Timestamp #37: The Tomb of the Cybermen

Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen
(4 episodes, s05e01-e04, 1967)

Timestamp 037 The Tomb of the Cybermen

The fifth series starts right where the fourth left off with Victoria joining the crew.

The travelers arrive on the homeworld of the Cybermen to find an archaeology team researching the titular tomb. It’s a nice parallel to the previous serial, which briefly (re)visited the homeworld of the Daleks. As they explore, they unravel more of the enemy’s background. I had seen the cybermats before on the recent series episodes, so it’s good closure on my end to see where the mechanical caterpillars originate.

The team restores power to the complex and awakens the tomb, but the rocket ship is broken and the pilot is distrustful, so the team is stranded. Of course, the Doctor can leave anytime, but he chooses to remain, and the story continues with members of the exploration team belonging to the Brotherhood of Logicians, who want to add the Cybermen’s power to the Brotherhood’s intelligence.

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.

An artifact of the 1960s are the stunt wires, which are plainly visible during the fight on my plasma screen, but were probably easily hidden on CRTs half a century ago.

The companions get some nice beats in this serial. First, Victoria reflects on her family and the terror of the Daleks with counsel from the Doctor. She’s very innocent, but very loyal. Jamie also gets to exploit his very well-developed relationship with the Doctor, especially in one exchange that made me guffaw. When discussing the minds of the cybermats:

“You might say they’ve had a complete metal breakdown.”



In another mythology-building moment, The Doctor advocates using a firearm to kill as he has no other choice, but then rejects it moments later when he enters the tomb to finish off the Cybermen. He also wraps up this serial with a refusal to make predictions about the end of the Cybermen, even though he was really really sure about the Daleks just days earlier. Spoiler alert, Doctor: They both come back.

I think Series Five has set a high bar with an excellent adventure.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Abominable Snowmen


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.


9 thoughts on “Timestamp #37: The Tomb of the Cybermen

  1. I’m really glad that you liked this one. As I keep telling you there is a reason why they recognize the Doctor, but even with the stories as told isn’t it possible that they recognize him from the Moonbase story? I’d have to rewatch, but weren’t the Cybermen on the moon in contact with a fleet of Cyberships in that story? If so they could have easily beamed the Doctor’s likeness up to them. I realize that they already recognized him *in* the Moonbase, but at least with this one following on it makes sense that they still recognize him.

    Also, I really love the scene in this one where the Doctor talks to Victoria about his family and the scene where they’re about to enter the tomb and the Doctor and Jamie both reach for Victoria’s hand and walk in only to discover that they’re holding each other’s hands. Haha.

    I’ve heard it said that this story is racist because Toberman is a mute strong man, but heck he’s the most likable member of the expedition. Even the ones who weren’t actively trying to take over the galaxy with cyber help were awfully annoying.

    Oh and the Doctor playing along with Klieg just to see how crazy he was was just perfect.

  2. […] The return of the Cybermen marks another point in the Steven Moffat trend of ending a series with the menace. To this point, every penultimate episode of every series under his reign as executive producer – The Pandorica Opens, Closing Time, and Nightmare in Silver – has featured the Cybermen. This was one of the best features in that list, especially with the visual callback to The Invasion and the iconic march near St. Paul’s Cathedral. This story also calls back to a similar awakening from The Tomb of the Cybermen. […]

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