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.