Stupid Things About “Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of
(And 5 Cool Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 415/6
1. The wheelchair-bound megalomaniac obsessed with creating cyborgs is such a cliché that a first-time viewing is mostly spent wondering when the writers are going to start subverting it.
2. The Doctor and Rose’s giggling humiliation of Mickey isn’t big or clever, and in fact makes them look so unpleasant that it’s no surprise Mickey deserts them to live in the alternate universe—and the fact that he does actually come back to help them later makes him officially a saint.
3. “From beyond the grave!”
4. “The world below can party, some of us have work to do!”
5. If everyone is continually being updated on news via their earpods, why do they need newspapers? Or newsreaders?
6. Apparently Tony Blair got elected in Rose and Mickey’s universe, although when this was and for how long (he was evidently out of office by March 2006, when “Aliens of London” takes place) is unknown.
7. Forget zeppelins, Pete’s survival, a President for the UK and the invention of a cyborg race-- the idea that Rose’s Dad’s Vitex energy drink is a big economic success is the least plausible thing about this story.
8. Pete’s car has different number plates in the front and rear.
9. Massively overused early-21st-century sci-fi clichés include: zeppelins as normal mode of transport, evil corporate tycoons, omniscient surveillance society extending everywhere, the dangers of mobile telephony. Oh, and the line “bullets won’t stop them.”
10. Pretty much any effects shot of Lumic’s zeppelin is guaranteed to be worth the portion of the license fee we paid for it.
11. Return of International Electromatics, while the corpse of Tobias Vaughn rotates so fast that its cybernetic implants fly off.
12. The news channel has a little “IE,” suggesting that “The Invasion” could be easily remade in the present day-- just substitute SIM cards for transistors and Bob, or perhaps Tobias, would be your uncle. Unfortunately, they did this story instead.
13. Since IE is supposed to be a dummy company for Cybus Industries, how come it’s got its own news network?
14. The President’s suit is very tight indeed.
15. If the soldier expects Mickey to know all about the curfew, why does he bother telling him that the curfew’s at ten?
16. The signal for the download apparently physically stops everyone in their tracks, even policemen. The potential for mayhem is enormous, from crashing cars to enterprising criminals who keep their earpods off to profit from police immobility, to the inevitable puerile speculations about what happens to people having sex, rock-climbing, pouring coffee, standing at urinals, high-diving, et cetera.
17. Ricky’s gang are the deep-discount version of Torchwood—a collection of poorly-dressed bisexual nerds with a big naff-off van, living off the grid (of course, calling them the deep-discount version of Torchwood is assuming that you don't already consider Torchwood deep-discount to begin with).
18. The shot of Battersea Power Station, all chimneys firing, is beautiful.
19. And in episode 2, you get a shot of Battersea Power Station and Lumic’s zeppelin, and fans of digital scenery just go wild.
20. Where do the screaming voices come from when Mr Crane opens the doors? It’s not the homeless men, as they haven’t so much as wandered into the conversion facility yet.
21. Why exactly are there curfews, resistances and black markets? A state of deprivation, or a police state, or a war, or something, might provide a credible backdrop for the story, but apart from those one or two details, alt-London is just as much a free-market capitalist place as in our universe, and the President of the UK seems if anything much more sensible than our last five Prime Ministers.
22. “We are human point two.” Computer programme versions usually start at point-zero and build from there, which suggests either that there was another version of humanity before Homo sapiens that they’re designating as point-zero, or that Cybermen can’t count.
23. How can you have a “maximum deletion”? Either you’re deleted or not, make up your mind.
24. Noel Clarke’s only way of visually distinguishing Ricky from Mickey seems to be that Ricky is perpetually scowling and wrinkling his nose.
25. What possible motivation would Pete Tyler have to pass on secret information about Lumic’s organization to the security services? Leaving aside the fact that Pete’s no political idealist, nobody knew that Lumic was planning a hostile takeover—indeed, Lumic himself only put that into action when the President turned his business plan down.
26. Mr Crane clearly doesn’t trust Lumic, as he only wears one earpod and is thus able to remove it and not be hypnotized by the Cybermen. Hence his attack on Lumic later.
27. So Mickey and Ricky come from two different worlds, with two different sociopolitical and economic structures, and yet they’re wearing exactly the same clothes on the same day?
28. The Cybermen who approach the bins are turned away by the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, but he never uses that particular function again. Not even when it might have been rather useful.
29. “I will upgrade only with my last breath!” “Then breathe no more!” Lumic did sort of walk into that one.
30. “Above, between below,” is famously a reference to “The Five Doctors.” Which invites comparisons to another story which makes no bloody sense at all.
31. “A hot dog… it’s the Cyberman of food, but it’s tasty.”
32. “What’s the difference between you and a Cyberman?” Mickey says to (the flagrantly homosexual) Jake. Which implies that Jake’s been doing his share of converting.
33. With her rucksack full of explosives and unexpectedly useful gear, is Mrs Moore the Welsh, middle-aged, alt-universe version of Ace?
34. Cooling tunnels aren’t refrigeration units, but tunnels used to evacuate hot air from buildings. Evidently the Cybermen don’t know much about civil engineering either.
35. If the Cybermen are meant to be converting millions of human beings post-haste, why do they have a whole cold-storage vault of Cybermen sitting around doing nothing?
36. The CGI Cybermen have guns built into their arms, but not the real-life ones.
37. Even as a Cyberman, alt-Jackie is a bitch.
38. Technically the titular villains should be “Cybusmen” not “Cybermen.”
39. Not only is Lumic converted into a Cybercontroller, but his chair receives an impressive upgrade.
40. What was he doing before the doors opened, though—just sitting there, staring at a blank wall? Did he and the Cybermen pre-plan his big entrance?
41. The Doctor crows about how Lumic making every bit of technology compatible with every other bit allows him to input the cancellation code using Rose’s mobile. However, since Rose’s mobile is the product of a completely different universe… oh, you get the idea.
42. Which also contradicts the whole McGuffin about why they’re stuck in the alt-universe in the first place, as the Doctor stated in episode one that his TARDIS, being from our universe, couldn’t draw power from anything in the alt-universe.
43. Keep your eyes open for the Cyberman discotheque at 36 minutes into "The Age of Steel."
44. How does giving the Cybermen emotions cause their base to blow up?
45. Why is the Cybercontroller grunting with effort as he climbs the ladder?
46. The Doctor says that “we can never return” to the parallel universe. Yeah, just think how long that lasted.
47. As Mickey and Jake drive out of London, the sign to the right clearly reads “Welcome to Newport.”
48. At their best, the Cybermen designs reflect the subconscious body-horror fears of whatever era they’re in. The first Cybermen, with their clunky half-fabric half-metal suits, reflect fears of the dangers of early space travel; late-Sixties Cybermen, with their calipers, recall polio victims; the Eighties Cybermen, with their rugged Apple Mac look, recall suburban anomie in the face of the rapid social penetration of computer technology. What the hell these guys, a mishmash of Iron Man, the Terminator, Robocop and a Pet Shop Boys video, are meant to reflect, is a total mystery.
49. Mickey states that one of the reasons he’s staying in the alt-universe is to be with his gran. However, he then heads off to Paris without repairing her stair carpet, or even so much as checking whether she’s been turned into a short, stout Cyberman with big sunglasses.
50. The story ends with an extended, meaningful shot of the moon and a shooting star, which is only explicable as some kind of fan reference to “The Moonbase.”