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Doctor Who: Dragonfire (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Dragonfire originally aired in 1987.

You’re going to go looking for the dragon?

Absolutely.

Oh, cool. Can I come too?

– Ace introduces herself to the Doctor smoothly

Dragonfire is better than Delta and the Bannermen, which is certainly damning with faint praise. Like the rest of Sylvester McCoy’s first season, Dragonfire suffers because of a gap between concept and execution. There is a wealth of good ideas here, but Dragonfire can’t seem to develop any of them to the point where they stand out. Of this troubled first season, it’s perhaps the serial where the conflict between the show’s old-fashioned production and more modern writing are thrown into sharpest contrast. Dragonfire looks like it wants to be a classic Doctor Who episode, even though it’s written like anything but.

"I'm melting!"

“I’m melting!”

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Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Tomb of the Cybermen originally aired in 1967.

In fact you might say they’ve had a complete metal breakdown.

Oooooh….

I’m sorry, Jamie.

– traveling with the Doctor can be quite pun-ishing

The Tomb of the Cybermen is a bit of miracle. Originally thought lost to history in the great BBC archives purge (along with most of the Troughton era), The Tomb of the Cybermen was recovered completely intact from Hong Kong in 1992, a quarter of a century after the adventure aired and several years after the original series had been cancelled by the BBC. It remains perhaps the most significant recovery in recent memory, and fosters hope that there might be a few other serials that have been preserved in their entirety. Still, even outside of its significant historical context, I’d make the argument that The Tomb of the Cybermen stands as the best adventure to feature the metallic men.

Sealing your tomb…

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Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Revenge of the Cybermen originally aired in 1975.

Then what is it? You’ve no home planet, no influence, nothing. You’re just a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship.

– the Doctor pretty much sums it up

To be fair, the title should the first clue that something is not quite right here.

Tom Baker’s first season of Doctor Who contains two genuine classics in the form of Genesis of the Daleks and The Ark in Space, along with the quite good Sontaran Experiment, but it was bookended by two absolute clunkers. Indeed, Revenge of the Cybermen and Robot both feel like holdovers from the Barry Letts era of the show, and they’d both probably seem a whole lot more entertaining as vehicles for Jon Pertwee rather than Tom Baker.

Sadly, we’ve got what we’ve got, so let’s just try to work through this.

Sadly it's A bomb, not THE bomb...

Sadly it’s A bomb, not THE bomb…

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