Halo – Top 10 Covenant Vehicles

From the iconic Ghost to the elusive Shadow, we rank the Top 10 Covenant Vehicles in Halo here at Sacred Icon

The Covenant have a lot of vehicles, and each and every one is unique in its own way, which is one of the things that makes Halo so fun to play. Since Halo: Combat Evolved players have been thrilled at the prospect of stealing an alien hovercraft, and inevitably driving it off a cliff. After all, driving a tank is all well and good, but driving an alien tank is better. As such, welcome to the Top 10 Covenant Vehicles in Halo, starting with:

#10 – Shadow

A Covenant transport vehicle that only features in one level of Halo 2, the Shadow is the ‘Bus’ of the Covenant, used to transport squads of soldiers around. The Shadows that players face in the Halo 2 level Metropolis are adapted for transporting Ghosts, and opportunistic players will destroy the Shadow’s cargo before it can be used. However, Shadows do feature a massive heavy plasma cannon for defence, so the task is not easy. The Shadow very nearly didn’t appear on this list, primarily due to the fact that it isn’t actually driveable by players, however the plasma cannon can be manned if the vehicle’s crew is killed, and those who do so will find that it can fire at a comically fast rate when operated by a human, making it quite a destructive tool if the chance to use it ever arises.

#9 – Chopper

A Brute scout and rapid attack vehicle that is as menacing as it is unsafe, the Chopper was born from a desire of the developers to give the Brutes more of an identity as a race, and as this is their primary vehicle, it embodies everything that the Brutes are known for. The massive front wheel that doubles as a ram is unwieldy and offers no protection to the driver but is a devastating weapon, capable of destroying a Warthog. The Chopper is a fun vehicle to drive, but it is monstrous in its appearance and would probably be the most uncomfortable vehicle to use for transport on this entire list.

#8 – Spirit

The original Covenant dropship featured in Halo: Combat Evolved, the Spirit is immediately recognisable for its tuning-fork shaped design, and was the Covenant’s mainline dropship before the Phantom became prominent. It is undoubtedly fast, able to clear entire valleys in seconds, but its unwieldy design makes it a less than ideal form of transport. Since the player cannot drive this vehicle, we never get the chance to see how this ship performs, but Captain Keyes is able to use deftly fly this ship and even use the prongs as battering rams to squash a pair of Hunters, which gives us enough of an idea of the capabilities of this vessel. However, with with only one plasma turret for defence, the Spirit doesn’t stand a chance of beating the Phantom.

#7 – Wraith

The Covenant’s main tank, the Wraith comes in several variants, the most common being the standard plasma mortar version. This weapon might seem an odd choice for a main battle tank, as the Human equivalent, the Scorpion, is arguably more effective with its direct and to-the-point 90mm cannon. But the Wraith’s weapon is not to be underestimated, as many inattentive players who fail to heed its characteristic hollow wail will be taken by surprise as fiery blue death rains down from the sky. Driving this vehicle is fun too, although the tank is very slow. Some variants come with a secondary gunner position to fend off boarders, and the infamous Anti-Air Wraith is a completely different variety altogether, featuring double Fuel Rod Cannons. Through a glitch players can drive this Wraith in the campaign of Halo 3 several times, and it proves incredibly effective.

#6 – Spectre

The Covenant’s answer to the Warthog, the Spectre is a fast and nimble vehicle designed for rapid attack and scouting. Its design means that it can hold a driver, a main gunner and two passengers, one more than the Warthog can, meaning that if both riders are equipped with heavy weapons, the Spectre can pack quite a punch. Its E-brake and excellent hover systems mean that it is even capable of driving up walls, provided the angle isn’t too steep, which is a fun and unique feature. The only thing that really lets the Spectre down is its light armour, and the fact that it only ever appeared in one game.

Honourable Mention – Prowler

It is also worth mentioning the Prowler, the Brute answer to the Spectre that appears in Halo 3. This vehicle, like the Chopper, is designed to embody Brute design philosophy, so all the emphasis is on the front ram for maximum damage. Unlike the Spectre, the Prowler’s turret is at the front, meaning it does offer some protection for the driver from forward-facing attacks. However, the Prowler’s driver is dangerously exposed from all other angles, meaning the vehicle can be stranded with a well-placed sniper shot, leaving the exposed gunner as the next logical target.

#5 – Ghost

One of the Covenant’s most iconic vehicles, the Ghost is a common sight in Halo games, usually driven by an Elite but occasionally by Brutes, Grunts and the occasional opportunistic Marine. Fast and highly manoeuvrable, the Ghost is the perfect one-man scouting vehicle, and its broad front armour shields the driver from forward facing attacks. However, it is vulnerable to attacks from the side, and some models can be critically damaged by a single shot to the exposed turbine on the side. Regardless, the Ghost is a fun vehicle to drive that handles very well and features powerful armaments in its two front plasma cannons.

#4 – Banshee

Any veteran Halo player would recognise the tell-tale wail of the Banshee as it arcs down for an attack run, as this light air vehicle is the Covenant’s primary airborne attack craft and often escorts dropships or guards large Covenant targets from the air. Later Halo games feature vast aerial dogfights against Banshees, and Halo: Reach even introduced a space variant, meaning that wherever the Covenant is airborne, Banshees are likely involved. There have been many variants of the Banshee over the years, with some focusing on speed and manoeuvrability and some featuring heavy fuel rod bombs.

#3 – Revenant

This fast attack vehicle is the ultimate Covenant cruising machine. Essentially a Covenant sports car, the Revenant combines the speed and agility of the Ghost with the punch of a tank, featuring a ‘mini-Wraith’ medium plasma mortar that lacks the raw power of the Wraith’s heavier version but is more than capable of mopping up other light vehicles. The Revenant features room for a single passenger, half that of the Spectre, but the Revenant is arguably better armoured and gives the driver control of the main weapon.

#2 – Phantom

The Covenant’s primary dropship, the Phantom is an ideal flight machine that features multiple armaments of either plasma turrets or plasma cannons, is capable of flying in space, transports entire squads of soldiers into battle, and can either deploy its troops via gravity lift or, to save time, open the passenger compartment up and drop the troops directly onto the battlefield. The Phantom’s only weakness is the engine turbines, which can buckle under concentrated heavy weapons fire and in some games the dropships can be destroyed due to a chain reaction if enough damage is done to the propulsion systems. Sangheili Phantoms are even fitted with active camouflage, meaning they can go completely invisible at a moment’s notice.

#1 – Scarab

The ultimate ground assault vehicle, the Scarab is a behemoth four-legged walker that comes in several varieties, each more deadly than the last. The most common design is the one seen in Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, which sports a huge rear-mounted anti-air gun and a main beam cannon capable of ripping through vehicles. This model can be destroyed, however, if enough damage is done to the leg joints and the vehicle is boarded, as enough firepower directed at the power core will cause an overload. However, the version seen in Halo 2 towers above its weaker counterpart, is completely indestructible and sports two heavy plasma cannons and a main beam emitter capable of tearing through buildings. Not only that, but it features a more enclosed main control room and space for transporting dozens of soldiers, making it the perfect vehicle for almost any terrain.

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Halo – Top 10 Covenant Ship Classes

One of the most instantly recognisable aspects of Halo besides Master Chief and the Halos themselves is the Covenant. The bright and ornate weapons, the multicoloured armour of the alien soldiers and particularly the sleek curved metallic purple aesthetic of the ships and technology that define the Covenant have become closely tied to Halo’s identity. Covenant ships, in particular, have become iconic staples of the franchise, as both terrifying adversaries and, in recent games, powerful occasional allies. Welcome to the Top Ten Covenant Ship Classes, starting with:

#10 – CRS-class Light Cruiser

A small and compact version of the familiar Covenant cruiser design, the CRS-class light cruiser is a tiny cousin of the CCS-class battlecruiser, the mainline Covenant warship during the war against mankind. Despite this, humans didn’t see much of the CRS-class during the war, as it was primarily used for patrol and support duties within the borders of Covenant space. It was only following the Great Schism and the fall of the Covenant, when opportunistic Sangheili and Jiralhanae warlords began pillaging former Covenant space for assets, that the CRS-class began to see widespread use as a mainline warship. Jul ‘Mdama’s Covenant Remnant faction in particular made use of this kind of ship in its fleet, meaning it was primarily seen during the events of Halo 4.

#9 – Sangheili Man O’ War

This tiny post-Covenant warship was used extensively by Covenant Remnant factions following the fall of the Covenant as the design dates back centuries. Due to a shortage of mainline Covenant ships after years of infighting, various Sangheili factions began to manufacture their own ships from traditional designs updated with modern technology. The result is a compact light warship that makes full use of Sangheili mastery of warship design coupled with the power of the reverse-engineered Forerunner technology of the Covenant, and at present the full capabilities of this warship have not been fully explored. The Arbiter used a fleet of them as escort ships during the Battle of Sunaion on Sanghelios, suggesting that they run rings around traditional Covenant warships due to their nimble mobility.

#8 – SDV-class Heavy Corvette

A small ship used primarily for escort duties, the most famous SDV-class heavy corvette to Halo players is the Ardent Prayer, the ship that Jorge-052 and Noble Six hijack and use to destroy the Supercarrier Long Night of Solace during Halo: Reach. During that mission we get a detailed look at the inside of an SDV-class with key areas like the main hangar, the bridge and the communications room being explored in-depth by Noble Six. The SDV-class also proves that it is more than capable of taking on and destroying a Human Frigate, as the UNSC Savannah meets an unfortunate end during ship-to-ship combat with the Ardent Prayer after a fierce fight. SDV-class Corvettes saw more use as a mainline warship after the war, as Covenant Remnant factions began to grow desperate and push escort craft into a more mainline role following the Great Schism.

#7 – CPV-class Heavy Destroyer

This distinctive Covenant vessel was a medium-sized destroyer used for ship-to-ship combat and the arduous planet-glassing process that often following Covenant military victories. As such, they became a common target for UNSC firepower and thousands of these ships met their end during the war, though their heavy armour and deadly weapons meant that many went down with several kills to their name. Though they are not seen as commonly during the main Halo games, as infantry tended to see more of the carrier class ships like the CAS that were focused on troop deployment, the CPV-class Heavy Destroyer would have been a common sight for UNSC Navy personnel in space battles, and they were almost as feared as the CCS-class battlecruiser.

#6 – Sangheili Brigantine

An ancient, massive class of carrier used by the Sangheili during their early pre-Covenant years, the Brigantine design was re-purposed following the fall of the Covenant to serve as a replacement for the increasingly rare CAS-class Carrier. Ironically, the Bringantine is actually larger and more powerful than its Covenant-era predecessor, and as the Elites have built the new ships to modern specifications, including Covenant technology, the Brigantine is a powerful ship to contend with. Luckily for humanity, it would seem that most of these ships currently belong to the Swords of Sanghelios under the command of the Arbiter, although Cortana’s Created may be manufacturing more of these ships for their new Covenant Remnant allies.

#5 – Sangheili Carrack

This large capital ship was once a mainline of pre-Covenant Sangheili fleets, but fell out of use as a warship following the War of Beginnings and would later serve as merchant ships. In modern times, the Carrack design has been reclaimed by ex-Covenant warlords for their fleets, so it is seeing widespread use for the first time in centuries, albeit a version upgraded with modern technology. Unlike modern Covenant ships, older Sangheili ships tended to be single-purpose, but the Carrack is an example of a multi-purpose ship that serves as both a carrier and a cruiser. This is likely the main design of post-Covenant warship that players will encounter in Halo: Infinite, although depending on how much time has passed since the events of Halo 5, things may have changed.

#4 – Sangheili Blockade Runner

Of all the ancient Sangheili ship design that have been resurrected by post-Covenant Sangheili factions, the Blockade Runner is perhaps the one that most closely resembles the later Covenant-era warships, suggesting that this is the ship that would go on to most heavily inspire the shipwrights of the Covenant. The model of Sangheili Blockade Runner seen in the games is the Hekar Taa-pattern design, a versatile corvette with powerful armaments that is known for its fast and aerodynamic design. The Swords of Sanghelios made extensive use of this design of ship around the time of Halo 5: Guardians.

#3 – CSO-class Supercarrier

A behemoth of a Covenant carrier, the CSO-class is perhaps most famous for its role in the Fall of Reach, as the supercarrier Long Night of Solace was only destroyed at the cost of Jorge, several Sabres and a UNSC Frigate, and dozens more appeared through Slipspace immediately following this, signalling imminent doom for the forces on the planet below. Visually, this class of supercarrier resembles an up-scaled version of the more commonly seen CAS-class carriers, although it dwarfs the vast majority of other Covenant ships as this gigantic capital ship is capable of transporting entire occupation forces single-handed, meaning a fleet of them is more than capable of taking on an entire solar system of enemy defences. The only downside to the CSO-class is, perhaps, its unwieldiness – and the fact that it presents such a massive target means that it is vulnerable to sneak attacks like the one Noble team executed against the Long Night of Solace.

#2 – CAS-class Carrier

The most common type of carrier seen during the Human-Covenant war, the CAS-class carrier struck fear into the hearts of any Human for decades, as the sight of these ships in the sky usually signalled imminent death. The bulk of Covenant infantry were transported via CAS-class carriers, so they often presented a valuable target for the UNSC. Perhaps the most famous ship of this class is the Shadow of Intent, a carrier that was stolen from the Brutes by none other than Shipmaster Rtas ‘Vadum and used as his flagship for the waning days of the Human-Covenant war, transporting Human forces to the Ark and evacuating all Human and Elite forces once the battle was over. After the war, the CAS=class carrier was a sought-after asset, as so many had been destroyed during the Great Schism that they were now exceedingly rare.

#1 – CCS-class Battlecruiser

The mainline Covenant warship for much of its existence, the CCS-class battlecruiser was a formidable warship capable of taking on almost any UNSC ship single-handed and prevailing. These ships were designed to be multipurpose vessels for both space combat and planetary occupation, so they were fast, heavily armed and able to transport hundreds of ground troops. Though many were used during the Human-Covenant war to devastate Human fleets, they were a rare sight after the Covenant’s fall. During the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, two missions are primarily set in the belly of the CCS-class cruiser Truth and Reconciliation, presenting a unique opportunity to explore the interior of this iconic Covenant vessel. Overall, though it may not be as massive as the CSO-class or as sought-after as a CAS-class, the CCS-class battlecruiser is undoubtedly the go-to Covenant warship for its speed, versatility and powerful weapons. Sadly, it is likely that no more of these ships will be seen in future Halo games, as the Great Schism saw many destroyed. However, this ship will always be what fans immediately think of when people think of ‘Covenant Warships’.

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Star Wars – Top 10 Jedi Council Members (Clone Wars Era)

In the waning days of the Galactic Republic, some extremely powerful Jedi took seats on the Jedi Council, particularly as the war began to take its toll on the Jedi Order. At the height of its power, the Jedi Council counted several of the most powerful force users to ever live among their number,  and even Darth Sidious himself would think twice about taking on the entire Council at once – hence the need for Order 66. However, there was also a distinct power hierarchy among the Council, and several members had specific duties that gave them particular importance among the Jedi. As such, this list will rank the Top 10 Jedi Council Members from the Clone Wars era.

10 – Anakin Skywalker

anakin.jpgAlthough possibly the most powerful Force user to sit on the Council, Anakin’s low rank on this list is due to how little time he actually served on the Council, and justified by the fact that he would inevitably betray them and play a key role in the destruction of the Jedi Order. However, Anakin’s raw power does make him a formidable Council Member in his own right, and although he was not granted the rank of Master, chances are had he not betrayed the Jedi he would have gone on to be one of the Council’s most powerful leading members.

9 – Yarael Poof

yaraelA prominent member of the Council before the Clone Wars, Yarael sacrificed his life to save Coruscant from a dangerous terrorist group just before the conflict started, but was still considered among the Council’s greatest members even afterwards. A master of the Affect Mind ability, Poof was known to occasionally use the force in ways that other Jedi would frown upon – such as influencing the minds of bullies to make them flee in terror from their harmless victims – but was overall a great addition to the Council and a far better choice than his successor, Coleman Trebor.

8 – Saesee Tiin

tiin.jpgA powerful Jedi who would often assist Mace Windu throughout the Clone Wars, Saesee Tiin was a renowned pilot who played a pivotal role in the Space Battle above Coruscant, during which he captured a Separatist capital ship with help from a battalion of EVA troopers. However, Saesee’s downfall came at the hands of Darth Sidious, and he became one of the first victims of the Great Jedi Purge when he was struck down by the Sith Lord during their duel.

7 – Kit Fisto

fisto.jpegAppointed to the Jedi Council during the Clone Wars, Kit Fisto was a renowned duellist and his amphibious nature made him an ideal choice for defending water-based worlds such as Mon Calamari. Often deployed on dangerous missions, Fisto was one of the few Jedi to survive and encounter with General Grievous, and his lightsaber was fitted with a second crystal to refine the blade to allow it to work underwater, making him one of the key Jedi in the Clone Wars. Like Saesee Tiin, Fisto would meet his death at the hands of Darth Sidious, but of the three Jedi Masters Mace Windu brought with him to fight Sidious, Fisto survived the longest in the duel, proving his skill in combat.

6 – Plo Koon

plo.jpgA Kel Dor from Dorin, Plo Koon was known to be among the most compassionate of the Jedi in the Order, and was responsible for the induction of Ashoka Tano into the ranks of the Jedi as well as saving the lives of many Clones during the War, believing them to be people with rights rather than expendable infantry. His key achievements during the Clone Wars include the discovery of the Separatist flagship the Malevolence and the retrieval of the long-lost Council Members Sifo-Dyas’ lightsaber.

5 – Ki-Adi Mundi

ki-adi.png

A famous Cerean who was among the few Jedi allowed to take wives due to the rarity of his species, Ki-Adi Mundi was certainly one of the most powerful force users of the era and was a skilled duellist, able to hold his own against the most effective Jedi Hunter of the era, General Grievous. Although he supported the Cerean policy of isolationism, Mundi himself was happy to play a key role in Galactic affairs, provided that his people be left alone, and he would tragically die at the hands of his own Clone Troopers following the execution of Order 66.

4 – Shaak Ti

shaak-ti.jpegAmong the few Jedi to survive Order 66, Shaak Ti often played a defensive role during the Clone Wars, assigned to protect the vital cloning facilities on Kamino and then later reassigned to protect the Jedi Temple in the waning days of the war. Surviving several encounters with General Grievous as well as being among the few survivors of the catastrophic Battle of Hypori, Shaak Ti was clearly among the most powerful of the Jedi, and her activities on Felucia following the Rise of the Empire were pervasive enough to mobilise the force-sensitive natives of the planet against the Sith.

3 – Mace Windu

mace-windu_b35242e5.jpegServing as Grand Master of the Order for a time, Mace Windu was considered the most powerful Jedi by many, and used his unique lightsaber style as well as rare abilities that he could channel from the dark side to further the aims of the Light. Although Windu was certainly unique among the Jedi, he made no secret of this, even fashioning a purple lightsaber to distinguish himself from his comrades. Despite utilising several dark side abilities, Windu was seemingly immune to temptation, although his instinctive mistrust of Anakin would eventually lead to the Jedi’s undoing.

2 – Obi-Wan Kenobi

obi.jpgFamous for being the Master of not only Anakin but also Luke Skywalker, and a former pupil of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan was an ideal choice to sit on the Council following the onset of the Clone Wars as his skills as a diplomat were legendary, leading him to be given the nickname ‘the Negotiator’, a name he would later bestow upon his flagship in the War. During the Clone Wars, Kenobi proved a key asset to the Council and participated in many battles on planets as important as Geonosis, Naboo, Coruscant and Kamino, as well as being the only Jedi who was able to defeat his former pupil, Anakin Skywalker. One of the few Jedi to survive the Purge, Obi-Wan played a key role in inducting Luke Skywalker into the frail remains of the Jedi Order, thus ensuring that the Empire would one day be defeated.

1 – Yoda

yodaThe last of the Jedi Council to perish following the collapse of the Order, Yoda was among the Jedi’s oldest members and served as Grand Master of the Order for years before the Clone Wars. Wise and powerful, Yoda was skilled in almost every aspect of the Force, from meditation and premonition to lightsaber skills. He duelled many of the most powerful Sith during the Clone Wars, including Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress and even Darth Sidious himself, and was a key strategist during the conflict. Showing a particular interest in protecting the native wildlife of worlds caught up in the war, Yoda used his friendship with native peoples like the Wookiees to ensure that the limited numbers of Clones assigned to defend Kashyyyk were reinforced against Separatist attacks. Following the war, Yoda went into exile on Dagobah and continued the training of Luke Skywalker after the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Once he had passed on all the knowledge and training that he could to Luke, Yoda promptly died, becoming one with the force and, as the Jedi Council’s last surviving Member, effectively ending the institution. However, Yoda’s teachings proved instrumental in allowing Luke to turn Anakin Skywalker back to the light, destroy the Sith and save the Jedi.

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Doctor Who – Top 10 Big Finish Cyberman Stories

Big Finish has been producing the Doctor Who Main Range (formerly called the Monthly Range) since 1999 and is therefore fast approaching its 20th anniversary of creating Doctor Who audio dramas. Big Finish have not produced as many Cyberman audios as they have Dalek ones, but after 20 years of production, there is still a significant number of excellent Cyberman stories. This article ranks the best of the Big Finish Cyberman stories, starting with:

#10 – The Gathering

Gathering_(Doctor_Who)The Gathering has a strange place in the Cyberman story pantheon in that it doesn’t feature any actual Cybermen, but rather deals with the horrific aftermath of a Cyber incursion. This audio tells the kind of story that would be unlikely to appear in the TV series, and not only because it features some gruesome body horror, but the story also serves as Tegan’s return to the Fifth Doctor’s life after several years, and the focus on this aspect of the story, coupled with the lack of any actual Cybermen, is what puts this instalment at the bottom of the list. However, that is not to say it is a bad story, and it is an audio that Peter Davison fans should definitely check out.

#9 – Last of the Cybermen

dwmr199_last_of_the_cybermen_cover_large.jpgA homage to the Cyber-War plot from the early Cyberman stories, Last of the Cybermen depicts humankind’s final assault on Telos in an effort to wipe out the Cybermen for good. Featuring the Sixth Doctor alongside Second Doctor companions Jamie and Zoe, this audio has many twists and turns and has a terrifying depiction of the conversion process but is somewhat deflated by its pacing issues and underwhelming conclusion. Although it is fun to have Jamie and Zoe back fighting Cybermen, this was done far better in Legend of the Cybermen and as such this audio is further down the list than it would otherwise have been.

#8 – Human Resources

human resources.jpgThe final two-part story to the first series of Eighth Doctor Adventures, Human Resources Parts One and Two are an excellent conclusion to the strong first outing for the Eighth Doctor and new companion Lucie, played by Sheridan Smith. The story arc of the series is brought to a satisfying close and the Headhunter also makes an appearance, although the Cybermen themselves do not feature until quite a way through the story – which is good for tension, but means that there is not as much time for Cyber-action as is normally the case in 2-hour long audio plays.

#7 – Hour of the Cybermen

DWMR240_hourofthecybermen_alt_1417.jpgThe newest Cyberman story in the Main Range, Hour of the Cybermen is set on Earth and is a rare example of a Sixth Doctor UNIT story. The premise is simple – the Doctor arrives on Earth only to find that the UK has been afflicted with a terrible drought – but only the UK, not the rest of Europe (perhaps a veiled political message?) and eventually the Cybermen are revealed to be behind it. What makes this audio unique is the fact that it features the return of David Banks and Mark Hardy, who played the Cyber-Leader and Cyber-Lieutenant in Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis. Their iconic voices make this audio a real treat, and although Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic Cyberman voice, it is good to hear the old voices back again.

#6 – Sword of Orion

dwmr017_swordoforion_1417_cover_large.jpgSpeaking of Nicholas Briggs, Sword of Orion was the first story he wrote for the Eighth Doctor and the Cybermen in the Main Range, as well as being the first Cyberman story Big Finish produced. The format is simple but effective, which is particularly good considering the fact that this is Charley Pollard’s first ride in the TARDIS. The Cybermen also get some great action in this story, and their sinister nature is portrayed excellently in several scenes, particularly a gruesome encounter that the Doctor has with a Cyber-conversion plant that has stalled in mid-production = leaving the partly-converted victims to die horribly. Overall, this story is a strong instalment for the Cybermen, but doesn’t quite do enough new with them to warrant being in the top five.

#5 – The Reaping

The_Reaping_coverThe first Sixth Doctor to feature the Cybermen also features Peri, and deals heavily with her family and backstory meaning that those who are not fans of this particular companion may be immediately turned off this story. However, the concept itself is novel, with the idea of a highly futuristic Cyberman turning recently deceased humans into more Cybermen is similar to the concept for the New Series finale Death in Heaven, and that episode’s focus on the companion is also shared by this audio. Peri’s tragic story coupled with some really grisly Cyberman scenes makes this audio a must-listen for fans, particularly since it sets up several elements for both The Harvest and The Gathering.

#4 – Legend of the Cybermen

61lCIfV0rALAs previously mentioned, Legend of the Cybermen is a fantastic story involving the Sixth Doctor alongside Jamie and Zoe, and features the Cybermen invading the Land of Fiction from the Second Doctor story The Mind Robber. For those who haven’t seen that episode, it was essentially introduced as an excuse for the production team to use lots of historical and fantasy props for an episode, but ended up as a psychedelic journey through a crazy land featuring several fictional characters, and in this audio the Cybermen arrive there to convert them all. As the Cybermen work from an angle of total logic, this story depicts a sort of holy war for them, as they try to wipe the ‘scourge’ of fiction from the land.

#3 – The Harvest

dwmr058_theharvest_1417_cover_large.jpgThe first and arguably best of the loose ‘Cyberman Trilogy’ of The Harvest, The Reaping and The Gathering, this Seventh Doctor audio features the debut of Hex as well as the first encounter that the Seventh Doctor and Ace have had with the Cybermen since Silver Nemesis. The story focuses not only on Hex encountering the Doctor and Ace but also the side story of the Cyber-Leader transitioning into a human, something that is fascinating to listen to. With some great dialogue between the Doctor and the three main antagonists of the story, as well as the computer ‘System’, The Harvest is definitely one of the best Cyberman stories in the Big Finish back-catalogue.

#2 – The Silver Turk

20141022095558dwmr153_thesilverturk_1417_cover_largeThough the Eighth Doctor has a fair few Cyberman stories, this is his first and (so far) only encounter with the Mondasian Cybermen. The premise of having Mary Shelley in the TARDIS makes for a fascinating listen, particularly as she begins to feel sympathy for the Cybermen. Over the course of the story, several Mondasian Cybermen are used as marionettes and performers, and although they are somewhat sympathetic, they are also horrifying in their own right, and there are some really creative ideas that come together well in this story – but to give away any more would certainly venture in the territory of spoilers.

Honourable Mention – The Isos Network

dwea0204_theisosnetwork_1417_cover_large.jpgAlthough some fans will be put off by the more traditional ‘talking book’ style of the audio adventures of earlier Doctors, there are some genuine gems in amongst the catalogues of the first three Doctors. The Isos Network is an excellent bridge between the final two Second Doctor Cyberman episodes, and although there are some strange concepts included in this story, such as giant sentient slugs, the Cybermen are still fantastic in this story and the voices in particular are excellent.

#1 – Spare Parts

dwmr034v_spareparts_1417_cover_largeThe top spot, however, goes to Spare Parts, a story that serves as the origin story for the Mondasian Cybermen and has several links with the final First Doctor story, The Tenth Planet. Pitting the more human and fallible Fifth Doctor against the Genesis of the Cybermen was a fantastic move, as it sets up a dark and gritty tale that gives Genesis of the Daleks a run for its money, and that’s saying something. The gloomy world of Mondas with its desperate, hopeless inhabitants is countered by the down-to-Earth and optimistic Hartman family, and their tragic story helps drive the emotional weight of the story. The Cybermen themselves are at their best in this story, creepy and intimidating, and Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic impression of the original Mondasian Cybermen voices. Filling out its four parts nicely, this audio is a great jumping-on point for new listeners and is perhaps one of the greatest Big Finish audios of all time.

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Doctor Who – Top 10 Big Finish Dalek Stories

Big Finish has been producing the Doctor Who Main Range (formerly called the Monthly Range) since 1999 and is therefore fast approaching its 20th anniversary of creating Doctor Who audio dramas. In the 20 years that these audio plays have been in production, Big Finish has expanded their Doctor Who releases further than the Main Range to include many standalone series like the Eighth Doctor Adventures and the Dalek Empire series with a vast array of excellent Dalek stories to listen to. However, there are definitely some that stand out as truly spectacular stories and perhaps even some of the best examples of Doctor Who stories in any format, including the Classic and Modern TV series, and this article ranks the top ten, starting with:

#10 – We Are The Daleks

we are the daleks

Intended as a potential jumping-on point for would-be listeners who felt intimidated by the increasing number of story arcs and continuity related to the Big Finish Main Range, We Are The Daleks aims to tell a self-contained, somewhat familiar and yet entirely new Dalek story, and it achieves all three of these goals and more. Whilst the end result is hardly groundbreaking, and is certainly not as introspective or formula-inverting as some of Big Finish’s other Dalek stories, what fans got with We Are The Daleks was a classic Dalek romp that takes advantage of being set in the 1980s but with the hindsight of knowing what advancements in technology would bring in the 21st century, and the idea of combining Dalek technology with the basic human desire for video games was an ingenious one.

#9 – The Dalek Transaction

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Though it may seem an odd choice to include an audio from the UNIT: The New Series range considering the fact that it is a spinoff, The Dalek Transaction proves that great Dalek stories can be done in any form of Doctor Who media, not just the Doctor-focused ranges. Despite the wider lore surrounding UNIT: The New Series, Big Finish have made it very easy for fans to jump into the series with each box set, and although this audio can only be picked up as part of the UNIT: Encounters box set, you are almost immediately given everything that you need to know to understand the story and the characters. And as far as the story goes, although the idea of a critically damaged Dalek being held prisoner isn’t a new one, this story certainly takes a new and dynamic approach to the concept that pleased many a Dalek fan.

#8 – Blood of the Daleks

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The opening two-parter to the Eighth Doctor Adventures with Sheridan Smith playing new companion Lucie Miller, Blood of the Daleks aims to both introduce the audience to Lucie and the more brooding Eighth Doctor whilst also delivering a fantastic Dalek story. Unsurprisingly this episode has plenty of references to other Doctor Who stories, particularly Dalek stories, as this audio was designed as not only an introduction to new companion Lucie but also to the Eighth Doctor and the idea of Doctor Who audios as a medium, as this was the first episode in a series that Big Finish pushed as a jumping on point for new Doctor Who fans back when the New Series had only just started. As it stands, Blood of the Daleks is a great opener to the Eighth Doctor Adventures and is one of the best audios to use as a means of getting accustomed to the format, for those who have not listened to many before. The relationship between Eight and Lucie is composed perfectly, and there is a great dynamic between them that develops as the plot unfolds.

#7 – Masters of Earth

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This audio peaked the interest of many veteran Dalek fans on its announcement as it features the Sixth Doctor and Peri visiting Earth during the Dalek Occupation, as seen in the famous First Doctor episode The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The idea of the Doctor visiting eras in Dalek history from the Classic show is something that the New Series should definitely work on creating, as it gives some great marketing opportunities as well as setting up innumerable ideas for potential time-travel focused stories. Masters of Earth delivers on this, as whilst its twist is predictable, it does a great job of recreating the feel of Dalek-controlled Earth that fans saw in the 1960s. As this is an audio set later in Peri’s timeline, her character is much more manageable than she appeared in the show, and Peri arguably gets a proper encounter with the Daleks that Revelation of the Daleks tragically denied her.

#6 – Order of the Daleks

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A recent outing for the Sixth Doctor and his new companion Constance Clarke, this audio’s eye-catching cover is fitting considering how this audio stands out among many of its peers. Make no mistake, Big Finish is still just as fantastic as it always has been, but there has been a recent trend of Big Finish Dalek stories being less experimental than perhaps they once were. Enter Order of the Daleks which manages to not only utilise the concept of a Stained Glass Dalek for a great cover design but also as a great peg for an original and wholly unique Dalek story idea, that being: what would the Daleks do if they crashed on a primitive planet, and were forced to use primitive technology to repair themselves? The result is a great story that showcases how great Colin Baker is as the Doctor but also provides new companion Constance Clarke with an opportunity to make a mark on the Doctor Who timeline – and as audio-only companions go, Constance is every bit as great as classics like Charlie and Lucie. The conversations between the Dalek Commander and the Doctor in this story are brilliant and, without spoiling too much, there is some very good development of the Daleks psychology in this story that any Dalek fan should check out.

#5 – The Dalek Contact/The Final Phase

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The Fourth Doctor Adventures are a fantastic range of audios, particularly since they star one of the most popular Doctors in the history of the show, as well as fan-favourites like Leela, Romana and K-9. However, an interesting aspect of this series is that it manages to replicate one of the many odd quirks of the Fourth Doctor’s era, in that there is a disproportionally small number of Dalek stories considering the sheer number of stories that the Fourth Doctor has, both for TV and in his own audio series. The Fourth Doctor Adventures definitely benefits from this, as the few instances in which the Daleks do appear feel like special occasions and, as special occasions go, The Dalek Contact and The Final Phase are both great Dalek stories, making it especially exciting that it features the Fourth Doctor, Romana I and K-9. For fans of this era of the show, this two-parter is definitely one of the best Dalek stories.

#4 – Enemy of the Daleks

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When discussing types of Dalek stories, particularly with people who are fans of the Daleks specifically, often the stories that try a different ‘take’ on the Daleks are ranked as among the best, and with good reason. As the Daleks are so prolific among the various media formats of Doctor Who, with dozens of episodes and audios, and even a significant number of books, dedicated to them, and as a result after over fifty years of the Daleks it is often those few stories that attempt to somehow redefine or reinvent the Daleks that are considered the best. However, every once in a while a Dalek story comes along that, although playing straight to almost every single Dalek story trope that the show has ever seen, actually manages to be just so good regardless that it is automatically considered a classic. Enemy of the Daleks is definitely one of these, as what is (on the surface at least) a generic Dalek action romp also manages to deliver a surprisingly good story and present some characters with great emotional depth. When describing Enemy of the Daleks, the key phrase to bear in mind is ‘never judge a book by its cover’, although that hardly seems fair as this audio has perhaps one of the coolest covers of any Doctor Who product across all its many mediums.

#3 – The Apocalypse Element

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If it wasn’t good enough that the Sixth Doctor got to face the Daleks so early in his audio appearances, it just so happens that he got to star in what is undeniably the best of the early ‘Dalek Empire’ Main Range audios. For those not in the know, early in their career as Doctor Who audio play producers, Big Finish brought the Daleks to their main series with four totally separate yet also thematically linked Dalek stories – The Genocide Machine, The Apocalypse Element, The Mutant Phase and The Time of the Daleks, and this later went on to drive the plot of their standalone Dalek Empire spinoff series. Each main range story is good in their own right, particularly The Mutant Phase, but The Apocalypse Element is by far the greatest of the bunch. Not only does it feature Lalla Ward as Romana II, but it also delivers a cracking Dalek story that seems to present what has later become the ‘first act’ of the Last Great Time War.

#2 – The Juggernauts

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Something that might have become apparent to Dalek fans reading this list is the fact that, until this point, no Davros stories have appeared. There are several reasons for this – arguably the most important being that there is rarely a good Dalek story that also happens to be a good Davros story, usually one is sacrificed for the other. However, there are always exceptions to this rule, and The Juggernauts is probably the best example of this. Featuring the Sixth Doctor and Mel in the best story that they share, this audio approaches the Davros/Dalek dynamic in a very different light, and presents the idea of Davros, finally deciding that the Daleks have failed him, attempting to create something to counter the Daleks on a galactic scale – the ubiquitous ‘Juggernauts’. For those who are fans of the 1980s Davros stories, this audio is essentially everything that those stories were trying to be, had they not been held back by budget constraints.

Honorable Mention – The Dalek Occupation of Winter

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Although some fans will be put off by the more traditional ‘talking book’ style of the audio adventures of earlier Doctors, there are some genuine gems in amongst the catalogues of the first three Doctors. A recent example of one of these is the superb The Dalek Occupation of Winter, an audio that utilises the fact that this is one of the Doctor’s first encounters with the Daleks to great effect, and is definitely work picking up as an introduction to the different format for those who are not familiar with it.

#1 – Jubilee

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An audio made famous by the distinction of being adapted into the 2005 episode ‘Dalek’, the first appearance of the Daleks in the New Series, Jubilee has a lot more going on than what is presented in the episode it was later adapted into. ‘Dalek’ is arguably just an adaptation of one plot point from Jubilee, and listeners will quickly realise that there is a lot more to Jubilee than is to be expected of a Dalek story. One of this story’s greatest assets is the fact that it features the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn, a Doctor-companion pairing that has rarely been topped in any medium of the franchise. Considering Colin Baker’s rough time on the show and the generally negative reception that his Doctor gets as a result, it is fine poetry that his Doctor happens to be the one that has spearheaded the success of the Doctor Who audios through great characterisation, fantastic scripts and great new companions. However, the greatest thing about Jubilee (and the thing that makes it a great Dalek story) is the Dalek itself and the way it is presented. When listening to this audio all preconceived notions about the Daleks have to be thrown out of the window, as this story depicts a Dalek that demonstrates some definite growth as a character, and without spoiling too much, it is clear where the most emotive moments in ‘Dalek’ were derived from, as Jubilee presents an entirely different yet similarly emotive story that makes the audience feel conflicted feelings of pity for the most pitiless race in the universe.

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Halo MCC – Top 10 ‘Additional Skulls’ That We Want To See Added to MCC

In the most recent update to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 industries did something unexpected, exciting and ridiculous – they added new skulls to Halo: Combat Evolved, supplementing the game with several skulls that expanded its already impressive array of skulls from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary that was released in 2011. Halo: CE now features several skulls that, until now, had only been present in Halo 2, like Anger and Ghost, and several more that are staples of the modern incarnations of Halo, such as Thunderstorm and Tough Luck. However, in the blog post accompanying this update, 343 industries suggested that not only will the other Halo titles in the MCC be receiving new Skulls in the future, but also that there will be brand new skulls added to the game that have never been seen before. Since then, fans have been speculating as to what these skulls might do, so here is a list of the Top 5 ‘Additional Skulls’ that fans want to see in Halo: MCC.

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#10 – Invincible Allies Skull

This one is fairly low on the list because, if it ever exists, it will more than likely be a 0x scoring skull, and rightly so – having invincible allies would make the game very easy, in a similar fashion to infinite ammo, but it cannot be denied that having invincible allies would also be hilarious and would open up opportunities for weird and wacky glitches as it would be possible to blast or whack allies into areas that they would usually not enter. This skull has been brought up several times in relation to Halo: CE, as Marine snipers would often teamkill their allies when firing a rapid sequence of shots at eye-level , if marines walked into their line of fire. This Skull might even open up entire new ways of playing levels – if your Marine allies could survive 343 Guilty Spark on Halo: CE, or your Grunt allies could survive Sacred Icon (the level this blog is named for) on Halo 2.

#9 – Halo 2 Grunt Birthday Party Skull

This one is slightly less likely, but many now forget that in the original Halo 2, the Grunt Birthday Party Skull had a totally different effect to what it became in later Halo games. Originally, activating the skull caused all headshots to turn into plasma grenade explosions, so any time a projectile heads a character’s head – even if they are dead – it creates a plasma explosion. This skull’s effect was likely altered as it did make the game easy, as you could wipe out entire squadrons of Grunts or Flood with a single headshot, but the skull was still fun to use and, like the Grunt Funeral Skull that has somewhat continued its legacy, it can sometimes create lethal deathtraps for the player. If the Grunt Birthday Party Skull in its original form did ever return to MCC, it would likely be implemented under the name ‘Grunt Birthday Party (Classic)’, or perhaps even be given a completely new name. Either way, that feature is sitting dormant in the code of Halo 2: Anniversary and it needs to be released.

#8 – Universal Bandana

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This isn’t an idea for an original or returning Skull, but it is one of the most commonly requested ideas on Halo forums when fans are asked what Skulls they want to see implemented into Halo: MCC, and it is easy to see why. The Bandana Skull allows for exploration and exploitation opportunities in Halo: CE and Halo 2, but is not a feature for Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST or Halo: 4. As far as the hints that 343 industries have dropped in their blog posts are concerned, Universal Bandana will be implemented into Halo: MCC in due course, as it is likely that each game will be updated in separate updates.

#7 – Angry (SPV3)

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Those who haven’t played the excellent SPV3 mod for Halo: CE on the PC will likely not be aware of the Angry Skull, but it is an excellent idea that was implemented to SPV3 but would likely work on any and all Halo games. The Angry Skull turns all previously allied AI against you from the start of the level, meaning you not only have no allies at any time but also have vastly more enemies, and some sections of levels that would usually be a breeze become vicious gauntlets. If this Skull was ever implemented to Halo: MCC, parts like the first section of Crow’s Nest on Halo 3, that features almost 50 Marines, will add to the challenge, particularly if playing on Legendary with other Skulls on. This Skull would likely score around 1.3x, as it would drastically increase the difficulty of many levels.

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#6 – Combat Evolved Vehicle Armour

This Skull would essentially make all vehicles invincible, like they were in Halo: Combat Evolved. As in Halo: CE, this would not apply to certain vehicles like Banshees, Ghosts, Wraiths and likely other enemy vehicles, but would exist to give UNSC vehicles more versatility, especially on Legendary difficulty. This Skull would be non-scoring, likely having a 1x score, although a 0x score is possible. In other Halo titles this Skull would affect the Warthog, Scorpion, Mongoose and Mantis, and perhaps in Halo 2 Arbiter levels it would affect certain Ghosts, Spectres and Wraiths depending on which vehicles are intended for the player in each mission.

#5 – Bottomless Clip

As this feature exists as an option for Halo: Reach and Halo 4 in Forge and other modes, Bottomless Clip would surely not be a difficult feature to program into the campaign. After all, Bandana already gives players infinite ammo, and whilst this Skull would surely have a 0x score, it would make levels like The Storm and Tsavo Highway on Halo 3 a blast (literally). There would be other, practical uses of Bottomless Clip too in several of the Halo campaigns for the purposes of map exploration, boundary breaking, exploits and other shenanigans that Skulls are commonly associated with.

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#4 – Bang Bang

This Skull was from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, but modders have since been able to access it and discover that the effect turns all weapon sounds into a voice recording of a man saying ‘Pew’. Whilst the idea is funny, the execution requires improvement, and if this Skull is to be added it should be on the condition that all weapons get their own individual voice clips that associate with that weapon, of people trying to imitate the weapon sounds of Halo, that would be pretty funny. Grenades would definitely just be someone going ‘Bang!’ though. Since the gameplay change is entirely aesthetic, this Skull would probably just have a 1x score.

#3 – Wuv Woo (Halo Wars)

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This Skull, which until now has only featured in Halo Wars, turns certain weapon projectiles into rainbow lasers with love hearts spewing from them, a sickening display which strikes fear into the hearts of all who see it. In Halo Wars, the Skull only works on Scarab beams, but for Halo: MCC, each type of weapon should have its own comical design – rainbows for Covenant weapons and confetti for UNSC weapons, perhaps? And in Halo 4 the Promethean weapons can fire multi-coloured blasts instead of their usual standard orange. Again, this Skull is aesthetic, so would likely score 1x.

#2 – Third Person

Based on a cut Skull for Halo 3: ODST, Halo: MCC should include a Skull that switches players to a third person perspective, like in Theater mode or when in a vehicle, at all times – meaning players will have to rely on the HUD more in a fashion similar to the original Star Wars: Battlefront. When combined with the Blind Skull, this Skull would open up great opportunities for making Machinimas, and would allow players to player the Halo games again in a whole new way.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Big Head Mode Skull (All enemies and allies have engorged craniums)
  • Halo 2 Black Eye Skull (Meleeing enemies gives you Overshields like in Halo 2)
  • Gamble Skull (You do more damage, but take more damage)
  • Reverse Assassins Skull (All allied NPCs are permanently cloaked)
  • Brawl Skull (Enemies favour charging melee attacks over ranged weapons)
  • Permanent Cloak (Halo CE/Halo 2) – The player is permanently cloaked
  • Overshields (Halo CE/Halo 2) – The player has recharging overshields

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#1 – VISR Skull

This simple but interesting idea for a Skull would essentially combine the ideas implemented into Halo 3: ODST and Halo: SPV3 by giving the player a night-vision mode instead of a flashlight for levels that are bathed in near-total darkness. Although this Skull would be fairly difficult to program, as it would require coding the VISR mode into all 4 mainline Halo games featured on the Master Chief Collection, but the end results would definitely be worth it. After all, the VISR mode was one of the best things about Halo 3: ODST, and bringing that over to the other Halo games would open up new styles of combat for each title, particularly in the Anniversary modes with their dynamic lighting.

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Doctor Who – Top Ten Classic Who Dalek Stories

As Classic Who’s most iconic and enduring monster, the Daleks appeared many times throughout the 1963-1989 run of Doctor Who following their initial appearance in the show’s second aired episode. Over the many eras of Classic Who, the Daleks usually appeared at least once – and although their creator Terry Nation wrote many of their early episodes eventually other writers stepped in with alternate interpretations of the pepper pots and how they should be used on-screen. This, coupled with the fact that Nation himself toyed with many varying ideas related to the Daleks, means that their episodes vary dramatically in tone, setting and content, and this inevitably leads to varying levels of quality to match.

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Honorable Mention – Destiny of the Daleks

Included here as an honorable mention is Destiny of the Daleks, simply because it cannot hold a candle to any of the other Dalek episodes on this list. Despite being written by Terry Nation and featuring Douglas Adams as the script editor, this episode is an absolute shambles in terms of the show’s lore and the depiction of Davros. The worst moments include scenes in which both the Doctor and Davros refer to the Daleks as robotic creatures, and the Daleks contradicting themselves by first claiming that self-sacrifice is illogical before volunteering themselves for a literal suicide mission. The only real upsides are Romana II, the great dialogue and Tom Baker as the Doctor, but otherwise this episode is hardly worth the time.

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10 – Revelation of the Daleks

As previously discussed in How to Fix – Revelation of the Daleks, the Sixth Doctor’s only televised Dalek episode has its issues, particularly related to acting quality, pacing and story focus – it is still an enjoyable watch in its current state, although it does come across as a missed opportunity. The Doctor and Peri barely feature in this episode – and too much screen time is given to a strange DJ – but by far the highlight of the episode is Davros, and Terry Molloy is great as usual. Davros’ scheme is certainly twisted and insane, but what makes Revelation of the Daleks important to Davros fans is how it links two of the best Davros audios, Davros and The Juggernauts, as in the former we get to hear how Davros lays the foundations for his dreadful plans on Necros and the latter describes what happened to Davros immediately following this story, meaning Revelation forms the middle of a bizarre Sixth Doctor and Davros ‘trilogy’. One of the other highlights of this episode is the Glass Dalek, a monstrous creation by Davros that houses a human who has been mutated into a Dalek in much the same way that the Kaleds were in Genesis of the Daleks, laying the groundwork for Davros’ experimentation on the Dalek physiology that would ultimately culminate in the Imperial Daleks from 1988’s Remembrance of the Daleks. Whilst it is undoubtedly an important milestone in 1980s Dalek lore, Revelation does not stand up to many of the other Dalek stories on this list, particularly due to its odd pacing and tone issues that plagued many mid-1980s Doctor Who stories.

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9 – Death to the the Daleks

This episode features one of the best Classic Dalek designs and colour schemes, with the ‘science division’ Daleks featured in this episode sporting a unique silver-and-black finish that is certainly striking, Unfortunately, as far as Classic Dalek episodes go, that’s about the best thing that can be said about this episode – although the idea of using a power drain to force the Daleks and Humans to work together is an interesting one, Death to the Daleks does little more than this, especially considering the fact that the Daleks get alternate weapons before long. Still, the sequences inside the Exxilon City are interesting, and the Exxilons themselves are an interesting species with tribal chants that give this episode a distinct vibe, making Death to the Daleks an iconic episode even if it is not among the best Classic Who Dalek serials. Interestingly, this story is apparently Nicholas Briggs’ favourite Dalek story, and several Big Finish audios pay homage to it including the Fourth Doctor Adventures story The Exxilons and the Dalek Empire story also entitled Death to the Daleks!. One of three Dalek stories in the Third Doctor’s era (ironic, considering Jon Pertwee himself disliked the Daleks as villains) Death to the Daleks ranks as the weakest, although Jon Pertwee and Elizabeth Sladen’s performances in this story are not to be underestimated, and fans of this Doctor-companion pairing will enjoy Death to the Daleks for that reason alone.

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8 – The Daleks

The debut of the Daleks in Classic Doctor Who, The Daleks is definitely worth a watch but does suffer from issues of pacing, particularly since it is seven episodes long. Whilst this can be forgiven due to the fact that it was only the second ever serial of Doctor Who to air, The Daleks is perhaps best watched with the foreknowledge that it is in many ways a ‘prototype’ for future Dalek episodes – although at the time the creators had no idea the Daleks would become such an enduring recurring villain, many elements of this episode are developed in much more detail in subsequent Dalek stories, and The Daleks does dedicate a lot of its run-time to what is clearly filler. The best example of this is the chasm jumping sequence, in which the episode stops dead as we watch all five or six members of the Human-Thal party jumping over a chasm, taking up the majority of its episode’s run time. Ultimately, being the first Dalek episode and a very early episode in the show’s run, The Daleks is worth watching for historical interest but doesn’t contain as much Dalek action as it perhaps could, although there are many extended scenes in the Dalek control rooms that give the audience a good idea of what the Daleks are really like early on, as they scheme and manipulate the humanoids in the story with sinister mercilessness, with a particularly chilling moment being the line in which the Daleks decide to alter the environment of their planet to kill the Thals rather than adapting to the planet’s radioactivity.

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7 – The Power of the Daleks

Although this episode is entirely lost, thankfully a complete animated recreation was released by the BBC in 2013 with all six episodes restored using the original audio and some of the best animation for a Doctor Who DVD release to date. The episode shows the Daleks at their best – manipulative and ruthless – and their scheme to appear docile in order to siphon power from the human colony is devious. As this was the Second Doctor’s first televised story it set the standard for Dalek stories to come, as many fans view The Power of the Daleks as among the very best Dalek stories, but its length and pacing mean it has not aged as well as other much-loved Dalek episodes. Another slight drawback to this episode for many is the lack of original visuals, and although the animated reconstruction is welcome, many have noted the apparent poor quality of some of the recreated scenes – particularly the initial post-regeneration sequence and basically any other scene where it is not immediately obvious what the original actors were doing in the episode. Regardless, the animated Daleks do look spectacular and hopefully The Power of the Daleks will be the first of many fully-animated lost Dalek episodes.

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6 – Day of the Daleks

Having been recently remastered, Day of the Daleks went from being a somewhat mediocre Dalek story to a classic thanks to updated effects, re-dubbed Dalek voices performed by Nicholas Briggs and even whole new scenes filmed using the original camera equipment. In the original story, the final battle used only three Dalek props – the most that were available at the time – so the effect is lessened. With new Daleks added with CGI, the battle scene has been reinvigorated, and for Classic Who this episode is particularly exciting. With a complex time-travel plot that is similar to, but actually predates, the Terminator series, Day of the Daleks is a great action-packed Third Doctor story that incorporates time travel into the story as a core aspect of its main plot rather than simply a means of reaching Point A from Point B, making it unique among Dalek stories. Since its remaster, this episode has jumped up in quality from a mediocre Dalek serial that was bogged down by budget and production issues to a reinvigorated classic that is actually more like a longer episode of New Who than many other Classic Dalek serials. Living up to the action-adventure themes of the Third Doctor’s era, Day of the Daleks is well worth the time now that the much-needed remaster in the Special Edition has been released.

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5 – Resurrection of the Daleks

Resurrection of the Daleks begins the three-part ‘Dalek Civil War’ arc involving Davros, the Daleks and various factions of in-fighting Daleks that also includes Revelation  and Remembrance, and of the three Resurrection has by far the best depiction of Davros in all his manipulative, scheming glory. Terry Molloy’s debut as the twisted Kaled scientist is a must-watch for Dalek fans, and fans of the Fifth Doctor can rejoice as this episode features many watershed moments for his character, including his deliberation over whether or not to shoot Davros, and the fact that Tegan departs the TARDIS, both situations that test the more human and fallible Fifth Doctor. As far as the Daleks go, however, Resurrection portrays them as being noticeably weaker than previous Dalek stories, with the Movellan War crippling the Dalek Empire and forcing the Daleks to employ humanoid soldiers for assistance in combat situations. This leads to the introduction of Lytton, a fantastic character who appears in this episode and Attack of the Cybermen, and is somewhat of an anti-hero in both episodes.

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4 – The Dalek Invasion of Earth

It was inevitable following the success of The Daleks that the Daleks themselves would return to Doctor Who, and their second appearance, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, has often being said to be their best episode of the Hartnell era, as depicting the Daleks assaulting familiar ground like central London is far more effective and heavy-hitting than having them attack a band of alien hippies in a forest, as in The Daleks. Relying heavily on imagery from the Second World War, an event that was still directly impacting many of the audience at the time, giving this episode a heavy impact at the time that still endures to this day. As if the depressing imagery of a subjugated Earth was not effective enough, The Dalek Invasion of Earth also features the first instance of a companion departure in the show, with Susan staying behind on the war-torn Earth as the TARDIS leaves, with the Doctor promising that one day, he would come back.

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3 – Frontier in Space/Planet of the Daleks

As a pair, Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks link together to form one 12-part story involving the Master, the Ogrons and the Daleks attempting to destabilise the relationship between the Human and Draconian civilisations before awakening an army of Daleks, and either episode experienced on their own pales in comparison to watching the entire serial as one continuous story. Because Frontier in Space is just so excellent, featuring the final appearance of Roger Delgado’s Master, and Planet of the Daleks has some fantastic scenes with both Daleks and Thals, the pair of stories combine into an epic space opera revolving around the beginnings of the Galactic War against the Daleks. The only real criticism of this story is the length – although Frontier in Space makes a competent use of its runtime, Planet of the Daleks could have been shorter, and overall twelve parts for the entire double-serial run is just too long.

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2 – Genesis of the Daleks

Arguably Terry Nation’s best contribution to the lore of his own creations, Genesis of the Daleks depicts the creation of the Daleks, centuries before their appearances in The Daleks and subsequent Dalek episodes, as well as being the debut episode of the mad Kaled scientist Davros. Like all the best six-part Classic Who stories, Genesis effectively utilises its run time to deliver a well-paced story with suitable doses of action, suspense, and exciting sequences in each episode. Unlike Planet of the Daleks, there is not a single individual episode of Genesis that feels as though it could have been cut out, and as the plot marches towards the inevitable creation of the Daleks the tension builds until the climax at the end of Part 6. Genesis has been praised for its great characters and dialogue, and there are some fantastic scenes between the Doctor, Sarah and Harry that show how the TARDIS team has bonded throughout the season. The Kaled characters in this story are also fantastic – Nyder, Ronson and, of course, Davros, who makes his debut here played for the first and only time by the legendary Michael Wisher who does a tremendous job as the maniacal scientist. Overall, Genesis is a classic and well-deserved of its status as one of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who. However, there is one other Dalek episode that takes the top spot, and that is…

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1 – Remembrance of the Daleks

…ironically, the final Dalek episode of the Classic series, Remembrance of the Daleks. The Cartmel Masterplan made its debut in this episode, as script editor Andrew Cartmel decided to include more references to the idea of the question behind the Doctor’s identity, and Remembrance of the Daleks is the first in a series of episode that hint at the Doctor’s dark past and his history with the Time Lords and other powerful races. The depiction of the Imperial-Renegade Dalek Civil War as well as the return of Davros and the introduction of the Special Weapons Dalek make this episode an explosive and fitting finale to the Dalek plot arc in the Classic series, as the episode ends with a much darker and more ruthless Seventh Doctor destroying Skaro and wiping out both the Imperial and Renegade Daleks on Earth. If that were not enough, this episode is considered by fans to be the true 25th Anniversary Special (even thought the inferior Silver Nemesis’s broadcast coincided with the actual anniversary date of the 23rd of November) as this episode is littered with continuity references and is based in 1963, in the same place as the First Doctor and Susan parked the TARDIS in the very first episode of the show.

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Doctor Who – Top Ten New Who Dalek Stories

As one of the most enduring icons of Classic Doctor Who, it was no surprise that the BBC decided to incorporate the Daleks into the modern version of the show as soon as possible, with Series 1 alone featuring them in three episodes including the two-part finale. Since then, the Daleks have appeared in every series of the revival, with varying success – sometimes a Dalek episode is exactly what a series needs to bump up the action and stakes, and other times the Daleks seem to be a drag on episodes that they could otherwise not even featured in. Due to their successes in the 60s, 70s and 80s, showrunners of modern Who assume that the Daleks will always be a big hit, but have the pepperpots enjoyed the same success in the 21st century as they had in the 20th? For this list, the focus will be primarily on how the Daleks themselves are presented in the various episodes in which they appear and how much of a threat they present, but also on other factors in the episodes that contribute (positively or negatively) to the overall quality of the story.

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10 – Asylum of the Daleks

At the very bottom of the list is Asylum of the Daleks, which will come as no surprise to any Dalek fans as Asylum is notorious for being one of the biggest let-downs in the history of the show. To those not in the know, the marketing for this episode was really exciting – fans knew from various ‘leaked’ photos (which were actually released as a deliberate ploy by the BBC) that classic Dalek props from a multitude of different eras of the show were all gathered together, and modified to look damaged and dusty, and the title of the episode suggested that this would be a love letter to the Classic series that delved into Dalek psychology and perhaps filled in some gaps in their timeline from the Classic era. Fans were wildly speculating that the Cult of Skaro, the Dalek Emperor, the Special Weapons Dalek or even Davros could feature in this episode, and it generated a lot of hype. This all turned out to be in vain, however, and what is truly baffling is why the production team went to the trouble of gathering together all these genuine classic Daleks (including the Special Weapons Dalek from 1988) just to have them all sit there and do absolutely nothing. Ultimately, the fantastic setup and exciting premise of this episode were wasted on a pointless and unwarranted divorce subplot involving Amy and Rory that is solved like magic in the last five minutes, and an arguably well-executed but similarly unwarranted debut of Jenna Coleman as ‘Oswin’, which was later revealed to be one of Clara’s splinters, and the combination of these two subplots distracted attention entirely from the thing fans wanted most of all at that point – a decent Dalek episode – and what we are left with is a mess of wasted potential that should have either been a two parter or had a complete rewrite from the ground up.

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9 – The Time of the Doctor

From one myriad of wasted potential to another, The Time of the Doctor serves as the confusing and overstuffed finale to the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure, and it was essentially Steven Moffat trying to bolt together all the answers to all the loose ends that had accumulated throughout Matt Smith’s era into one hour-long special because, apparently, he had originally planned for the Eleventh Doctor to have one more series until Matt Smith announced he was leaving the role. As a result, none of the ideas presented here get any real development and, like Asylum of the Daleks, many great ideas are either watered down to the point where they are forgettable or just go over the audience’s heads. Take Handles’ death for example – the scene is beautifully acted, the score is fantastic, and it is clear that the death of this Cyberman head really does affect the Doctor – but it doesn’t affect the audience, because we only met this character about half an hour beforehand. The Daleks in this episode are actually quite formidable – the episode describes in detail how the Daleks attacked the Church of the Papal Mainframe and slaughtered everyone inside, Humans and Silents alike, but it would have been better if the audience could have actually witnessed this for themselves as it would not only have made the Daleks appear more of a threat but it would also have solidified the idea that the Silents are good guys now (which, the first time I saw this episode, I didn’t even clock onto – that’s how fast-paced and convoluted the plot is). Yet, despite all this, Moffat still found a ten-minute space in the runtime for the Eleventh Doctor to make creepy and perverted sexual advances on Clara by running up to her stark naked and then proceeding to do the same thing to her relatives at Christmas dinner, too. Yes, this was a dark time for Doctor Who.

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8 – The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End

As previously mentioned in How to Fix – The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, this two-part finale of Series 4 has a fantastic setup but a poor conclusion. In fact, were these two separate episodes, The Stolen Earth would rank much higher whereas Journey’s End would definitely be lower, which gives an idea of how inconsistently the Daleks are presented in this two-parter. The Stolen Earth is a great opener – the Doctor and all of his companions from the previous two years, including Sarah Jane Smith, Captain Jack and the Torchwood team all come together to combat a full-on Dalek invasion of Earth, and it is glorious. Throughout this opening episode the audience is constantly reminded of how much of a threat the Daleks are to human society – we see Dalek Saucers bombing Manhatten, we see Daleks destroying houses to draw out human prisoners, we see Daleks slaughtering Human defences like UNIT HQ and the Master’s battleship Valiant, Davros returns for the first time since Remembrance of the Daleks in 1988, and as icing on the cake, a Dalek finally gets to shoot the Doctor dead. All of this is fantastic, but then Journey’s End comes along to spoil everything. As if by magic, suddenly the Daleks are spinning around, out of control, and all the threat and menace that was built up over the opening part melts away and Russell falls back on the most generic, flimsy ‘prophecy’ plotline ever contrived, and the Daleks are beaten. How difficult would it have been for Russell to let the Daleks win? The Doctor should have saved the Earth and stopped the Reality Bomb but at the cost of failing to destroy the New Dalek Empire, allowing Davros to escape with his new army swearing that he will return, and then we wouldn’t have been faced with…

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7 – Victory of the Daleks

In a similar vein to The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, Victory of the Daleks suffers from having a great opening and general premise, but also having a disappointing final act that essentially ruins the episode by leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the audience. This came in the form of the often-derided Paradigm Daleks, which debuted in this episode as a vain attempt by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss to ‘reboot’ the Daleks for their tenure as showrunner and resident weirdo respectively. To make things perfectly clear (and perhaps in contradiction to my earlier assessment of the Paradigm in my various Custom Figure Collection posts), the design of the Paradigm Daleks isn’t actually all that bad – true, there are some odd design choices, such as the hunched back, the flexi-straw neck and the oversized fenders, but if Asylum of the Daleks did one thing right by Dalek fans, it showed that with a new coat of chrome paint and a few modifications the Paradigm props could be made to look intimidating. Unfortunately for Victory of the Daleks, the Paradigm first appeared with matte paint in a disused matchstick factory that had the lighting of a primary school assembly hall that only served to make the new Daleks look more tacky and laughable than they were already. The real tragedy is that, aside from the Paradigm, Victory is actually a decent Dalek story – the Ironsides look awesome, the World War 2 setting complete with Winston Churchill works really well, and there are some great narrative links to Classic Who stories like The Power of the Daleks. It is a true shame that the first Dalek story in Moffat’s era was so disappointing.

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6 – Daleks in Manhatten/Evolution of the Daleks

Yet another episode on this list with its own article on how it can be fixed, Daleks in Manhatten and Evolution of the Daleks are the kind of Doctor Who episodes that take a lot of hate from certain fans of the show, despite essentially being episodes that are not meant to be taken all that seriously. The problem with this idea is that when using a monster like the Daleks, fans tend to take things more seriously than they should, which has led to this Series 3 two-parter being slammed by Whovians of all creeds for brutally cutting short the reign of the Cult of Skaro, creating a ridiculous and overtly phallic Dalek Hybrid creature, and featuring a musical number in a style designed to accompany a 1920s flapper dance routine. Surprisingly, the results are oddly glorious, with this episode slotting in nicely between a great homage to classic sci-fi B-Movies and an odd nod to sci-fi Noir, whilst also featuring some great Dalek scenes, most notably scenes involving Dalek Sec. Other highlights include the rest of the Cult scheming against Sec, the scene in which Solomon and Dalek Caan converse, the relationship between Tallulah and Lazlo and Martha generally just been cool and reliable, as usual. The final battle between the Daleks and the Hybrids is pretty cool as well, and although you don’t have to be Grand Admiral Thrawn to see the obvious flaws in both sides’ strategies (standing still and firing continuously regardless of how many casualties are inflicted on either side), a genuinely poignant moment is when the Doctor laments the eventual death of Dalek Sec, hailing him as ‘the cleverest Dalek ever’, probably due to his mercilessly roasting of the Cyberleader during their previous encounter.

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5 – The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar

Opening the divisive Series 9 is the equally divisive The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, a two-part episode that receives equal measure of love and hate from various factions of the Doctor Who fanbase. On the one hand, this episode does a much better job of showcasing the relationship between the Doctor and Davros than The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End did, to the extent that many have come to regard this episode as less of a Dalek story and more of a Davros story, as the Daleks themselves feature more as a background power at work rather than the main villain of the story. The scenes with Missy and Clara are all fantastic, and there are a handful of great Dalek scenes – most notably the Supreme Dalek’s ‘Maximum Extermination’ scene. On the other hand, the episode does its best to deliberately mess with the audience, in that it seems for the entire story as though the Doctor had done something terrible to Davros in his youth – perhaps even causing the horrendous injuries he is famous for – and yet this rising source of tension in the plot seems to suddenly deflate at the end, and although the moments between Davros and the Doctor are poignant, some fans saw right through the attempt to tug at the viewer’s heartstrings and labelled this episode a failure. Whilst both sides have good points to make, the justification for ranking this episode so highly comes primarily from the scenes with Missy, finally having Classic props in lighting that allows the audience to see them, and some great dialogue between Davros and the Doctor that are reminiscent of the kind of thing Big Finish have done in audios like Davros.

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4 – Doomsday

There are many important factors to consider when revisiting Doomsday now, after over ten years. At the time of airing, this episode shook the nation, and that fact cannot be understated – the hype for this episode was justified, and Rose was given a departure to remember as she is torn away from the Doctor whilst Daleks and Cybermen burn the city of London in an unprecedented all-out war between two of the franchise’s most iconic villains. From the perspective of the Daleks specifically, Doomsday has some fantastic scenes, especially thanks to the introduction of the Cult of Skaro, a group of Daleks with more distinct personalities than the standard drones fans are accustomed to. Stand-outs include the verbal demolition of the Cyberleader conducted by Dalek Sec as war is declared, some short but fast-paced action scenes as they tear up the Cybermen, and a surprisingly deep insight into the mind of a Dalek as the Tenth Doctor breaks down how lonely and painful their existence actually is. Over the years, the impact of Rose’s departure has somewhat lessened, particularly as her status as ‘most important companion’ was slowly transferred to Clara over the course of Moffat’s run, and this is perhaps what has hurt this episode the most – ultimately, Doomsday spends a lot more time focusing on the Doctor and companion than it does the Daleks, which is more justified in this instance than it was in Asylum of the Daleks but no less frustrating in hindsight.

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3 – Into the Dalek

Since this was only the second episode to feature the Twelfth Doctor, it was important at this stage that his character be firmly established lest the audience grow confused over what this new Doctor actually stands for. Whilst complaints of an inconsistent characterisation are often thrown against the Twelfth Doctor, Into the Dalek was the episode that firmly established Capaldi as the Doctor, as all the best things about the Twelfth Doctor really shine in this story. He struggles with his morality, he is merciless and rude but also caring and occasionally tender, and ultimately with help from Clara he realises the correct course of action and helps bring out the best outcome of a situation that was rapidly spiraling out of control. The Daleks in this story are fantastic, and the opening scene in particular does wonders to showcase the vast size of the Dalek Empire compared to the tiny and ill-equipped Human resistance. In fact, this is the first Dalek story in a long time to effectively convey the idea of a wider galactic conflict being waged against the Daleks in the future, a plot point that often featured in the Classic Series and Big Finish audios yet has been unfortunately absent from New Who until this point thanks to Russell’s Time War plotline. Whilst the basic premise of the episode requires some suspension of disbelief to go with, once this episode gets going it is almost perfect in its depiction of Dalek morality and philosophy, and it is a shame in hindsight that Capaldi didn’t get more Dalek episodes.

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2 – Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways

The finale of the Series 1 is perhaps the most exciting depiction of the Daleks waging war in the entire history of televised Doctor Who, as the Dalek Emperor returns from the Time War to enact a 100,000 year plan to destroy the Human race and wage war on the entire Galaxy. The Emperor himself is impressive, and credit must be given to both the artists and designers who worked on the prop and Nicholas Briggs, who provided the Emperor’s fantastic booming voice. The Emperor isn’t the only impressive addition to this episode either, as this is the first time we see a full Dalek Fleet in action on-screen and the scenes of the fleet bombing planet Earth as Lynda watches are particularly horrific. Speaking of Lynda, her untimely death at the hands of the Dalek Attack Squad provided another heavy-hitting moment in this already devastating episode, making this episode undoubtedly one of the darkest and most harrowing of the series, and a great showcase of just how threatening the Daleks are at the height of their power. Interestingly, this episode also takes a unique approach to the Daleks themselves – these are half-Human and have a concept of blasphemy, and view the Emperor as the God of all Daleks – and credit must be given here for a fantastic idea that is well-implemented, as this has a distinct effect on the characterisation of the Emperor himself that turns him from an already menacing Dalek into a full-blown deranged megalomaniac of a villain.

 

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Honorable Mention – The Day of the Doctor

As a brief aside, it is worth mentioning that the Daleks feature in 2013’s The Day of the Doctor, Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary special, and for the most part they are very strong in this episode. For the first time we get to see the final day of the Last Great Time War, and although this scene has been criticised for depicting the once-legendary dimension-rending myth-war as simply a generic sci-fi battle with lasers and explosions, it is somewhat understandable as by this point in the War the Time Lords had expended all of their timey-wimey weapons and were simply trying to hold out against what was now an inevitable wave of utter devastation – that is exactly why the War Doctor chooses to end it all with the Galaxy-Eater. The reappearance of Murray Gold’s soundtrack ‘The Dark and Endless Dalek Night’ works fantastically with this scene as we see the Daleks lay waste to Gallifrey’s second city, slaughtering soldiers and commoners alike in the streets. Immediately after this scene, however, the Daleks are reduced to mere fodder and do not feature as prominently in the 50th as many fans would have liked, with the honor of primary monster going to the… Zygons? Why?

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1 – Dalek

And finally, the number one – Dalek, the initial appearance of the Daleks in NuWho. Whilst the title does spoil the surprise somewhat, Classic Who fans rejoiced at the prospect of the Daleks returning to modern Doctor Who, and this episode certainly lived up to the hype. Robert Shearman, who had previously written for Big Finish audios before penning this episode, largely based the plot of Dalek on his Sixth Doctor audio Jubilee, which dealt with the idea of a single Dalek locked up in a prison only to escape and slaughter its former captors. Dalek has the edge, however, in that it was also written to flatten many previous criticisms of their design – particularly the inclusion of their rotating middle section and the reappearance of their ability to fly which had not been seen on-screen since 1988’s Remembrance of the Daleks, which makes their comeback all the stronger. This episode also features plenty of death, again to showcase the true power that even a single Dalek can unleash, but also features a rare example of Dalek character development – this particular Dalek gains human emotions from Rose, and the scenes between the Dalek and Rose, particularly the Dalek’s final scene, is surprisingly poignant. The scene that makes the episode, however, is the Doctor confronting the Dalek in its cell – arguably one of the greatest Dalek scenes in the history of the show. With compelling characters, a fast-paced story and some great action, Dalek is hands down the best Dalek episode in NuWho.

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Doctor Who – Top Ten New Who Cyberman Stories

Following on from the Top Ten Classic Who Cyberman Stories, this list presents the appearances of the Cybermen in the Doctor Who, ordered by the quality of their depiction of the Cybermen themselves – originally designed to be fearsome former humans stripped of all emotions, the Cybermen had experienced significant ‘villain decay’ during their tenure on Classic Who. That being said, did NuWho do any better a job of realising Kit Pedler’s original vision of the Cybermen as a sinister cautionary tale against the advancements of medical technology, or are the NuWho Cybermen merely robotic tin soldiers as they were depicted towards the end of Classic Who?

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10 – The Time of the Doctor

For those who recall the appearance of the Cybermen in The Time of the Doctor, you should be commended – this episode is mend-bending in its complex awfulness and there are many who have burnt this special from their minds completely to avoid flashbacks of some of the more cringe-inducing aspects to this story – a naked Matt Smith accosting Jenna Coleman, Tasha Lem implying that her alter is a sex-bed she used with the Doctor once, and all manner of Moffat-isms that will undoubtedly be looked back on by future generations as one of the lowest points in the show’s history. Nonetheless, the Cybermen do feature, in two significant capacities – first in the decapitated Cyber-head which the Doctor christens ‘Handles’, arguably one of the best things about this episode, and a Wooden Cyberman which invades Trenzalore with a flamethrower only for it to burn itself to death. From this we can draw two important conclusions – first, Moffat most think the Cybermen are absolute imbeciles that would arm a wooden soldier with a device that creates fire, and second, the fact that a decapitated Cyberman’s head is the best thing about this episode really tells how bad this episode actually is.

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9 – Closing Time

Whilst James Cordon did a surprisingly good job as a one-off central character in Series 5’s The Lodger, Series 6’s Closing Time proves that the law of diminishing return is still going strong as Cordon turns what was already a mediocre script into a genuinely bad episode. What makes this all the worse is the fact that, at this point, the Cybermen hadn’t had their own episode since The Next Doctor, meaning this was essentially a chance to redeem the Cybermen that fell completely flat for numerous reasons. Firstly, the Cybermen themselves barely appear, and whilst there are some creepy scenes in which the Cybermen sneak around the department store at night abducting workers, this seems to completely ignore one of the Cybus Cybermen’s key traits – their loud intimidating stomp. Secondly, far too much attention is placed on the Doctor essentially bumming around (although this criticism could stand against many episodes in the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure) and, in a similar fashion to The Lodger, the villain’s entire plan has to be summed up in about 3 lines of dialogue right at the end since so much time was spent with scenes of James Cordon and Matt Smith doing ‘ordinary bloke stuff’ like playing in a toy shop and snogging in a lift. Lastly, the Cybermen are defeated by ‘the power of love’, the laziest and stupidest plot device ever after ‘and they woke up and it was all a dream’.

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8 – A Good Man Goes To War

Despite only appearing in one scene, the Cybermen do make somewhat of an impression in this episode – though they are essentially used as fodder for Rory to destroy to make him seem like more of a badass by comparison. This episode does contribute somewhat to the villain decay that the Cybermen experienced throughout the Eleventh Doctor’s era, although this episode is notable in that it features the reappearance of the Cyberman warships, which were briefly seen in The Pandorica Opens although it is not until this episode that we see them as part of a fleet. Other than that, there really isn’t much more to say about this episode as far as the Cybermen are concerned – apart from the fact that their brief cameo in this is far better than the entirety of Closing Time.

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7 – Nightmare in Silver

Neil Gaiman’s attempt to reboot the Cybermen in Series 7 was met with mixed reception, and it is certainly nowhere near as good as his previous episode, The Doctor’s Wife. Despite this, Nightmare in Silver is probably one of the best episodes of Series 7, alongside Cold War and A Town Called Mercy, and it does do a decent job of presenting the Cybermen as a serious threat, unlike several previous Matt Smith episodes had. The setting used here is particularly creepy, the thought of an entire planet dedicated to an abandoned theme park is an interesting idea, but the focus in this story is all over the place – for a start we have the ludicrous idea to include schoolchildren under Clara’s care in this story, a plot device that goes nowhere and was essentially included to fill time, then we have Porridge and his strange subplot involving Clara, and on top of that we have the soldiers and their conflict with the Doctor over blowing up the planet, all running at the same time. Overall, the best aspect of this episode is the Doctor’s conflict with the Cyber-Planner that is attempting to take over his mind, and Matt Smith has to be given credit for some fantastic acting in these scenes, but the impact of the Cybermen themselves in this episode is mediocre thanks to the inclusion of cartoonish special effects to depict their new abilities.

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6 – The Next Doctor

As a Christmas Special, it is no surprise that The Next Doctor does not focus primarily on the Cybermen themselves, despite being marketed at the end of Journey’s End as ‘The Return of the Cybermen’, this episode seems to feature them as a token villain – there are some great scenes with them, particularly the scenes between the Cyberlord and Mercy Hartigan, but ultimately this episode contributes little to their story aside from introducing the Cybershades, which never appear again. By far the best scene in the episode, as far as the Cybermen are concerned, is the scene in which Mercy Hartigan unleashes them onto unsuspecting Victorian Noblemen in the graveyard, and this is probably the last good scene that the Cybus Cybermen get in Doctor Who – even if it does only last about a minute and a half. The Cybershades are a nice addition to this scene too, their guttural cries and bestial stature make them scarier than the standard Cybermen but over the course of the episode they gradually devolve from a fearsome threat to a simple footsoldier for the Cybermen, until they are all inexplicably destroyed at the end in a puff of smoke.

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5 – The Pandorica Opens

The Cybermen are essentially the primary villain of The Pandorica Opens, which is fitting considering the next part, The Big Bang, primarily features a Dalek. However, The Pandorica Opens does not feature the Cybermen to an extent anywhere near the usual for the villain of a Doctor Who episode – a Cyberman’s head stalks Amy before attacking her and re-attaching itself to its old body in an attempt to assimilate her, which is a great scene in itself, but is basically the Cybermen’s only appearance in this episode aside from the brief scene of the Cyberleader arriving with the other Alliance members. Still, it is probably the strongest Cyberman cameo in the revived series, definitely beating Hell Bent and Face the Raven in terms of action-factor, as well as also being the final appearance of the ‘Cybus’ Cybermen, with all future NuWho Cyberman episodes featuring either Mondasian Cybermen or the strange ‘non-Cybus’ Cybermen who use their basic form but without the trademark Cybus logo. The design of the ‘zombie’ Cyberman is to be commended – arguably the best scene in the episode is Amy’s battle with the spider-like Cyber-head, and the skull popping out as it tries to essentially eat her alive is a gruesome reminder that each Cyberman was once a person, whilst also emphasising the more robotic elements of the Cybus design – the suit can operate even without any organic parts, and it yearns to assimilate a new brain and nervous system.

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4 – Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

The finale of Series 2 starts out as a Cyberman story before the Daleks show up at the end of Army of Ghosts to wipe the floor with them – thus prematurely beginning the inevitable villain decay that the Cybermen would experience in NuWho, just as they had done in Classic Who. Although the scenes in Army of Ghosts and Doomsday with the Cybermen are good, and their plan definitely devious, the Daleks steal the show in this episode and the Cybermen are reduced to merely fodder for the Cult of Skaro to mow down in their dozens. The only really interesting aspect to the Cybermen in this story is that they eventually end up siding with the Doctor and the Human forces, fighting alongside the Preachers and even marching out into the streets to divert fire away from the Humans (intentionally or not). This is in keeping with the fact that the Cybus Cybermen were programmed to believe that upgrading is for the Human’s own good, so it makes sense that they would seek to protect what they regard as good stock. Aside from being verbally demolished by Dalek Sec, the Cyberleader is physically destroyed when Jake and his parallel soldiers storm the Torchwood control room, and we get an idea as to how the Cybermen promote individuals within their ranks – apparently, the choice is made at random, and as soon as one Cyberleader is killed the information from its brain is downloaded into another Cyberman, effectively making the Cyberleader almost like a body-hopping consciousness that can possess any soldier in the Cyber-army. What is a shame is that, with everything that is going on in this episode, absolutely nothing is done with this idea.

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3 – Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel

The debut of the Cybermen in NuWho also introduced a ‘subspecies’ in the Cybus Cybermen – i.e. Cybermen that had been created on Earth in a parallel universe by the Cybus Corporation, the brainchild of John Lumic. This episode is a spiritual remake of the Big Finish Audio Spare Parts, in that they both depict the origin of their respective species of Cybermen, although the stories themselves are quite different. The parallel universe setting allows for some great character moments, particularly when Rose finds out that in this timeline her father is still alive, and also Mickey’s similar realisation with his Nan. What makes this all the more tragic is that, in this parallel world, the Cybermen essentially control the population through their earpods, leading thousands of Londoners to the slaughter including the parallel version of Rose’s mother. Though this is exceptionally bleak, Russell doesn’t quite go as far as Spare Parts did in terms of bleakness, since ultimately the Cyber-revolution is prevented and the main factory destroyed. Of all the factors in this episode, however, by far the best is the character of John Lumic. Essentially the Cyberman’s equivalent to Davros, Lumic is insane and fits the part of merciless businessman perfectly. Following his conversion into the Cyber-Controller, Lumic retains an aspect of his megalomaniac personality and the scenes with him and the Doctor are all excellent.

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2 – Dark Water/Death in Heaven

Arguably the first true Cyberman story since The Next Doctor, the Series 8 two-part finale Dark Water and Death in Heaven finally reintroduce the element of body horror to the Cybermen that has, in many ways, been lost since Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel. Through Danny Pink’s death and subsequent conversion by a highly advanced race of Cybermen created by Missy, the audience finally gains an insight into the horrors of Cyber-conversion in a way that is not often seen in televised Doctor Who. The plot is primarily driven by Clara and her grief and desperation after losing Danny, and the horror when she learns of his true fate makes us more sympathetic towards her than perhaps ever before in her tenure on the show – for once she isn’t marching around acting like she owns the show, and that frees up plenty of time for this episode to spend on great scenes with the Doctor, Missy and the Cybermen. There are some nice nods to The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Invasion with the Cyber-Tombs being located inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the inside of these new Cybermen have been fantastically designed, as Danny’s partially decayed corpse staring blankly out of the face of a Cyberman has got to be one of the most enduring images of the Series. This episode was controversial at the time of airing as the dark themes of death and the afterlife, coupled with the three words ‘Don’t Cremate Me’ being a driving force behind the episode,  was reportedly more scary for kids than the Cybermen themselves, but in hindsight this merely adds a much-needed boost to the fear factor of both the Master and the Cybermen as the plot involving Cybermen rising from the graves of the recently deceased in a fashion similar to a zombie apocalypse is perhaps one of the most fearsome plot outlines in NuWho’s history, making this one of the Cybermen’s scariest episodes.

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Honorable Mention – Cyberwoman

For all its faults, the Torchwood episode Cyberwoman has some really gruesome depictions of Cyber-conversion that would never have been seen on the main show – for once blood and gore go hand in hand with the process of Cyber-conversion thanks to the more mature and adult-orientated nature of the spinoff. This is just about the only positive that can be said about this episode, however – its reputation as being an overblown nonsensical waste of potential is deserved – but for its part it does try to bring an element of body horror back to the Cybermen, the likes of which so far had not been seen in NuWho before this episode’s release.

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1 – World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls

The last thing anyone expected to get in NuWho was the Genesis of the Cybermen story involving the classic Mondasian Cybermen as previously seen in The Tenth Planet, but that’s what we got with the Series 10 finale World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls. As icing on the cake, this episode goes out of its way to ensure that the Big Finish audio Spare Parts – the Fifth Doctor story which shows the origin of the Cybermen on Mondas – is still canon, by establishing the idea of parallel evolution of the Cybermen, accounting for the Mondasian, Telosian, Cybus and Cyberiad versions all existing at once. This allows Steven Moffat to essentially tell his own version of the Cyberman origin story without interfering with the canon, and his version is far darker and bleaker than Russell’s version from Rise of the Cybermen. The inclusion of the Master as a major contributing factor to the creation of this particular faction of Cybermen is an interesting twist, and the scenes with John Simm and Michelle Gomez show how truly great both performers are at capturing certain aspects of the Master’s personality. What steals the show however is Pearl Mackie as Bill, and her tragic subplot involving Cyber-conversion is perhaps the most harrowing depiction of the process in the history of the show. The editing and direction in this episode is excellent, with Bill switching between her human and Cyberman body depending on the perspective of the scene, which showcases the most fundamental horror of the Cybermen – under the metal and plastic exterior they are, or rather were, simply ordinary people.

Ultimately, it appears as though NuWho’s depiction of the Cybermen is as varied both in content and quality as in Classic Who – there are some great episodes, that portray the Cybermen as horrifically ruined human beings either tragically seduced by the advancements of technology or forced into conversion against their will, and some terrible episodes that present the Cybermen as little more than robots who stomp around as a generic enemy for the Doctor to defeat. Both showrunners so far in NuWho have had a mixed bag of handling the Cybermen, and hopefully Chris Chibnall finds something more interesting to do with them that doesn’t resemble Cyberwoman.

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Doctor Who – Top Ten Classic Who Cyberman Stories

The early 1960s saw the genesis of ‘spare-part’ surgery with the development of gigantic heart-lung machines and research into the possibility of replacing amputated limbs with prosthetics controlled by wiring the nerve endings into the machine for a quicker response. Intrigued by the potential of these developments, Dr. Kit Pedler, the unofficial scientific advisor for Doctor Who at the time, asked his wife, who was also a doctor, about what would happen if someone had so many prostheses that they could no longer distinguish themselves from the machine – this idea would later go on to form the basis for the monster featured in The Tenth Planet, an episode he wrote with Gerry Davis. What Kit Pedler created went on to become one of the most iconic and enduring aspects of Doctor Who’s rich cast of creatures, and the Cybermen were born. Since their creation, the bio-mechanical monsters have menaced the Doctor on dozens of occasions throughout both the Classic and Modern incarnations of the show, and at over 50 years old the Cybermen have a wealth of history. To explore how effectively Dr. Pedler’s vision has been translated on screen, these are the Top Ten Cybermen Stories from Classic Who specifically. For this list the primary focus will be how effectively each episode presents the Cybermen as a threat but also how competently the nature of Cyber-conversion and its impact is depicted.

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10 – Revenge of the Cybermen

Ranking the lowest out of all the Classic Who Cyberman stories is Revenge of the Cybermen, the Fourth Doctor’s only outing with the tin men from Mondas. This episode features what is possibly the weakest depiction of the Cybermen to date – gone are the sinister electronic voices and the cold, emotionless line delivery, and this robs the Cybermen of one of their most threatening attributes. The voices are not the only thing that seems to have changed either, as the Cybermen in this story seem to act out of character – their body language, the Cyberleader implying that Cybermen have some form of ‘morality’ when not at war, and even the title: ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’. How can emotionless machine creatures want revenge? Ultimately, this episode holds the dubious honour of being the joint-worst story in the otherwise excellent Season 12, the other joint-worst being The Sontaran Experiment. The only real saving grace for either of these stories is how good the TARDIS team for Season 12 is.

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9 – The Wheel in Space

Fans of Patrick Troughton’s era long for the missing parts of The Wheel in Space to be recovered, or at the very least animated, as the only way to watch this story at the moment is to buy the Doctor Who – Lost in Time DVD (an excellent investment regardless). The fact that 4 out of the 6 episodes are missing means that only the most die-hard of Second Doctor fans will have any interest in this story until an animated reconstruction is released, which is a shame considering this episode features the debut of Zoe Heriot, one of the most popular companions in the history of the show. At six parts long, however, The Wheel in Space in its completed form falls victim to the age-old issue with Classic Doctor Who – bad pacing – with the only real upside being that the depiction of the Cybermen in this story is strong. Whilst their voices have changed from early Second Doctor stories, the effect is still menacing and suitably inhuman, and the surviving two parts of this story have some excellent scenes with the Cybermen, particularly Part Six.

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8 – Silver Nemesis

Having already been the focus of on article on how it might just be a hidden classic, it may seem odd that Silver Nemesis doesn’t rank very highly on this list – that is primarily due to the fact that most of the Cybermen episodes are just really good, but also the fact that the actual depiction of the Cybermen themselves in this episode is lackluster. To be fair, the Cyberleader does get some great lines, particularly when he is scheming with his lieutenant or manipulating the brick-headed Nazis in this story, and there is a fantastic quip about the human condition of madness, but this story suffers from having too much going on in the story and as a result the Cybermen are not given the attention that they perhaps deserved. Considering the fact that this was the next Cyberman episode after Attack of the Cybermen, an episode that delves into the more gruesome aspects of Cyber-conversion, Silver Nemesis uses its Cybermen as fodder for various other plot developments and is a classic example of episodes that include the Cybermen but don’t go to any lengths to actually add more to their mythos or character.

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7 – The Tenth Planet

The original Cyberman story, The Tenth Planet was a difficult episode to place in this ranking. On the one hand, it does a stellar job of introducing the Cybermen and what they are (or were) to the audience, but this episode was also the final adventure for William Hartnell, and the events leading up to his regeneration take the spotlight later in the story. The Cybermen themselves are imposing and utterly inhuman, yet they retain some of their former humanity, such as the human hands and the vaguely human-like heads, which is an excellent design choice. However, the plot essentially confines the Cybermen to one room, pacing up and down, which allows for some excellent dialogue between the Cybermen and the Doctor but doesn’t really allow for a depiction of their true power, aside from a few scenes in the snow in which they attack guards. Still, as this is the first appearance of the Cybermen and the first regeneration story, The Tenth Planet is still an enduring classic.

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6 – The Five Doctors

Whilst the Cybermen aren’t the primary focus of this story by any means, they do feature as one of the prominent adversaries present in Gallifrey’s Death Zone. It is interesting that the Cybermen get more screentime in this story than the Dalek does, although they may have been more to do with how shabby the Dalek props were looking at this point in Doctor Who’s production. Regardless, the Cybermen are a notable threat in this story and they nearly succeed in blowing up the TARDIS, before they are all wiped out by the Raston Warrior Robot. The scene in which the Cybermen are destroyed has been cited as one of the many examples of the Cybermen undergoing ‘forced villain decay’ throughout the 80s era of Doctor Who, a phenomenon which seemed to lessen their impact as time went on. Nonetheless, The Five Doctors is a fantastic episode and the Cybermen are perhaps the most prominently featured recurring villain in the story apart from the Master, making it a somewhat-honorary Cyberman story.

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5 – The Moonbase

Another Second Doctor Cyberman episode that his fallen victim to missing episodes, The Moonbase is definitely one of the strongest Cyberman stories in Classic Who, and thanks to the fact that the missing two episodes have been animated, the entire serial can now be enjoyed in all its glory. This episode is particularly notable as it features the first re-appearance of the Cybermen since their debut in The Tenth Planet, and with that came their first radical redesign – signifying that they had adapted since their initial encounter with the Doctor, and were now a more deadly threat. Gone are the human-like hands and vaguely humanoid face, and as if to ram home how inhuman these new Cybermen are, this was also the first time they were presented without individual names, further alienating them from their human roots and making them seem more like robotic monstrosities than ever before. As icing on the cake is the fantastic scene of the Cybermen marching across the surface of the Moon to attack the Moonbase, which is exactly the kind of show of power that the Cybermen in The Tenth Planet needed.

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3 – The Invasion

The final Second Doctor Cyberman story, The Invasion, is somewhat unique in that it is an eight-part story with four episodes missing, making it a 50/50 split of genuine and animated episodes. Interestingly, the drawings for the animation and the general art style has a distinct visual flair, something that is not often found in animated episodes as they are usually created on as limited budget as possible with little room for finesse. That said, the animation itself is rather clunky, but even that cannot diminish the impact that the Cybermen themselves have in this story. Arguably one of their most menacing outings, the Cybermen use stealth, infiltration and carefully-laid plans to instigate a total invasion of London, which leads to some iconic and enduring images akin to the likes of The Dalek Invasion of Earth – the shot of the Cybermen marching down the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral is perhaps one of their most iconic stills of the Classic era, and it is chilling to see the Cybermen emerging from the depths of the London sewers and occupying familiar streets and landmarks.

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3 – Attack of the Cybermen

Arguably one of the most controversial episodes of Classic Who to air, Attack of the Cybermen was heavily criticised at the time – those who were inspired by Mary ‘I’m here to spoil the fun’ Whitehouse and her crusade against Doctor Who in the seventies complained that Attack was too violent and scary for children, an idea which seems laughable today. Admittedly, one scene in which the Cybermen torture a man by crushing his hands into bloody pulps would probably have shocked children at the time, but that is rather the point of the show, and in fairness to the production team, Doctor Who was also being criticised at the time for not having the ‘spark’ that it had before, so it seems that everyone was a critic in the 80s. Regardless, Attack holds up particularly well for a Colin Baker story, and there are some truly menacing scenes with the Cybermen, particularly as they use the darkness to hunt workers in sewer tunnels. Another sinister aspect to this episode is that in the background of many scenes in Cyber-control, unfortunate victims of the Cybermen can be seen in conversion booths, and as the episode progresses they are slowly transformed bit by bit into emotionless killers. Overall, Attack does a great job of presenting the body horror aspects to the Cybermen that the show tends to skirt around, such as depicting partly-converted Cybermen desperately trying to escape and also describing in vivid detail the stench of rotting flesh emanating from long-dead Cyber-corpses.

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2 – Earthshock

This episode is most often remembered for its ending – for those who have been living under a rock since the 1980s, this is the episode in which Adric dies, arguably the most prominent death of a character in Doctor Who (and that’s saying something). As a result of this, it is often overlooked that this is actually a fantastic story for the Cybermen specifically, as we see the full extent of their power and influence and there are some great shots that use clever editing to make it seem as though there are far more Cybermen in the episode that the BBC costumes department would allow. Speaking of costumes, the redesigned Cybermen look incredible in this story, and a tiny detail exclusive to this story that adds a really creepy element to the Cyberman design is the transparent lower-jaw of the Cyberleader and some Cybermen, which allows for more expression on the part of the actors inside the suits but also serves as a constant reminder to the audience that the Cybermen were indeed once flesh and blood, and are not simply robots. The fact that the Cybermen are ultimately responsible for the death of Adric has a profound impact on both the character of the Fifth Doctor and how the Doctor views the Cybermen following this encounter generally, which is reflected in Classic Who episodes following this and the Big Finish audios that feature the Cybermen set after this.

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1 – The Tomb of the Cybermen

It was a difficult decision to place this episode above Earthshock and Attack of the Cybermen simply because all three episodes are great in their own way – but ultimately, The Tomb of the Cybermen has to come out on top due to just how well it holds up, even today. Whilst there are some unfortunate drawbacks, such as the questionable characterisation of Toberman and some odd costume choices, overall this story is excellent and is well-deserved of its status as a classic. This episode has a reputation for being one of Classic Who’s scariest episodes, and there are some scenes that are genuinely chilling – the famous example being the sequence in which the Cybermen break out of their tombs, but others include the death of the man who attempts to open the gate and the death of the man in the weapons chamber – both are sudden, graphic and accompanied by a suitably gruesome scream, and the Cyber-tomb around which this all takes place is presented almost like a malevolent entity in itself, making every scene set within its walls convery an air of uncertainty and fear. Even after over 50 years this serial is definitely worth a watch and is among the best Classic Doctor Who serials of all time.

To conclude, it is clear that the best Cyberman episodes in Classic Who are the ones that tackle the issue surrounding the Cybermen head on or depict their power and menace to make them genuinely terrifying.

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