It was imperative therefore that season 22 began with a big bang – or at least a big bang plot â€“ and the Attack of the Cybermen was exactly what the Doctor ordered (sorry about that). Additionally, there was a change in format to the 45 minute slot we are so familiar with today and the return to the Saturday night schedule where the show belongs â€“ quite who wrote the tale is a matter of some debate. Credited to Paula Moore, it was in fact penned by Eric Saward who was unable to commission himself, hence the credit transferring to his friend.
The action begins as Maurice Colbourne, reprising the role of Commander Lytton (last seen in Saward’s Resurrection of the Daleks), is orchestrating a diamond heist in Londonâ€™s Fleet Street; however we soon find his motives are not all they seem, as he triggers a distress signal luring the Doctor to the wonderfully familiar and nostalgic surroundings of Totters Lane. This echo of the past, in addition to previous character references (Tegan/Zodin etc), can be easily dismissed as a cynical attempt to win favour with fans still reeling from the Time Lord’s last outing – but on some level, it seems to work. We also finally get a demonstration of the Chameleon circuit, earning further brownie points:
“The TARDIS, when working properly, is capable of many amazing things. Not unlike myself.”
…Quips the Doctor.
Lytton and unwilling companion Griffiths, soon hand themselves over to the Cybermen in the sewers beneath the City â€“ while elsewhere in Londonâ€™s depths, the Doctor encounters Russell – an undercover policemen monitoring Lytton’s activities (played by Terry Molloy â€“ who doesnâ€™t possess nearly the same threat without a latex mask and electric chair). Sadly, this altercation is about as distracting as a Time Lord in a multi coloured overcoat. Personally Iâ€™ve chosen to put it down to artistic license, as the two never actually meet on screen during Resurrection of the Daleks, so the Doctor’s accurate description left me puzzled at first; let’s dismiss this as an unseen encounter.
Elsewhere, on the Cybermens adopted home world of Telos, two men escape from a working party and across the barren landscape towards Cyber Control â€“ luring a Cyberman and removing its head to use to disguise their assault, in the first of many dramatic and violent encounters; while back on Earth, we witness another out of character action from our beloved Time Lord, as he thrusts a sonic lance into the chest unit of a patrolling Cyberman. In truth, it probably wasnâ€™t the action that struck me, as much as the wild look in his eyes once he had committed the deed. His facial expression is almost as disturbing as his comment to Peri just beforehand; â€œWait, watch and learn.â€ he orders, as if revelling in the action he is about to undertake.