Timestamp #29: The Tenth Planet

Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet
(4 episodes, s04e05-e08, 1966)

Timestamp 029 The Tenth Planet

This serial had a slow lead up to an otherwise enjoyable story. It’s the introduction of the Cybermen! Wow, they have come a long way in costume and character design. The Cybermen were a bit hard to understand, and were certainly more individual than the later versions.

It was good to get the backstory on such a popular villain, and the story keeps rolling with excellent tension surrounding the stranded astronauts and assault in isolation. Cutler was the trope of the blood-thirsty military officer, which felt a little bonk-bonk on the head with the message. That in mind, I get Cutler having no problem killing the Cybermen, but what didn’t follow was Ben enabling Cutler to kill them. Ben was terribly upset about killing in self-defense mere moments earlier, but then hands Cutler the gun without hesitation.

The Doctor spontaneously collapses and remains out of commission for an episode of the serial. This leaves the companions to carry the story, both in and out of the serial. Hartnell was obviously having a hard time with this one, and luckily the companion actors and characters are both strong enough to keep the gears turning.

Remember the rules, though: It’s a regeneration episode, so it get an automatic +1 on the score. They’re always hard episodes to do.

Watching the First Doctor say goodbye was heart-breaking. The companions think he’s either worn out or going daft, but it felt a lot more like he was completely lucid in his final moments. Just in case this regeneration thing doesn’t work, “stay warm.”

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – First Doctor Summary


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.




18 thoughts on “Timestamp #29: The Tenth Planet

  1. In some respects, I wish the producers of the new series would watch this again to get more of a feel for how the Cybermen should be represented. They come across as more evil rather than emotionless in the new series. Evil can hopefully be turned around, but someone without emotions cannot be reached.

    This was the first of many “base under siege” stories.

  2. I like the Mondasion Cybermen because you get the body horror of someone being changed into these things. I like that you can still see some human features. The Cybermen increasingly lose this throughout the classic series only to have it return in the 80’s and of course the new series versions just look like pure robots.

    It’s a real shame that episode four is the one missing because I call the rest of this “the cure for insomnia”. It seems from the audio and photographic evidence that episode four is where it really picks up the pace but unfortunately there’s no way to know (haven’t checked out the animation that they did recently yet). Hartnell was originally supposed to be in episode three but was getting increasingly ill, so they decided to give him a week off and hastily rewrite the script to give some of his lines to Ben so that he’d be in top form for the final episode.

    So IMHO great concept that erred greatly in execution. Unfortunately we never see the Cybermen like this again.

  3. […] I like the design of the Cybercontroller with the semi-transparent brain cavity, but those voices are still hard to understand at times. We also discover that these Cybermen are related to those from the assault on the moon base.  Once again, without explanation, they recognize the Doctor despite his new persona, but they do explain that the moon base attack was motivated by fear of becoming extinct thanks to the First Doctor’s actions toward Mondas. […]

  4. […] As the one not well versed in all things Doctor Who, Griffiths demands an explanation. Lytton and the Doctor explain that Telos is the adopted home planet of the Cybermen, and that it only came into their possession after they destroyed the native Cryons to take over their advanced refrigeration technology to store their troops after Mondas was destroyed. […]

  5. […] Since The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen have been a simple silver horde devoid of emotion that march and destroy. Those Cybermen were the Mondasian models (which we haven’t seen since Silver Nemesis), and the revival era added the extra layer of assimilating people upon the introduction of the Cybus Cybermen in Rise of the Cybermen, which have been the standard until this effective reboot. […]

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