Doctor Who at 50: Tomb of the Cybermen Review (10/10)

 

Patrick Troughton-Tomb of the Cybermen (2nd September, 1967)

Regarded by many Who fans as one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time, you need only watch Tomb to see why it’s just so acclaimed.

In classic Who tradition, it blends wildly disparate genres with a remarkable ease. Classic horror fuses with just a touch of whodunnit murder mystery, except instead of a haunted house or resplendent mansion, we have an ancient alien tomb.

The set design is fantastic. While by today’s standards it isn’t up to much, the moody tombs and mysterious rooms seemed labyrinthine when I was kid, and even today I still get that feeling. The grainy black and white only adds atmosphere.

Of course, Patrick Troughton steals every scene as The Doctor. His eccentric uncle act is a very different take than Hartnell’s stern grandfather. Hartnell may have started a fifty year legacy, but Troughton ensured it by absolutely selling the concept of regeneration. At this point, The Doctor is a complete mystery and the show has a delightful unpredictability to it.

The Doctor here is very much a clear inspiration for Matt Smith’s bumbling Doctor (Smith watched Tomb after getting the part and loved it). He’s wily, yet fallible and clearly cares about his companions, both of which he has very different relationships with.

He and Victoria clearly have a uncle/niece affection for one another while he and Jamie have a humorous Laurel/Hardy thing going on and an infectious chemistry that makes every scene they share infinitely watchable.

The Cybermen here are frankly the most terrifying they have ever been in the shows entire history. Freakishly strong and disturbingly human looking, their monotone drone of “you will be like us” still sends a shiver down my spine.

Decades later and Tomb of the Cybermen boasts a moody atmosphere, genuinely terrifying monsters and a Doctor giving a stellar performance. Classic Who, done 100% right.

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