2.06, The Age of Steel

Before I talk about things that actually happened in this episode, can I first express how disappointed I was that we didn’t get a showdown between the Barty Crouches Junior and Senior? Unless that was Roger Lloyd Pack underneath the Cyberman costume? Still, it wasn’t the same. In a way, the running gag about the tiny pool of working actors in Britain (and Canada, for that matter) is true. The crossovers you could have in fandom sound exciting but I can see how it can distract from telling a story. There are no opportunities for the Doctor to meet Lumix before his upgrade, but I wonder if the writers saw the potential strangeness of Pack and Tennant facing against each other.

A development I did like in this episode was the growth of Mickey’s character. Honestly, I thought he’d be killed off in the pilot episode, so to see how far he’s come is satisfying to me as a viewer. I don’t know if the classic series ever dealt with the companion’s family and friends but I believe the new series benefits greatly from doing so. I think allowing the functions of the companion to be spread out among different people allows the characters to breathe. It’s not just one person (the official companion) who’s burdened with asking all the questions and being the klutz, making room for character development. I had no idea if this really did the companion roles then or if I just have an old-fashioned idea of what TV was like back then, but as I said, the new series is better for adding a few more people. It adds an extra dimension to the Doctor as well. While not as deep as his bond with his companions, it does help anchor him in humanity.

I mentioned a few entries back how much I love the Doctor’s penchant for the underdog and the overlooked. That is also true regarding his love for humans, since we seem to be the underdogs of the universe, at least according to the many alien life forms that seem to think we are an inferior race. This time, however, it is a human being himself who loathes himself and his own kind. So he wishes to preserve himself in the Cyberman suit and turn every human into a Cyberman, thus eliminating the things that make us different such as race or gender. It’s an extension of the homogeny we witnessed in the information broadcast from the previous episode and just in case we forgot: this is a terrible idea. Only crazy men in wheelchairs think of such horrific things. This was one of the times I felt that Doctor Who was a children’s show, not because it was terrible but because it was so straightforward. I like having that directness in this show for awhile, and the clear-cut good side and bad side. Overall, I think the episode handles this well. It was an entertaining 45 minutes that never took for granted the horror of the Cybermen.