Dec 08

In The Court Of The Crimson Cyber-King

FT16 comments • 980 views

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.


  1. 1
    logged out Tracer Hand on 26 Dec 2008 #

    If they’d stolen several stout young adults the Cybermen could have had that engine built in half the time!

  2. 2
    Nicol on 26 Dec 2008 #

    The only logic I can see in capturing the kids instead of some strong adults was that kids didn’t put up any fight and were easy to control. The episde really wasn’t very thought out, but I liked it nevertheless. Morrissey was good, although a little overacting [or maybe it was just his role being overly emotional?] but I still liked him. And Rosita was a true cross between Martha and Rose. The first ten or so minutes were the best because I had quite a laugh at the ‘doctors’ being pulled up on that rope, lol. Tennant’s acting was his usual and that’s to say I like it just as well. But I’m getting curious as to who will be cast as the new Doctor, when they ruled out Morrissey.

  3. 3
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 26 Dec 2008 #

    “let the new industrial revolution begin!”

    powersource = children in hamsterwheels “charging up” a hyyyyuge (steam-driven?) robot

    and this powersource was to be “deleted” before it was even used up! the hyyyyuge robot would have stomped its way to acton then run down forever

    th reason doctor who is attracted to earth is that humans apparently have the most efficient and advanced economic and resource-deployment systems in all the multiverse (depite appearances), and alien races arrive in their hundreds to try and install far more useless and incompetent socio-political regimes — WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?

  4. 4
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 26 Dec 2008 #

    double-plus-good tho = cybermonkeys

  5. 5
    Andrew Farrell on 26 Dec 2008 #

    I guess they’d only got four steam-and-bluetooth earsets, and targeting the various hatchet-faced old men was the most efficient return on investment.

    I did love the ‘clockwork’ digital percent display.

    There was, it seemed, no particular reference to anything having happened recently to The Doctor, the only New-Who reference being to ‘Blink’: this is presumably the flashing sign saying “Insert nozzle of non-canon between this episode and the previous and hit big red button”?

  6. 6
    Alan on 26 Dec 2008 #

    new-who ref also the fob watch, which was i thought neatly twisted to suit the plot.

    pete is forgetting loads of cyberladies in S2 – there was lady who was allowed to die by removing the emo inhibitor, plus converted tracy ann ooberman CRYING OIL TEARS

    (btw i have not watched this proper yet. 5 kids + adults with odd telly watching habits = didn’t hear a word. hurrah for the PVR)

    fan-w@nk watch: we have not SEEN 8 and 9 meet the cybermans. 8 has a catch-all fanboi getout, but ecclescake and cybermans – we deserve to see that ;-) ALSO ALSO, these cybermans escaping through time after the davros void destroying thing (ok, so i caught SOME of it) are the parallel world, nothing to do with telos/mondas er weird continuity madness etc etc ahem, cybermans, so how do this lot know about 1-7 anyway, eh? ha ha, worst continuity monsters evah

  7. 7
    pete on 26 Dec 2008 #

    I wasn’t saying that no ladies become cybermen, just that when they do they become cyberMEN. If they had been talking about the Cyber-Queen it is quite likely that
    a) Dirvros would have been tipped the wink
    b) The Borg would have sued
    c) The complex King Crimson gag would have fallen down.

    (RTD explained away the continuity glitch for the cybermeng as they stole the database from the Daleks in one of their uber-camp hissy fits).

  8. 8
    Alan on 26 Dec 2008 #

    yeah i was ok they have to say king cos of teh borg (although as every geek noe, teh borg are cybermen rip off done well)


  9. 9
    demdike on 27 Dec 2008 #

    the ITCOTCK connection opens up a lot of future possibilities
    Just imagine what you could do with the next two album titles “In the Wake of Poseidon” and “Lizard”. A two-story return of the Ice Warriors and their reptilian allies maybe?
    “Islands” and “Larks Tongues in Aspic” don’t bring any immediate thoughts, while “Red” suggests lots of blood, but “Starless and Bible Black”? That could be a reprise of the Dalek’s master plan. Thrak / Thrakattack offers all kinds of monstrous ideas

  10. 10
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 27 Dec 2008 #

    starless = woot! for story options surely

    (also: SaBB is a quote under under milk whood)

    (also also: one of the songs on SABB* is inspired by a portrait by rembrandt (or possibly vermeer, some dutch daubist anyway): so it could be an excellent historical interference ep where he teaches eg durer how to do perspective properly)

    *(look it’s the only KC alb i ever owned, ok)

  11. 11
    Al Ewing on 27 Dec 2008 #

    I was hoping David Morrissey would be kidnapped by the alive Tardis blasting off somewhere, leading to angry ‘take me home you bastard’ companion status, a genre of companion Russel T Davies has refused to acknowledge in favour of sexy companions with wuv gleaming in their goggle-eyes.

    On another note, can someone email me about the possibility of joining up with the pub crawl on the 29th? I’d be arriving late and needing a mobile number in order to link up (and also a floor would be good.) I’m wanting to meet up with someone on the 30th so it’d be really great to be able to stay over that night.

  12. 12
    Chris on 28 Dec 2008 #

    I used the King Crimson joke as friends and I watched the episode.

    As usual, I was the only one who understood what the hell I was talking about.

  13. 13
    Demdike on 28 Dec 2008 #

    makes an even bigger connection if you know that the vocals on ITCOTCK were done by Greg LAKE……

  14. 14
    admin on 28 Dec 2008 #

    the christmas special we get, we deserve

  15. 15
    Matthew on 29 Dec 2008 #

    The cybermonkeys were presumably a Cybermat update for the 21st century (actually, they looked a bit like mats or rugs, didn’t they). Shame they weren’t a bit better designed or used – a cat-sized thing with a cyberface dropping out of the rafters onto you and injecting you with its fangy fluids is, on paper, a horrifying ergo great idea.

  16. 16
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 31 Dec 2008 #

    actually i would locate prog as predominantly “counter-victorian” i think (unlike say steampunk): it’s kind of an offshoot of the “forward to those mediaevals” of pre-raph Arts&Crafts gothica, with morrisian and/or art nouveau curlicues

    High Victorian look and feel is — unexpectedly possibly — a little more proto-futurist?

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