Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

Somehow I’ve been tricked into making a list that ties into this week’s Verity! How did this happen? Being awake at two in the morning, when bravado and confidence that, dammit, of course I know what Cyberman story’s better than what convinced me it was a good idea.

Well then, here it is; a list of Cyberman stories in order of Cyberman Greatitude.

In fact, it’s two lists; one for the classic series and one for the new series. Why? Because, dear reader, if I plonked them all into one list you might get the distinct impression that I was smidgen unimpressed by the new series Cybermen. Which is true, but I’m cunningly disguising that fact by splitting up these rankings.

Now, if you’re a sharp one, you’ll have spotted the one flaw in this otherwise brilliant plan: I’ve just told you what I’ve done. That is true, I have. Now let us move on…

These stories aren’t listed by way of favourites or best so much as a particular, indefinable quality of Cyberness. Does the story delight with its portrayal of fabulous silver giants from another world? Or does it harvest sadness and make us long for the days of giant dancing bees?

It is on this highly skientific and inarguable quality that I rank them:

Classic Who Cybermen Stories, in Order of Cyber-y Greatness

1. The Invasion – Ah, a true epic of a story and a true epic of a Cyberman story. Here, they lurk steadily in the background for most of the remarkable eight episode run time, and if there’s one thing I like a Cyberman to do, it’s lurk. Here, they’re lurking in the sewers of London, lurking on the moon, lurking in crates. They also look fab, sound fab, and get some well snazzy action scenes. They’re a threat, and they’re scary, but they’re not some bloody great space superpower. I’d prefer a little more desperation on their part, but heh, can’t have everything.

2. The Tomb of the Cybermen –  Yeah! More Trought! By which I mean of course I’m not influenced by these being Troughton stories. The Cybermen of the sixties were just amazing, okay? Maybe it was the time? Replacing limbs and body parts was all shiny and new, right? Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant in ’68, after the second successful kidney transplant the year before.

Anyway, Tomb, there’s loads of lurking in Tomb. The Cybermen are revived from the dead, clearly desperate to keep a grip on their new chance to survive, and are all keen on consuming the humans and making them into themselves and there are Cybermats. Presence of Cybermats is like an automatic +10 on Cyberness.

3. Earthshock – Yeah, yeah, everyone rates Earthshock it’s such a neat-o action-adventure and it is, dammit. There are caves. Also, it’s a well sneaky plan on the part of the Cyber-dudes. Sure, they don’t exactly lurk around, but I can forgive that when they spent such a long time flat-out hiding in the spaceship cargo and behind marvellously simplistic androids. Plus, David Banks, the real Cyber-king. He is the most Cyber of Cybermen. Do not doubt this fact. It is about the truest thing there is in Doctor Who facting.

4. Revenge of the Cybermen – Shutup, it’s amazing. There’s metaphorical lurking since there’s only like four of them and they need to off the space station’s mighty crew of like five people or whatever with a secret disease before they even dare to show up. Also, Cybermats. Also, they are clearly desperate. Like, this is them at their very lowest point as the Doctor so cruelly points out. But look at em go! Down into the mouth of the lion where they’re bloody lucky the natives of the Planet of Gold don’t start chucking the stuff at them. They’ve guns in their heads! And bombs to attach to people they don’t like! Bless their wee Cyberhearts, they’re doing their best.

5. Attack of the Cybermen – David Banks is in this. And the Cyberfolks are lurking wonderfully around the sewers. And they are, once again, pretty bloody desperate, so they have, brilliantly, come up with the sort of overcomplicated, doomed to fail plan that usually only the Master is silly enough to plump for. Also, Cyber-conversions, hurrah! They’re quite horrid and they should be. Cyber-conversions are brilliant cause they’re what make these dudes so scary. They’re not going to kill you, you’re going to be just like them! PS. they think they’re doing you a favour. Ooh, and a Cyber-head is used as A Cunning Disguise. Keen.

6. The Moonbase – In their most lolarious lurking over, a Cybermen hides under a sheet in the medbay and pretends to be a dead body and nobody notices for approximately forever. Also they’ve picked up a neat trick that the New Series ran with of zapping people with electricity. More scarily, it’s disease time again, sadly not delivered by adorable Cybermat, but sugar cubes. Brilliant move, Cyber-chaps, stick your death particles in something not everyone uses and not, say, the water supply? There are points for Wandering Around The Surface of the Moon but probably quite a few lost for now being vulnerable to radiation, gravity, and nail polish.

7. The Tenth Planet – Oh, ffs, I can’t understand a word they’re saying. But it’s probably quite good on many levels, bleh, I just don’t want to acknowledge them. I like the scenes where they’re wandering around in the snow though, those are lovely. This is much better than I think it is, okay?

8. The Five Doctors – David Banks! Yay! Um, there are lots of them too. But they’re not very sneaky, they don’t have any Cybermats, or a disease for humans or even a plan really. They do get themselves massacred rather impressively though. Twice. DAVID BANKS, OKAY?

9. Silver Nemesis – Again, DAVID BANKS. They also look beautiful and extra-shiny. Sadly they have an extra daft plan, are now vulnerable to gold rocks briefly brushing against them and they have a fleet. A big giant stupid fleet. HMMM. Happily it gets wiped out.

10. The Wheel in Space – Alas, the fact that the Cybermen do a nice bit of lurking is overwhelmed by the fact that this is an incredibly tedious story which is sufficiently tedious that it overwhelms any inherent Cyberness. Meh.

New Who Cybermen Stories, in Order of Cyber-y Greatness

1. The Pandorica Opens – Surely the most desperate Cyberman ever? It’s just a head for a bit! Marvellous. And scary. Especially when it bursts open. Yay!

2. Dalek – STFU, it counts: there’s a Cyber-head onscreen for whole seconds and it is so sad and melancholy and basically sums up the tragedy of the Cybermen in one succinct moment of feels.

3. The Next Doctor – Surprisingly good. They’re quite lurky and there is a fab massacre scene which shows em off being scary sods. There’s also a Cyberking. Which. Yes. Interesting. Though I liked it rather more than what I remembered when I saw it at Christmas.

4. Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel – They’re not even real Cybermen! Ugh. But, yeah, okay, I concede they are really v scary here, in a way I would be well more enthusiastic about if they were from the right planet. Or some great inter-universe portal threw this Earth into our universe and we called it Mondas. Cause that’s how I roll , continuity wise, quit judging me.

5. Nightmare in Silver – Honestly, I still don’t know whether I even like this story or not. But I was well-impressed with the superfast Cyberman.

6. The Time of the Doctor – Apparently I’m giving quite a lot of points for Cyber-heads. My liking for their Cyberness would never have occurred if I wasn’t writing this list. Handles, however, gees, you should’ve taken revenge for the humiliations suffered upon you! Remember your people!

7. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday – There are few fanboy ideas I wanted to see onscreen less than bloody Daleks vs Cybermen. Why? Cause it’s not a fucking contest, is it? Of course the Daleks are going to win! The one Dalek is going to win vs the entire Cyber-fucking-fleet if they had one. The point of Cybermen is to lurk and prey upon humans, as they desperately struggle to survive; it’s not to be humiliated in battle by little blobs of steaming hate.

8. A Good Man Goes to War – I utterly love this story, but it has negative Cyberness. They have a stupid fleet. Yeah, it gets blown up, but their whole point of being there is to have a fleet blown up and give out info. Whatev.

9. Closing Time – Again, lovely story, enjoy it immensely, but for pity’s sake, way to gut the Cyberdudes! Their awesomely terrifying Cyber-conversion process defeated by THE POWER OF LOVE?? I could deal if it were another sort of cyber-organism or robot or whatever, but come on, don’t do this to the Cybermen! Very negative Cybernessness. 😦

So, delicious readers, what have we learned? It is this: to make the best of all possible Cyberman stories, you should include as many of the following ingredients as possible: lurking, David Banks, Cybermats, disease, the eighties, the sixties, Cyber-conversion, desperation, a Cyber-head. You should try to avoid: the twenty-first century, alternate universes, fleets, embarrassing massacres.

Informative stuff, yes?



Comments on: "Liz’s Two Cents – The Rankings of the Cybermen" (5)

  1. […] You can read this exciting list-type thing over here on the Verity! blog. […]

  2. I so almost agreed with you for all of this list! But Revenge is dreadful and boring, quite the least interesting story in that season even including Sontarans Have a Jolly Day Out on the Moor With Sarah and Harry. The Tenth Planet and Moonbase are slightly better than you claim, especially The Tenth Planet (which is a bit dull except for the Polly bits but the Cybermen themselves are quite fascinating in it).

    The Cybermat is especially good in the Victoria bits of Tomb (which is beautifully directed) especially when she puts the Cybermat in her handbag which is in my top 20 of greatest Doctor Who moments (next list!!)

    Like you, I grudgingly admit that Earthshock is about as good as everyone always says it is (and possibly even better because I think Beryl Reid is splendid in it) but I never want it to be true.

    I think I like Silver Nemesis more than I should, but largely for the Doctor and Ace and nothing to do with Cybermen or plots.

    You’re doing Army of Ghosts and Doomsday a bit of a disservice, especially the former which I think is, like Bad Wolf, a sadly underrated bit of Doctor Who telly. There are so many cool bits in that story which aren’t about the ‘Daleks v. Cybermen’ concept (at its most interesting in the Army of Ghosts cliffhanger).

    But the idea of the Cybermen sneaking into our reality so slowly that humans build a cult up about ghosts based entirely on what they WANT to be there is brilliant, and I think Army of Ghosts/Doomsday is the best Jackie Tyler story. It’s very well directed (the Mickey reveal scene is one of my favourites). Oops I’m talking about things not to do with Cybermen again.

    The homage to the Tomb of the Cybermen with hanging strippy bits of plastic was lovely.

    I quite like the stompy modern Cybermen, recognising that they are not in any way REAL Cybermen. It has given us many glorious gif sets. And while I do think that Nightmare in Silver was a hot mess, it had some very nice ideas in it that push the mythology forward (and sideways) very cleverly. I quite like the way that a single Cyberman was presented (finally) as enough of a threat to be worth blowing up a planet.

    Ditto Closing TIme – yes, defeating them with love is pants, and actually SAYING that’s what you’re doing is worse, but everything else about that story was wonderful, the whole idea of a dying, fading Cyberman ship crashed underneath a department store, stealing the electricity and recycling the local resources to claw their way back to power is really cool. And the side effect of reminding us all that lifts in old department stores are scary.

    At their best, Cybermen reflect our current societal fears about technology and letting it get the better of us as humans. I think the 60’s stories did this really well, and the modern show has, for better or worse, worked very hard to do that – the bluetooth headset in Rise of the Cybermen, and the idea of fast, constant and overwhelming upgrades in Nightmare in Silver…

    I love 80’s Cybermen in the same way that I love Anthony Ainley’s Master – they are the comfort food of my childhood, and feel like the ‘original’ versions because I saw them first. I’ve never had a problem with the emotional timbres of their voices, etc. But apart from Attack, I’m not sure that the 80’s Cybermen stories are actually ABOUT anything…

    The Invasion is still most definitely the best one. And luckily Torchwood provided us with the worst one. Oh, Cyberwoman.

  3. Sarah B said:

    I agree with everything, except the Tenth Planet should be a wee bit higher, but only because it was so good in the Target novelisation which is where I fell for it. So… yeah.

    And I am Team Cybermen because turning you into one of them is WAY scarier than just being killed dead. Possibly depending on the pain factor, but I’m not certain even with that. Conversion looks pretty unpleasant, really.

  4. Cinta said:

    David Banks!! Hurray! I totally agree with you on that point – it’s what the new series Cybers are missing.
    Nice overview of all the stories, it’s good to see someone else enjoyed ‘Revenge’ as well.

  5. Love the Cyber-head moment in The Pandorica Opens! Although my initial reaction was “Well, that’s a bit cheesy, isn’t it?”, I recently rewatched this story and it’s definitely a creepy moment and shows the lengths the Cyber race will go to just to survive. However, I maintain that the bit where the head snaps like a clam at Amy is pretty dumb. Everything else about that scene is proper creepy/scary though. 🙂

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