Short thoughts on Doctor Who, disc by disc (Originally published June 2012)
Attack of the Cybermen
Tonight’s soundtrack: Dethklok, “Bloodtrocuted”
I think I’ve figured it out: the reason I’ve always liked the Cybermen as villains (and indeed, often cited them as my favorite recurring “monster”) is that out of all the adventures that feature Cybermen, I hadn’t actually seen very many1.
That means Cybermen are largely creatures of the mind for me. They are a false memory marching around in borrowed imagery. Characters stripped of their actual drama, having it replaced with projections and conflations and mistakes. I can admit this now. I know that I created the Cybermen.
I created the Cybermen out of my love for the Tin Woodman of Oz and my erroneous belief that they had killed the Doctor and caused his first regeneration. That made them more dangerous and mythically important than the Daleks, yet also more relatable and tragic than most companions. Terrifying and magnetic, the perfect menace. Cybermen. They had done the unthinkable. I still identified with them and their lost hearts.
So how did I literally miss the plot? Simple. Cybermen were something I read about. I knew of them through overwhelming episode guides and quickly-scanned novelizations2. So the Cybermen get thrown into the Literary Hopper, where it’s so much easier to mingle with other dark twins and mislay the inconvenient details. There they gained power that they never would have gotten in the sterile divisions of my AV Ports.
I’m okay with that. I can admit that the televised Cybermen are a bit crap; it doesn’t take away the ones I keep near to the heart that the Wizard gave me.
1 I think there are three Cyber-stories that I could have possibly seen when I was first watching on PBS and the only one I remember for sure is The Five Doctors.
2 That I shoplifted from American bookstores, hence the spelling.