Sue: Eric Saward. Why do I know that name?
Me: He’s about to take over as script editor. Oh, and he wrote The Visitation.
Sue: Script editor?! How did that happen? The Visitation was rubbish!
The first episode of Earthshock begins on Earth.
Sue: These paintballers have some serious kit. They’ve got an Igloo tent for a start. I’ve always wanted an Igloo tent.
A marine named Scott (“He’s been in loads of stuff”) and a Professor named Kyle (“She hasn’t”) are preparing to search some caves for a group of missing geologists.
Scott: I realise going down again must be hard.
Sue: I bet he says that to all the girls.
Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, the Doctor wants Adric to read Black Orchid, the book written by the famous serial killer and mentalist, George Cranleigh.
Sue: Oh, just let it go! Don’t bring that up again. Who cares?
Adric isn’t very happy.
Adric: Why am I constantly teased?
Sue: Because you can’t act. Oh, sorry, you mean in the show, don’t you?
Adric pops a fist into his pocket.
Sue: Oh, please give it a rest, just the once.
Adric chastises the Doctor for not spending enough time with him.
Sue: He’ll be ringing ChildLine next. Tom Baker wouldn’t have stood for this nonsense.
In short, Adric wants to go home.
Sue: Good. Take him home. Replace him with somebody who actually wants to be there. The same goes for Tegan. It should be the same in Big Brother as well: if you go to the Diary Room and you say you want to leave – BANG! – straight out the door and bring the next one in. But I digress.
When the marines enter the caves, their life signs are tracked on a huge monitor topside.
Sue: This reminds me of Aliens.
Me: That’s interesting because Aliens wasn’t released for another four years.
Sue: In that case, I’m very impressed. It’s very well done, actually. Who directed this one?
Me: Peter Grimwade.
Sue: Ah, yes, the 1980’s Douglas Camfield.
Adric and the Doctor continue to spar on the TARDIS.
Adric: I think since his regeneration, he’s become decidedly immature.
Me: Harsh words.
Sue: No, Matthew was pretty good there. He gave that line his all. It’s probably his best moment in the whole series. He really meant that.
Adric’s desire to leave almost spoils the ending.
Sue: Does Adric leave in this story? I bet the Doctor takes him home and this will make Tegan insanely jealous.
On the whole, she’s very impressed with Earthshock so far.
Sue: There are a lot of women in this one. It’s great to see a female marine, for example. It’s just a shame they couldn’t find a hat that fit her. It’s going to slip off her head any second now.
The marines head into the tunnels but a pair of androids start picking them off.
Sue: Oooh, acid for blood. They are very creepy. Blank faces always scare me.
Me: I know what you mean. It’s the reason why I gave up teaching.
Scott takes control of a rapidly deteriorating situation.
Sue: He’s basically a futuristic version of the Brigadier, isn’t he? I feel safe when he’s around.
The TARDIS arrives in the very same caves. The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa decide to explore while Adric sulks. They find the fossilised remains of some dinosaurs nearby.
Sue: This is very educational – I like this. I’m also amused that the Doctor can’t stand Tegan.
You be pleased to know that Malcolm Clarke’s return to the series doesn’t go unnoticed.
Sue: I really like the music. It doesn’t sound anything like the theme to Zelda.
Me: You have impeccable taste. I love the music to Earthshock.
Sue: KLANG! KLANG! KLANG! Yeah, I like it. It’s not bad this. So far so good.
Sue is biting her nails.
Sue: Look at this direction. See, Mr. Moffatt – this is how you direct for television. Look at that composition. I’m referring to the rubbish Moff by the way.
A bomb has been planted in the caves.
Sue: Just use the sonic on it.
Me: He hasn’t got a sonic screwdriver any more.
Sue: Hasn’t he replaced it yet? Bloody hell! Why not?
The first episode of Earthshock ends with a shock.
She is genuinely thrilled and surprised.
Sue: I had no idea. That was really exciting. I actually felt butterflies in my stomach when I saw them. Seriously. I’ve never felt that from watching Doctor Who before.
I tell her that JNT refused a Radio Times cover so he could keep their reappearance as a surprise.
Sue: Good for him. That has to be the best cliffhanger in the series so far.
Me: And a generation of children all fell off their chairs at once.
Sue: I bet they did. I almost fell off mine. Okay, I take it all back, Eric Saward can stay.
Sue: We haven’t seen the Cybermen for a long time, have we?
Me: Seven years, give or take.
Sue: I like their new helmets. And the new voices. The leader on the left is hamming it up a bit but at least I can understand him. He sounds like Darth Vader. They are using the same modulation, I think.
Hark at her!
The Doctor ushers the marines into his TARDIS before the bomb can go off.
Sue: I’ll never get bored of seeing people’s reactions when they enter the TARDIS for the first time. It’s always hilarious. Somebody should put a compilation on YouTube.
Sue hasn’t enjoyed an episode as much as this for a very long time.
Sue: The direction, the music, the acting – it’s all coming together this week. It feels like proper Doctor Who for a change. It’s excellent.
And then, right on cue…
Me: That’s the Cybermens’ new catchphrase by the way.
Sue: No, I mean that’s excellent. I like monsters with catchphrases.
There are so many passengers in the TARDIS, it’s beginning to look smaller on the inside.
Sue: Bloody hell, it’s so cramped. Sadly, the Doctor always has to take at least one decent actor with him to make up for his companions’ deficiencies.
The Cybermen decide to do some research into the Time Lord they call the Doctor.
Sue: That equipment is very Wizard of Oz. Oh look, it’s William Hartnell. Yay!
The Cybermen fast-forward to a clip featuring Patrick Troughton.
They finish with a Tom Baker rant.
Me: I’m probably wrong, but I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t be able to see that Tom Baker clip because it hasn’t actually happened to them yet.
Sue: Oh **** off, Neil. I bet you loved that scene when you were a kid.
Adric tells the Doctor that he doesn’t really want to go home after all.
Sue: They shouldn’t tease us like that. Seriously, the next time one of your companions throws a strop, take them home before they can change their mind. But take Adric last – you’ll need him to steer the TARDIS properly.
Meanwhile, on a space freighter heading for Earth.
Sue: Bloody hell! It’s Mollie Sugden!
Me: Er… not exactly. Even I wouldn’t make you watch Come Back, Mrs. Noah.
Sue: No, wait, don’t tell me. It’s Beryl Reid. That’s even madder.
Me: It is a bit.
Sue: Is she any good? Does she play it straight? Oh God, I hope she’s good.
The early signs are good, especially when she gives one of her crew a dressing down.
Briggs: You’re beginning to bore me.
Sue: I love her already. So is she going to be like Ripley in this? Will she be the last survivor to face the Cybermen?
Me: Yes. She even strips down to her underwear, first.
Sue immediately picks up on the sexual tension between Berger and Ringway.
Berger: You shouldn’t sound so earnest all the time.
Sue: (As Ringway) But my first name is Ernest!
The TARDIS arrives on the freighter.
Sue: The set is enormous. It’s beautifully lit. You could get away with this today.
The Doctor and Adric investigate the ship while the Cybermen start picking off its crew.
Sue: There’s real suspense in this story. I mean, look at that shot there – it’s brilliant. Why can’t they all be this good? It’s frustrating.
The Doctor and Adric wander into the middle of a crime scene. The episode ends when Ringway apprehends them for murder.
Sue: Very good. Excellent, in fact.
It doesn’t take very long for Beryl Reid to concern Sue:
Sue: She’s playing it too light. I’m not convinced she is taking this seriously.
The Doctor protests his innocence. As per bloody usual.
Sue: I like the way he wants to drag people back to his TARDIS. It worked for him last week! It’s very funny.
In the freighter’s cargo hold, the Cybermen are stirring.
Sue: Not for kids. Not only does it look like auto asphyxiation, kids might have copied it by putting plastic bags on their heads. It’s not very responsible, is it? However, I do like the idea that the Cybermen like to shrink-wrap themselves.
But if the episode falls down when it comes to health and safety, it is progressive in other ways.
Sue: It’s good to see older women in charge for a change. There are a lot of strong roles for women in this one. About time too.
Sue is fascinated by the Cybermens’ console.
Sue: It looks like a mini-TARDIS. Can the Cybermen travel in time?
Me: That would be a bit silly, wouldn’t it?
On the bridge of the freighter, the Doctor warns Briggs not to head for Earth, but she isn’t listening.
Briggs: We will go on.
Sue: See, she wasn’t too bad, there. She reminds me of Thatcher a bit: the greed, the obsession with private enterprise and bonuses, the silly hair.
The Doctor is perplexed.
The Doctor: We still don’t know what they want.
Sue: Good, it’s not just me then. The Cybermens’ plan is very convoluted but I’ve decided to go with it.
Finally, there is some good news:
Sue: Tegan has changed into some new clothes! I don’t believe it! Quick, burn her uniform before she can change back into it again.
Nyssa isn’t so lucky.
Sue: Could you imagine Romana wearing the same costume for more than one story? She would have been mortified.
Briggs wants the Doctor and Adric to remain on the bridge where she can see them.
Sue: They never should have told me that they had a brig. Now I just think they are stupid for not locking them up in it. If Adric and the Doctor were pirates, they could simply walk up behind them and garrote them.
Scott tells Tegan to buck her ideas up.
Tegan: I know. I’m just a mouth on legs.
Sue: Another blow for feminism. At least I now understand why you named our cat after her. The description is very apt.
The Cybermen advance on the freighter’s crew.
Sue: The Cybermen don’t care about being hit by the humans’ poxy guns. It’s very scary, actually. There’s real tension in this story. The Cybermen’s new theme tune is great, too. It’s Hans Zimmeresque.
Beryl Reid continues to struggle with her dialogue.
Sue: She’s a good actress but this isn’t the right part for her. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t got a clue what’s going on.
The Doctor gives Briggs and her crew a potted history of the Cybermen.
Sue: I like it when they refer to the past like. I even remember some of this stuff now that they’ve mentioned it. I didn’t like the one with the tombs on Telos, I definitely remember that.
When we are reminded that the Cybermen are allergic to gold, Adric tries to hide his badge for mathematical excellence.
Sue: Things must be serious. He bloody loves that badge.
Tegan and Scott sneak up on two Cybermen having a chat.
Me: What do you think they’re talking about?
Sue: Their post-invasion holiday plans, probably. He’s saying to the other one, “When we arrive on Earth, we should give Australia a miss – it’s got a Gold Coast. Majorca is supposed to be very nice, though.” Something like that.
The Cybermen try to burn their way through the door that leads to the bridge. The heat causes Briggs to back away like an arthritic Marcel Marceau.
Sue: Oh, don’t make Beryl do that. It’s not very dignified.
Tegan makes up for the sexist crap she was spouting earlier by strapping on a gun and kicking arse.
Sue: You go, girl! The guns remind me of Dyson vacuum cleaner. Maybe Dyson branched out into arms dealing in the future?
The Doctor traps a Cyberman in a doorway. It’s so good, Sue wants to see it again.
Sue: That looked amazing. It’s all down to the direction. I’m really impressed.
The Cybermen circumvent the problem by blowing a hole in another door.
Sue: Careful! You might get a splinter from all that wood! It’s a shame – the effect was great.
The Cyberleader approaches the Doctor.
Sue: …you have a sister?
The Cyberleader starts throwing his weight around.
Sue: I really like the guy who plays the lead Cyberman. He’s really going for it.
The episode concludes with an army of Cybermen advancing down a corridor.
Sue: The director is a ****ing genius.
Tegan is tooled up and ready for anything.
Sue: So is Tegan going to be Ripley in this? I’m relieved. I don’t think Beryl could have pulled it off.
Me: Janet Fielding is Sheena Easton in the Sigourney Weaver story.
Sue: Is it just me or does one of the marines look like Kate Bush?
Briggs is surrounded by Cybermen. She can’t take it in.
Sue: Look at Beryl’s eyes. She doesn’t know where to look. Her eyes are darting all over the place. Maybe Matthew took her aside for some acting lessons. She’s definitely copying him in this scene.
The Cybermen pursue the marines back to the TARDIS. One of them manages to damage the console.
Sue: You can’t shoot the TARDIS!
Me: They just shot Nyssa’s friend, too.
Sue: The frumpy miner? Oh, I couldn’t give a toss about her.
The Doctor and the Cyberleader discuss the human condition.
Sue: The problem with Peter Davison is that he doesn’t do anger very well. He can do fear brilliantly, but when he’s angry he just sounds petulant. Sorry, Peter.
She’s not that impressed with the well prepared meal speech.
Sue: It’s okay, I suppose. The Cyberleader is great, though. I love the way you can hear every single word he’s saying.
Me: Some fans criticise the Cybermen in this story for displaying too many emotions.
Sue: It doesn’t bother me. Is smugness an emotion?
Adric decides to stay behind on the freighter so he can stop it from crashing into the Earth.
Sue: I have a bad feeling about this. They are really milking this scene. Is Adric going to be alright?
The Cyberleader decides to commandeer the Doctor’s TARDIS.
Cyberleader: The fleet is too far away. I will use the Doctor’s Tardis to observe the impact.
Sue: That’s bad planning. If the fleet is too far away then you didn’t think it through. It’s crisis management at best and I bet it will turn out to be his downfall. Never change your plans.
Me: Pray he doesn’t alter them further.
Nyssa manages to keep tabs on the carnage outside from the safety of the TARDIS.
Sue: She’s about to use a Ronson shaver.
Scott turns up in the nick of time to rescue Adric, Briggs and Berger.
Scott: Lieutenant Scott, Captain.
Sue: But you can call me Bond, James Bond.
The Cybermen prepare to evacuate the ship.
Sue: The Cybermen have tight little arses in this story. I’m just saying.
The Cyberleader breaches the TARDIS defences (i.e. Nyssa). and he orders one of his men to search its interior.
Sue: You’ll be a long time, chick.
Meanwhile, on the freighter.
Sue: Adric will solve it. Hang on a minute. Where is his badge? His badge must be significant. I’ll be very disappointed if Adric doesn’t use it.
Adric cracks the first lock and the freighter responds violently.
Scott: Rest there a minute. That was some bump.
Briggs: It’s bigger than you think.
Sue howls with laughter. I have to pause the DVD: her giggling fit is worse than Sarah Sutton’s.
Sue: It’s bigger than you think! The way Beryl Reid said that line. God, that’s the funniest thing in Doctor Who ever! I loved that.
The freighter has jumped time warps. That what is says in the script.
Sue: Eh? What the ****?
Briggs: That’s not possible!
Adric: It is when you have an alien machine overriding your computer.
Sue: Well, if you say so… No, wait, what?
And then the penny drops.
Sue: I’ve got it. They’ve travelled back to the time of the dinosaurs and this spaceship is the thing that wipes them out. That’s very clever, actually.
A second passes.
Sue: But that means… hang on, if the dinosaurs get killed, that means… but…
The Doctor tries to lock onto the freighter.
Sue: Come on, Doctor! Materialise around Adric! That’s what Matt Smith would do. Wait! Oh no! Adric is the only one capable of doing that at the moment. Oh shit.
Adric tries to crack the code.
Sue: But if he succeeds, he will interfere with time and the dinosaurs won’t die! Somebody has to stop him!
The Doctor attacks the Cyberleader with Adric’s gold badge.
Sue: How soft was that gold? Was it made from chocolate or something? Eh?
The Cyberleader blasts the TARDIS console.
Sue: Noooo! They’ve killed the TARDIS!
The Doctor retaliates by shooting the Cyberleader at point-blank range.
Sue: Bloody hell, the Doctor just shot him!
Sue: He just shot him twice!
Sue: Three times!
Me: Shit just got serious.
The Doctor tries to rescue Adric but it’s too late.
Sue: Oh no.
Sadly, Adric will never know if he was right.
Sue: **** me. I am shocked.
Me: You’re Earthshocked.
The credits roll.
Sue: Oh no, there’s no music.
Me: Yeah, what do you think about that?
Sue: It might have worked if a better character had died. It’s making me feel a bit uncomfortable. Maybe they should have used a sad version of the theme tune, you know, like they do in EastEnders. Don’t they have a tinkly piano version of the theme tune?
Sue: Well, set a competition so people have to send in a sad version of the theme tune that you could play over the credits when Adric dies.
Me: Okay, I’ll offer a mug as a prize. Just for a change. But don’t hold your breath.
When the DVD cycles back to the menu screen, Sue lets out an exhausted sigh.
Sue: Wow. Poor Adric. At least he died trying.
Sue: I don’t know what to say. It succeeded in what it set out to do – it surprised me. For the first time, I think, I was really, really shocked. Twice! The direction was superb, the new Cybermen were great and I was really caught up in it. Some of the plot was nonsensical, and Beryl was hopelessly out of her depth, but the atmosphere made up for it. Yes, I really enjoyed that.
We watch Part Five.
Me: Make sure you read the credits to this extra.
Sue: Why, is it Ian Levine? Has he made a longer version of Earthshock where Adric doesn’t die?
A claymation version of Adric is eaten by a dinosaur.
Sue: It’s not Rob Ritchie, is it?
Me: No, he would have been 8 when they made this extra.
Sue: So? It looks like an 8-year-old made it.
Sue: So is that it? Oh. Right. Okay.
The credits roll.
Sue: Rupert Booth! I knew him at Stonehills. God, it’s a small world. Hey! Arthur Banks! We know Arthur really well.
Me: I’ve got a funny story to tell you about that claymation Adric, but I’m saving it for the book.
Sue: Is it about the time you accidentally ended up in a fan video and –
Me: Like I said, I’m saving it for the book.
Moving swiftly on, we switch to the Putting the Shock into Earthshock documentary, which Sue enjoys a great deal.
Sue: They all look so young. Steve O’Brien looks very cheeky. The Moff looks better now than he did back then. I’m not sure what’s going on with Mark Gatiss but Ian Levine looks okay. Who’s the small boy?
Me: That’s Gary Gillatt. He was one of the very first people to comment on our blog.
Sue: Really? In that case, I should probably tone the swearing down a bit.
When the documentary reaches the topic of silent credits, Sue believes she has a solution.
Sue: There is a fourth option. You could start with silence and then you could slowly fade up to the theme music. It’s not rocket science.
Ah, the Blake’s 7 approach. Nice.
This extra also gives Sue an opportunity to enjoy some of the episode’s shortcomings that she mercifully missed on her first (and let’s face it, last) viewing. These include Matthew Waterhouse’s touch typing skills (so funny, she made me play it to her three times) and the fact that Sarah Sutton visibly laughs when Adric meets his end.
I even show her this:
Sue: Okay, thanks. That’s as much Earthshock as I can take.
Me: But we haven’t watched Did You See…? yet.
Me: Okay, but before we go, do you remember that Matt Smith episode on Saturday night, when the Doctor was talking to Rory’s dad and he told him that every once in a while one of his companions died?
Sue: Was he referring to Adric?
Me: Of course he was. For a terrible moment, I thought he was going to say Adric’s name out loud, which would have spoilt everything.
Sue: So Matt Smith was thinking about Adric during that scene? Do you think they made him watch Earthshock first?
Me: Probably. So, do you have any final words for Adric? It’s not as if we’ll ever see him again.
Sue: I feel sorry for the character. His death was tragic because it was so meaningless. But he had to go. There were too many companions and he couldn’t act. It doesn’t take a boy genius to work that out.
It’s Glen Allen’s favourite story.