The Age of Steel (2006)

At the end of the first Cyberman story since the show returned, the regulars were surrounded by the Cybermen who were shouting ‘Delete, Delete, Delete’ which is their new catchphrase. The way they got out of it was quite clever because there was no attention drawn to it since the beginning of the previous episode. Whereas in the first episode the story was about the Cybermen ‘rising’, this episode is about them taking over the country. We have two Mickey’s (nod to The Chase where they had two Doctors) and this is where Mickey goes from zero to hero because he takes Ricky’s place and its at this point that learn that Ricky is London’s Most Wanted for Parking Tickets. I found it slight amusing but couldn’t help feel that they missed an opportunity to make the Ricky character a serious and strong one. This just made him look like Mickey.

John Lumic’s transformation into the Cyber Controller is quite impressive. In fact when he comes out as the Controller it’s the ‘throne’ that he’s on that is what I thought was brilliant. Also its good how they distinguished him from the ‘normal’ Cybermen by having a bit of Perspex on his head showing his brain. It reminds people that the Cybermen are part human.

The revelation that Pete Tyler was the informant was a little bit predictable. I must admit that I’m a little bored of this Del-Boy light character. He’s trying to be a wheeler-dealer but I don’t think he’s witty enough to pull it off. No disrespect to Shaun Dingwall. The thing that stands out are the visual effects used throughout these two episodes and in particular in this one. Such as the shots of Battersea Power Station with the Zeppelin above it. Also the cyber conversion area and the head coming down about to go on the head on a new Cyberman/woman. It’s quite a dark tone for this episode and it does well in adding to the drama.

They are a few examples of what Russell T Davies is good at and that is putting a bit of emotional drama into proceedings. This was done firstly in the form of Sally Phelan who is just about to get married and wonders why is she cold and that her fiancée cant see her like this. Then there is the sudden death of Mrs Moore. What she lacked in the previous episode she more than made up for it in this episode. The ultimate one though is the goodbye between Rose and Mickey. It’s been on the cards for a while that whilst the Doctor is around, Mickey doesn’t stand a chance with Rose and yet she doesn’t even see it. Credit to Noel Clarke and Billie Piper for the effort in this scene but really it’s Clarke’s episode and it’s the goodbye that he deserved.

I wasn’t totally impressed with this story when I first watched it upon transmission but having watched it since, I did find it quite charming and it was a good story for the regulars but probably wasn’t the strongest story to feature the Cybermen. Though it wasn’t a bad outing for them. I think that they were used well as it introduced to them a new audience who wouldn’t be as familiar with them as they would be with the Dalkes. Tom McRae’s first (and to date only) contribution to the show but it’s a good offering and it it’s the first two parter that has worked both sides of the cliffhanger.

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