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Recap / Doctor Who S4 E6 "The Moonbase"

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"There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought."
The Doctor
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The one with coffee.

Cybermen on the Moon, as the perennial favourites make their second appearance in essentially a retread of their first. And in the same season to boot!

Written by Kit Pedler. This four-episode serial first aired from February 11 to March 4, 1967.


It's 2070 AD and Earth's weather is controlled from a station on the Moon by means of the Graviton. The crew of the station are coming down with a disease that turns out to be a Cyberman-engineered poison. Polly and Ben realise that as Cybermen are part-plastic, solvents ought to harm them, and mix up a cocktail of chemicals which they use in fire extinguishers to defeat the Cybermen on the base.note 

A second wave of Cybermen invade across the Moon's surface but the Graviton quickly sends them flying off into space and the travellers go on their merry way.

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Called Doctor Who and the Cybermen in the 1974 novelization.

Tropes

  • All There in the Manual: Later expanded universe sources, Doctor Who: Cybermen and its audio adaptation The ArcHive Tapes, identify the Cybermen seen here as descendants of the space-faring CyberFaction who left Mondas behind, their earlier In-Universe forms seen in "The Wheel in Space" and "The Invasion". These Cybermen ultimately settle on the planet Telos and are recognised by historians as a new subspecies, the CyberTelosians.
  • All There in the Script: The Cybermen originally had names as in "The Tenth Planet". For example, the lead Cyberman was named Tarn. The omission of names in the final product would carry over to all later Cyberman stories, with the greater homogeneity tying into their Cybernetics Eat Your Soul overtones.
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  • Artistic Licence – Chemistry: As Doctor Who Magazine later pointed out, Polly's "cocktail" of solvents would end up reacting against each other and turn into a thick brown gunge, totally different from the clear liquid presented in this story. That issue also guessed that she was throwing any solvent she could at them in the hopes that something would work.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The base is staffed with an international group of scientists, all white except for one black man. He is the first to be killed, getting bumped off in Episode 1, although it is later revealed that he was just kidnapped by the Cybermen and made a partially-converted slave.
  • Chromosome Casting: Polly is the only female character in the story.
  • Continuity Nod: International Space Command, the Cyberman invasion of 1986 and the destruction of Mondas are referenced.
  • Continuous Decompression: This story features the subtrope of characters struggling to seal the hole as the air rushes out. One fan actually did the calculations to see how long it should have actually taken for decompression to happen. The results were something on the order of a few seconds. The scene in the fourth episode lasted much longer, obviously.
  • Costume Evolution: Due to the original costumes being prohibitively uncomfortable, the Cybermen see their first of many substantial redesigns in this story, replacing the Body Horror cyborg appearance from "The Tenth Planet" with a cleaner and more purely robotic look. The Cybermen also go from five-fingered hands to three-fingered ones, a change that would remain in place until "The Invasion" two seasons later.
  • Creepy Monotone: Because the Accent On The Wrong Syllable singsong voice from "The Tenth Planet" made it difficult for Peter Hawkins and Roy Skelton to tell where their lines began and ended, this story does away with it in favor of a buzzing, mechanical voice provided by electrolarynxes.
  • Digital Destruction: The Region 1 disc was incorrectly mastered at 23.98 progressive fields per second rather than the correct 59.94 interlaced fields per second, which both causes the release to lose its restored videotape look and to play roughly 4% slow.
  • Multinational Team: The crew of the Graviton station.
  • Natural Disaster Cascade: The Cybermen briefly take control of the Moonbase's Weather-Control Machine and attempt to use it to kill all life on Earth by playing havoc with the planet's weather.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe—Jamie, slipping in and out of consciousness, mistakes an approaching Cyberman for the McCrimmon Piper; given the circumstances, the Piper would be the better option.
  • Not Himself: Personnel under cyber-control.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: The Doctor actually claims to have recieved a medical degree...from Joseph Lister in 1888. Polly is ...skeptical about its continued applicability.
  • Novelization: Was novelized as Doctor Who and the Cybermen by Gerry Davis.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Doctor, followed slowly by everyone else in the room has a rather epic one at the conclusion of Episode Two when the base leader argues that there can't be any Cybermen in the base because they've searched every single room for them...except the one they're in right now. Guess where the Cyberman turns out to be hiding?
  • One-Steve Limit: Benoit was originally called Jules but was changed Roger due to another character named Jules.
    • This is also why he wears a scarf, his shirt was designed before the name change and has letter J on it and the scarf was used to cover it up (for the most part).
  • Resistance Is Futile
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The moon setting was inspired by the Space Race of the mid 1960s.
  • Sequel Episode: To "The Tenth Planet".
  • Sequel Hook: A deleted line mentioned the tombs on Telos. Guess where the Doctor's next encounter with the Cybermen takes place?
  • The Siege: Mainly happens in Episode 4 when the infiltration of the Moonbase has already been exposed. The Cybermen throw subtlety to the wind and march in force, openly attacking the base.
  • Smart Ball: Ben Jackson suddenly has considerable knowledge of chemistry, physics, and medicine that he never displays again. This was due to the fact that the story was written before it was decided to have Jamie be a regular, so to accommodate his inclusion, dialogue that was intended for the Doctor was given to Ben.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Polly gets coffee for the weather machine operators (leading to the Doctor solving how some people were getting a disease), and there is one specific moment where she's planned a clever Science Hero way of defeating the Cybermen. Ben tells her to stop because 'this is no job for a bird,' but she refuses to listen.
  • Tainted Veins: Victims of the Cybermen's plague develop prominent black veins.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: The Cyberman spike the base's sugar supply as a means of spreading their virus.
  • Tap on the Head: Averted. Jamie's bump on the head is treated very seriously and keeps him bedridden for the first two episodes. Jamie wasn't meant to stick around at first, and the writers had to rush to put him in the script.
  • True Companions: From the scenes where we see Captain Hobson and Second-In-Command Benoit conversing together, you can see that they care about each other.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: After being ridiculously vulnerable to radiation in the previous story, this story has the Cybermen dying unpleasantly if you pour organic solvent over them.
  • Weather-Control Machine: The Gravitron, which is situated on the moon and controls the weather on the Earth.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: The Doctor telling Polly to make some coffee is often used out of context in clip shows as an example of early Doctor Who being sexist. In context, it's a means of distracting Hobson from blaming them for the problems, and it's Polly who later in the story comes up with the idea of attacking the Cybermen with solvents.
  • Zeerust: The story's version of 2070 depicts a highly advanced human base on the moon with technology capable of controlling the planet's weather from afar. Not only would manned moon missions stop altogether after 1972, but come the actual 21st century, and technology that can directly control the weather would still be a wishful thought.

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