And now for our last stories of this marathon.....
And what a great set of stories to end on! I know there has been a lot of discussion of this one on and off since it's release, but I don't mind saying again how much I like this. Both stories are fantastic and worthy of top spots in any list of BF favorites, however Conversion just slightly edges out Warzone for me. They both take a different look at Cybermen conversion. This one seems almost more aweful and creepy since there isn't any need for it. No dying planet or horrible disease affecting the population, just people being destroyed by their own vanity. For me, there is usually a sense of sorrow and pity for the people being changed into Cybermen. A feeling of doom that is unavoidable because of the situations they are in. There is none of that pity here, just a frustration as to how these people are allowing this to happen.
And I really hope we get more stories with Marc. I thought he was a good addition to the team. We haven't a companion from ancient historical times since Erimem, and the fact that he comes from a life of slavery is a point of view we haven't seen in a Tardis crew. I kind of wish we'd had more with him before he became Cyber-ized so we could just have this new companion without alteration for a while.
Thank you all for joining me on this Cyber-journey through the Main Range. It's been a treat revisiting these old stories, and it seems BF knows their way around the Cybermen. There have been very few duds along the way. I hope you all had some fun with this.
Warzone/ Conversion- Simply amazing. For the first time ever I was excited about a 5th Doctor release. And looking forward to how it continues. Very intimidating, creepy and effective use of the Cybermen and their horror, and I absolutely love the emotional depth and despair the 5th Doctor is driven in this. Really enjoying my re- listen.
The very last two stories in our Cyber-marathon and, fittingly, just as transformative as the first two. We've come a long way since Sword of Orion and Spare Parts. There's been something about Conversion that's been bugging me for a while and I think after this relisten I've pinned down what it was...
Over the years, the Sixth Doctor has developed such a finely-honed character arc from The Twin Dilemma to The Brink of Death that, as a listener, Colin Baker's performance seems to attune itself to certain eras of his character. The more buoyant he is, the closer he is to Mel. The more morose, the closer to the lonely months following his trial. There was something about the Fifth Doctor's characterisation here that prompted the same sort of "arc sense", but I couldn't trace it for ages. It wasn't wrong, in the sense that he was mischaracterised, it was a lot more subtle and enriching than that. The Fifth Doctor is comparably more static in his character compared to his immediate successors. Part of his appeal is that reliability, yet that's not to say he doesn't change over the years. He is never more determined than after Earthshock or world-weary after Resurrection of the Daleks. Now, the latter...
I can't say where the arc with Marc is going in the immediate sense, but the desperation and recklessness here feels emblematic of where he'll eventually end up in Resurrection. Leaving the TARDIS and turning to Tegan to say he's going: "To kill Davros." You could argue that the massacre at Seabase 4 contributed to a more galvanised Fifth Doctor, but I've a theory: I think Warzone/Conversion is the story that welds together the man pointing the gun at the Dalek's creator ("I'm not here as your prisoner, Davros, but your executioner.") and the man who crawled through the hazards of Androzani Major to save his friend ("So you see, I'm not going to let you stop me now!"). It takes that galvanising determination that's become so archetypal of the Fifth Doctor -- that Androzani energy -- and turns it against him and his companions.
I don't think that's ever been done before. Not quite in this way. And you can see it informing a lot of the action in the story. One of the most prominent underlying themes of this duology is extremism. How far? How far are these characters willing to go to prevent another tragedy? What drives them to that? I like that the Doctor and Tegan's discussion about whether or not he liked Adric isn't really about Tegan's question. It's about the fact that she can even ask that question in the first place. Adric has since become martyred in the minds of the TARDIS crew, but Conversion earnestly asks the question whether he was actually treated well in life. Is regret what's driving this team? In great respects, yes. And poor Marc is right at the very end. So much of this isn't driven by him as a human being, but by regrets of Adric. (Something I can see being addressed in the rapidly approaching future.)
A strong action-adventure first act and a solid character study in the latter half. Deconstructing the fallout of Earthshock head-on in a manner that could only be done with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa.
Thank you for this ride through Cyber-history, elkawho , it's been deeply enjoyable. "Coming up next, a revitalised four-part adventure starring Tom Baker as Doctor Who..."
"Courage isn't a matter of not being frightened you know; It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway."
Both of these stories rank amongst the best Cyberman stories in any medium. Warzone feels like an absolute cracker of a new series Doctor Who episode - clever sci-fi premise taken to extremes, and with a returning villain twist. Then Conversion follows it up with Big Consequences - the kind that often get brushed over in Doctor Who with a swift, easy denouement.
And both of the stories (especially Warzone) treat the Cybermen as Cybermen - not soldiers from the Generic Bad Alien Squad. That means people who CHOSE to become like them as well as those who were forced - humans living a nightmare that humans created. That wonderful existential horror that has underpinned the Cybermen since The Tenth Planet.