I’m not sure there’s too much to be added to the various reviews of Doctor Who’s series 8 finale Death in Heaven. It was a wonderful way to end one of the programme’s best ever seasons; one in which Doctor and companion have been magnificent, both together and apart.
I’m sure the debate regarding Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman’s position in their respective “best ever” categories is already raging; however I’m not going to get overly involved. The truth is that it’s almost impossible to compare the classic series with the current... stories seen through the eyes of a child, compared with those watched through an adult’s corrective lenses. All I will say is that over the past decade – and given some top quality stories and (mercifully) understandable plot lines – Capaldi’s incarnation and Clara stand head and shoulders above their undeniably illustrious predecessors.
The cyber-return of the Brigadier, the influence of Danny Pink on proceedings, a female “Master”, the touching parting lies of the main protagonists... all helped to bring the eighth series to a hugely impressive end, but along with all the high points and “tributes”, I want to acknowledge what I viewed as Steven Moffat’s nod to the 1960s Cybermen....
Notwithstanding the metallic march through London in Dark Water, We saw (what I believe to be) an Invasion helmet from 1968, casually thrown onto a twenty-first century road by the Brigadier’s daughter Kate. The references to the Tomb of the Cybermen were obvious – both in the funeral home, and also in the tanks during the story’s first part. The reveal of a “hidden” Cyberman (the late Danny Pink) tossing aside a sheet and climbing down from a bed was clearly a reworking of the episode 2 cliff hanger from The Moonbase... “Did they search in here...?”
But for me the most memorable moment was unseen – and probably missed by many. It was one short line spoken by the radio reporter during the funeral home scene. Stories of the silver giants’ appearance had been received and, I quote: “Similar reports are coming in from all over the world”.
And this from The Tenth Planet in 1966:
WIGNER: “Yes, General?”
CUTLER: “The expected [Cyberman] attack, sir. They’ve been sighted in force.”
WIGNER: “Yes, I know. We’ve just got reports. They are coming in from all over the world.”
Almost identical... What a thoughtful, understated tribute to one of Doctor Who’s most enduring adversaries.
In many ways it has been a series where lines, expressions, gestures - the little things so easily overlooked - have elevated some very strong stories to compelling drama of the very highest quality. Christmas can’t come soon enough.