…a beginner’s guide.
There’s a story my grandfather told me. It’s almost certainly apolcryphal, but I can’t remember the specifics anymore anyway, so what the hell. It concerned the writer of a popular weekly adventure comic strip. Each strip ended on a cliffhanger, and the strip ran continuously, so when the writer left for a holiday, leaving the hero at the bottom of an aligator pit surrounded by cannibal savages his deputy found himself racking his brains over how to extricate him from the perilous situation.
After puzzling for ages, trying to imaging what his boss had had in mind, he ends up having to get in contact and admit, sheepishly, he can’t see how to get out of it. “It’s easy” he’s told. The hero “jumps out of the pit in one mighty bound and defeats the cannibals”. So there you go.
The Age of Steel
You may have guessed from this that I’ve just watched The Age of Steel.
Just as well we had the ending of the “Mickey arc” to keep things interesting. A great conclusion to a great character and an arc that has been almost flawlessly written across two seasons (only School Reunion sticks out, in that he hardly seems to be the post World War Three, post Parting of the Ways Mickey).
There’s been a lot of speculation about where the writers have borrowed the ideas for this reinvention of the Cybermen from. Clearly, they’ve used the history of the Cybermen within Doctor Who, without needing to being bound by it in the parallel unitverse. And with the alternate reality, and the Twelve Monkeys style resistance fighters, a lot of sci-fi has been here before.
With respect to the plot, several people have posted on forums about the similarity to the The Cybernauts from the fourth season of the Avengers. Certainly, with a wheelchair bound villain hell bent on using cybernetics to prolong life and increase productivity there’s an obvious parallel, but this needn’t have been directly plagiarised, since I’ve always been convinced the original Cybermen owed a lot to their predecessors on the Avengers.
The thing I haven’t seen noted anywhere is the free borrowing that has to have occured from A View to a Kill. The zepplins could just be coincidence, but together with the C for Cybus logo this seems unlikely. I particularly remember the Z for Zorrin logo that is so similar, because I regularly visited Mainstrike Mine where it remained painted on the sides of the wagons throughout 1984 (in reality this was Amberley Chalk Pits in East Sussex, not Silicon Valley California). And as a clincher you have the final struggle hanging from the airship (although perhaps this was more like The Living Daylights).
And it surely can’t be coincidence that McKellen’s Richard III not only used Battersea Power station, but also had the villian fall into its flaming remains? Or am I getting carried away here? Nurse!