There. I just wanted to say that before anyone else on the interwebs (and I probably haven’t).
OK, of all the accusations that could be thrown at Russell T.Davies, closet prog-rock fan seemed, before tonight, unlikely. He has had ample opportunity to invent a race of armadillo tank monsters in the last few years after all called Tarkus. And whilst he has dallied with the Tudor period in the series, we have never seen The Six Wives Of Henry The Eighth On Ice. So it came as a touch of a shock to realise that all the flim-flammery about David Morrisey’s “Doctor” (that no-one believed going in let alone past the first two minutes) was really a slight of hand for a visual gag which would go over the head of much of its target audience. This truly was one for the dads. Or the grandads these days (King Crimson’s debut being in 1970 I believe). Of course having one of the Cybermen gurn and have massive nostrils would have also helped. Spoilers follow.
As a Who Christmas episode it tried very hard to be emotionally investing and gimmick laden. As ever the intricate orphan stealing plot made absolutely no sense, and as ever the new school Cybermen exuded almost zero menace in their stampy about ways*. However the episode did subvert a classic Who plot-trope, the human baddie being destroyed, and almost promised to set up an excellent recurring villain (albeit one who would basically be the Cybermen Davros, the Dirvros** if you will). And of course there will be much fan jizz spilt over actually showing footage of all the previous Doctors. Nevertheless for a Christmas special it did feel special, namely with its giant robots stomping over Victorian London. Doctor Who rarely does giant robots (the most notable exception having the worst special effects of all time) so despite ending like some dodgy steampunk fantasy, or perhaps because of it, there was a notable finale. Of course this, and its ending, yet again tweaks the Doctor’s image of sorting something out in the background, now the much attacked London has a giant robot stomping it in 1851. And what’s worse, it was all a prog rock villain.
* It strike sme the only way to adequately use this new breed of Cybermen is as lone mummylike unstopable warriors. Because en masse they seem all too stoppable by the deus ex machina of the week. And their voices are still terrible. Less said about the cybermonkeys the better.
**The only other obviously menacing aspect of the Cybermen is their rigid sexism. Of course the moment they refered to Divros as the Cyber-Queen the gag would have been spoiled, but nevertheless Cybermen are misogynistic to the max. The one exception (Cyberwoman in Torchwood) was half built and by implication malfunctioning. Cyber-sausage-party more like.