I have read a fair amount of criticism concerning the most recent episode of "Doctor Who", "Rise of the Cybermen". The finger of failure seems pointed at Graeme Harper but I don't believe any shortcomings, in the latest adventure, should be attributed to him. He has been given a script to work with, from which he cannot radically depart! He has said he wasn't sure about revealing even the silhouette of the creature in the teaser sequence but that Russell T Davies insisted. If Graeme is interested in further work on the show, he's not exactly in a position to argue! In the commentary on this episode, he refers back to his previous work on the show, during the Eighties, as "in his day", thus revealing he sees this outing as a second lease of life.
It has been a tradition in Cybermen stories, with some notable exceptions, to keep their initial appearance back until the mid-point of the story and this he did, save the aforementioned pre-titles suggestion. With the word Cybermen in the title, everyone was watching and waiting for them to appear, me included! Had they appeared halfway through the 46-minute episode, the same criticism that was made against "Attack of the Cybermen", in 1985, would have applied; namely, that two twenty-five minute episodes had simply been joined together. Here was an attempt, successful or not, within the current style of "Doctor Who", to structure the episode according to its length and build to the smashing revelation!
This Saturday, there will be no waiting! The Cybermen will be in it throughout. I hope nobody attributes the supposed slower pace of the first episode, of what is a two-part story, to the fact that Graeme is approximately 20 years older than other directors on the series. He has learnt from experience and gave us the strongest mid-point of any of his "Doctor Who" stories. Using traditional low angles and wide lens shots of real actors in full Cyber-regalia is preferable to CGI any day. You feel their physical presence! Breaking through the panes of glass reminded me of the Sixties' Cybermen breaking out of their tomb on Telos. Harper's imagery will stay in the minds of today's children as much as previous, now iconic, representations have stayed with us. The Doctor crashing through a mirror on horseback, reinforced with a knowing wink seemingly to Reinette but really for the benefit of the audience, from the previous story, is another such image.
Mickey, mumbling ominously about being nothing more than a "spare part", near the beginning of "Rise of the Cybermen", not only references the Big Finish audio detailing the creation of the Cybermen, obviously an influence on the current story, but is also how the Cybermen describe themselves in their original story, "The Tenth Planet". An interesting turn of events might be if Mickey is "upgraded", in an act of self-sacrifice, while Ricky, his less-likeable doppelgänger, gets to join the crew of the TARDIS! Something similar was done with Chief O'Brien in an episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", though immediately forgotten the following week! This would go some way to explaining the ninth Doctor's inability to call Mickey by his correct name, other than sarcasm or indifference.
Of course, other aspects of the story may try one's patience. I'm sure you know which character I'm thinking about, or trying not to! As predicted, this being an alternate Earth, Jackie wasn't indeed her usual self... She was even worse!! I'm sure, with that sharp tongue of hers, she could talk to death, the Cyberman which followed her down into the cellar, as part of the double cliffhanger!!! She'll probably rise from the grave singing "I will Survive", which would be no less camp than Tight Fit's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"! As an aside, there's a more unusual version of that song, which could've been used instead, by current U2 producer Brian Eno, recorded after leaving Roxy Music in the mid-Seventies. But I digress... I'll leave you with the thought that isn't the above image of the Cyber Controller, from this Saturday's forthcoming episode, starting at the earlier time of 6.35pm, entitled "The Age of Steel", reminiscent of H R Giger's designs for Ridley Scott's 1979 film "Alien"?