I continue to catch up with belated Third Doctor reviews with the second story in The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 04. It’s the turn of Marc Platt and finally the Third Doctor gets to battle the Cybermen. It’s a strong piece of story-telling and reminds me of an article I read decades ago. Let’s chat…
The Tyrants of Logic
No sneaking the word silver into the title here, there’s a picture of a Cyberman on the cover and an intriguing piece of story-telling. If I think back over a few Marc Platt stories, I’m often impressed with his world-building, how textured his alien planets seem with short descriptions, great acting (and directing – cue Nick ‘also the Cybermen’ Briggs), and effective music/sound.
This is no exception. Let’s savour the synopsis:
The Doctor and Jo land on Port Anvil – a bleak, abandoned mining colony on the remote planet Burnt Salt. A huge armoured crate has recently arrived in the almost derelict Spacehub. No-one knows who it’s for. No-one knows what it contains.
Strange creatures lurk around the outskirts, and a rag-tag population of misfits inhabit what is left of the town: a saloon bar owner, a literal one-man band and a hunter of very unusual prey. If they want to survive the night, they’re going to have to work together.
Because the Cybermen want the contents of the crate. And they will stop at nothing to get hold of it.
It’s a world in a desolate post-Cyber War future, with aspects of Wild West and post-apocalypse all blended in with some great characters and Jo Grant doing her best to see the positive but slowly realising the true horror of cyber-conversion. It’s touch and go for the Doctor on several occasions and Jo pulls the Doctor through with her faith in him, trust and devotion (plus a dose of bossiness). Katy Manning is on fire at times and Tim Treloar adds some real depth to his take on the Third Doctor. Marvellous.
Borg v Cybermen
I don’t like to compare franchises (and I’m covering Star Trek Discovery on my original Reality Checkpoint blog) but (and there follow spoilers) this story has some relevance.
Sometime between the 1980s and 2005 I read a good piece on why the Borg from Star Trek were much better than the Cybermen, and are what the Cybermen should have been. The Borg have real menace, indifference to life and a means of corrupting flesh with nanotech to convert them.
I (mostly) agree with the article, and also suggest the post-2005 Cybermen are a more powerfully realised villain than budget and skill allowed for in the show’s early days. Silver spray-painted trainers on the Moon anyone?
One thing Marc Platt’s story does is bring a whiff of nanotech (not called that) the Cybermen’s arsenal, as used to soften up the living to make conversion quicker. It’s well used in this story and I’d love a Borg conversation with Marc if I ever meet him. Until then I’ll be grateful for an excellent story!