Recap: Doctor Who S5 E1 "The Tomb of the Cybermen"

Daft Punk, the early years!

"Our lives are different to anybody else's. That's the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we're doing."
The Doctor

The TARDIS lands on the planet Telos, where a group of Earth archaeologists is trying to uncover the fabled Tomb of the Cybermen. The Doctor helps them get in, where they discover the creepy silent remains of the Cybermen's city.

After one of the expedition's members dies in an accident in the weapon testing chamber, the expedition leader, Professor Parry, decides that the expedition should return to Earth and be better prepared for the next expedition. Kaftan, one of the expedition's financial supporters, makes her servant Toberman sabotage the rocket so they can't get off the planet and has to explore further.

The Doctor helps them to open the way down to the tombs of the Cybermen, whereupon Kaftan and logician Klieg awaken the Cybermen from their cryogenic sleep and reveal that they are in fact there to revive the Cybermen, using their brains and the Cybermen's strength to conquer the universe.

As bad an idea as this would be, it turns out to be irrelevant anyway, as out the tomb is just a giant logic puzzle designed to weed out everyone but the smartest people, whom the Cybermen judge worthy to be turned into more Cybermen. The Cybermen punch their way out of the refrigerated tombs and attack the party accompanied by little slug-like Cybermats.

Toberman is captured and partially Cybermodified, but the party manages to escape the tomb area and stall off the (still weakened) Cybermen. The Doctor also uses electricity to disable the Cybermats and later the group finds a single Cyber-prototype weapon to keep the Cybermen at bay. At the same time, the Cybercontroller orders his Cybermen to return to their cryogenic tombs (as they are very low on energy), while Kaftan and Klieg attempt to betray the Doctor and friends by stealing their weapon and using it to seize control over the Cybermen, causing a very uneasy (and temporary) alliance between the Doctor and the Cybercontroller to ensure their mutual survival. Kaftan and Klieg end up being massacred by a lone Cyberman and with the mutual threat gone, the Cybercontroller turns against the Doctor's group, but Toberman's will power allows him to temporarly overcome his Cyberconditioning and destroys one Cyberman, giving everyone the chance to escape. Finally, Toberman makes an Heroic Sacrifice by closing the entrance to the tomb and activating the door's defense mechanism, which electrocutes both him and the Cybercontroller, leaving the remaining Cybermen locked inside forever. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria part ways with the surviving expedition's members and each go on their way.

This story was thought to be lost for decades, until a complete copy was discovered in 1991 in Hong Kong — Prior to October 2013, it was the only complete story of Season 5, of Victoria, and of the first two years of Troughton.

Also, this serial turned Matt Smith (i.e. The Eleventh Doctor) into a fan of the show, and he has stated that it was watching this serial that inspired his own costume as the Doctor, most notably wearing a bowtie.


  • All There in the Manual: Toberman was intended to be deaf, but during filming they managed to remove every reference to this. The references did make it into the novelization.
  • The Assimilator: "You beeelong to Uzzz. You shall beee like Uzzz."
  • Badass: Toberman manages to lift the Cyber Controller above his head, before throwing him across the room.
  • Batman Gambit: The Cybermen's plan counts on someone eventually being smart, curious, and determined enough to get to them.
  • Big Bad: The domed Cyber Controller. As Cyber Leaders hadn't been invented yet, this was the first time we saw a chain of command with the Cybermen.
  • The Cavalry: Captain Hopper distracts the Cybermen with some smoke bombs, allowing The Doctor, Jamie and Professor Parry to get away just in time.
  • Creepy Monotone: The Cybermen.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Victoria.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After retrieving the experimental cyber-gun, Klieg launches into a lengthy monologue about how much he's going to enjoy killing the Doctor and his friends with it. At this point, mind, the only thing that the Doctor has done to Klieg is make him look stupid a couple of times.
  • The End... Or Is It?: When Jamie asks the Doctor if this is the end of the Cybermen the Doctor says he never likes to make predictions. As they leave a Cybermat is shown moving towards Toberman.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Klieg never learns this. Well, technically he does, but it's a rather fatal lesson...
  • Exposition of Immortality: The Doctor, when prompted by Victoria, reveals he's over four-hundred years old. He does have to think about it for a moment, though.
  • Food Pills: And suddenly Victoria is not hungry.
  • Forced Perspective: There are some very convincing Forced Perspective model shots of the humans' spaceship.
  • Hand Blast: Several Cybermen fire electrical bolts from their hands.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Toberman.
  • Heroic Sacrifice/You Shall Not Pass: "They will not get past Toberman."
  • Hollywood Darkness: The tomb interior is remarkably well-lit considering it's all underground with no visible light sources. Lampshaded, with Jamie remarking on it and receiving a technobabble explanation about the walls being designed to be phosphorescent.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: After Hooper and Callum manage to re-open the entrance to the undertomb, they listen for any sound from the party that was trapped down there. Victoria remarks that it's very quiet, and Hooper says it's too quiet.
  • Just for Pun: See Lame Pun Reaction below.
  • Karmic Death: Kaftan and Klieg are killed by the Cybermen - the very creatures they wanted to bargain with.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Jamie does not appreciate the Doctor's attempts at wit.
    Doctor: The power cable generated an electrical field and confused their tiny metal minds. You might almost say they've had a complete metal breakdown! [Jamie groans] I'm so sorry, Jamie.
  • Large Ham: Klieg can get very loud.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Well, more like Locking Both Traitors In The Weapons Testing Room, which is even dumber.
  • Logical Fallacies: Victoria reaches the (correct) conclusion that the Doctor is older than he looks based on nothing more than the fact that he's a time traveller.
  • Look Behind You: Twice when Kaftan is holding Victoria at gunpoint, Victoria has a panicked reaction to a cybermat sneaking up behind her. The first time there really is a cybermat, but Kaftan thinks it's just a trick until the cybermat attacks her. The second time it's just a bluff, and it works.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Cyber-Controller, requiring Toberman to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Obviously Evil: Everything Kaftan does screams 'up to something'. The Doctor notices, yet leaves Victoria alone with her. Perhaps justified, since he explicitly asks Victoria to keep an eye on her, presumably intending to have someone he trusts watch over her rather than just leave her to get up to all kinds of mischief unobserved.
  • Oh Crap!: The Doctor and Jamie when they see the Cyber-Controller getting back up.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The controls to the tomb are a giant symbolic logic puzzle. Justified, in that the Cybermen want their new race to be built from only the best - that is, people smart enough to figure out the puzzle.
  • Playing Possum: First Kaftan fakes being unconscious (though not dead), and later on the Cybercontroller plays possum.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Both Kaftan and Toberman go down fighting the Cybermen they were originally trying to recruit. Averted with Klieg who's just literally Too Dumb to Live.
  • Scary Black Man: Toberman, with a surprising dose of Hidden Depths.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can
  • Sequel Hook: From the ending shots, it's quite obvious that this is not the end of the Cybermen.
    • This could be a contrast to the previous story's "final end" of the Daleks. The Producers wanted to get rid of the Daleks and use other monsters, so they show the Cybermen are still around.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Kaftan drugs Victoria's coffee to knock her out.
  • Smug Snake: Neither Kaftan nor Klieg are nearly as clever as they think they are, but Klieg in particular spends a lot of time strutting around inadvertently letting the Doctor make him look stupid. They also keep telling themselves they'll be able to control the Cybermen right up until they are deleted.
  • Straw Vulcan: The Logicians.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Victoria gets some of this from the rocket ship captain, who won't let her go down into the Cybermen's tomb.
  • Take Over the World: Kaftan and Klieg plan to use the Cybermen technology to do this.
  • Tempting Fate: Jamie is confident the ropes he's tied will keep the Cybercontroller down.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Klieg. Most of the others too, seeing as they always leave guns lying around for someone to grab.
  • TV Genius: Klieg and Kaftan. You apparently need serious logic skills to join the Brotherhood of Logicians, but it seems they aren't so interested in "common sense" or "not being a batshit crazy megalomaniac".
  • Villainous Breakdown: Klieg just can't seem to grasp that the Cybermen never will cooperate and that his plan was doomed to fail from the start. At the end, he names himself the new Cybercontroller, right before he is killed by a Cyberman.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Klieg and Kaftan are pretty much generic shifty "foreigners" with an accent that doesn't exist outside of wherever they sustained their head injuries. Hopper and Callum are Americans, but you wouldn't know it if their dialogue wasn't peppered with what the writers thought were Americanisms.
  • Women Are Wiser: Of a sort; each logician is as bad as the other, but of the two Kaftan clearly has her head screwed on a bit better than Klieg.
  • The X of Y
  • You're Insane!: Towards the end, the Doctor rather awesomely humours Klieg's delusions of grandeur, purely for the purpose of getting Klieg wound up and ranting like a megalomaniac so that he can use this as a put-down.
    The Doctor: Well, now I know you're mad. I just wanted to make sure.
  • Zeerust: Food pills and rocket ships for all. Although some of the team are wearing very modern clothing.