So what have the Cybermen been up to? Well if the first series was the west wing we’ve definitely now moved into V. Instead of smiling visitors ( with hidden lizard faces) we have the special commando units. To the humans they are just augmented humans but to the small band of resistance fighters they are Cybermen. The story arc mimics V to a certain extent with the story told through the eyes of Hazel Trahn( played by Jo Castleton) an everyday cab driver. She initally believes the Vid reports and trusts that the special commandos are a force for good. Through bad timing she ends up on the run and ends up in the resistance where she makes some shocking discoveries about both the Cybermen and the fate of her missing family.
Cyberman gets to go where Dr Who just can’t. Sure in alternative worlds we can have the cyberman make a grab for power; or in our world they can briefly show up in force. But you couldn’t have them mass converting thousands off people like this; running the show from start to finish and making a major impact on the earth. From the start until the shock ending the Cyberman are calling the shots; perhaps still not overtly public but they control Earth. Perhaps surprisingly there is little focus on conversion, its happening but its mainly in the background.
Like the first series we’ve got a mix of Cybermen with the Invasion style Planner; the Cybermen ( now using the easier to hear Tenth Planet voices) and also hybrids ( like Tobas Vaugn). Nic Briggs does excellent work on the Cybervoices and they are come across as the ruthless emotionless monsters of pure logic that they were back in the 60’s. The hybrid Cybermen are also very good. Paul Hunt survives from the first series and his cyber conditioning is starting to break down. He keeps you guessing which way he’ll go as his emotions start to come back and his ending is quite tragic.
One of my few complaints about the series does however come with the cybervoices. They are very effective and all the cybermen sound the same. Except for occasions when known people get converted; then they have their voices modulated. But they stand out like a sore thumb. I can see why its done but it just jars and doesn’t work. It would be far more sinister if it were still Nic doing the voices.
The music and effects are good. The stompin of the cybermen never gets old for me. The theme music from series 1 is still there but sadly they voice saying “Cyberman” is gone.
Laim Barnaby( Mark McDonnell) and the android Samathan Thorn ( Hannah Smith ) also return; they had an excellent pair up last time and work well together again though they don’t get to much screen time together. How they get back to Earth from Telos is a gripping adventure that gives a nice counterbalance to the intense activities happening on earth.
While the story is excellent its building upon the first series rather than striking completely new ground. The new character of Hazel is good but some of the other characters feel a bit shoehorned. Ian Brooker’s character Yan often seems to just be a means of giving us an info dump or moving the plot along. Sadly this is combined with an annoying accent. The rest of the resistance are also two dimensional; which doesn’t hamper the story but is dip compared to other areas.
The ending was a real surprise. At first it seemed forced but after thinking about it it makes sense from a logical point of view. The epilogue is a pretty brutal book end but its also vague enough to leave options open for a third series. I did feel the epilogue undermined the reputation the cybermen had been given over the course of the first two series. At times they are unstopable killing machines but this seemed to negate that.
Its a big sweeping story and if you enjoyed the first series its well worth a look. It builds upon the back story of cyberman series 1 so its vital you listen to that first.