Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cyber Bullying: A Doctor Who Book Report on The Cybermen

The Cybermen were first introduced in 1968's serial, "The Tenth Planet," which has the distinction of being the first serial to see a Doctor regenerate.  Somehow, they took hold of people's imaginations so much that, even though they are practically just Daleks with legs, they developed enough popularity to become part of what I call the "unholy trinity" of Doctor Who villains:  The Daleks, The Master, and The Cybermen.  These three villains have been used more than any other villain.

The fascination with the Cybermen probably began because their original design
make them look like a horrifying early prototype for The Human Centipede.
When Doctor Who was revived in 2005, Russell T. Davies had a lot of very good ideas about how to bring in new fans, not just please the old ones.  He really seemed to have learned from the 1996 movie, which did a great job of alienating both old and potential new fans.  The most famous change he made was the Great Time War, which just tossed aside a lot of the really long back story that had now been built up for both the Time Lords and the Daleks, allowing them to slowly reintroduce that back story.  The Cybermen, however, had no part in the Great Time War, and so another way had to be devised to bring back the Cybermen while erasing their backstory.  And, to be honest, the Cybermen's story had become far more overly complicated than either the Time Lords' or the Daleks'.  So Davies, who I always said was a better show runner than a writer, decided to do this by going to an alternate universe to create a new race of Cybermen.  These two separate sets of Cybermen are known by two different sets of names:  The Doctors' Universe/Pete's World Cybermen.  That one is a little bit bulky.  Instead, I like to refer to them by their more simple names.  The classic series Cybermen are "Mondas Cybermen" and the new series Cybermen are "Cybus Cybermen."  I'll explain.

Once upon a time, Earth had an identical twin planet called Mondas which had existed right along side Earth.  The only difference between Earth and Mondas was that the continents were flipped upside down.  Yet, while Earth remained in its orbit, Mondas drifted away, somewhere referred to as "the edge of space."  Without the heat of the sun, Mondasians needed to find ways to adapt using technology.  Over time, they eventually got to the point of replacing their own body parts with machines.

In 1986, Mondas had an energy crisis, so they found a way to pilot their planet back to Earth so they could invade it and take their energy to power Mondas.  This backfired as the energy overloaded their planet and destroyed it.  Many of the Cybermen's subsequent plans were designed to try to reshape time to save their own planet.

The Cybermen, desperate to find a new homeworld, found the planet Telos, which seemed to be abandoned.  The native inhabitants of Telos, the Cryons, could not live in temperatures above zero.  For a long time, Telos was cold enough for them.  But one day, the planet began to warm up to a sweltering still-cold-enough-for-a-human-to-freeze-their-tits-off and the Cryons had to build refrigeration units underground.  The Cybermen, who are dicks, came in, killed most of the Cryons, and used their refrigeration units to keep Cybermen that were in suspended animation.

The Mondas Cybermen had one really easy weakness to exploit.  They were essentially allergic to gold.  That's right.  Somehow, gold clogged up their respiratory systems and they choked to death.  This resulted in someone developing a defense against the Cybermen in the form of a "glitter gun" that shot gold at them.  Not kidding.

A website for a small group of Cybermen who actually prefer to be covered in gold glitter.

Now, we all know that, in the new series, the Cybermen are completely different.  They were started in a parallel universe where most things end up strikingly similar, but essentially different, to our universe.  Fuck free will.  This allowed a new race of Cybermen, the Cybus Cybermen, to be created, who would come across the void to invade our universe.  While the Doctor thought he got rid of them in "Doomsday" and "The Next Doctor," he seems to have failed.  There seem to still be Cybus Cybermen in this universe.

Starting around "A Good Man Goes to War" the Cybermen stopped featuring the Cybus logo on their chests.  This means one of two things:  either they're Mondas Cybermen, or they just decided that they have no loyalty to their creator anymore.  I think it's more likely that the current series' writers have an attitude of "Fuck it."  They're just Cybermen.  They don't care to specify which type of Cybermen they are.

The Doctor Who wiki, The TARDIS Data Core, says that this week's episode, "Nightmare in Silver," will feature Mondas Cybermen. The funny thing about a wiki is that, as long as you link to a source, people will assume that your information is correct and won't delete it.  Nobody bothers to check to make sure that the site that you linked to for your source actually gives the information you claimed that it does.  The link that supposedly proves that these are supposed to be Mondas Cybermen leads you to a page about the episode that mentions nothing of the sort.  I'd fix it if I knew how to delete such things.  So, it's possible that we're looking forward to a great Mondas Cybermen episode.  It's possible that we're looking forward to a great Cybus Cybermen episode.

What I'm certain about, though, is that it will be a great episode.

Moffat said he brought in Gaiman for this one because Moffat wanted to make the Cybermen scary again.  If "The Doctor's Wife" is any indication, when Gaiman thinks he's being terrifying, he's actually created something that's really just creepy.  I'll settle for creepy, though.  It's Neil Mother Fucking Gaiman.  It has to be awesome.

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