The Tomb of the Cybermen

Original release of the complete story:
Region 1

Region 2
VHS Video
(See bottom of page for Special Edition options)
(Doctor Who Story No. 37, starring Patrick Troughton)
  • written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
  • directed by Morris Barry
  • produced by Peter Bryant
  • featuring library music tracks
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Victoria joins the Doctor and Jamie in the TARDIS. They travel to the planet Telos, where an archeological expedition from Earth has just discovered a long lost city believed to be the final resting place of the deadly and dehumanizing Cybermen. But the Doctor suspects some members of the party have a hidden agenda, and he becomes determined to find out what it is....

The great introductory classic of the Patrick Troughton era.

Original DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actors Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield). [also included in Special Edition]
  • "Tombwatch" 1992 BAFTA conventional panel (28 min.) discussing the story's production, with Hines, Watling, Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan),
    Michael Kilgarriff (Cyber Controller), George Roubicek (Captain Hopper), Clive Merrison (Jim Callum), story editor Victor Pemberton,
    producer Peter Bryant, and director Morris Barry. * [not included in Special Edition]
  • Behind-the-Scenes at BBC Visual Effects (3 min.), with department head Jack Kine.
  • Unused Title Sequence and 8mm Cine Footage (3 min.)
  • introduction by director Morris Barry (from the VHS release, 3 min.)
  • 2001 Restoration featurette (5 min.) [not included in Special Edition]
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery (still menu)
  • Easter Eggs
  • "The Final End" fx sequence from "The Evil of the Daleks" episode 7, with story soundtrack (1 min.)
  • "Who's Who" text biographies (may only be included on the Region 1 NTSC original release)

Special Edition DVD Extras:

  • Additional restoration on the episodes, including the VidFire process
  • Additional audio commentary by Hines, Watling, Cooklin, Pemberton, Reg Whitehead (Cyberman), and Bernard Holley (Peter Haydon).
  • "The Lost Giants" making-of featurette (27 min.), with Hines, Watling, Cooklin, Pemberton, Kilgarriff, Holley, and
    visual effects designer Peter Day.
  • "Curse of the Cybermen's Tomb" featurette (15 min.) on the story's influences
  • Cybermen documentary - extended edition (32 min.)
  • "Tomb and the Magic of VidFire" featurette (7 min.)
  • Sky Ray promotional TV spot

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

This neat little story shouts "classic" from its opening shot all the way through to its closing visual statement, thanks to the masterful direction of an exceptional script. "The Tomb of the Cybermen" kicks off the infamous "Monster Season", although technically speaking, the supreme reign of monsters on Doctor Who might be said to begin with "The Moonbase" (story no. 33) and continue through to "The Seeds of Death" (story no. 48) with little interruption. Season Five, however, marks a set of monster stories of consistently high quality.

It's the beginning of a new season and a classic story, and the very first scene takes time to introduce the TARDIS, the Doctor, and his two friends, adding a bit of new information and humour, and whetting the audience's appetite for exploration, discovery, and adventure. All this fits perfectly into the series storyline, with Victoria coming on board, and mention of her father and Maxtible linking this story with the previous one. Every season opener should be as easily understandable to the masses.

Unfortunately, we don't get to see much of the police box beyond the opening shot of it sitting on Skaro - no materialization on Telos, no time travellers going in or coming out, all of which would have been the icing on the proverbial cake. However the interior scene is very satisfying, and the sound effects and explanatory dialogue are sufficient enough to expertly hold the story together.

Exploration is the name of the game all through the early portions of the adventure, what with the tomb holding secret after secret in its variety of hidden chambers, and half of the guest characters harbouring secret motives which we can anticipate early but not fully discover until later on. As the Doctor arrives with considerable fore-knowledge of the principles by which the Tomb was padlocked, his interest is more in the human characters, who prove to be as interesting as the Cybermen themselves.

Music plays a large role in this adventure - even when it isn't taking center-stage, there's almost always something playing very low-key in the background, adding to the atmospheres of wonder or tension or surprise or power. VERY well done! There are some incredibly well done sets as well - though I'm not talking here about the one that usually gets most of the praise. Check out the In-depth Analysis version of this review to get all the details, and spoilers.
Audio CD -
Music from the Tomb of the Cybermen

Find out more here.

The cybermats work better in this story than in any other, with lots of carefully-done close up and effects shots, and good reactions from the rest of the cast.

Putting an established actor in the role of the lead Cyberman also helps elevate all of the cyber performances. They have more character here than in any other pre-1980's story, and Michael Kilgariff is, of course, the definitive Cyber Controller. George Pastel puts in a very convincing job as Eric Klieg, and his companion Kaftan is expertly played by Shirley Cooklin. There's much more to say about these two in the In-depth Analysis version of this review.

The story is not without a few technical hitches, which do not detract from the story very much. Curiously, they all seem to involve the character Toberman in action scenes. Roy Stewart is better with straight acting, providing a good lasting sense of believable menace in only a small number of earlier shots. George Roubicek as Captain Hopper has a large number of well-played scenes, but unfortunately a few of his shorter odd remarks come across a little cheesy.

What would a cyber-story be without a few cups of coffee? Victoria has one on behalf of cyber-stories everywhere.

"Well, ya scream real good, Vic!"

Victoria is seen trying to verbally combat female stereotypes throughout this story, particularly against Captain Hopper and his crew, however actions (not to mention screams) speak louder than words, and once more Victoria resorts to "damsel-in-distress" mode fairly consistently. She still comes off with a few strong moments, and mixed in with some tender scenes, this story is actually one of Victoria's better ones.

"Congratulations, Doctor. And now let's see what you can do against this...."

There are several story-beats successively wrapping up the plot and resolving the conflicts surrounding the characters, most of which keep the Doctor and Jamie well occupied in problem-solving mode. Deeper analysis of the philosophies at work here will have to be saved for... you guessed it - the In-depth Analysis version of this review.

In terms of dramatic and cinematic quality, the ending is quite good and satisfying. In my view, only one other Pat Troughton story surpasses the level of fascination and excellence found in the "Tomb of the Cybermen." Stay tuned to the continuing reviews on this web site to find out which it is.....

This complete story has become available on DVD and VHS video.
Original release:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A for North America
NTSC B for North America
PAL for the U.K.

New Special Edition "Revisitations Volume 3" re-release:
DVD NTSC Region 1
Special Edition
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
NEW for March 13, 2012
DVD PAL Region 2
"Revisitations 3" Box Set
for the U.K.
NEW for Feb. 13, 2012

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "The Abominable Snowmen"

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