Monday, 24 February 2020

Doctor Who - Ascension Of The Cybermen

Ascend Of Space

Doctor Who
Ascension Of The Cybermen

UK BBC1 Airdate: 23rd February 2020

Warning: Here be spoilers.  

Okay, first things first. Let me once again apologise that this is probably going to be yet another short review. If a work of art is either really great or really terrible, then it makes it much easier to identify just why that is and you have something you can write about. If it’s got strong elements of both in it then there’s usually something to be said. This series of Doctor Who, though, has been more bland or wishy washy, with the odd exception so... not a huge amount to say about last night’s episode but, again, I’ll try to publish an extra review this week to make up for it. Okay?

One person in my Twitter timeline (thanks Mr. Craig), tweeting about Ascension Of The Cybermen said it best last night... and I’m paraphrasing here... this is the kind of episode that lives or dies by the next part and, yeah, as was pointed out, this seems to be like more of a chess game, where key players are moved into position so all the puzzle bits can come in at a later date. And it’s also got a lot of padding in it, some good things, some bad things but... nothing which is really going to blow anyone away too much.

Okay, so good things... apart from the usual excellent performances by the key cast of Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole... were the flashbacks to what looks like 1930s-1990s Ireland, with the adoption by a family, of a baby boy left in a basket. The boy’s name is Brendan and we keep flashing back to him growing up, joining the police, surviving a miraculous point blank gunshot wound and then retiring as an old man, before being escorted back into the police station by his new father and the guy who took his application... except neither of those has aged a day. This was nicely done and though the show has been pretty blatant in letting us assume the boy is the main cyberman villain in a half mask throughout this and last week’s episode (and presumably next week’s series finale)... there is still some room for surprise here.

Bad thing... the conversation between The Doctor and the Cyberleader through the communicator on the spaceship (again, presumably Brendan but, maybe not) was way too long and basically a lot of posturing waffle. I could have done with that whole, seemingly superfluous sequence gone. It stopped the episode dead for a while there.

Bland thing... the ‘big reveal’ that the sanctuary that the last humans left alive on planet Earth are seeking was a portal to the now dead and burning Gallifrey was hardly a surprise was it? Not like the proper twist with Brendan when he retired. We were all expecting to see both Gallifrey and The Master in this episode and that’s exactly what we got. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this week’s thrizzling installment was the fact that none of the regular characters were killed off... although I wouldn’t be too surprised if that happens next episode. Or, at least, a companion or maybe all of them, might leave. We shall see I guess.

Other than that.... very much Doctor Who business as usual. The show had, very much, a Daleks Invasion Of Earth vibe to it... in either its TV form (reviewed by me here) or the movie version with Peter Cushing (I mention this story because I'm still keen for The Doctor's 'granddaughter, Susan, to make a comeback of some kind). Just the last few humans scrabbling around Earth trying to survive the current occupiers of the planet... we’ve been there before. And, like that earlier tale, The Doctor and her companions were separated into groups to have different adventures cross cutting back and forth to keep things interesting (ish).

Not too much more to say on this one... the cyberman thematic music was okay. I am hoping that the next episode will really knock my socks off... in which case I’ll probably look at this episode in a more favourable light. What I’m half expecting, though, is either the kind of disappointment I’ve been set up to expect in Doctor Who over the last 6 or so years or, possibly, lots of anger if the writers decide to screw with the show's history without thinking it through and have The Timelords descended from either humans or cybermen... which makes no sense and, frankly, if that were to be the case, nobody has even invoked the names of Rassilon or Omega as yet. So, I think that might be somewhat ill advised... if they could pull it off credibly then power to them but... not really holding out any hope from that.

So anyway, that’s me done with Ascension Of The Cybermen. Bit of a bland mish mash and I could do with an upturn in next week’s episode. Glad the show is finishing in a week because I’m tired of writing reviews based on mediocre iterations of what was once a good science fiction show. Fingers crossed though.

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