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Rewatching... Doctor Who: The Moonbase – Part 3

My continuing mission: to watch classic television exactly fifty years after original broadcast date...

Saturday 25 February 1967

"Clever. Clever. Clever."

I like the Cybermen’s new voices. Perhaps not as easy to understand as the old ones but much scarier and more emotionless and robotic. Emotionless in tone mind you, but the dialogue still gives away emotional oddities. I’m not sure if “Clever. Clever. Clever.” is sarcasm at Hobson’s realisation of what the drops in air pressure indicated when the Cybermen got in, or self-congratulation. They also come out with words and phrases such as “excellent” and “stupid Earth brains”!

After much lurking in the previous episodes, this one is packed full of cyber action. Two or three of them have started to take over the moonbase. They plan to use the graviton to alter the weather and wipe out all life on Earth.

The Cyberman in charge claims to recognise the Doctor, but how? The Doctor mutters “I don’t recognise you”! A joke about their upgraded design, or does he literally mean that he doesn’t recognise this one? Either way that’s funny.

There’s a very unusual scene where we hear the Doctor’s thoughts. It’s quite a lengthy bit and he occasionally replies aloud to himself! It reminds me a little of a prototype of the scenes in future episode Heaven Sent where we see the Doctor’s thought process. Very funny though, the Doctor literally talking to himself!

Polly is back on form this week, more like the resourceful Highlanders version. It’s she who has to explain to dim witted Ben how solvent abuse might destroy the Cybermen. She’s referring to nail varnish remover dissolving plastic, and luckily the base has all kinds of solvents available. So she invents the “Polly cocktail” and believe it or not they actually do defeat those in the base. A group of Cybermen destroyed by a beauty product (sort of!). If an unknown alien plastic was susceptible to Polly’s cocktail I’m not sure how the spraying element of the bottle survived being dissolved mind you.

Meanwhile Jamie is on the mend and there’s a moment where he winds Ben up and we get one of those “I could have you” / “Oh yeah any time” moments! Fighting companions, imagine!

The Cybermen have been using the virus victims, converting them into zombie-like slaves.

Unfortunately there are a lot more cybermen on the moon than the few who tried to take over the base. Realising the advance party must have failed reinforcements are sent. The episode ends with about ten of them emerging from their ship and marching across the lunar landscape (without spacesuits, or breathing equipment I note) towards the base…

A very exciting episode. Hobson is much more likeable than Cutler was in the somewhat similar The Tenth Planet. The Doctor takes a back seat again this week, using his brain to try to solve the bigger problem while the others think in the short term with immediate action rewarded only by temporary success. Good to see the companions taking a more prominent role again, good to see Frazer Hines get some lines, and good to see lots and lots of scary Cybermen!

Nick Brown
Nick Brown

I've embarked upon an open ended mission, pretending to travel back in time and watch classic television on (or close to) the fiftieth anniversary of original broadcast date; getting a sense of the context, the magic of that first viewing.

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Rewatching... Doctor Who: The Moonbase – Part 3
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