because they are always skulking around in some dilapidated junk spaceship trying desperately to take over the Universe, but they never will. They're like a crazy old madman, who isn't going to take over anything, but you've stumbled into his derelict parking lot and he's in front of you with a shiv babbling about the lizard men and your aura.

Daleks are too smart. They would give up on takeover by force because of the costs. They would offer Mefites a reduction in the Gini coefficient in exchange for mining rights, and before you know it you're trundling when you used to walk.
posted by alasdair at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's a little racist, too, though.
posted by charred husk at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2012


Yeah, that's why it works best as a period piece. You can enjoy it but the cringing is for the past.

I'm dreaming that Gaiman is writing some sort of Mondas Cybermen meet Pete's World Cybermen fanwank that manages not to be stupid... but that's just my dream. And it's been proven many times that my dream isn't the direction the show should go in.

(See: the fact that Amy and Rory weren't sent back in time and able to raise River as a kid because that just wouldn't have worked even though I wanted it to be.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:26 PM on November 8, 2012


Whilst clicking around that Tomb Of The Cybermen link I remembered I've never seen Silver Nemesis... I'm tempted, but it might just be a bit too 80s for unprepared viewing. Might have to watch some Mel and Kim vids or something first to ease myself into it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:29 PM on November 8, 2012


Dreams that won't be realized: A third strain of Cybermen is discovered. It is alien and creepy, but distinctly Cyberman. It is discovered that there are other strains of Cybermen that have come and gone throughout time. It turns out that becoming the Cybermen is just a dead end for some civilizations, the same way nuclear war is. All advanced races have it in them to try and hide from the pain of existence.
posted by charred husk at 12:32 PM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I didn't realize the Cybermen needed restoration.

The new show needs to be restored to something that adults can watch. Gaiman's other episode, however, was horrible, so I expect this one to be about the same. There must be a RTD Virus running through the staff and guests of the new show that turns good writers into bad writers.

Anywho...It's with trepidation that I look forward to the Doctor's new companion...According to some of the things I've read, one of her endearing points to the producers was she can speak as fast, or faster, than Matt Smith. Good grief. The dialog in the shows is already on the level of speed freaks on triple-espressos shouting over each other. It's barely listenable at times.

A Gilmour Girls feel is, I suspect, exactly what the new Who is supposed to feel like.

So, now that the Borg have come up, what's the verdict on Star Trek TNG/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 so far?

It can't be any worse than a typical episode. Might be more entertaining if say Worf were in it. He'd find the Doctor insufferable and Worf is always good for a laugh.

You have to ask: what story would be told better with the Cybermen than the Daleks? I say there aren't any.

I'd say there are plenty, though to be fair, the new cyberman are pretty simple. It would be hilarious to see the Movellans back.

See, the Daleks are supreme when you need an enemy beyond and unbeatable by humanity so the Doctor can jump in to save the day.

That's what so awful about the current show. Save the fucking universe over and over. It's like attending an over the top garish wedding.

I always thought the Borg were a blatant knock-off of the Cybermen...

The idea of cybernetic beings was around before Doctor Who. No rip off whatsoever. Probably a homage certainly, building on what has been done before but then so to is almost everything we think, say, do, build, and use. The idea of a hive comes from the insect world. Reanimating is also part of the Frankenstien story and then there is the idea of the Golem, etc.

Catblack, as another long-time viewer I keep from ranting by reminding myself that the quality of the show has always been been wildly inconsistent.

Indeed it has, but the new Who differs in that it is consistently terrible and gets worse. The getting worse part does mirror the times when the BBC gave up on the show mid way through Colin Baker's run.
posted by juiceCake at 12:32 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the Ponds being sent back in time, maybe someone can help me out with the end of Angels Take Manhattan (as long as we're all here).

The Ponds are sent back in time by the angel, and it is a "final" goodbye since the Doctor can't go back to see them because something something paradox delicate space-time fabric hotspot in NYC where all the shenanigans went down.

The Ponds die (in the 1980s? I can't remember exactly what was on the headstones). But between the time they were sent back and whenever they died couldn't they have, you know, hopped on a plane or something and met the Doctor somewhere else? Either they could have traveled to a time/place they knew he would be or somehow sent a message since it seems like the Doctor more or less carries a pager around these days.

I know it's far from the only flaw these days but getting rid of characters via time separation on a show about time travelers seems a bit premise-blind.
posted by mikepop at 12:48 PM on November 8, 2012


The (rather super-not-very-good) explanation is that having read in the afterword of the Cleavage PI novel that they never meet again, they can never meet again. Because you must always believe everything you read.
posted by Sparx at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gaiman only needs to include one word and all other sins would be forgiven
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:56 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


/makes cybercommander fist.

Excellent.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on November 8, 2012


The idea of cybernetic beings was around before Doctor Who.

Hmm. Maybe. You could probably find precedents. But Pedler pretty much worked out the concept of the cybermen from first principles and took the concept mainstream.
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on November 8, 2012


Random thoughts:
  1. Tomb of the Cybermen is my earliest television memory. I always mention this, but it is true, and I think it may have shaped my psyche for better or ... well probably not for better, actually.
  2. My favourite design is circa 1966 (Moonbase-ish), but I think the scariest Cybermen are Tenth Planet ones. You can almost smell the disinfectant.
  3. Spare Parts
  4. The interchangeablility of the The Daleks and the Cybermen - I'm not sure that it's a coincidence, as the BBC were always looking for new monsters that they could bring back again and again, that were as popular as the Daleks but which didn't mean they had to deal with Terry Nation. Given that what made the Daleks so big was Ray Cusick's design, that's rather cheeky of Mr Nation. It kind of pleases me that he finally buggered off when Douglas Adams totally rewrote Destiny of the Daleks and filled it with jokes.
posted by Grangousier at 1:25 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Destiny of the Daleks

Space Rasta stalemate!
posted by Artw at 1:27 PM on November 8, 2012


Anyway, Cybermen are cool because they are always skulking around in some dilapidated junk spaceship trying desperately to take over the Universe, but they never will. They're like a crazy old madman, who isn't going to take over anything, but you've stumbled into his derelict parking lot and he's in front of you with a shiv babbling about the lizard men and your aura.

I think you just perfectly described 1980s-era Cybermen.

(Earthshock is still one of my favorite episodes, despite the fact that the Cybermen seem to be smacking their lips more often than Mitt Romney during a presidential debate. Also, Peter Davison is awesome.)
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:29 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Talking of Space Rastas...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:33 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Either they could have traveled to a time/place they knew he would be or somehow sent a message since it seems like the Doctor more or less carries a pager around these days.

Yeah...I had a whole lot of problems with the way the Ponds were eliminated from the Whoverse. A time bubble that the Doctor can't penetrate? How convenient.

The whole thing smelled terribly of a "Fuck you two, and don't come back." to both Darvill and Gillian.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2012


They live out their lives, which is better than Donna, still the best companion of nuWho, got. The new series just hasn't been good at coming up with reasons for characters to stop traveling with the Doctor.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:54 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


They could everybody some trouble and just air "Tomb of the Cybermen" again.

I haven't checked recently, but Tomb of the Cybermen was on Amazon Prime streaming a couple of months ago, and it was awesome. Even with the overacting.
posted by Sphinx at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2012


I liked the Bluetooth headsets that the Cybermen lodged into peoples' brains and that pulled the brain out when they were removed. That was a nice grotesquerie that is difficult to imagine in Moffat's Who. Also those whirling buzzsaws.
posted by painquale at 3:08 PM on November 8, 2012


Count me as somebody else who thought Gaiman's Who episode was very Gaiman-y and not very Who. It was also extremely twee, which doesn't bode well w/r/t making the Cybermen scary. Of course, Gaiman certainly can write scary, but he hasn't flexed those muscles in a long time. It'd be interesting to see him go dark here -- I personally miss the Gaiman who wrote The Sandman up through about Game of You -- but I'm not expecting that.

Also! You guys with the Torchwood. Children of Earth was kinda blah to me, I have to admit; Davies shaved off all the stuff about previous Torchwood that was so weaksauce, but he also threw away the baby with the bathwater and wound up with something that didn't have any of Torchwood's (unique) good qualities, either, and basically did a show that to me was just kind of a warmed-over X-Files. Better was the second half of season two, where the show really gelled on its own terms...never to pull that off again, but I'm just saying here. Miracle Day...my God, that thing makes "Cyberwoman" look like Mad Men.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:47 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I can't stand about Torchwood is the wild incompetence. My husband and I still make "Good job, Team Torchwood" jokes every time one of us screws something up terribly.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:59 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm absolutely sure if the show had continued at any sort of regular clip that those sort of jokes would be made in-show by season 5 or 6, if not sooner.

I mean it was practically making it already in the second season.

As for the reasons for the companions leaving sucking, I tend to agree from a purely storytelling perspective, but as a life long Doctor Who fan, I recognize it as one of the dangers of having a life long Doctor Who fan as the showrunner. The idea that a Doctor Who fan would find it impossible to imagine ending your travelling with the Doctor on purpose isn't the hard to understand, so when it comes to ending the companion's time, they've always got to try to put a big old END to (supposedly) prevent them from coming back. (The fact that the major companions have returned 2 out of 3 times the show has done the "we are now separated from the Doctor FOREVER" route only to bring them back again means that I wouldn't bet the farm on never seeing Amy and Rory again; Davies and Moffat are different but they aren't THAT different.)

Also, another, actually on-topic comment: I'm 95% sure that Gaimain isn't remaking the aforementioned Big Finish audio "Spare Parts" (aka Genesis of the Cybermen) for the small screen, and I'm 67% sure I don't want anybody to do so. But if anyone was going to do it, I'm 100% interested in seeing his take on it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:12 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife and just happened to get to the first Cyberman episode from the new Doctor Who tonight, and let me tell you, even if you know it going in, it's not any less weird that the Cybermen were created by Owen from the Vicar of Dibley
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:03 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


What I can't stand about Torchwood is that right away they show Owen being all rapey and then never ever mention this again and make Owen likable and sympathetic enough eventually but you're still like "that guy totally drugged and raped people as part of his character introduction" in the back of your mind.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:22 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doctor Who - John Simm: "I'd like to take the Master to a very dark place"
posted by homunculus at 12:26 AM on November 9, 2012


What I can't stand about Torchwood is that right away they show Owen being all rapey and then never ever mention this again and make Owen likable and sympathetic enough eventually but you're still like "that guy totally drugged and raped people as part of his character introduction" in the back of your mind.

Thank you sir. This has bugged me for oh so long, and no one mentions it. Ever.
posted by Mezentian at 3:24 AM on November 9, 2012


I can't believe you folks.
And you call yourselves fans...
Almost 80 posts and no mention of Kroton, the (ninja) Cyberman companion with a soul?

People up thread talking about the excellent Spare Parts should know that The Age Of Steel was, in fact, a partial adaption, and I think Marc Platt got some sort of credit in the TV series.

Considering what a barnstormer Dalek was, I am surprised Rob Sherman has never written for the TV show again, and the pool of people from Big Finish is minimal. Almost all of the Big Finishes I have heard have been good to excellent (generally, from a fan POV), and there is clearly some talent to be tapped there.

Also, John Simm should be allowed to take the Master to a very dark place. What RTD did with the all-singing, all-dancing, all-drag Master was a travesty almost on par with what he did to Donna.

(Incidentally, if you are thinking about checking out Aliens Vs Wizards... don't. It's no Sarah Jane Adventures.
posted by Mezentian at 3:31 AM on November 9, 2012


I really liked the Mindless Ones' take on Cybermen. It had me firing off all sorts of ideas and associations in my head at the time, probably because I'd never thought of them outside the cyborg-y template they helped define.

Shorter than I remember it: Not body horror precisely, but a way of queering our normal state of being so as to make it feel supernatural.
posted by comealongpole at 3:44 AM on November 9, 2012


I only want to see John Simm back long enough to regenerate into Matt Berry.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:05 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


People up thread talking about the excellent Spare Parts should know that The Age Of Steel was, in fact, a partial adaption, and I think Marc Platt got some sort of credit in the TV series.

That would make me rather sad, as nothing of worth carried over.
posted by Artw at 6:07 AM on November 9, 2012


I am listening to The Spectre of Lanyan Moor at the moment, and I am sad that Evelyn Smyth hasn't turned up on TV yet.

I am also sad about Colin Baker's latest TV adventure... unless it is some kind of weird fitness regime for the 50th, but I have seen enough minutes of "I'm a Celeb...." to suspect there are giant wads of cash in return for debasement, and Ant & Dec pay better than Big Finish.

Although, there are probably less spiders for Big Finish work.
posted by Mezentian at 6:23 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


As for the reasons for the companions leaving sucking, I tend to agree from a purely storytelling perspective, but as a life long Doctor Who fan, I recognize it as one of the dangers of having a life long Doctor Who fan as the showrunner.

One of the traditional ways of having a companion leave in Classic Who was to have her fall in love in a side plot shoehorned into the main story. The new format doesn't leave time for that kind of side plot, and in any case the show (and in RTD's case the showrunner) is too firmly wedding to everyone loving the Doctor far too much to leave him. While there have been some really horrible departures in Nu Who--Donna Noble, I'm looking at how you got fucked over--Classic Who companion departures were often pretty bad too. They weren't all Sarah Jane leaving Four.

Amy and Rory I'd put at pretty good on an all-time standard if you can buy the handwavium. But the way the show is constructed now makes it harder to do the handwaving.
posted by immlass at 7:21 AM on November 9, 2012


I only want to see John Simm back long enough to regenerate into Matt Berry.

There are not enough favorites for this.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:28 AM on November 9, 2012


I am also sad about Colin Baker's latest TV adventure...

Blimey, I'd missed that bit of news! Should at least get him into a few supporting roles on the Midsomer/Lewis/Casualty/etc circuit, I suppose, if that's what he wants.
posted by comealongpole at 9:20 AM on November 9, 2012


Tor: Does This Raphael Soyer Painting Depict Amy and Rory After the Latest Doctor Who Episode?

Spoilers.
posted by zarq at 3:09 PM on November 9, 2012


That Cybermen Doctor Who episode? Here's what they'll look like, sort of. According to Blastr.

I must say... I approve.
posted by Mezentian at 8:04 PM on November 9, 2012


Exfoliate!
posted by homunculus at 6:08 PM on November 10, 2012


Well, I was excited, but it turns out there are now photos and the new old Cybermen look a lot more like the new Cybusmen than the old Cybermen.
posted by Mezentian at 9:09 PM on November 10, 2012


And purely because I found it:
Eleven Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Corsair
As divulged by Mr. Neil Gaiman (from The Brilliant Book 2012)


(Which I almost posted into the election megathread).
posted by Mezentian at 9:11 PM on November 10, 2012


The idea of cybernetic beings was around before Doctor Who. No rip off whatsoever.

I'm still not so sure. The original back-story of the Cybermen, as I understood it, was that the Cybermen had stumbled their way into becoming cyborg monsters quite accidentally, gradually replacing more and more of their human parts with cybernetic replacements over such a long period of time that they scarcely even realized they had lost what made them fundamentally human in the process. And the early Cybermen (if my dim memories of the old series serve correctly) were also quite interested in "assimilating" (not sure they ever used this term for it--maybe they called it "perfecting"--but in essence, the idea was the same) new species and cultures into the cyber-fold. While the Daleks expressly wanted to exterminate every non-Dalek (and thus genetically inferior) species it encountered, the Cybermen always wanted to convert them to Cybermen. The basic premises behind the Borg and the Cybermen still seems strikingly similar to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:41 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The basic premises behind the Borg and the Cybermen still seems strikingly similar to me.

That's because it is similar. But that doesn't mean it's a "rip off". It's all similar to the hive structure of ants so are the Cybermen a rip off any hive structure fiction? What was the first hive structure fictional group and is everything similar to that a rip off of that idea?

The cybernetic life form idea was around before Dr. Who, so this means that the Cybermen themselves are a "rip off"?

I just don't understand this rip off mentality. These days Shakespeare would be ridiculed for being a rip off artist. I don't understand how some things are allowed to develop based on what came before and not be a rip off, but for some reason design and art are now consistently seen as rip offs of what came before.
posted by juiceCake at 10:06 AM on November 14, 2012


Doctor Who was the first major sci-fi show to incorporate the idea of a culturally imperialistic cybernetic race, to my knowledge. The Cybermen preceded even the cyborgs in BSG by about a decade. My honest first impression as a long-time classic Who fan when I saw the Borg on Star Trek was that it seemed like a rip-off to me at the time. But then, back when I was an eight-year-old Who fan my few fellow Who fans and I made a pretty big deal about the rivalry between Whovians and Trekkies (and of course, took a great deal of silly pride in the superiority of the former), and maybe some of that petty sentiment carried over into my first viewing of the Borg. But I'm only being honest when I say my first impression was that they were a rip-off, and I still think there's a creative debt of sorts owed there, whether it matters or not.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:03 PM on November 14, 2012


The key difference between the Borg and the Cybermen is that the Borg have a hive mind... and an ability to love when separated from the collective*.

Cybermen do not have a hive mind, or a queen, and they seek to assimilate only when they need new troops or when they find Earth people because earth people are like them anyway, otherwise they kill because they have no emotions, and that makes them evil.

The desire of the Cybermen to assimilate all the things (and the Dalek hive-mind ... and the Dalek desire to assimilate all the things they do not kill) are NewWho inventions, which arguably rip off aspects of the Borg.

Actually, if you think about it, much of the Cybermen's rationale after The Tenth Planet doesn't make a lot of sense, especially from Revenge onwards. I assume David Banks explains it in his book.

(*I am sure Cyberwoman does not fall into this, but I wish that I had never seen Cyberwoman and will not re-check).
posted by Mezentian at 8:16 PM on November 14, 2012


Well, it's not like the Borg invented hive minds. It is a bit annoying that every space bugger seems to have them now though.
posted by Artw at 9:00 PM on November 14, 2012


True. The group mind isn't exactly unknown, but, sadly, The Borg networking protocols are the reason space hive minds can be defeated with computer viruses.

And somehow fluidic space has never taken off either.

(99 comments! That's like 1/77th of the mega thread.)
posted by Mezentian at 9:57 PM on November 14, 2012


True. The group mind isn't exactly unknown, but, sadly, The Borg networking protocols are the reason space hive minds can be defeated with computer viruses.

Sadly that seems to be the main reason monsters get one bolted on to them. Oh, and the Autons, who legitimately have a hive consciousness, just get to be a big swirly soup.

We should join with the other Who threads to become a Hive Thread.
posted by Artw at 10:02 PM on November 14, 2012


Speaking of Hive Mines, if Arrow weren't actually a half decent show, I'd probably be thermonuclear over this remake.
posted by Mezentian at 12:55 AM on November 15, 2012


CW, and therefore can safely be ignored.
posted by Artw at 2:30 AM on November 15, 2012


Ooh--so Arrow's a half decent show? Maybe I'll put it on my viewing list after all then.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:31 AM on November 15, 2012


Speaking of Hive Mines, if Arrow weren't actually a half decent show, I'd probably be thermonuclear over this remake.


I kind of like Arrow despite it's oddly stiff necked protagonist, but the half episode or so that I forced myself to watch of Vampire Diaries was such a shit sandwich that I'm feeling pretty bleak about any new shows on the CW. I wish they'd concentrate more on writing and less on pretty.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:07 PM on November 15, 2012


Brand New Doctor Who Christmas Special Minisode and Trailer Reveal a Very Different Doctor
posted by homunculus at 4:31 PM on November 16, 2012


Oh, Strax. My favorite oddly stiff necked protagonist.
posted by painquale at 5:02 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


(agreed on VD.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:07 PM on November 19, 2012


homunculus: "Brand New Doctor Who Christmas Special Minisode and Trailer Reveal a Very Different Doctor"

Those snowmen look terrifying. Yeesh.
posted by zarq at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2012


Those snowmen look terrifying. Yeesh.

My husband made some crack about them looking like the ones in Calvin and Hobbes, which killed some of the menace.
posted by immlass at 2:06 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now that would be a hell of a crossover.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on November 20, 2012


The complete guide to every single Doctor Who anniversary special ever.
posted by Artw at 7:54 AM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer gala party on Mayan Doomsday at Boston's Torrent Engine 18
posted by homunculus at 9:46 AM on November 25, 2012


Oh FFS, here's the link

I better have more coffee before I post anything else. Although I'm sure Mr. Gaiman would approve of Trotify.
posted by homunculus at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doctor Who's ten best uses of facial hair
posted by Mezentian at 5:40 PM on November 26, 2012


Neil Gaiman is writing an American gods pilot for HBO.
posted by Artw at 7:34 PM on November 30, 2012


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