The Tardis arrives in December 1986 at a South Pole Space Tracking station where the personnel, under the command of General Cutler, are engaged in trying to talk down a manned space capsule that has got into difficulty. The base is invaded by a force of alien Cybermen. The Cybermen's world, Mondas, is draining energy from Earth - once its 'twin planet' - and the situation will soon become critical.
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How do you solve the problem of a four part story with the last part missing? That's the quandary facing this William Hartnell Doctor Who story - his last full time story as the Doctor. Thankfully those clever viewers in the 1960's did a better preservation job than the BBC did and recorded every missing story onto audio tape. So, whilst we have no video of 97 of the stories from the 1960's - we DO have the full audio soundtracks to all of the missing ones. Back when this story was released on video tape the soundtrack was matched with Tele-snaps (photos taken of the story using a camera and a big flat screen - used mainly as references for the Director when doing the next part of the story) and with subtitles to fill in the gaps in the action. However, since the release of the fantastically realised story "The Invasion" (animated by the wonderful Cosgrove Hall) this has seen to be old hat. So we've had various animations - though none seemed to have matched the quality of that first release. On the plus side the animation presented here is a step up from that which was done of "Reign Of Terror" (which suffered from too many quick cutaways!) and suits the story rather well. However if you liked the old way - they do spoil us by putting the original video Re-con on there! Plus you can see the actual regeneration separately as well (the only official clip that exists of that episode. Anyway on to the story and it's a fairly light one but still full of fun. The TARDIS land at the South Pole in the future - 1986 near the Snowcap base! They are soon taken in by the military there who are wondering where the hell the gang came from. That is soon put aside as there's a bigger worry - the Earth had a twin planet - Mondas - which had become a rogue planet, roaming around the Solar System - and now it's roamed back and just before it's death! Like Earth the planet is inhabited by humans - but humans that needed to survive the harsh conditions on their planet. They achieved this by replacing parts of their body with cybernetics! These are the first Cybermen! I won't go through spoiling the story but these Cybermen are VERY creepy indeed - I love the costume - which show their hands as normal human hands (reminding us that these aren't robots!) and the creepy sing-song way they talk (thanks to Roy Skelton - some time voice of the Daleks and Rainbow's Zippy & George!). They almost look and act like they should be in some weird 20th Century Dadaist theatre piece! I honestly don't think the Cybermen have looked and sounded as creepy and wish that a future production should give THESE guys a go again! With William Hartnell quite poorly at the time (so much so that he misses episode 3 - having been rendered unconscious!), the rest of the cast have to rush do a lot more and fill in the bits that he would normally do. Companions Ben and Polly do this admirably as do a range of cast members both on the base and in space - Earl Cameron as Williams should receive a special mention if only for his great acting voice alone. Speaking of Earl Cameron, it's lovely to see and hear the great man himself on the commentaries and the great Making of documentary "Frozen Out"! In fact there are a load of great extras - including the recently unearthed William Hartnell interview from 1966 - the only on-screen interview with the great man that's known to exist! It's certainly a good release and if you don't think much of the story it has enough extra stuff to keep you very happy indeed!
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