Viewing posts tagged cybermen

In the Loop

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, recently asked Seumas Milne to be his director of communications. Milne is one of the few journalists currently working in the British media who is genuinely worth reading. Milne, for instance, wrote The Enemy Within, which is not the novelisation of the 1996 TV movie (Gary Russell courageously tackled that one), but rather a rigorous investigative expose of the way the Tory government - with help from the ‘security services’ and the tabloid press - set about trying to covertly undermine, smear and frame the NUM and Arthur Scargill during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.

Certainly, when you recall that David 'Pigfucker' Cameron’s choice for an equivalent post was Andy Coulson, you see evidence of a stark division – authentically based on a decency and honesty gap – opening up between the parties for the first time in quite a while.

Milne, however, is one of those Left-wing journos who has been repeatedly (and rightly) criticised by Media Lens for being less than brave about criticising the paper he writes for, even as he savages bias elsewhere. So he will already have ability to ruthlessly criticise other people for doing stuff that his own employers do ...

Spare Parts, A Love Story (more podcasting)

Yet more audio news, listeners. 

This time I'm a guest on the lovely, cuddly, clued-up Oi! Spaceman podcast, hosted by married couple Daniel Harper and Shana Wolstein

Here's my episode.

We discuss the Big Finish cyber-masterpiece 'Spare Parts' by Marc Platt, and loads of other stuff including Cybermen in general, emotion in drama, capitalism, communism and fascism...

I know, it sounds a bit dry, but we also do loads of nerdy chatting about Doctor Who, and there's plenty of mucking about and giggling.  Also, I receive my first ever aural blowjob. 

Shana and Daniel have a great podcast going (I've been enjoying their back catalogue and its been a blast) and I was honoured to be asked on.  I had a great time, and I think you will too if you lend us your ears.  Your spare ones will do.

34

Tobias Vaughn shows Jamie and the Doctor into his office at the International Electromatics factory.

"Confusing, isn't it?" chuckles Vaughn smoothly when he sees Jamie's astonishment.

"It's exactly the same as your office in London!" says Jamie.

"In all basic essentials, yes," replies Vaughn, "That's the secret of my success.  Uniformity.  Duplication.  The very essence of business efficiency.  My whole empire is built on that principle."

In the script (but not in the televised story) 'Doctor Who' comments: "Mass production."

Mass production of uniform duplicates.  From disposable radios to micro-monolithic circuits (tiny things that form a massive slab or wedge of power).  From identical offices to endless copies of Watkin's 'teaching machines'.

This is why the Cybermen have chosen Vaughn as a business partner.  This is why he is going to co-ordinate and distribute their troops.  This is why they arrive at his depot in packing crates, waiting to be activated.  His company is the perfect delivery system for their virus.  The synergy is obvious.

35

Lytton and Griffiths are wandering across a quarry.  It actually is a quarry.  Something is being dug up or mined there, by slaves watched over by Cybermen.

Lytton has a device that detects Cybermen.

"There are two very close," he says.

"That's right!" shouts a very human voice from behind him.

Bates and Stratton - two escapees from the Cybermen's labour gangs - disarm and frisk Lytton and Griffiths.

Lytton has been looking for them, and they've been looking for him.

"Are they Cybermen?" asks the perplexed Griffiths.

"Almost," says Lytton, amused.

"This is what the Cybermen do to you..." sneers Bates, removing his glove and sleeve to reveal a cybernetic arm, a chilly construct of steel and pulleys.  His metal hand closes on Griffiths' fleshy one and squeezes.  Bates watched Griffiths' pain with dead eyes.

"How much of you?"

"Arms and legs."

Bates and Stratton are rejects from the Cyber-conversion process.  The Cybermen turn their rejects - the ones that cannot be entirely consumed - into labourers in their quarry.

So... the Cybermen start with the arms and legs.  The legs that give locomotion.  The arms and hands that lift and move and ...

Maximum Utility

The literature of terror is born precisely out of the terror of a split society and out of the desire to heal it. 
- Franco Moretti


People often compare the Borg, the cyborg gestalt from the Star Trek franchise, to Doctor Who's Cybermen.  Both races were conceived as humanoids physically augmented with technology, hence a certain superficial visual resemblance, particularly between the Borg and the earliest Cybermen, from 1966's 'The Tenth Planet'... which has just been released on DVD, if you want some way for this post to be halfway relevant to anything.

Borg
Cyberman
But the Cybermen were written by various different writers, under different conditions, with different levels of interest and different levels of knowledge of past depictions, over the course of nearly five decades.  The Borg, by contrast, were written by a small number of tightly associated people, under the aegis of a carefully controlled franchise, over the course of just under 15 years.  The two 'races' differ markedly in the circumstances of their production and in cultural profile.  As noted, the Borg's various appearances weren't separated by the same kinds of time-lags, and weren't a product of ...

Not With A Bang

Some assumptions 'Closing Time' relies upon: a man being rubbish at looking after a baby is richly hilarious; James Corden has talent of some kind; it's still amusing when someone wrongly thinks two men are a couple.  All very questionable.

And, as ever, (heteronormative) love conquers all.  It kills Cybermen because emotions 'n' stuff, yeah?  Okay, they did something like that in 'The Invasion', but at least there it was any emotion, and it made the Cybermen go bonkers instead of just conveniently dying of endoftheepisodeitis.  Notice the utterly pedestrian, idea-free logic here.  You kill the loveless things with love.  That's like saying you kill poor people with money.  I know the gold thing was stupid, but at least that suggested the logic of using a magical metallic talisman against the zombies.  And at least, when the Cybermen got killed by gold or gravity or radiation, they were simply defeated and chased off rather than being negated or solved.  Kill a Cyberman with radiation and you simply defeat his physical presence.  Kill him with love and you solve him.  You explain him away.  You fill the ...

What's in a Name?

Why do some monsters have names while others don't?

The best place to start may be with the Cybermen.  After all, they went from having names to not having names.  Moreover, they did it more or less within one particular story, 'The Moonbase' (if I remember rightly, they had names in the script but these were not mentioned on screen).

The first thing to mention is that this is the story in which they went from being threatening because they are emotionless and logical to being threatening because they're one of those "terrible things" bred in those "corners of the universe" that "we" have to fight, when they were no longer fighting to save their planet but to steal ours, when they lost their human hands, when they started (so early!) saying things like "Clever, clever, clever!", i.e. when they became overtly and deliberately evil.  But there has to be more to it than that.  After all, vampires keep their names.  Loss of humanity and the acquisition of evil intent are not enough to strip them of their names.

Moreover, the Cybermen are not the only Doctor Who monsters to lose their ...

Sex, Death & Rock 'n' Roll

The Curious Orange, before he got the Lee & Herring gig.


In the mid-1980s, Doctor Who (perhaps influenced by a cultural context in which a strict matriarchal figure was punishing the British people for their own submerged desires) developed a habit of delving into surprisingly murky and morbid corners... and no story has corners quite as murky and morbid as 'Revelation of the Daleks'. The undercurrents in this strange tale include unrequited love, lust, suicide, alcoholism, putrefaction, mutilation, cannibalism and even – obliquely – necrophilia. This is a story that has a perverse, sexless, destructive, sado-masochistic anti-romance at its core, relegating all the stuff about galactic conquest to the sidelines.

Naturally, displaying obtuseness that is almost customary, most commentators have missed this and worried volubly about the least of the story’s delectable sins: the onscreen violence, which is only startling when judged against the largely implicit jeopardy of the Davison era and hardly compares to the extremes of, say, ‘The Brain of Morbius’. But ‘Revelation’ looked tame even then, even by the standards of material made for kids. Have you seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? It’s torture porn for finger-painters.


THE DORIAN MODE

The literary novel that ...

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