New Series Dalek Customs Collection Tour – Savage Dalek Asylum Customs

Welcome to the next instalment in this series of Dalek customs showcases, a tour through my collection of custom-made New Series Daleks that have been altered and painted to appear destroyed, with some marked with stamps for the Dalek Asylum. In the previous feature we looked at several destroyed Dalek inmates, including some who had fallen victim to the Savage Daleks, which will be the focus of this feature. All of these customs are made by me unless stated otherwise in the description.

Cannibal Dalek REVISITED

This custom previously appeared in one of the earliest Custom Collection Tours, the New Series Dalek Asylum Inmates Collection Tour. However, it has since been updated to feature as a Savage Dalek. As described in the previous appearance of this Dalek, the custom represents a Dalek that has survived by harvesting parts from other inmates, essentially cannibalising other Dalek casings to keep itself alive. With a new paint job and new claw arms, this custom was created mainly using Citadel paints, hot glue and pieces of Warhammer weapons to create the savage tools that this Dalek uses to cut up its victims.

Savage Claw Dalek

Since many Savage Daleks have to create makeshift weapons using reprogrammed repair nanobots, they usually opt for subtle but precise weapons capable of dealing deadly accurate cuts to Dalek casings. However, this Dalek has opted for an oversized claw arm to complement a short-range machine gun stolen from an Exxilon survivor. Like most Savage Daleks, this specimen resides in some of the deepest caverns in the Asylum, and has formed a loose alliance with other Savages to survive. This custom was made using silver Citadel paint as a base that was drybrushed over with black. The claw and gun are both re-purposed Warhammer pieces put together using hot glue.

Savage Laser Cutter Dalek

This Dalek has a high status among the Savages it has banded together with as its laser cutter attachment allows it to bypass many Asylum security systems, cut through doors, and make short work of any Dalek at close range. As this Dalek was admitted to the Asylum for numerous attacks against its fellow Daleks, it is clear that this Dalek suffers from some kind of defect that renders it unable to find any form of life tolerable, even that of other Daleks. This custom was made using grey and silver Citadel paints, some plastic pieces and the stem and nib of a ballpoint pen painted silver.

Savage Dalek Inmate

Of the many Savage Daleks in the Asylum, some are more lucid and adhere more to Dalek principles than others. This particular Dalek is an example of one of the few Savage Daleks that have not opted for personalised weaponry, instead opting for the standard Dalek loadout of gunstick and sucker arm. However, this Dalek’s conformity should not be confused for leniency, as it is just as deadly as any other Savage Dalek – just less willing to opt for crude replacements for the already effective Dalek standard armament. The base for this custom was originally a Dalek Sec, although it has been heavily drybrushed with silver, black and grey Citadel paint and fitting with a new eyestalk that was constructed using parts of a phone charger. As with all the Dalek inmates, this custom is also sporting an Asylum stamp that was applied using a red Promarker pen.

 

 

New Series Dalek Customs Collection Tour – Even More Destroyed Daleks

Welcome to the next instalment in this series of Dalek customs showcases, a tour through my collection of custom-made New Series Daleks that have been altered and painted to appear destroyed, with some marked with stamps for the Dalek Asylum. In the previous two-part feature we delved back into the Dalek Asylum to look at more customs. These are more destroyed Daleks that are doomed to rot in the Dalek Asylum for all eternity. All of these customs are made by me unless stated otherwise in the description.

Abandoned Dalek Casing

Due to the centuries spent languishing in the Asylum, many of the insane Dalek inmates are crazy enough to try and escape from their casings, particularly the ones with cybernetic enhancements that allow them to slowly adapt to living for longer and longer periods outside of their shells. The mutant that formerly resided inside this Dalek casing has reach a point where it can abandon its metal prison altogether, leaving the damaged remains to gather dust in some dark corner of the Asylum. To create this custom a mutant reveal Dalek was used with the mutant itself removed, and the front panel cut in half and attached to the casing with plastic pieces. The wires came from an old TV cable and all the paint was done with Citadel applied using a dry brush.

Destroyed Time War Commander

During the Time War the Asylum saw an unprecedented increase in inmates – sometimes dozens would arrive in a single day. Due to a huge overload of the Asylum systems many of the automated drones were assigned to repair duties, leaving many of the more aggressive inmates unguarded. As a result, heavy infighting is now a common occurrence in the Asylum, which the central computer allows in order to keep numbers down. This Dalek Commander was a particularly unfortunate casualty of a conflict between various factions, and the blasted casing now sits as a grim relic of the Time War, that for some Daleks in the Asylum still rages to this day. This custom used a yellow and black Dalek Commander figure as a base and plastic pieces for the insides of the casing. The dead mutant is a combination of tissue paper, hot glue and Citadel paints and hot glue was used to attach a sucker arm and gun socket to the middle of the casing.

Spider Eggs Dalek

Cobwebs were a recurring feature in the episode Asylum of the Daleks, with many of the Daleks in the Asylum (particularly the Classic Daleks) being covered with spider webs. However, this creates an interesting implication, in that it means the Asylum is also home to a population of spiders. Logically, these creatures must eat and reproduce, and so this custom represents what the local spider population might do in order to eat and lay eggs – with an unfortunate Dalek as the host. It stands to reason that the spiders would adapt to use the Daleks as a means of reproduction, and perhaps even food, as the spiders themselves may have been converted into another extension of the on-site defence system thanks to the tenacious nano-cloud that surrounds the Asylum. This custom uses a black Dalek as a base that was cut up using a hacksaw and heavy duty wire cutters. The inside was created using plastic, wires and small blobs of hot glue to represent spider eggs, with the end result spray painted silver to add to the spider aesthetic.

Destroyed Asylum Inmate

In-fighting in the Asylum has brought several factions to complete extinction – and their remains are salvaged by Dalek Splicers that scavenge for spare parts among the wreckage. This Dalek was a Commander in a pre-Time War Dalek Assault Squad. Thanks to heavy Dalek casualties in the Dalek War, it was not long before the survivors admitted to the Asylum were wiped out. This custom was created using pieces from various New Series Daleks that had been cut up for other customs, and as such a new paint job was needed to make all the pieces seem like part of the same Dalek. The inside computer parts were taken from a few old electronic devices and the whole thing was assembled using hot glue and tissue paper held together with wires.

Dead Asylum Inmate

The battles that take place within the Asylum are not always firefights – in order to conserve power, many Daleks have resorted to close-quarters combat using makeshift weapons that have been cobbled together. Though these Savage Daleks form only a loose alliance rather than an ideological faction, they are among the most deranged and deadly of the Asylum inmates. This particular inmate was a victim of a Savage Dalek attack during which they cut out many of the front plates as well as both weapons, causing the casing to shut down and the mutant inside to drown in its life support fluids. This custom was made using a hacksaw and heavy duty wire cutters, and the internal frame was constructed from plastic and painted with Citadel paints.

New Series Dalek Customs Collection Tour – Intensive Care Asylum Daleks Part 2

Welcome to the next instalment in this series of Dalek customs showcases, a tour through my collection of custom-made New Series Daleks that have been altered and painted to appear destroyed, with some marked with stamps for the Dalek Asylum. Continuing from Part 1, these are the next set of ‘intensive care’ Dalek customs. These are based on the Daleks that appeared in the special ward of the Dalek Asylum who are all survivors of particular encounters with the Doctor. All of these customs are made by me unless stated otherwise in the description.

Open Emperor Guard Dalek

This custom was created using a previous attempt at an insane Dalek Caan custom, with the mutant removed and replaced with a custom green mutant made using hot glue and a plastic claw. This Dalek is intended to represent one of the Dalek Emperor’s Human-Dalek Hybrids, specifically one of the Emperor’s Guards that somehow managed to survive the events of The Parting of the Ways and has ended up in the depths of the Dalek Asylum. As the last of the Emperor’s Human-Daleks, this specimen is quite insane, and the repair drones dare not approach for fear of being sliced in half by this Dalek’s vicious metal claw. The weathering on this Dalek was done using drybrushing and as the base model was already burnt the pieces are warped and malformed as if the casing has melted due to extreme temperatures.

Ongoing Maintenance Dalek

Not all Daleks in the Asylum were admitted for insanity – some are cast into the dark chambers of the facility for simply malfunctioning. This Dalek contracted some form of computer virus during an encounter with the Doctor and its casing’s self-repair systems have shut down, meaning the Asylum’s drones must continuously repair the Dalek’s systems as the virus works to take them down in an endless battle between two continually adapting programs. All the while this Dalek waits patiently for the balance to tip in its favour, as more than anything it wants revenge against the Doctor. The plastic and wires of this custom’s frame were taken from an old radio and stuck together using hot glue. The paint detailing is Citadel paints applied using a dry brush.

‘Steampunk’ Dalek Commander

Some of the Daleks in the intensive care ward were damaged within the Asylum itself – this former Dalek Commander was admitted to the Asylum during the Time War after an incident involving the Doctor and an electro-magnetic pulse. Since the ‘accident’, the Commander has conducted many botched repairs on itself in an attempt to remove its dependence on electronic components and has replaced many of them with cobbled-together clockwork and steam-powered devices constructing using re-programmed self-repair drones. Regarded as an eccentric by the other inmates of the Asylum, this Dalek is generally avoided by the more lucid Asylum denizens, This custom includes parts from an old CD drive as well as wires and pieces taken from an old radio. Promarker pen was used for the weathering and detail on the various cogs and other pieces.

Asylum Supreme Dalek

Having been updated since its appearance in the New Series Dalek Supremes Collection Tour, this Supreme Dalek now resides within the Asylum and has become the ringleader of a desperate faction of Daleks from various time periods who have allied together for protection. Using its old command codes, this Dalek is capable of interfacing directly with the Asylum’s central mainframe, giving it a unique insight into the Asylum’s Labyrinthine layout that makes it a vital asset for the various competing factions within the Asylum.

Doctor Who – The Ghost Monument – Series 11 Episode 2 Review

Jodie Whittaker’s second episode as the Thirteenth Doctor, The Ghost Monument, proves that now is an exciting time to be a Doctor Who fan. In many ways this episode put back all the leftover pieces that were not included in the debut episode, not least being the new title sequence. As the first thing you see in this episode, the fantastic fluidic effects coupled with the haunting new theme that harks back to the show’s earliest days makes the new series’ opening titles look unique and fresh. With some great characters, an interesting and fast-paced story, some great character moments and a special surprise at the end, the new title sequence isn’t the only exciting thing about Series 11’s second episode.

The most eye-catching thing about this episode is the setting – an inhospitable world filled with deserts, toxic lakes and crumbling ruins, the kind of setting that Doctor Who was made for. Fans might draw some similarities between this planet and Skaro, the first alien planet that was visited in Classic Who way back in 1963, and that may have been intentional – this series represents a whole new journey for the Doctor and so it is fitting that The Ghost Monument presents a return to form for Doctor Who – the characters are stranded on an alien planet, with no TARDIS and no idea how to get home, and the mystery kicks off from there. The plot of this episode is based around the heroes trying to reach the eponymous ‘Ghost Monument’, and although the premise itself seems simplistic, the episode is carried by interesting new characters and the building of the team dynamic between the Doctor and her three companions.

The Doctor herself is once again fantastic, and Jodie Whittaker gets to firmly establish her role as both the leader and backbone of the team, as she quickly asserts her authority over the new characters that the team encounter. The new Doctor also reiterates the view of many of her previous incarnations in her dislike of guns and violence, and shows her softer side when providing emotional support for Ryan. Speaking of Ryan, a few interesting scenes with him show that part of his character development may revolve around growing to trust the Doctor and Graham as surrogate parental figures, as he and Graham find more common ground between them and the Doctor demonstrates her ability to help Ryan in situations where his dyspraxia limits his confidence to act – like when climbing a ladder in a tense situation. Early signs of good character development early on are a great sign, and hopefully Yaz will get similar moments in later episodes.

In what is quite a character-focused episode, it is good that guest stars Shaun Dooley, Susan Lynch and Art Malik do such a great job in their respective roles. Dooley and Lynch in particular play a pair of highly driven intergalactic relay racers who are also trying to reach the ‘Ghost Monument’, and their stories and how they learn to work together with the Doctor is one of the episode’s most compelling aspects. The episode also features some well-designed monsters – from robot sentinels to spooky living fabrics that throttle people in their sleep – and although they are not as visually impressive as Tim Shaw was in the previous episode, the monsters in this story play more of a minor role as the primary focus is the journey.

And finally, arguably the episode’s most exciting moment comes with the return of the TARDIS. After dumping the newly regenerated Doctor in the skies above Sheffield before inexplicably vanishing, the TARDIS has been absent from Series 11 so far – until now. Following the Twelfth Doctor’s explosive regeneration, the interior of the TARDIS was almost completed destroyed, and as such we now have a completely remodelled interior and exterior of the TARDIS for the first time since 2013. Whilst fans will have to made up their own minds over where this TARDIS interior ranks relative to its predecessors, needless to say it stays true to the basics of the design and is definitely more suited to the character of the Thirteenth Doctor than Capaldi’s TARDIS would have been, as good as it was.  Overall, The Ghost Monument is another successful outing for the new Doctor and, with over seven million people tuning in to watch, it proves that Doctor Who is back and is as popular as ever.

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Doctor Who – Ranking the Multi-Doctor Stories

On rare occasions in Doctor Who, two or more incarnations of the Doctor can actually meet on-screen and interact with each other, regardless of how many paradoxes such an event should cause. Episode to feature this phenomenon are known as multi-Doctor stories, and they are usually used to commemorate a milestone in the show’s history (though not always). As many of the Doctors incarnations differ drastically in terms of personality, often when two or more different Doctors meet they do not get along – and certain Doctors are actually known to have particular distaste for specific incarnations – which often makes multi-Doctor stories an interesting means of exploring the Doctor’s psyche. This ranking of multi-Doctor stories will feature televised stories only, although there are enough multi-Doctor audio stories to fill a separate list. So, without further ado:

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6 – The Two Doctors

Doctors featured: Second and Sixth

This episode is certainly the ‘odd-one-out’ of the Classic Who multi-Doctor stories in that it was not intended to be a ‘special’, and it did not commemorate a milestone or event as such – in reality, The Two Doctors was a desperate attempt by the production team to inject some excitement into the Doctor Who fanbase after lukewarm reactions to prior episodes. The return of fan-favourite Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor could have been brilliant – but The Two Doctors falls flat for several reasons. For a start, it is far too long, and the episodes spends too long building up to the meeting of the Sixth and Second Doctors to the point that the payoff is less than satisfactory. The Second Doctor actually has very little presence in this story, and the Sontarans had long since lost their credibility as villains by this point in Classic Who’s run. The one saving grace of this episode is that, despite everything, it is fun having the Second Doctor and Jamie back and their interactions with the Sixth Doctor are good fun.

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5 – Twice Upon a Time

Doctors featured: First and Twelfth

Steven Moffat’s era ended with an episode that was intended to be a dedication to Classic Who and its fans – but Twice Upon a Time actually ended up rubbing a lot of fans the wrong way with its distinctly odd characterisation of the First Doctor that made him out to be a sexist bigot. Despite the fact that Doctor Who began in the 1960s, and the First Doctor did occasionally portray 1960s values, his representation in Twice Upon a Time is radically overblown and comes across as a caricature at times. Still, overlooking this issue, Twice Upon a Time is an enjoyable episode and serves as a great sendoff for both Moffat and the Twelfth Doctor. Arguably the most interesting thing about this multi-Doctor story in particular is it features two versions of the Doctor in mid-regeneration, with both debating whether or not to go through with the change and having a distinct impact on each other’s decisions, a concept that had not been explored until this point.

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4 – Time Crash

Doctors featured: Fifth and Tenth

Though this Children In Need special is short, it features all the best ingredients for a good multi-Doctor story – there’s banter between the Doctors, comedy of misunderstanding, and the inevitable development of a working friendship between two very different (yet also distinctly similar) incarnations. As the first Classic Who-New Who crossover, Time Crash features quite a few continuity references for its short run-time (hearing the Tenth Doctor say ‘Tegan’ will always be a bit strange) but also celebrates the differences between New and Old Who with both Doctors aiming jibes at the other. With a whimsical plot with a surprisingly emotional ending, Time Crash is always a joy.

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3 – The Three Doctors

Doctors featured: First, Second and Third

The first multi-Doctor story laid much of the groundwork for others to come, and since the idea had never featured before on the show, The Three Doctors spends more time exploring the actual situation at hand rather than simply using it as a vehicle for the plot or for fanservice. Aside from the main plot, which features the debut of Omega, The Three Doctors has a lot of screentime dedicated to the Second and Third Doctors simply interacting – at first they dislike each other, but eventually they learn to accept their differences and work together. Ultimately the only real drawback to this episode is the unfortunate circumstances surrounding William Hartnell’s final appearance as the First Doctor – due to his ailing health, Hartnell was unable to feature as prominently in the episode as either Troughton or Pertwee, and his role is limited to popping up from time to time on a television screen and reading his lines from an auto-que. Regardless, The Three Doctors pioneered the concept of the multi-Doctor story and, despite its limitations, it did the job quite well.

Doctor Who

2 – The Day of the Doctor

Doctors featured: The War Incarnation, Tenth and Eleventh

The 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor is the first (and until this point, the only) televised multi-Doctor story to feature only NuWho Doctors, and is unique in that one of the incarnations that it features makes his only substantial on-screen appearance in this story – The War Doctor. This previously unknown incarnation, played by John Hurt, makes a great impression in this episode and actually fills the role of ‘Classic Doctor’ to bounce off the more energetic personalities of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. This episode makes good use of the multi-Doctor format to present the conflict taking place within the Doctor’s psyche – his built up guilt and anger about the Time War is reflected in the modern incarnations’ dislike for the War Doctor, and the Doctor’s decision to end the Time War in a less destructive way redeems the War incarnation in the eyes of his successors and allows the Doctor to finally put the Time War behind him and move on. Overall, The Day of the Doctor is a fantastic multi-Doctor story with some great scenes between the three Doctors, but it doesn’t quite beat…

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1 – The Five Doctors

Doctors featured: First, Second, Third, Fourth (sort of) and Fifth

The 25th Anniversary special, The Five Doctors. This episode is a hardcore Doctor Who fan’s dream come true, as it features the Fifth Doctor alongside his four predecessors, plus many returning companions including Sarah Jane Smith, K-9, the Brigadier and even Susan. Also featured are the Cybermen, a Dalek, and the Time Lords including the Master and Rassilon, and if that were not enough, the episode also divulges a generous helping of Time Lord lore. One of the genius things about this episode is that it doesn’t seem like there is too much crammed in – the episode dedicates roughly equal time to each character’s plot thread in a manner similar to Avengers: Infinity War, ensuring that fans of each specific Doctor will not be disappointed. All, that is, except for Fourth Doctor fans, who will be disappointed to discover that his role in this episode is minimal – this is due to the fact that Tom Baker refused to reprise his role for this episode, and all the footage of the Fourth Doctor that is used actually came from the unfinished episode Shada. The Five Doctors makes excellent use of its run-time to tell a compelling story and feature many classic multi-Doctor interactions, most notably the finale in which all the Doctors finally meet to fight Rassilon.

With several prior Doctor actors expressing their wish to return to the show, hopefully it will not be long before fans get another multi-Doctor story featuring the Thirteenth Doctor, particularly if recent favorites like Tennant, Smith or Capaldi decide to return. Not only that, but the 60th Anniversary is not far away, and who knows – with the recent announcement of Big Finish’s The Legacy of Time, set to feature not only the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors but also may characters crossing over from NuWho, there is a possibility for more Classic Who/New Who multi-Doctor crossovers in the future.

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Star Wars – The Aftermath of ‘The Last Jedi’

Following the release of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, the Star Wars fanbase fractured as many fans labelled this film the worst that the franchise had ever seen. Whilst there were and are many Star Wars fans who will defend the film and the direction that Disney is taking the franchise, it is now undeniable that Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm will go down as one of the most controversial events in the history of modern science fiction. Since the eradication of the original Legends canon, the new lore that Disney has introduced has seen the entire plot of the post-Return of the Jedi era of Star Wars reworked from a hopeful and steady continuation of the adventures of Luke, Han and Leia to a tragic dissolution of the Jedi Order, the New Republic and the marriage between Han and Leia – a decision that has definitely rubbed many fans the wrong way. Gone are fan favourites like Kyle Katarn, Mara Jade Skywalker, and Jacen and Jaina Solo, and even some characters from the expanded universe that had nothing to do with the post-ROTJ era at all, such as Darth Revan and Bastila Shan from the KOTOR series. The question remains – was all of this loss from the vast and diverse Star Wars canon worth it for what Disney has given us since?

Before we answer that question, it is important to note two things – first, anyone who wishes can still experience Star Wars Legends in all its glory, as the rebranding of the original canon into Legends has been accompanied with re-releases of the novels featuring the ‘Legends’ brand, and Disney have no desire to wipe the original canon of Star Wars from the face of the planet as many of the old comics and games are still available to buy at retailers. Secondly, the new story that Disney has written is just that – a story. Regardless of how one might feel towards The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Star Wars has always inspired children and the new films have continued to do just that, meaning that their existence can never be truly written off as a waste of time and effort despite negative fan reaction to the more recent Disney Star Wars products.

Yet the issue remains – Disney’s Star Wars is controversial among fans, and it cannot be denied that specific aspects of the brand such the Star Wars video games have suffered a decline in quality under Disney’s rule – or rather, EA’s rule, since Disney licensed Star Wars games exclusively to the controversial publisher – with titles like the new Star Wars: Battlefront and it’s sequel being poorly received due to EA’s blatant attempts at money-grabbing. Microtransactions, a system that essentially amounts to luck-based gambling with real money in video games that was introduced to mobile games but has since spread to all corners of the gaming world, were one of the main issues with the new EA Star Wars games – gone are the days of open sandboxes, diverse heroes and characters and dozens of playable maps, now much of the content in EA’s Star Wars games are locked behind paywalls. This obvious drain on the ‘soul’ of Star Wars may seem ironic considering George Lucas has always treated the franchise as a mass-marketable cash-cow, but something about the apparent lack of respect for the franchise, its history, and the great games that came before have had many fans up in arms demanding that EA lose their exclusive rights to make Star Wars games to allow other, more passion-driven developers to take the helm.

Moving back to the cinematic side of the Star Wars franchise, so far Disney have released four Star Wars movies since 2015 – that’s one each year – and for many the Star Wars ‘burnout’ is a pressing problem. Fans of Star Wars are used to waiting for their movies – there were 3 years between each of the movies in the original trilogy, that were released between 1977 and 1983, and a gap of 16 years between the original trilogy and the prequels, which also released 3 years apart from each other. Under Disney’s rule, each main Star Wars film releases two years apart, with the year in between being filled by an ‘anthology’ film (more on those later) meaning that the once sporadic and highly anticipated release of a Star Wars film has been reduced to a yearly event in a transparent attempt by Disney to turn Star Wars into a bloated cinematic universe akin to the Marvel movie franchise. Whilst a cinematic universe suits the vast cast of characters that Marvel has under its belt after 50 years, the ultimate irony is that this marketing strategy would only have worked for Disney had they kept the original expanded universe intact – Revan: A Star Wars Story would only work if the pre-established continuity of Darth Revan still existed, which in the new canon, it doesn’t. Hardcore fans can take solace in the fact that, by eliminating the original canon, Disney have seriously shot themselves in the foot.

Oddly, however, the two ‘anthology’ movies that have been released by Disney have been excellent – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a fantastically made love letter to A New Hope that doesn’t blatantly rip off its plot like The Force Awakens did, and Solo: A Star Wars Story is surprisingly good despite the fact that it’s poor performance at the box office. The unfortunate truth, however, is that the relative quality of the ‘anthology’ movies only serves to frustrate fans who wish that the same care and attention had been put into The Last Jedi, as Rian Johnson’s incongruous attempts to make his mark on the franchise in the middle of a three-act trilogy have made the future of the sequel trilogy uncertain. Fans knew where they stood with J.J. Abram’s new interpretation of Star Wars, but Rian Johnson seemed to go out of his way to subvert viewer’s expectations with The Last Jedi to the extent that the film tries too hard to be not what J.J. Abrams would have done, sabotaging many of J.J.’s open-ended plot threads like Supreme Leader Snoke, Rey’s parentage and Luke’s character arc to such an extent that The Last Jedi is a deflating and thoroughly disappointing follow-up to J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens. 

While views on both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi differ across the far-reaching spectrum of the Star Wars fanbase, the most obvious conclusion is that the former is superior to the latter. Whilst The Force Awakens stuck to the basic plot of A New Hope almost beat-for-beat, it was in keeping with the spirit of Star Wars and was generally better received than its sequel, which divided the fanbase on release and has received ratings lower than The Phantom Menace in several rankings. The question remains – what can Disney do to resolve this problem and help re-unify the Star Wars fanbase? Clearly everything hinges on Episode IX – amid rumours that Disney are delaying all other Star Wars projects, it seems that the follow up to The Last Jedi will have a lot to prove. Getting J.J. Abrams back as director was a good choice, but it may be too little too late as many Star Wars fans are considering boycotting Episode IX entirely. Clearly, therefore, Disney should consider the fan-favourite suggestions of a standalone Obi-Wan movie starring Ewan McGregor, set between Episodes III and IV, as Obi-Wan himself represents a well-liked character in the franchise who is more deserving of a spinoff than a significantly more minor character like Boba Fett. Outside of the movies, Disney should consider re-canonising many of the now ‘Legends’ games and stories – characters like Revan who existed thousands of years before the events of the Star Wars saga deserve a comeback in the new canon. EA should pay closer attention to Star Wars games that succeeded in the past, focusing specifically on why fans loved them so much, and how EA can emulate the more fun-loving and less money-grabbing feel of 2000s Star Wars games.

It would seem, therefore, that in the aftermath of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars and the release of The Last Jedi, the future of the Star Wars franchise is uncertain. However, provided Disney, EA and Lucasfilm learn from their more recent mistakes and aim to improve their handling of the Star Wars franchise in the future, it may yet not be too late to restore the brand to its former glory.

 

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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