2.05, Rise of the Cybermen

Let me start by saying I love shows that explore their alternate universe(s) in canon. The environment of the alternate universe is exciting in itself but to see the alternate characters is what really attracts me to these episodes. To know that characters we have come to know since the first series are actually just a few decisions away from being an entirely different person is mind-boggling to me. It was also good to see Pete Tyler back, who really won me over in last series’ Father’s Day. In this universe he’s alive and extremely wealthy, but he and Jackie don’t have a daughter. When Rose finds out about this, she is predictably crushed. Who wouldn’t be if you found out that your parents are better off without you?

In fact, in most parallel-universe stories, it is the character’s belief that the world would be better without him that prompts him to dream or be taken to the alternate world, only to find out how important he is to so many people. But in Rose’s case, it actually turns out to be true (at first glance anyway). Instead, Pete and Jackie have a dog named Rose. Yes, it was funny but poor Rose. But actually, that could be a good message for the parents: children are not accessories and/or showdogs.

I also love moments in Doctor Who when subtlety is completely thrown out the window in favor of a literal approach to a certain issue. In this episode, for example, we see that there is blatant hegemony in this alternate universe. Everything is uniform. All the information is controlled by one organization and broadcast to every single person at the exact same time. It’s obvious but effective. Seeing everything laid down like that, so literally, makes me think about how close it is to what is happening in the real world. We don’t have earpieces, but we might as well do, since we’re hooked up to our gadgets most of the time (look at me saying “gadgets” like an old person). And we are becoming increasingly dependent on the internet as the only source of information. This is happening.

Aside from the commentary, the whole thing is a great set-up for another classic Doctor Who antagonist that I can’t properly get excited about. I only knew them from the “Dalek” episode in Van Staten’s museum, but imagine what it must have been like for long-time Who fans. Yes, I like thinking about how differently they’ll react to things, in the hopes that I might one day be as enthusiastic as them. But I digress.

I wonder if the original series also featured Cybermen with human brains. If it’s horrific to me now, surely it would have been more horrific in the sixties/seventies (unless it was played for laughs)? I am half-excited/half-dreading what the Cybermen will do next week, but this was definitely an exciting opening for the two-parter. Also, we finally find out some interesting things about Mickey! He meets the version of himself that is not a tin dog! I can’t wait to see how this will play out next week.