An Analysis of Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Red Dwarf and Torchwood Tom penultimate story of Doctor Who's nineteenth season, “Earthshock,” whose Leading up to this ending had been both the Fourth and Fifth Doctor's troubled relationship. "Doctor Who" Earthshock: Part One (TV Episode ) on IMDb: Movies, TV, and his relationship with the fifth Doctor which gives this story some distinction. one of the series (original or new series for that matter) biggest surprise endings. Earthshock was the sixth serial of season 19 of Doctor Who. of Matthew Waterhouse as Adric, who sacrificed himself in the closing moments of part four. In relation to this story, the Cybermen's encounter with the Sixth Doctor in Attack.
Some of Peter Davison's finest work in Doctor Who involved pressing diamonds from coal. He's astonishing in Warriors of the Deepfor instance, and that's also true here.
He justifies Matthew Waterhouse's performance. It's kinda like acting for two. Incidentally the Doctor and Adric have a strange relationship. In many ways they're equals. Earthshock eventually splits the crew along gender lines, putting the Doctor with Adric as in the old days. What's more, Adric's right in his complaints!
It's his own dumb fault, but he is treated differently. Look at how reluctant the Doctor is to enter his room, though you can hardly blame him considering the argument that blows up when he does.
Suddenly the Doctor's effectively a father with a moody teenager, whereas with his other companions he'd been a best friend. He handles it surprisingly badly, actually. Donning my fanboy head, these Cybermen are blatantly time-travellers from the future, with these Cyberwars being the very cause of their disappearance years before Tomb of the Cybermen.
Two of the three clips on the Cyber-scanner are from stories that haven't happened yet, but more importantly an Earth freighter becomes time-capable when linked to a Cyber-computer!
Earthshock's Cybermen are blatantly emotional, but this works better than in The Moonbase and Revenge because David Banks is a decent actor who's putting the effort in. There's a good case for saying that our fan perceptions of the Cybermen are thanks to David Banks digging into Doctor Who history and eventually writing that Cybermen book I don't mind Cyber-emotions. They're simply in denial. The script has some good lines, although it's no coincidence that they always seem to come from the better actors.
I relished Beryl Reid's "I've just composed a particularly nasty epitaph for him" and Peter Davison's "You would be very crumpled. It's an unusual kind of tragedy. He's giving his life trying to save a world he barely knows, but he's doomed to fail and had he succeeded he'd have destroyed mankind as we know it. We even know that as we watch.
Sadly we'll never recapture the shock value of the original broadcast, but there's some nice foreshadowing and the tragedy works in a different way with foreknowledge. I think they cut away too fast from the explosion, but the sequence's power comes from the regulars' reactions and the silent closing titles. It's better not to think about Fielding, Sutton and Davison trying not to giggle, though. Sometimes I think that fan opinion differs more on Earthshock than on any other story.
He has his critics, to put it mildly, but personally I think this story is a winner. While obviously unable to match the budgetary likes of Lucasfilm, it still looks impressive, with its spaceships, robots, macho soldiers, big guns blazing and new improved Cybermen.
The sets are very good and, glory be, it's wonderfully underlit! The camera work and editing are fast and furious, while Peter Grimwade's direction is spectacular. He wasn't the most-liked man on set, as several actors comment on in the DVD feature - and the excerpt from the interview does make him look a bit of a pompous martinet, but if that's what it takes for him to come up with the finished product as we see it on screen, then so be it.
For such an action runaround, the story is unevenly paced: At times it feels like a Hartnell episode, especially with the focus on character interactions - which, for the first time with the season 19 TARDIS crew, actually works.
But there's a dark, dank and doom-laden atmosphere throughout, assisted by some fantastic music. Part two has quick bursts of action: I remember when I first saw it in it was practically unbearable. There's so much going on; the Cybermen marching through the dark corridors of the freighter complemented by Malcolm Clarke most memorable compositionthe attempts to stop them taking the bridge, the lone Cyberman trying to infiltrate the TARDIS, and above all the ultimate the race against time to rescue Adric and the ultimate shock when this fails.
Such an unrelenting build-up and the subsequent pyrrhic victory are startling; it remains one of Doctor Who's best scenes. And even though I'm an Adric-disliker not quite hater! It all makes Earthshock another success for John Nathan-Turner and his approach to the programme. Making the Doctor more human is a nice change and the right move after the Tom Baker era, and Peter Davison understands this perfectly, astutely pinpointing his character's vulnerability. Most of the acting is quite good: Matthew Waterhouse seems to have upped his game for his last regular performance, and is often very convincing as Adric.
In fact, his "It's not our problem, Doctor" in part two is perhaps his finest moment. His delivery has all the restrained emphasis it requires; his quiet chat with the Doctor in the TARDIS en route to the freighter is another example. Waterhouse occasionally relapses into his usual awkwardness, but it's good to see him go out with a bang sorry, couldn't resist! There's only one performance that irks me, and that's Beryl Reid. The ultimate genteel English comedienne, who was simply divine as a Mary Whitehouse pastiche in The Goodies, is ludicrously miscast as Briggs.
June Bland Berger would have been much better playing the freighter captain. The other contemporary I could have imagined in the role is Jane Sherwin, based on her turn as the rebel leader Kasabi in the Blake's 7 episode Pressure Point. Another problem with Earthshock is the writing. This is not to criticise the action component, but it's obvious it has been written as a flashy, breakneck thriller for its own sake, rather than with the intent to tell a story.
The plot-holes are gaping, the Cybermen act so illogically but to be fair, they always have done and some of the things that come out of the characters' mouths are embarrassing. Sarah Sutton is very good as Nyssa, despite being relegated to the TARDIS for the best part of three episodes, but she also has to say lines like "Whoever they are, they're fighting back! Thankfully Tegan's "I'm just a mouth on legs! While I'm being negative, I suppose it's only fair to point out the few weak points in Grimwade's direction: But I've never been able to spot that woman reading the script in the corner!
It's a brave experiment, but should have remained a one-off rather than a template for future stories. But that's a matter for other reviews. Earthshock was in the right place at the right time: If you viewed it only once, never to watch it again, it would remain in your mind as a masterpiece. Alas, Who fans will watch it over and over and naturally the weaker points will filter through, but it holds up well, remaining a high quality, important serial.
And the cliffhanger to the first episode is one of the best ever! We think of Time-FlightArc of Infinity and the cancellation crisis, and see it as a grand, grotesque descent into Time and the Rani. I thought that way, until I recently realised that it isn't true. Season Twenty-One, despite beginning with Warriors of the Deepisn't really any worse than Season Eighteen, and actually has more good stories The AwakeningFrontiosCaves of Androzani - and even Resurrection and Planet of Fire aren't bad, from a safe distance.
Season Twenty-Two is bad, but I remain perplexed why the BBC chose to suspend the series then, rather than inorwhen it experienced ratings which were much worse. The 80s, like all the eras of Doctor Who, is surprisingly uniform in quality, and uniformly quite good. I know, an odd position, since it's remembered as Tegan before she became nice, Nyssa before she had a character and Adric while he was alive. However, I think it is also one of the best, most original and interesting crews since the original team of Ian, Barbara and Susan.
Stories like Four to DoomsdayThe Visitation and Earthshock show off a cast that has a new sense of dynamism, a sense of reality about what they're doing. Gary Russell, on the Earthshock DVD, said that this crew had all the different "companion" archetypes, as though it was a bad thing, but he also thinks The Invasion of Time is a good basis for a drama series, so what he thought was a criticism is, in fact, a sign of this crew's strength.
That was understandable, because they weren't human, but ultimately I think Tegan's panicked reaction to being lost in space, Adric's alienation from the others and the Doctor's frustrated attempts to jolly the rest of them up are more interesting material for stories than two Time Lords and a robot exchanging witticisms in a cave set.
Which brings us to Earthshock, which is just one of those great Davison stories that is set at least partially in a cave. They're both stories that aren't especially deep but represent everyone at the top of their game, something that appropriates the conventions of other kinds of literature Victoriana for Talonsalien for Earthshock and subverts them in a Doctor Who way.
Earthshock may not be as visually sumptuous as Talonsbut it's a pleasure, a real pleasure, to watch. Every scene is bursting with something brilliantly competent and fun to watch. If Resurrection of the Daleks had been half this good, then it would be remembered as probably the second best Dalek story of the original series. Peter Davison is fantastic in this story well, he always isfrom his amazing selfishness at the beginning with Adric and righteous anger at the CyberLeader, to his desperation at the end; this is what the Doctor should be like.
I know some people think Davison is bland and boring You can mistake his incongruous politeness with Scott in Part One "Can we be of any help? No other Doctor can match the fifth's desperation, his frantic belief that things won't go right.
Like Leela in Season Fourteen, these are companions who retain their characters over the course of multiple stories. They're all on fine form here. Tegan does things only Tegan would do, from running to grab the Cyber-gun to throwing herself on the TARDIS console "this is my planet they're about to destroy!
Even her lame attempt to calm the Doctor down "breathe deeply and relax," she suggests fits with her character as an air-stewardess and the "co-ordinator" of the TARDIS crew. Nyssa gets the short end of the stick here, but she gets a really cool moment at the end when she shoots the CyberLieutenant.
What I like is that Eric Saward has simply made up a character arc for him and retroactively imposed it. We finally see why he has become such an unbearable little creep since the Doctor regenerated. And we know that he is telling the truth when he says the Doctor is too busy flirting with the girls to talk to him, mainly because the Doctor's ignoring him even as he explains it. Teenage temper-tantrums are easy to do, but Matthew Waterhouse is actually likable in this story, a genuine maths genius who happens also to be picked on by the girls while the Doctor looks on.
The scene after the bomb-defusing sequence, when the two men kiss and make up, is probably Adric's best. Davison and Waterhouse actually display something approaching a rapport, which was lacking from previous stories. For comparison, take a look at The Visitationthe previous Saward story. In that story, the Doctor played, by Davison's own admission, as Tristan from All Creatures is like a mother duck, trailing whinging companions in his wake.
Adric, the most established companion, is also the worst, both because of Waterhouse's offensive acting but also because he's scripted as a sad, self-righteous loser. Here, he's the Doctor's equal in mathematical ability and actually displays a desire to learn. Putting him with the Doctor throughout the story is both a commonsense for his final story and b very good indeed.
A touch I particularly like is when he is the one who prompts the Doctor over the Cyber-plan "remember what you asked me in the caves on Earth? It's that kind of attention to character not normally something Saward is remembered for that makes this story so polished.
There's a domesticity to this crew, but it's not "soap" as some claimed it was. It's just a more realistic portrayal of space-time wanderings than we've seen since the Hartnell era. These people have been thrown together and have to work together. And, when they do work, they work brilliantly. The rest of the casting is great too. David Banks's CyberLeader is wonderful, and - despite being blatantly emotional - also has that Cyber-arrogance that insists that he isn't.
He is familiar and in the know with the Doctor, cruel with his taunting of Tegan and almost mockingly polite when he "returns" the freighter to Captain Briggs. This CyberLeader is Darth Vader, it's true, but he's a cool character too.
The Cybermen are blatantly emotional, as I've already said, but this isn't a problem, because I think that should be cultivated in Cybermen. To me, there are two kinds of Cybermen. You have a type that is still partially human and truly unemotional, like the valium-zombies with power-steering of The Tenth Planet ; their emotionlessness makes them unnerving; like the robots of The Robots of Deaththey are like walking, talking dead men.
The other option is the race of testosterone-fuelled arse-kicking killing-machines of Earthshock, who have hidden their human frailties and deny that they have any emotional "weakness" and yet are still possessed of them, simply because humans just can't remove emotional desires from themselves entirely.
This makes them much better than the mindless tin men of Revenge of the Cybermen and why, I think, the New Series Cybermen are a bit faceless. In a Freudian twist, these Cybermen have suppressed their natural urges why else would they so eagerly try to make the humans suffer to "convince" them that emotions are weaknesses?
That's obviously not the intention of Saward or the production team, but it makes the Cybermen actually more interesting in concept than they are otherwise. In a sense, the Earthshock Cybermen are like Fascists. Normally they are compared to Communists because of their lack of emotion, conformity and hive-mindedness which can only be seen as "Communist" traits if you swallowed John Birch propaganda like it was chocolate cakebut here they have far more in common with historical Fascism.
Firstly, they have a horror of human weakness notably pity, compassion, enjoyment of lifeespecially in themselves, and they display a cruel contempt for the victims of their sadism.
As with Fascists, they worship naked power and the strength and durability of machinery hence the quote chosen to head this review. I could even point towards Fascism's inherent contempt for women and homosexuality in the fact that there are only Cybermen, and a theme on the erotics of speed and machinery as articulated by the Mussolini-loving Futurists in their appearance. I think this makes the Cybermen far more engaging and interesting adversaries than the stomping machine-men of the New Series.
Like real-life Fascists, all their aggression and loathing towards others is really just suppressed aggression and loathing towards themselves; beneath the bluster and machismo and armour, they are really frail, pathetic creatures.
However, nothing can forgive the elaborate hand gestures of the by-now notorious "CyberChat" in Part Three. Also, I couldn't help but notice that one of the actors playing a Cyberman as can be seen during the length shots of Cyber-crotches in Part Three's cliffhanger I sure the other men in the cast were feeling threatened is all I'll say.
Curse my dirty eye! She's written as a "real, hard-nosed marine" to quote Levine who doesn't have a funny bone in her body, and yet her character here is a wonderful, canny old lady ready to put down all this eager youngsters. This sounds sarcastic, but I'm being perfectly serious: Captain Briggs is one of my favourite Doctor Who characters because she subverts our expectations and the conventions of the genre. Which is, after all, one of the best things about Doctor Who. There's something wonderful in the idea that, in the Whoniverse, Sigourney Weaver's role in Alien was taken by Beryl Reid.
Now, if only she'd said "let go of her, you bitch" to the CyberLeader Peter Grimwade's direction is also superb.
Normally with Old School Doctor Who, you don't notice direction that much, since it was pretty pedestrian and often organised from the gallery rather than the floor in fact, Grimwade was one of the few BBC directors who directed from the floor, much to the crew's displeasure. As a result, Earthshock is one of the best-directed stories in Palaeo-Who. The actually unnerving cave sequences in Part One I rewatched it a few months ago and felt a nervous thrill of excitement every time the silhouettes sidled behind the soldiers; I remain bewildered as to why I didn't think it was terrifying when I first watched it when I was ten or whatever have a beautiful collaboration of lighting, direction and music.
The androids feel incredibly dangerous and particularly given their nasty way of doing away with people incredibly evil, something that can't often be said about Doctor Who monsters; at least, none for at least five years before Earthshock. Perhaps only the ersatz policemen of Resurrection of the Daleks come close to the androids' casual contempt for human life. Grimwade's crowning moment is the story's climax. Earthshock is one of the few episodes of the old series that doesn't appear either slow or padded to the modern eye.
If this was made inI'd still make it in two episodes. Part Four, for instance, has scenes. Imagine directing that, inin only a few days. No wonder Grimwade was supposedly an arsehole to work with. With Adric trapped on board the freighter with Briggs, Berger and Scott, and the Cybermen on board the TARDIS, the end of Part Four races towards a grimmer and grimmer situation every moment, and the tension is ramped up with every scene.
Adric's decision to get out of the escape pod at the very last moment is beautifully and also simply written, as it is both by chance say, he had his epiphany half a second later All of Part Four seems to centre on this moment, indeed, Adric's whole character: It's also a very clever plot point to have Adric's star-badge as the means to kill the CyberLeader.
It makes him key to both the TARDIS and the freighter scenes and its destruction is also a nicely and, for Old Who, unusually symbolic way to saying that Adric isn't going to get out of this one.
The final fight-to-the-death with the CyberLeader is brilliantly handled; Davison has a real desperation in his movements and his expression. He grinds Adric's badge deep into the Cyberman's chest unit, before wrenching its gun off it and firing repeatedly into its chest! The CyberLeader's enraged and agonised scream as he dies is also pretty horrific. Imagine if he was an ordinary human being and not a metal robot-like thing. It would never be broadcast. I'm not going to say much about Adric's death itself.
This is one element that works best on first viewing, when the audience is expecting everyone to get out of it and have a happy ending, not to have the young boy lead blown to atoms in an horrific explosion. That makes the silent end-credits acceptable, because it's as though the show is as shocked as its audience.
I agree with Davison, though, in that it would have been better to have the death and then go into the normal credits; by having that shocked silence at the end, by making it seem as though the series is stunned by this development too, it makes the show seem less unpredictable; if Adric's death was followed by ordinary credits, it would have carried a kind of "if you thought that was amazing, wait until you see next week!
Though, since "next week" was Time-Flight Part One, perhaps it was for the best. The beginning of everything else I think fandom's long believed it's a miracle that our fragile show survived Tom Baker's departure, which encourages the fallacy that the Davison era must have been good if it kept the show on air.
Hence the undue praise of what's actually a rotten era with a few remarkable highlights that stubbornly refuse to be anything more than false dawns. Earthshock is one such false dawn.
A rather superficial one. Although I usually agree with Tat Wood's assessment of 80's Who, what doesn't quite sit right with me is how he described JNT's takeover as where the show "goes all philistine and illiterate. Failing to be coherent or to understand characterisation or how narrative works this was the production team that completely destroyed the show's 'hero's journey' by regressing the Doctor's character.
But to describe Season 18's cerebral, hard-science approach as 'philistine' is a complete oxymoron. I get that dry scientific types might be myopic and not know their arse from their elbow when it comes to making a connection with ordinary people who watch the show or being fluent in the language of TV. Like how relaying communication is a pointless exercise if you either bore someone or give them too much information at once for them to process. But 'philistine' is what you'd call Season 24 or RTD's era.
Both of which Tat Wood seemingly praises to the hilt simply for not being Attack of the Cybermen.
Earthshock (TV story) | Tardis | FANDOM powered by Wikia
Even under Saward, there are still stories which can't remotely be called 'philistine'. KindaMawdryn UndeadTerminusVengeance on Varoseven Terror of the Vervoids have intelligent ideas that just don't translate into good plots and feel uncomfortably like being given a lecture. There's even intelligence in part one of Warriors of the Deepwhich begs the question how it went so quickly off the rails into gobsmacking moronicness.
I think that's crucially the point though. The philistine business had a way of creeping in like rot setting in, choking up would-be clever writing until stories didn't work as either intellectual exercises or populist fluff. Tat Wood somewhat addressed the parameters by highlighting Earthshock as where the show does a complete U-turn from Bidmead's aproach. With hindsight, it's clear what happened. Earthshock became Season 19's highest-rated story by fans, whilst the more intellectual Kinda came bottom of the poll.
I won't be snobbish about why. Arguably Kinda 's a pretentious failure which suffers a barrenness of organic narrative or plausible character motivations, and Adric's at his most obnoxious. Season 20 favoured the Kinda approach, with stories like Snakedance and Enlightenment demonstrating that, for all its faults, Kinda was at least a promising starting point to build true masterpieces on. But by Season 21, this model was clearly out of fashion, and the Earthshock model took over as the rule rather than the exception.
The problem is, JNT read the fan polls and was all too aware what fandom wanted more of. It feels like Earthshock should have been the beginning of a new golden age. Had this been a season finale, the ratings would have soared for several seasons after.
Instead, it was followed up in the worst way by Time-Flightwhich inherited ten million viewers from Earthshock's buzz. This was probably the first nail in the show's public credibility. I don't think Earthshock set the bar too high, because that suggests the disasters that followed would be any less disastrous in another context or had any standards to fall short of. However, it did set a problematic model for the show and just about got away with making it work once but then led to many rotten imitations.
Earthshock's basically nonsense of a high calibre. But, like Genesis of the Daleksit's more than just a standalone. This is the story that establishes a more dangerous universe.
Earth on Red Alert. The Williams era was like a holiday break for the show. Most of Season 18's enemies had either been ancient crumbling relics or abstract natural disasters.
Castrovalva started Season 19 with the vanquishing of the Master. And from then it was more holidays. This time with complaining kids in tow and tour-guide lectures. This features a particularly egregious one where we're expected to believe a qualified air hostess like Tegan doesn't have a clue about dinosaur history, just so the Doctor can explain it to us.
So that's why Romana was gotten rid of. But Kinda hinted at lurking evil, the snake in paradise. That the Master isn't so dead as they think. All suggesting that the Master's return in Time-Flight should have been genuinely chilling stuff, rather than reducing him to a pratt without the fall.
That's immediately ahead though. For now, expectations are lived up to. Of course you could probably cut all the Cybermen scenes out until the Doctor first sees them, and make it a more thrilling, tense story where we're as much in the dark as the Doctor, and the threat is more nebulous and unpredictable. But JNT was fixated with the idea that the camera has to cut away somewhere every so often to keep the illusion of pace, whilst pushing the Doctor away from the centre of his own show and from the audience's viewpoint.
Until there comes a time the Doctor ceases being a point of empathy and will just become an exhibit piece in the show's museum, defined by superficial catch-all terms and trademarks.
Then the handle on the character will become so poor, it'll be impossible for the audience to even be in the same book as the character, nevermind the same page. Again though, that comes later.
Here we're perfectly on the same page as the Doctor, even whilst the story barely manages to anchor itself. As Terrence Keenan highlightedthis is a very top-heavy story. To the point it doesn't really have an ending. It has a cliffhanger instead. Any proper resolution will have to wait until the beginning of Time-Flightwhere we'll find out what happened next via hearsay and bad exposition.
Matthew Brenner has highlighted this problem of Davison stories being more fixated with cliffhangers than anything, as well as the protagonists' tendency to conclude a story by dumbing down what has happened and what it meant by telling rather than showing. I think the main problem is simply JNT's four-part restriction. This was criticised at the time by fans pointing out that the four-part format wouldn't have allowed stories like The Talons of Weng-Chiang to work, and how Kinda lacks the room to explore its anthropological themes or how Logopolis does almost nothing with the dilemma of Nyssa being conned into deceiving the Doctor.
Likewise, maybe an extra episode could have made sense of Resurrection of the Daleks. Maybe if Warriors of the Deep 's original script hadn't had to be trimmed down, then Eric would have left its original ending alone. Adric's death is supposed to be the Fifth Doctor's defining moment, but it ends up being anything but. The idea of the Doctor being motivated by guilt and striving to be a hero to make amends for past failures should work.
Mindwarp should have been the defining moment of the Sixth Doctor's character, motivating him to be a better Doctor. But events conspired to kill that bud early. But the Fifth Doctor isn't at all defined by Adric's death. In Time-Flighthe quickly moves on and forgets it happened. In Terminushis neglect of Nyssa as she's dragged through the seven gates of hell really shows how little Adric's death has affected his concern for his companions one iota.
And I sorely doubt the apologists of Warriors of the Deep would be so quick to exonerate the Doctor of his insane appeasement methods if they'd led to the deaths of one of his companions at the hands of the genocidal lizards he'd been sucking up to. Let's say if Tegan had to take a bullet for him instead of Preston because he'd long refused to use the gas. Earthshock is the tragedy of the Doctor who failed to save his companion.
Warriors of the Deep retcons him into a Doctor who wouldn't have lifted a finger to try. But sadly, the Fifth Doctor was conceived only to fail, not to learn from his failures or grow from them.
After Warriors of the Deepthere's no possibility of character growth for him, only character contradictions. Which inspired the NA writers throwing the Sixth Doctor under the bus rather than his impotent predecessor. Of course whilst Earthshock was fresh, spontaneous and dynamic, its Season 21 successors were just tired and depressing and leery, and far from feeling like a race against time, they felt like just killing time by having the Doctor uselessly procrastinate until everyone's dead.
Perhaps it's just 80s fandom's nature to hold 'iconic' downbeat endings over everything else. Regardless of whether the apathy and character incompetence surrounding them supported the notion that the characters were affected or changed in any way by the event. Regardless of how stupid they had to be to not see it coming and not take obvious preventative measures for it.
Thus one of popular culture's greatest intellectual heroes became reduced to a complete moron, and Doctor Who became a string of incoherent charmless tokenisms that fandom just accepted.
Eric Saward can just about pull off that more superficial formula and the art of visual storytelling. When his focus is on his own work and he keeps his fingers out of other's scripts. JNT stories are usually a drunken car crash. This is a rare example of a sober and vivid one. The Cybermen leaving their own troops on the freighter they then deliberately crash has always bothered me and made little sense.
But otherwise this story mostly coheres, and Saward's handle on the regulars is anomalously strong. Opening with Adric wanting to return home does actually give poignancy to how he'll never get home. Unlike in Resurrection of the Daleksthe presence of the doomsday bomb actually gives the Doctor a good reason to stay in one location, procrastinating on chasing the Cybermen's ship, and keeps him thinking actively to save the day.
As for his killing of the Cyberleader, I think it's handled very well. The situation demands immediate action against an overpowering enemy. The Doctor's first shot is one of self-defence, the next are the Doctor being aware of the Cyberleader's agonies and trying to make this as quick and painless a death as possible. That's very Doctorish in my book. In stark contrast to Eric's later Resurrection of the Dalekswhere the Doctor uses corrosive viral weapons to inflict needlessly prolonged, agonising deaths upon his enemies.
This is the exception that disproves the rule. Proving you could reassert suspense via establishing a stronger adversity, not by senselessly weakening the hero. This actually tests the Doctor to his limits rather than forcing false limits onto him. He relies on all his quickest wits whilst they're still present to jam the bomb or make the antimatter barricade.
The Doctor loses with a valiant fight to an enemy that's actually worthy of beating him. An enemy that briefly seemed worthy of superseding the Daleks, if later Cybermen stories hadn't treated them with contempt.
It's so successful at making the Doctor fallible, it begs the question why it kept needing to be done again. It's generally accepted that Classic Who practically owed its post-Tom Baker survival to this story. Mainly because it's impossible or even too depressing to imagine the era without it. But if you look closely, you can see how these became the very foundations 80s Doctor Who was built on, and how inevitable it was that it was all going to quickly fall apart. Have You No Emotions Sir?
He may have been the producer of the show when it was cancelled inbut early on as producer he knew what he could do to get the ratings high with a shock factor to keep people watching.
Earthshock is one of several times Nathan-Turner put in a shock and is arguably the most successful instance of this happening, as there are two shocks present in this story. The first comes at the end of Part One, where it is revealing the return of the Cybermen after almost seven years being off the screens and fifteen years since they had a good story. They have had a total facelift from their previous appearance, wearing more of a loose-fitting suit with a chest piece and heads with the human chins showing.
They may look like cheap androids, but there are subtle signs of their lost humanity that make me love their design almost as much as those seen in The Tenth Planet and The Tomb of the Cybermen. The plot of the story sees the Cybermen infiltrating a freighter to crash it into the Earth. Why bother having Andriods guarding which draws attention to a bomb being there? How do you smuggle 15, Cybermen aboard a space freighter?
The more you think about it the more everything collapses. There's also other flaws such as The Cybermen being a bit too conversational and there's a bit too much exclamation of " Excellent " coming from the Cyberleader However Despite the confusing nature of the episode one cliffhanger - I thought The Cybermen were behind the hatch - it is one of the most impacting and shocking cliffhangers in the history of the show and caused my jaw to literally hit the floorhelped by the fact the production team managed to keep secret the Cybermen making a reappearance.
Director Peter Grimwade manages to craft great tension and mood out of Saward's script and while never being as effective as a masterwork such as The Web Of Fear keeps the audience on the edge of their seat It also signals the end of Matthew Waterhouse in the role of Adric who literally goes out with a bang.
Waterhouse is considered as one of the worst actors to have played a companion but seeing him in the last couple of stories one instinctively feels that he was poorly served by the scripts. Originally a juvenile delinquent from E-Space come maths genius one can't help thinking he would have worked much better if he'd been written as a naive innocent abroad type character which would have better suited Waterhouse's rather effete performance.
It also took some guts for the production team to kill off a long running character and unlike today in the show death is forever. It is heavily flawed where the plotting is concerned and unfortunately these flaws become more pronounced on repeat viewing. It is also very manipulative.
None of this really matters however and if you saw this in then like me you'd probably be watching the end credits in a state of shock 1 out of 1 found this helpful.