Cyberman 2

Cyberman 2Comprising the hour long episodes ‘Outsiders’, ‘Terror’, ‘Machines’ and ‘Extinction’, Cyberman 2 is the sequel to the 2005 serial from Big Finish, again starring Mark McDonnell as Liam Barnaby, Barnaby Edwards as Paul Hunt and also featuring Toby Hadoke as Louis Richter..

Carrying it all along with a confident determination, however, is Hannah Smith’s Samantha Thorn who probably takes the lion’s share of the best lines and most of the action as a rebel android desperately trying to fulfil her mission in the best way she sees fit.

Little knowledge of the original four part story is required here, however – Cyberman 2 follows on from the previous story but all you need to know is that things on Earth and in space are pretty grim. A war between Earth and the androids fighting to escape human oppression has lead both parties down a dark path, resorting to selling their souls to the Cybermen to achieve an advantage.

With merchant vessels commandeered as warships, propaganda decrying all opposition to the war and Earth President Paul Hunt as “terrorism” and a populace riddled with fear, the 26th century world of Cyberman 2 isn’t exactly a million miles from our own.

Despite being a low-key release in comparison to the usual Doctor Who releases, this Time Lord-lite series is absolutely superb. Evocative, moody and dramatic in equal parts, my only real gripe is a couple of overlong monologues used to convey the thoughts of a couple of characters. These are well-placed after lengthy action sequences, however, so they’re not completely distracting. Despite the nearly 4 hours running time, Cyberman 2 is well paced and engaging throughout.

Writer James Sparrow has once again brought us a world in which no one is what they seem, where the propaganda machines fools everybody and the truth is a rare and valuable commodity. The war between Earth and the androids is a useful backdrop that offers many opportunities to the “Tinnies” (the colloquial nickname for the Cyberman) to divide and conquer, and it is sad to see the evidently brilliant Paul Hunt being used by the Cybermen like a futuristic Tobias Vaughan – you just know he’s going to come to a terrible end, and not necessarily one that will involve any form of redemption.

Evoking a future Earth not too far removed from Frontier in Space or Blake’s 7, Cyberman 2 acts as a conclusion to the events in the first series – but don’t take it as read that humankind can defeat the Cyber-race – a rag-tag bunch of humans helped by a sole renegade android hardly have any chance of overcoming the might of a planet full of Cybermen…

The Cybermen are here – the question is, how can they be defeated?

Cyberman 2 runs acrosss 4 CDs for 240 minutes, with a 5th disc included packed with extras – there is some repetition across these features, but plenty to learn, making the extras a welcome bonus.

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