Part One

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.

EarthshockSue: 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.

EarthshockSue: 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.

EarthshockAdric: I think since his regeneration, he’s become decidedly immature.
Sue: Wow.
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.

EarthshockSue: 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.

Sue: Cybermen!

She is genuinely thrilled and surprised.

EarthshockSue: 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.


Part Two

EarthshockSue: 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…

EarthshockCyberleader: Excellent!
Me: That’s the Cybermens’ new catchphrase by the way.
Sue: Excellent.
Me: Yes.
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!

EarthshockThe Cybermen fast-forward to a clip featuring Patrick Troughton.

Sue: YAY!

They finish with a Tom Baker rant.

Sue: Whatever.
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.

EarthshockSue: 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!

EarthshockThe 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.


Part Three

EarthshockIt 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.

EarthshockSue: 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.

EarthshockSue: 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.

EarthshockWhen 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?

EarthshockThe 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.

Cyberleader: So…

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.


Part Four

EarthshockTegan 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.

EarthshockSue: 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.

EarthshockNyssa 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.

EarthshockSue: 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!

EarthshockThe 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.

EarthshockThe 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?
Me: No.
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.


The Score

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?
Me: No.

EarthshockA 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.

EarthshockSue: 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.
Sue: Enough!
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.


Coming Soon

It’s Glen Allen’s favourite story.




  1. Steve O'Brien  September 25, 2012

    When I saw the Cybermen I thought, “Wow! Shit! Fantastic!” Looking back, what a peculiar reaction.

    • Jay  September 25, 2012

      Actually that and Gatiss’s Cyberleader impression are my favorite parts of that documentary, Steve.

      • DamonD  September 27, 2012

        Oh yeah, I love his Cyberleader impression too, it’s dead-on.

        • DamonD  September 27, 2012

          Also Sarah’s brief impression of Beryl Reid on the commentary!

  2. Silent Hunter  September 25, 2012

    Watched this a while back. Little editing here and there, you could pass this off as a modern story.

    • Dominic  September 25, 2012

      I always think Earthshock is the serial which is most reminiscent of the Russell T Davies era, despite the fact he claims the modern series of Doctor Who was based on City of Death. It’s also, to my mind, both the best example of what JNT wanted Doctor Who to be – dramatic, epic, well-produced – and a good demonstration of the era’s biggest weaknesses – lack of humour, overly violent, tendency to get a bit gimmicky.

      • John G  September 27, 2012

        I remember RTD claiming that the new series was based on the Hartnell era – not that I ever saw much similarity…

  3. bbqplatypus  September 25, 2012

    I can’t stand this one. Every stock criticism ever leveled at it by the fans is correct. It gets the Cybermen wrong, the supporting characters are all lifeless ciphers I couldn’t care less about, and the plot doesn’t stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. Worse, it revels in a deeply unpleasant Thatcher-era militarism that just makes for unpleasant viewing. If this episode had the production values of Warriors of the Deep, more fans would see it for what it is.

    Phil Sandifer has never been more right than he was when he said that Earthshock is Doctor Who for people who read the Sun.

    • Neil Perryman  September 25, 2012

      That’s worse than calling Sue a sour-faced c***.

      • bbqplatypus  September 25, 2012

        You’re right. That was uncalled for. I apologize to Sue for that. I’m not insulting her – just the story…which she enjoyed.

        Oh, dear. That didn’t come off well.

        • bbqplatypus  September 25, 2012

          Just to re-iterate, despite our different assessments of Eartshock, Sue remains marvelous.

    • John Williams  September 25, 2012

      Well we read the Daily Mirror in our house and loved Earthshock.

    • Nick Mays  September 25, 2012

      And we’re supposed to be impressed with Phil Sandifer’s pontifications… why?

      • Neil Perryman  September 25, 2012

        Let’s not drift, please. Let’s keep the mood up. Adric’s just died.

      • Paul Mc Elvaney  September 25, 2012

        Oi, don’t diss Sandifer! If it wasn’t for him, I’d never have noticed that Cybermen look like “perplexed Muppets” in this story!

      • Thomas  September 26, 2012

        I’ve never understood people’s aversions to the Eruditorum, but regardless he’s spot on the money for Earthshock. Particularly on his comments about Adric’s death- it’s a really well-executed scene, but emotionally hollow when it comes to the script itself.

        • Yiz Erbigum  September 26, 2012

          I actually think he entirely missed the point on Adric’s death scene, citing – if I remember correctly – the line “Now I’ll never know if I was right” as an indication that Adric’s motivations were purely selfish, thus rendering it emotionally hollow. But this ignores the fact that dialogue can have layers of meaning and subtext. The line isn’t meant to be take absolutely literally – as is clear from the delivery, it’s wry. Rather than screaming and panicking, he’s putting on a brave face. It’s that same as if he’d said, for example, “Now I’ll never know what’s in that big present under the Christmas tree”. He doesn’t *actually* care about that first and foremost, it’s a poignant understatement.

        • Doc Whom  September 26, 2012

          The best rule of thumb is that people who bang on and on about the awfulness of Levine, Sandifer et al tend to be the dullest and more insure people in fandom. I wouldn’t ever suggest that one should like either of them but to bitterly resent them as the usual suspects do means that the resenters are really saying “it’s not fair that no-one knows my name.”

    • Matthew Marcus  September 25, 2012

      I don’t know if I’d go quite that far (he said diplomatically), but I have to say that I too have always been of the opinion that Earthshock is… not good. One of those 80s Who stories with a superficial sheen that conceals the fact that it’s less than the sum of its parts. Obviously I prefer stuff where the scenery’s wobbling and the direction is ropey but you can still tell how good the ideas were on paper (hello, e.g., The Happiness Patrols). Still Earthshock is the pinnacle of a sort of Sawardian ideal of lots of glitzy surface quality without a lot of feeling underneath. I guess I can give it credit for being the crown jewel of its era, even if that era’s not a favourite of mine…

      • Dave Sanders  September 25, 2012

        Sue will doubtless give us the definitive answer to this debate in but a few days’ time. Gimmers directed this one all swish and slick; his first script gets directed next in a more, um, ‘traditional’ style. Will Sue’s reaction at the difference be telling? Pfft, what do you think?

        • Frankymole  September 26, 2012

          As a writer, Peter Grimwade made a great director…

      • Thomas  September 26, 2012

        My problem is more that his death isn’t heroic or meaningful in any fashion.
        It’s done just to give an emotional punch to the story, and not much else. I’d be more willing to forgive it if it didn’t continue to be a problem in Saward’s writing- his scripts in general are filled with countless meaningless deaths.

        • PolarityReversed  September 26, 2012

          Ahem. I’m no Adric fan.

          But for me, his demise was one of the most remarkable, philosophically nuanced moments of classic Who. Not that I missed the little twerp. Let’s just say that I reckon he was very cleverly written out.

          Not heroic or meaningful?
          An extremely intellectually gifted future human must suffer fatal hubris in order for humanity to exist in the first place. A shifty petulant adolescent chancer chooses (unusually for him) not to save his own skin. Why? Through bravery or moral responsibility? Not really – he seems mainly driven by his belief that he can solve a puzzle that no-one else can. Perhaps he’s trying to live up the Doctor’s example – but he’s isolated from the bigger picture. History resets itself both as a result of his actions and in spite of his intentions.
          For once, despite his consistent failure to absorb much moral sense from probably the ultimate father figure (and a few generally well-intentioned older sister types along the way), he acts morally in exactly the situation when he should turn tail and run. His terminal failure is his greatest sucess.
          The primal survival instinct of the rest of the crew unwittingly ensures that humanity will happen (with a little cyber help).

          I think it’s a delightful construct. Full circle indeed.

        • Yiz Erbigum  September 26, 2012

          I real life, death is rarely poetic or meaningful. I think it packs a more powerful punch to have him die without actually achieving something. It often feels to neat when characters die for a reason.

          • PolarityReversed  September 26, 2012

            Oh agreed. We strut and fret our hour upon the stage.
            That’s what fiction is for.

            Adric’s death is simultaneously meaningless, crucial, avoidable and inevitable. Pretty dark for early 80s kids’ TV eh?

            I prefer it to Rose stuck the wrong side of a warehouse wall or Donna having forgotten the whole thing and out on the lash with her mates. Or the latest lot loving angels instead…

          • Thomas  September 26, 2012

            The thing is, though, Adric’s death isn’t even pointedly meaningless. You can make a ‘meaningless death’ work well within a story, but it has to have some sort of narrative purpose- a larger point within the whole. Adric’s death doesn’t just lack meaning on the surface level, it lacks meaning within the story. Again, I’d be more willing to concede it being purposeful if it weren’t for the fact it continues to be a major problem in Saward’s future scripts. Saward tends to kill characters off because he thinks it’s dramatically powerful, but he gives no actual reason for it to be, emotionally or narratively (Attack of the Cybermen may be the best example, as the deaths in that save perhaps one are absolutely and totally pointless).

            If you kill a character off and it has absolutely no impact on the narrative, you had no right to kill that character. Don’t get me wrong, I think Adric is conceptually one of the best characters you could choose to die, and there’s a lot to be set up to make his death work really well. I just don’t think Saward did enough for that.

          • Yiz Erbigum  September 27, 2012

            I disagree – the fact that Adric’s death was memorable and powerful to those watching at the time, and indeed those who have watched it for the first time since, is reason enough to have included it. There are no rules in fiction, and nothing at all to say that a writer has to adhere to any particular narrative devices.

            Fiction is made up of many elements – emotion, texture, characterisation, etc. – not just narrative purpose. Adric may die seemingly at random, but it’s that randomness which is partly responsible for packing the punch that it does. It’s no less valid to have done it that way to have contrived a neat purpose for it.

          • PolarityReversed  September 27, 2012

            Phil, oops sorry, scratch that…

            Well I bow to your familiarity with the scripts and prescriptive approach to narrative logic.
            As an almost Borgesian set-piece it works fine for me.

            Saward the Impaler, eh? If you like. Have a qlippoth.

          • Thomas  September 27, 2012

            Now there I would agree with you, Yiz, except that, again, it’s Saward we’re talking about. If it were any other writer I would presume the randomness and meaningless to be intentional, but coming from a writer who criticized Kinda for not adhering to common writing devices, this just looks extremely lazy.

            Of course, even looking at the ‘fiction is made up of many elements’, that’s certainly true, but Adric’s death touches none of those. In terms of emotion, in terms of character, and in terms of texture it still comes up hollow. The only reason it affected anyone at all is because Adric had been a long-running character. Had he been introduced and then died that episode it’d be about as remembered as Katarina (or, a more apt comparison, any of the other characters Saward’s randomly killed off within a story).

          • Yiz Erbigum  September 27, 2012

            ANY long-running character is going to have a greater impact when killed off than a guest character, by dint of their familiarity. The impact of a character death has little to do with narrative contrivance and more to do with the character itself and the rhythm of the storytelling. Adric is a long-running character who dies at the climax of the story.

            At the other end of the scale, the Attack Of The Cybermen killings are generally underwritten non-characters killed off in an undramatic fashion. Had their deaths served to further the plot, they’d still be underwhelming deaths because we don’t care about the characters and nothing is made of the moments dramatically. If anything, they would probably have just been more predictable and therefore emptier and less affecting – there’s little more disheartening in Who than being able to predict the deaths of minor non-characters to the beats of the plot. It no longer seems like deaths, just box-ticking.

            Resurrection just about gets away with the Saward butchery because, although there are still a lot of underwritten minor characters, he gets the rhythm of relentlessness about right. It’s so grim, especially coming to it fresh.

            I don’t think you can second-guess what Saward was intending with Adric’s death. He may have criticised Kinda for not sticking to conventions, but random killing in Doctor Who is hardly a new thing. Random killing of a major character is, but countless minor characters have been killed off randomly, sometimes to great effect.

            Besides, whether it works by design or by accident, it still works, it still has emotional punch, it still makes cathartic sense. You can’t say that, had it been written by a different writer who’d done on purpose what Saward only did by accident, then it would have been all right. Effective by accident is just as valid as effective on purpose.

          • Frankymole  September 27, 2012

            Adric? Don’t worry – he’s back next week!

          • Thomas  September 28, 2012

            A short-term character can be killed off and have a huge dramatic impact- Binro from Ribos Operation comes to mind for me. It’s all in how the character is written through the episode- and in this case, Adric is written like a whiny, rather arrogant brat. And he dies because he’s arrogant about his mathematical skills and stupidly leaves the escape pod to prove himself. The death is sad and shocking by virtue of him being a long-running companion, but I can’t imagine it having any impact if you started him with this episode.

            I mean, based solely on this episode, why should we be sad at Adric’s death? I mean, yeah, it’s sad someone dies, but why should we care about him more than someone like Snyder at the beginning of the episode? Heck, in many ways her death is much more tragic- she’s randomly disintegrated by a killer android of no fault on her own, whereas Adric’s death is entirely the result of his own arrogance. What reason do we have to actually be sad for Adric beyond just “oh, he’s a slightly bigger character”?

          • Leo  September 28, 2012

            I don’t think the impact of Binro’s death is that huge, relatively speaking, it may be of significance in terms of its own story, but for someone watching Season 16 in order, it’s unlikely that he would be at the forefront of their minds and still be being actively mourned even by the time The Pirate Planet came round, let alone The Armageddon Factor.

            And as for the question about Adric, surely it’s obvious? Because we know far more about him, we’ve watched much more of him than any of the non-regulars, we know of his background, the good and bad sides to his character. He dies because of his intent of doing some good, thwarted by forces outside his control.

    • Leo  September 28, 2012

      What’s specifically Thatcherite about the way this story treats military taskforces? Most of them end up getting killed, similar to how most of the militaries in Genesis of the Daleks are also killed, with only Scott and one of his men surviving out of the troops he takes to the freighter, and the defeat of the Cybermen is as much to do with Adric and Berger reprogramming the computer as anything. That’s not really much of a glorification of militarism, if that’s the intended argument.

  4. chris-too-old-too-watch  September 25, 2012

    Great review Sue, of a great story. I always felt it was a shame about Beryl, but she just wasn’t right for it (might have been worse, imagine Barbara Windsor or Nurse Gladys Emmanuel). Also correct about Adric’s death: it was terrible, but you didn’t really care enough about the character for it too matter. Just think if this had been the way Sarah Jane or Romana had gone.
    Ref the next story (brilliant trailer by-the-way). Has anything actually scored 0/10 before?

    • Jeremy Phillips  September 25, 2012

      The Celestial Toymaker and The Invasion of Time have both been zeroes.

    • Billy Smart  September 25, 2012

      Well, J-NT’s first choice for Briggs was Pat Phoenix, so you can sort of see what they were aiming for. If they’d made Earthshock just a couple of months later they could have got Noele Gordon, immediately after she’d been fired from Crossroads.

      • chris-too-old-too-watch  September 25, 2012

        Shame Lord Andrew wasn’t around. We could have had a show of unknowns trying out for the part called “Let’s Rigg The Result”

      • Frankymole  September 26, 2012

        “If they’d made Earthshock just a couple of months later they could have got Noele Gordon, immediately after she’d been fired from Crossroads” – lucky escape, then.

        Beryl did confirm she hadn’t a clue what was going on, but wanted to nibble Davison’s celery – on the latter’s “This Is Your Life” (even though Petey was too young to have had one, then).

    • John G  September 25, 2012

      Yes, Beryl was one of the less happy consequences of JNT’s stunt casting policy. Awkward as she is in this though, she is still preferable to the likes of Leee John and B***** L*******! I’m trying hard not to imagine Nurse Gladys in the role, as she is bad enough in the part she does end up playing, which we will of course see before too much longer…

  5. Jeremy Phillips  September 25, 2012

    Sue working out what was about to happen was more exciting than the actual episode.


  6. Paul Gibbs  September 25, 2012

    This very packed train has just witnessed a 40yr old man doubled up in his chair, crying with laughter. This so needed audio. And it wasn’t just Sue’s reaction but the anticipation of said reactions. Oh, I’ve not laughed at the blog so much since the first entry I read in the Season One days!

    • BWT  September 26, 2012

      Yes, well… to be honest, even now, “They should have called the show IAN” still takes some beating…

      • Neil Perryman  September 26, 2012

        It’s Damn with Faint Praise Week on the Wife in Space!

  7. Luke Harrison  September 25, 2012

    I remember when Arthur Banks told me he’d been working on an extra for a Doctor Who DVD, I was well excited.

  8. Nick Mays  September 25, 2012

    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.


    For me, Earthshock still packs a punch to this day and as Sue says, a lot of it’s down to the direction and lighting. When our family sat down to watch this on DVD a few months back (using the new CGI for certain bits) it was mightily impressive. My 12 year-old son was gobsmacked when Adric died. “Part 5” cheered him up though!

  9. Gavin Noble  September 25, 2012

    I remember crying when Adric was killed. It was such a shock for an eight year old and he wasn’t that bad a companion when I was a small boy – it was only as I got older I saw his deficiencies.

    Earthshock has always been one of my favourite stories – it rattles along at a cracking pace even if the plot is a bit suspect if you think about it. So glad Sue enjoyed it as well and was as shocked as well all were when we saw it back in 1982.

  10. Gavin Noble  September 25, 2012

    @ Glen Allen – Best trailer so far!

    • Silent Hunter  September 26, 2012

      Yep, a superb trailer. Glen’s trailers are one of the best things of the site.

  11. matt bartley  September 25, 2012

    I think that score is about right – Earthshock is fantastic and Sue picks out exactly why. The music, the confident direction, the fact that just about everyone plays it right. I agree that Doctor Who shouldn’t revolve around soldiers with guns (and a later Davison story shows why) and cynical attitudes, but every once in a while it’s OK to do that and it’s pulled off brilliantly here.

    I’ll even stick up for Adric/Waterhouse. I think his death is a genuinely affecting moment and also Waterhouse’s best moment.

  12. Neil Perryman  September 25, 2012

    I should add that watching Earthshock with Sue was easily been the best experience for me, personally, in the experiment so far.

    • Gavin Noble  September 25, 2012

      It is a good story. Is Sue aware that the igloo is the latest product from Apple by the way?

      • DPC  September 25, 2012

        Given the flaking aluminum coming off the iPhone 5, the iGloo (pronounced i-Glue) makes total sense…

    • Dan  September 25, 2012

      And I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Dave Sanders  September 25, 2012

      I still remember you waxing lyrical on the old blog and the podcasts about how much you hated the Cybermen…

  13. John Williams  September 25, 2012

    A brilliant entry and another great trailer from Glen. I’m still reeling at the thought of Beryl Reid stripping to her underwear.

  14. Mr Fred  September 25, 2012

    Did Sue notice the Cyberman tripping down the stairs? my favorite scene!

    • Dave Sanders  September 26, 2012

      Couldn’t they have left the floor person reading the script in the DVD release?

  15. John Callaghan  September 25, 2012

    The extra to watch is the Easter egg from The Real McCoy, with the dubbed Cybermen. (“Anyone want to blow up a Dalek?” “Hey, don’t you turn your back on me!”) Sue would love it, surely!

    For what it’s worth, I think they should have had the normal Who theme at the end. Earthshock is a bit glum for me, so I’m with Glen – the next story’s my kind of daft!

    • DPC  September 25, 2012


  16. David  September 25, 2012

    Bow bow bow… bow!

    I love that music.

  17. P.Sanders  September 25, 2012

    Yeo! Good for Sue. The plot may be pretty thin but the atmosphere and direction more than makes up for it (plus the plot still makes more sense than several later Saward’s…). This story has some of my strongest childhood memories of Who – I remember when it was repeated we were staying at our grandparents’ and I refused to stay in the room for the last five minutes because it had been so sad the first time round (but I still watched through the window). Later on (probably starting with DWM’s review of the VHS release) I was taught that it’s the Emperor’s New Clothes – style over plot, etc – and I haven’t watched it much in recent years (also due to the effectively grim atmosphere – it’s not exactly a light evening’s viewing). But recently I’ve been reminded just how bloody well-made and tense it is. By the final scenes I fully accept Davison shooting the Cyberleader dead – the stakes are high and things are desperate.

    • P.Sanders  September 25, 2012

      “Sawards” – no apostrophe.

      • Dave Sanders  September 25, 2012

        Multiple Sawards bickering with JN-T at once. There’s an image that’s not going to leave my head any time soon…

        • Wholahoop  September 26, 2012

          All of them screaming “You’ve turned this show into a pantomime” and JNT replying “Gee, thanks Eric” (Copyright Star Begotten’s version of ES’ resignation.)

  18. Ryan Hall  September 25, 2012

    This is the story that still to this day that my brother ( who hates Doctor who) will always say to me that he remember’s , Adric dieing and the no music ending (and us all in shock ,mum and dad including) , it allways stayed with him.

    This is brillant grown up Doctor who , dark and scary , im not sure if it ever reached that again ( even now)
    shocking as it was, to be honest with you had it been any of the assistants dieing out of those 3 i wouldnt have been that arsed.

    and didnt Lalla ward say to janet fielding at the time it was her fault that the assistants didnt get a costume change due to her giving the wardrobe designers a headache with her outfits : D

  19. Bestbrian  September 25, 2012

    Usually, Sue saves her best bits for the ones that suck; she was on point for this one, and it’s a good one. Good job, and thanks for the smiles. 🙂

    • DPC  September 25, 2012

      Seconded 😀 (Even if I like the stories or some aspects, there’s always at least one awesome one-liner… she always has at least one for every story…

  20. DPC  September 25, 2012

    BRILLIANT next-time video!!!!!!!!!!!

    I repeat:


    Great stuff… kudos to the video editor on that!

    I liked “Visitation” but while Sue will hopefully see his writing skills/concepts improve over time, she might be in for many surprises – not all of which were good.

    I love her line about the paintballers and igloo tent…

    The “1980s Camfield” line rocks as well. Peter Grimwade, Graeme Harper, and Fiona Cumming all right up there with Camfield to be sure… as were Bickford and Joyce, but they sadly never got to stay… they were brilliant as well, slow-mo “Leisure Hive” opening aside…

    Loved her comments on the androids in pt 1… and the educational line and liking it as well. As a mix of many formats, WHO often worked wonders…

    Her zing at Moffatt on direction is not undeserved – Moffatt was a stock director, meaning anything good came out of the performances and script. Treat Moffatt was “throwing a camera in front of a theater troupe” and he is quite acceptable, but the 1980s were a transition time and Camfield and one or two before him were ahead of their time…

    Great bit on the cliffhanger as well!

    I’m starting to understand everyone that says “Darth Vader” – the wheezing breathing noise isn’t there but there are some similarities to the cadence…

    As for compilations, the Wonder Woman Spin compilations (one for each season) still seem more enthralling… probably due to the incidental music, which needs to be on CD but I digress…

    With more Cyber stories on the way, “Excellent!” will be a many-spoken word… as she will discover… excellent!

    The clip show was cool… only one time did it ever seem gratuitous (and contained an omission…)

    Good point from Neil on the temporal inaccuracy… 😀 But if the Cybermen ever develop the technology they could inform themselves with any knowledge they acquire… Cybermen are about their own logic, not obeying the laws of time and all that…

    Mollie Sugden? ROTFL! And I adore Ms. Sugden’s approach to comedy… many did or else “Are You being Served?”, “Grace and Favour”, and others would not be so fondly remembered… she was a good character actress that made characters more than the sum of the dialogue accorded…

    Awesome lighting – agreed!

    Yeah, Ms Reid is passable but there were times she could have done better…

    The Cyber console looking like a TARDIS console was naff… too small, three Cybermen in front of it only makes it look worse, yet I still can’t laugh at the prop despite it all…

    Agreed, re: no brig…

    Sue noting Adric hiding his badge – lovely moment from her re: the serious aspect…

    Cute line about “You have a sister?” as well… there’s a coffee mug… a mug with two handles, hehe… 😀

    LOL! One professional book called Tegan “Ripley” as well, as I recall… Sue is so on the ball, and “Alien” was a great series to be sure…

    Sue’s right re:Cyber emotions. Cybermen do have emotions, or at least some ranks (e.g. Leaders) do – to help understand their enemies that have emtions. Even “The Moonbase” (1966) has very emotional Cybermen…

    Sue figuring out the denouement (after “penny drops”) is awesome. Saward’s tie-in with part 1 is brilliant indeed…

    “At least he did trying”. Eric Saward, pros and cons, took the time to look up Adric’s history (gold badge, Outler badge he clasps onto, maths ability, e-space, etc…) Some of the plot isn’t perfect but those detail touches he added do far more than make up for any nitpicks IMHO. He *cares* about these aspects, which really is nice… and it’s done with enough tact that you don’t realize such recalls are buttering up Adric’s demise until the final moments. Saward is definitely no hack when all is said and done…

    Oh no, the laugh track bit! Now see “The Shining” with it, followed by “The Big Bang Theory” without it… didn’t expect the end credits to be so light and cheery (typical sitcom muzak)… LOL… it’s a zinger but it’s well made… now try the one where Kryten’s voice is superimposed over new series Cybermen… 🙂

    And, yes, “Doctor Sue” with the neon logo – brilliant trailer bit!

  21. Paul Mc Elvaney  September 25, 2012

    Mr. Allen (may I call you Glen?), you’ve outdone yourself, sir!! Can’t wait for Sue’s take on the next one! Also, it’ll be very interesting to see how she takes to Saward..

    • DPC  September 26, 2012


  22. Warren Andrews  September 25, 2012

    Firstly, LOL, Glen’s trailer – best one yet.:D

    It’s nice to see Earthshock reviewed in context as it makes such a difference. You really can appreciate the direction (alas not from Grimwade ever again) and the whole tone and energy of it.

    Loved the comment about the blank faces from Neil:)

    Really looking forward to Time-Flight!

  23. Mike  September 25, 2012

    Today’s update arrived just in time for my lunch break – perfect timing and a great accompaniment to a sandwich – time to get back to fixing all these Davidson errors.

  24. Chris Reynolds  September 25, 2012

    In my view these Cybermen are ones that have developed primitive time travel technology and have come back from a period after their defeat at Voga. This explains why the cybermen know the 4th doctor, why they have a TARDIS-like console and why the space cruiser can travel back even further to the end of the Cretaceous era (the cyberman technology is glitching).
    Attack of the Cybermen deals with the Cyberemen’s quest to obtain time travel technology so comes before this one in the Cyberman timeline, and Nemesis comes after and deals with Cybermen with highly advanced time travel technology.

  25. David Cole  September 25, 2012

    “Don’t they have a tinkly piano version of the theme tune?”

    I think Bill Bailey did one…

    • Mike  September 25, 2012

      He did, it was titled “Docteur Qui?”

      • Dave Sanders  September 25, 2012

        I would have nominated the ending theme to the late 70s Incredible Hulk,

  26. Glen Allen  September 25, 2012

    I was genuinely expecting Sue to laugh at the ending, at Beryl Reid and the “Well prepared meal” speech
    It just goes to show that we’ve all probablty analysed it far too closely over the years and its exactly this kind of thing that we look forward to from “The Experiment” (Mind you, isnt a great thrill when Sue likes a story as much as we do?)

    Sue: Could you imagine Romana wearing the same costume for more than one story? She would have been mortified.
    I LOL’d at the thought of Lalla being handed the “Nightmare” maternity gown again “There you go love, you’re in that for the rest of the season”

    And Sue wants to see the Cyberman/door scene again. Ooh its just far too exiting I think I really may fall off th………….
    and back up again.

    Thanks for the wonderful comments on the trails. Im rather blown away by the reaction the last few have got, although its making it terribly hard to try and go one stage further 🙂
    Ive learnt the secret is to do them after a few buckets of vodka . That way theyre so strange Ive no idea where the idea came from in the first place 🙂

  27. Iain Coleman  September 25, 2012

    The Doctor needn’t have been referring specifically to Adric in last Saturday’s episode: there’s also Katrina and Sara Kingdom.

    • Neil Perryman  September 25, 2012

      No, you are quite right, the 11th Doctor is probably thinking about Katarina. You know, the character he barely said two words to.

      • Nick Mays  September 25, 2012

        Or Gus, from DWM’s ‘Lunar Lagoon’ et al…. ;o)

        • Jeremy Phillips  September 26, 2012

          If you’re counting the DWM strip, then how about Ace, who sacrificed herself to blow up a big flea.

          • Dan  September 26, 2012

            What? Oh no!

          • Yiz Erbigum  September 26, 2012

            In that case, also Jamie, who got electrocuted trying to stop Voord turning into Cybermen.

      • Rob Shearman  September 25, 2012

        I’m pretty sure it is Katarina, actually. When you consider that ‘The Power of Three’ is a subtle retelling of the story of the Trojan horse, innit? I think it was a very clever allusion.

        …Or maybe not.

        I’ll shut up. Glad Sue loved Earthshock!

      • solar penguin  September 25, 2012

        You regret the things you don’t do, not the things you do. The fact that Katarina died before he could speak more with her, before he had the chance get to know her better, might have made her death all the more memorable for him.

        • John G  September 25, 2012

          I assumed that the Doctor was thinking of all the dead companions, though doubtless with Adric at the forefront of his mind. Given that Sara sacrificed her life to help save his, I doubt he would forget about her (and yes, I do consider her to be a bona fide companion).

          • Dan  September 26, 2012

            Just what I thought. Not that I’ve seen Master Plan.

          • Frankymole  September 26, 2012

            Haven’t Amy and Rory both died about half a dozen times now? He was probably thinking about them.

  28. Jason Miller  September 25, 2012

    Brilliant! Probably my favorite site update so far. Love Sue’s shock at the 2 big plot twists & also her admiration for Peter Grimwade’s direction (hope she enjoys his …. other creative endeavors yet to come).

  29. Nick Mays  September 25, 2012

    “Dr Sue” Next Time Trailer – tea all over PC screen! Well done Mr A! Loved it!

  30. Broton  September 25, 2012

    About the silent credits, I think there is far more impact when the music plays as normal

  31. John G  September 25, 2012

    That was an “excellent” post. Not only was it great to see Sue enjoying one of the best Davison stories so much, but I loved the genuine surprise she showed at the major twists – thank God Chris Chibnall didn’t blow the biggest surprise last Saturday…

    I think there is very little wrong with Earthshock, though its success probably did tempt Saward too far down the wrong path later on. This is certainly one of the best outings the Cybermen have had, and David Banks is outstanding. The Cybercostumes are probably the most impressive since the 1966 originals – I like the fact that you can see the mouth moving, giving a much-needed reminder of their origins. Fair dues to Waterhouse as well for signing off with one of his better performances, though after having the gall to call the Doctor immature I think Adric deserved everything he got…

    I was interested to see Sue’s opinion that Peter can’t do anger very well. I’m not sure I agree – it is, after all, part of the fifth Doctor’s character to be relatively unassertive – but if she doesn’t rate Peter on this front just wait till she sees McCoy! Incidentally Neil, Saward was already Script Editor by this time. He took over on Kinda, and although Root was credited as SE on this one he was long gone by production time and does not seem to have had any real input into the story.

  32. charles yoakum  September 25, 2012

    OK, the next time trailer really floored me with laughter… Excellent work!

    Earthshock is a problematic story. The direction is so good that its hard not to get sucked into the story, even knowing that its superficial dross in the plot. Davison clearly does not do anger well, and the well prepared meal speech is sadly like McCoy’s rice pudding speech: looked good and interesting and quirky on paper but doesn’t work on set. Shockingly, it would be easy to insert almost any other type of metaphor there and it would work in context of the scene. I think that the older Davison, the one from Time Crash could pull it off, but the younger version is sadly lacking in that department.

    I don’t mind a little surtface glitz sometimes, and Earthshock is fine where it is, the easy to digest fun piece from this season, when the real masterpiece of the DAvison era, Kinda, is the one that bears repeated viewing.

  33. TooSoonTom  September 25, 2012

    Neil : “And a generation of children all fell off their chairs at once.”
    Fell? I leapt off mine going woo woo woo woo woo! for an hour!

  34. steven  September 25, 2012

    All these ‘extras’ and book to boot! no offence mate but seriously I think your getting way ahead of yourself and your popularity here. Getting a tiny weeny bit self-indulgent!

    Please delete this post as it has nothing to do with cyber story.

    Oh..and do you really think Matt watched Earthsock in preparation for that scene..REALLY! and you actually think he thought of Acidick? really….I tihnk youve been in outta space way too long…

    • Neowhovian  September 25, 2012

      (a) He’s not getting ahead of himself – he has a contract. Said book is already available for pre-order.
      (b) Way to be passive aggressive.
      (c) Who knows whether or not Matt Smith has seen Earthshock, but clearly the character would have had his mind at least in part on Adric. Adric was the longest-running character in the televised stories ever to have left the Doctor that way. So I completely agree with Neil on that point.

      • PolarityReversed  September 25, 2012

        No passivity about that aggression.

        [STEVEN collides with a great big ball of IP address (conveyed visually by eggboxes sprayed silver on string), in the prehistoric past, giving rise to peace and quiet on Earth.]
        CREDITS &
        GRAMS: Terry & June theme.

    • Glen Allen  September 25, 2012


    • P.Sanders  September 25, 2012

      Oh boring little troll boy, play with your toys, nobody’s interested…

      • solar penguin  September 25, 2012

        No, he’s a very enjoyable little troll boy. I’m loving his trolling almost as much as the actual posts.

    • Jazza1971  September 25, 2012

      Oh steven (if that is your real name), you are a silly little boy. Run along now.

      PS- Jazza1971 isn’t my real name!

      • Mike  September 25, 2012

        What do you mean, not your real name?!? I feel so betrayed.

        • Jazza1971  September 27, 2012

          I know…I do apologise. I’m not actually a sheep either, nor a bellwether. Such duplicity!

          • Jamie  September 30, 2012

            Are you the Master?

    • Nick Mays  September 25, 2012

      Oh “Steven” – put your hands in your pockets and go play with yourself a la Adric. No-one CARES Mate!

    • Jason  September 25, 2012

      Yeah, they should definitely delete this post, steven. In fact, Neil should probably run every blog entry by you before uploading them to the site.

      Who else would the Doctor be thinking about when he said some companions died?! Adric was the most significant companion death.

  35. Kris Overstreet  September 25, 2012

    On the one hand, I have to agree- Earthshock is one of the three best Davison-era serials, and it’s bar none the best Adric story televised.

    On the other hand… what does it say about the others in both categories, that this may be said?

    • charles yoakum  September 25, 2012

      i almost think you need to group the Baker stories in a differnt lot from the DAvison ones. Adric reltated to Baker’s Doctor is a completely different way, and was also written differently. This is most likely the best Davison Adric story, but he was a lot better in Full circle than here IMHO.

  36. Jazza1971  September 25, 2012

    “Blank faces always scare me.

    Me: I know what you mean. It’s the reason why I gave up teaching.”


    I love “Earthshock”, the end of episode 1 was so exciting when I saw this as a kid. And, yep, I cried when Adric died too. As a kid he never bothered me at all and his passing was a great shock.

    • Antti Björklund  September 27, 2012

      That really is the”mug quote of the update” for me!

  37. Steve Traylen  September 25, 2012

    Brilliant review, and lovely to see the twists on someone who isn’t all jaded and cynical like the rest of us.

    Also very cutting edge at the time as the Alvarez hypothesis had only been published in 1980.

  38. solar penguin  September 25, 2012

    Sue reaction to the episode one cliffhanger is just plain wrong, because she already knows about Cybermen. Most of us watching at the time didn’t. We’d never heard of them. We just thought “Ok, so the androids are being controlled by some other androids. Big deal. What a boring shitty cliffhanger.” That’s the correct reaction which kids in the 1980s actually had!

    By putting Sue’s reaction on the blog like that, you’re playing right into the hands of all the shit-for-brains sheep who infect fandom with their endlessly repeated crap about how brilliant the reveal of the Cybermen was. They just never seem to get that it just plain wasn’t so brilliant for those of us watching at the time.

    • PolarityReversed  September 25, 2012

      Baaaah. Baaaaah. (Jazza will no doubt be along soon and we can form a small flock.)

      That’s just your experience. An awful lot of the target audience at the time, even if they weren’t old enough to remember the baddies after such a long cyberhiatus, were a *Target* audience.

      Actually, Pertwee never even met the buggers…

      • solar penguin  September 25, 2012

        My experience, and the experience of everyone in my form at school. Davision’s Doctor Who was always a big talking point the following morning, and none of us knew that the boss androids were supposed to be special.

        Interesting point about Target, but would you recognise them from the text?

        • PolarityReversed  September 25, 2012

          Personally, I’m getting ancient and creaky and would welcome a bit of a cybering, so it wasn’t an issue for me.

          Maybe the text wouldn’t have done it, but the cover art sure as hell would – it’s quite an iconic design (of course there used to be line illos in the books too). The key hit points for Dr Who were always: Tardis, Daleks, Cybermen. Still are.

      • Matt Sharp  September 26, 2012

        Actually, Pertwee never even met the buggers…

        Apart from a fleeting cameo in ‘Carnival of Monsters’, repeated less than a year before. There’s also one in ‘Logopolis’, from the season before and again repeated less than a year prior.

        I can distinctly remember my seven-and-a-bit year old self jumping to his feet yelling, ‘it’s the Cybermen!’, too, so it’s looking more like Solar Penguin’s experience is the exception rather than the rule.

      • Jazza1971  September 27, 2012

        Reporting for duty! Baaa!

        At the time of “Earthshock” I didn’t remember “Revenge of the Cybermen” (the only cyberman story to have been shown in my lifetime), but I did read the Target books (the covers helped a lot here, especially the “Tomb of the Cybermen” cover) and “Doctor Who Monthly” (as it was back in the day), and I had seen one fairly recently in “The Five Faces of Doctor Who” repeat season. So I was well aware of who the cybermen were. It’s commented below, but the cybermen were the most famous of previous foes, beaten only by the daleks. As a result there was a large amount of us young ‘uns who were totally blown away when a silver giant (copyright Terrance Dicks I would guess) declared “Destroy them…destroy them at once!”

        Honestly, it was the most thrilling thing I’d ever seen on TV at the time, and probably still is.

        • PolarityReversed  September 27, 2012

          What kept you?
          Mind you, now Peter Davison’s around… Oh let’s not go there.
          Come on in, the grash is lush!

          • Jazza1971  September 27, 2012

            I blame the fact I no longer get notified by e-mail of replies to the blog. I have to go searching out what people have written. I tell you, it’s so last century! It’s like lambs to the slaughter (which it isn’t really, but I was struggling to get a sheep reference in).

    • Mr Hoppy  September 25, 2012

      @Solar Penguin – Absolute tosh! It’s all we talked about all week at my school following that cliff hanger. Maybe we were more ‘Who’ literate than other schools but for a bunch of 11 year olds it was the most memorable reveal of the 80s (Other than Peri in that swimming costume.) The annuals of the time featured cybermen, the weekly, then monthly magazine did and many of us had the toy one with the odd cyber-nose. You’d have to have been a shoddy sort of fan not to know what they were.

      As for the blog – One of the best yet and I got real joy from reading how Sue’s reaction matched my own all those years ago.

      • solar penguin  September 25, 2012

        Shoddy sort of fan? We weren’t any sort of fan. We were just viewers, like the vast majority of the audience.

        I was probably the closest thing to a fan in my form, because I owned a couple of second-hand Targets from a jumble sale. (Neither of them had Cybermen in them.) But I’d never owned a toy Cyberman, with or without nose, and never read a DW annual, or an issue of DWM.

        (With hindsight, I think I had read an issue of DW Weekly many years earlier, but I’d forgotten all about it by then. The only thing I can remember about it was the comic strip about the Flying Dutchman spaceship, but I didn’t associate it with DW, and ironically I didn’t even remember that that strip’s protagonist was actually a Cyberman!)

      • Jazz Whyman  September 26, 2012

        FWIW, you probably didn’t talk about the episode 1 cliffhanger all week, because episode 2 was shown the very next day 🙂 I think I’d probably have exploded if we’d had to wait a week.

    • Jazz Whyman  September 26, 2012

      I was still at primary school when Earthshock went out. I had never seen a Cyberman story, but I knew exactly what Cybermen were because I read Doctor Who Monthly and the Target books. I fell off my chair at the end of episode 1, and excitedly discussed it at school the next day with others who knew what Cybermen were.

      • solar penguin  September 26, 2012

        I suspect the number of DWM readers was much, much smaller than Steven’s army of Radio Times readers.

        • John G  September 26, 2012

          Well, I’m sure the reveal was very exciting for the older fans who did remember the Cybermen, and they do seem to have increasingly been JNT’s chief target audience at the time…

    • chris-too-old-too-watch  September 26, 2012

      So presumably, you had a similar reaction to the daleks when they turn up: after all their last appearence was ages ago too?

      • solar penguin  September 26, 2012

        True, when they crashed through that wall in Destiny, I had no idea at all that the Doctor had encountered them before. Why should I?

        The difference is that fandom doesn’t keep bleating on and on with annoying crap about how wonderful the Destiny cliffhanger is.

        • Dave Sanders  September 26, 2012

          That’s because DO NOT MOVE DO NOT MOVE DO NOT MOVE it genuinely isn’t.

          • Leo  September 26, 2012

            And also because the title announces that they were in it, and their reappearance had had some publicity beforehand, so there was no element of surprise.

          • Dave Sanders  September 26, 2012

            It’s a measure of how forgettable Destiny is that I forgot even that about it.

    • Paul Mudie  September 26, 2012

      Well I was 12 at the time and had pretty strong memories of Revenge of the Cybermen, so I was VERY excited to see the Cybermen again.

      • Paul Mudie  September 26, 2012

        It probably helped that my older brother really WAS a fan by that point, so our house was full of Who books, magazines and whatnot, and I couldn’t really NOT know who the Cybermen were.

      • Frankymole  September 26, 2012

        There’s a Cyberman (Cyberleader, no less) in Logopolis episode 4, which was shown on the BBC twice in the previous year, when there were only three channels and millions watched it.

        • Dan  September 26, 2012

          If it was all over the papers, that’s a pretty good indication that it had penetrated the national consciousness to a significant degree.

  39. Antti Björklund  September 25, 2012

    Loved the post. I’ll have to agree with Sue in a way with the end credits. I thought the silence went on a tiny bit too long.

  40. Ian Marchant  September 25, 2012

    My family, who were casual viewers at best, and probably better described as Who Hecklers, certainly recognised the Cybermen. I think you’re underestimating the subconscious recognition factor that the jug eared buffoons have to the general public (bless ’em)

    I seem to recall the papers being full of “the cybermen are back” articles the following day so even some of the gin soaked old hacks in Wapping recognised them it appears.

    No matter how much you hate Adric (and let’s face it, it’s pretty much mandatory) that final shot is certainly his finest moment.

    • John G  September 25, 2012

      The hacks were still boozing it up on Fleet Street in 1982…

      • Ian Marchant  September 25, 2012

        The 1980’s are a jumbled mess in my addled mind. I remember wandering around Wapping trying to find the Who Shop and hoping not to be eaten by CHUDS on a dark November Saturday sometime in the 80’s.

    • PolarityReversed  September 25, 2012

      As a former hack, I must object to “gin soaked”.
      Get your facts right. Malt whisky was the lunch of choice.

      • Ian Marchant  September 25, 2012

        Sorry I stand corrected which is probably better than standing at an alarming angle…

        • PolarityReversed  September 25, 2012

          That’s what we used to call getting an angle on a story…
          (I miss those afternoons down in the old Pigeon & Bollocks*, but my liver doesn’t!)

          *Name of pub changed for legal reasons.

  41. Philippa Sidle  September 25, 2012

    Such a great story, I’m really glad Sue rated it. I definitely cried when Adric died, I remember I was shaking! And I was sixteen I think!

    However I have to say that it was the next time trailer that had me howling with laughter, particularly as I’m also a big fan of Cabin Pressure (little radio 4 sitcom about a tiny airline). Can you put the trailers in the book… er, somehow? Does it seem bizarre that the two greatest Davison stories are both followed immediately by two of the worst stories in the whole of Who? This has only just occurred to me.

    • PolarityReversed  September 25, 2012

      Cabin Pressure +1
      Best thing on R4 for ages.

  42. Gareth Lee-Thomas  September 25, 2012

    Have to agree with Sue on the direction. Some of those shots are magical and memorable for all the right reasons. I think Davison pitches it just right. An intelligent man knows there is no point getting angry with a creature true to its nature, so I would imagine it would come across as petulant.

    No point appealing to the Stevens of this world. Only a soulless animal could fail to recognise the worth and popularity of WiS. Being able to tap in to what makes others tick (and knowing what does not) is a life skill. Some are blessed with this quality (being comic or droll), others – alas – whine and fidget and complain and suck all the air from a room with no idea of what to do with it.

    Loved the Terry and June version, very very funny.

    I have no issue with the Cyber race having time travel. They probably would just see it as irrelevant – preferring to exact revenge than to change the course of history. What other way for a nomadic race to build back from the point of extinction. Otherwise it might be that they just like to blow things up a lot.

  43. Doug  September 25, 2012

    Even Aussies think its best to avoid the Gold Coast these days. 😉

    • Wholahoop  September 26, 2012

      Apart from the (she)bogans?

      • Doug  September 27, 2012

        Yes and the bikie drug gangs who like shooting the place up…..

  44. Simon Harries  September 25, 2012

    Superb blog entry – really, really enjoyable. I’ve read it four times today, including a strained read on a blackberry in the dark during an arduous motorway journey. I watched Earthshock myself last night, in readiness for what I hoped would be a fine response from Sue and I can only imagine what fun it must have been to watch it with her!

    As for one or two of the posts above, they remind me of an ancient remedy I used to know for mad dogs…

    • DPC  September 26, 2012

      I’m not mad! Only single… 😀

  45. Rassilon  September 26, 2012

    I’d never noticed Sarah Sutton almost corpsing like that.

    • John G  September 26, 2012

      I wonder if Sue will notice the corpsing scene in Time-Flight!

  46. Wholahoop  September 26, 2012

    Geek Alert: much as I enjoyed Earthshock it always struck me as a clumsy if convenient plot device that a switch on the cyber control flipped and the second wave of cyber beings awoke, maybe I missed something about that. However for me the worst was the idea that the ship was travelling on the same spatial co-ordinates since Earth would not have been in the same position in space 65 million years earlier. Unless of course this was a Gallifreyan plot to prevent matrix secrets from being stolen from the Timelords, but that would be a ridiculous premise on which to build a story

    • Cracked Polystyrene Man  September 26, 2012

      Presumably the technology that enabled the ship to travel in time also factored in the planetary movement of Earth to keep it in the same place relative to the ship. It’s probably mentioned in the ship’s sale brochure somewhere.

      • Wholahoop  September 26, 2012

        You are quite right. There is section in the sales brochure that refers to the automatic spatial drift compensators that will be activated if the ship is ever sent back in time as a result of being connected to alien technology whilst being used as a bomb to blow up a planet. How could I have missed that?

    • Frankymole  September 26, 2012

      Thanks to the expansion of the universe and the orbital mechanics of galaxy groups, the space freighter “should” probably have been outside the galaxy anyway 65 million years ago. But space movement is relative – presumably the Cybermen set their controls relative to Earth; it was, after all their target. Everything in the universe is moving relative to everything else, there is no “centre” (lying Terminus aside). Those mediaeval philosophers who conjectured that the entire universe revolved around the Earth were no more wrong than anyone else!

  47. Thomas  September 26, 2012

    This is one I watched for the first time this past week and just couldn’t get into. I thought the direction was marvelous but the rest of it just really failed to impress me. The Cybermen were laughable, the story basic, the acting average…it’s not a bad episode by any means, just a really mediocre one. The fact that it continues to get higher praise than “Kinda” just baffles me to no end.

    And Adric’s death is really well-handled, but rather terrible when you think about it. He dies because he was rather stupid about his mathematical skills. Heart-wrenching.

    • Yiz Erbigum  September 27, 2012

      “He dies because he was rather stupid about his mathematical skills.”

      He dies because the cyberman shoots his keyboard – hardly his fault. As far as we know, he’d have been all right other than that.

  48. chris-too-old-too-watch  September 26, 2012

    Re Cyber-emotions: just because they state over and over again that they have eliminated emotions and replaced them with logic doesn’t mean they succeeded. I’d like to think that the human spirit (whatever that may be) means that hidden deep within their organic brains, there is some small part of humanity that reveals itself in unexpected emotions – revenge, anger, pleasure etc.

    • DPC  September 26, 2012


      It’s been a long-term issue… indeed, even “The Tenth Planet” has a Cybermen telling of emotions being removed and almost has a sense of pride.

      “The Moonbase” and “Revenge of the Cybermen” are the all-time worst examples of Cybermen with emotions… “Earthshock” is tame, and “Tomb of the Cybermen” and “Attack of the Cybermen” are almost perfect in that regard. As are ‘The Invasion’ and ‘The Wheel in Space’…

    • Paul Mudie  September 27, 2012

      I agree. I always feel that when the Cybermen talk about eliminating emotion, they’re kidding themselves.

      • Thomas  September 28, 2012

        I feel the original Cybermen (Tenth Planet) are truly emotionless, the later versions just had the misfortune of bad writers (or in Saward’s case, writers who deliberately wrote them with emotions).

        • Frankymole  September 28, 2012

          Trouble is, it’s the same writers of “Tenth Planet” who have Cybermen in “The Moonbase”, a few months later, crowing about “only stupid Earth brains like yours would have been fooled” and sneering “clever, clever, clever!”. Not exactly emotionless. Not very self-aware either, given how bonkers the Cybes’ own actions always are.

  49. Neil Perryman  September 26, 2012

    “Sue reaction to the episode one cliffhanger is just plain wrong, because she already knows about Cybermen”.

    That has to be the craziest comment I have read on this site. And that’s saying something. I will be sure to tell her that she was wrong when she reacted like that, I’m sure it will amuse her no end.

    • solar penguin  September 26, 2012

      If it does, that just shows how much she’s become contaminated by the mindless mindset of most of fandom. She is no longer always reacting the way a “not-we” ought to.

      • Neil Perryman  September 26, 2012

        Rubbish. You are suggesting that she should have watched Earthshock as an 11 year old child who didn’t buy DWM and had forgotten (or didn’t know) what the Cybermen are. Do you have any idea how insane that is?

        • Dave Sanders  September 26, 2012

          She should have acted without emotion. Such a reaction is a weakness that curtails the intellect. THESE CLIFFHANGERS ARE IRRELEVANT.

          • Wholahoop  September 26, 2012

            When did you last enjoy a well prepared cliffhanger?

        • Yiz Erbigum  September 26, 2012

          Is Steven working his way through all the blog regulars, gradually assimilating them to his loony puritanical ways?

          • PolarityReversed  September 26, 2012

            He seems to have a problem with extrapolating the personal into the general, whether it’s experience (no-one at my school knew about the cybermen, ergo no-one knew) or opinion (I hated it, so anyone who thinks differently must be stupid).

            Bless him, he even seems to think the entertaining “Odd Couple” hook of this blog is supposed to imply a rigorous scientific examination. Seems unable to land his Tardis on the point…

            Steven and Penguin:
            We all have our experiences and opinions. We have our favourites, our guilty pleasures (even though they were a bit crap really), our “WTF was that”s. To assert that the way we personally feel is driven by a need to belong to some cozy “fandom” consensus (be it Who or Sue) is insulting. We come here to agree, disagree, gossip and have a laugh. Ponder on that.

            Anyone else find it interesting that emotions run a little high whenever they Wife a cyber story?

          • Longtime Listener  September 27, 2012

            Don’t be silly. Steven’s all right really. He was even kind enough to lend me these rather nifty headphones.


            Sorry, what was I saying?

  50. Steve O'Brien  September 26, 2012

    No, I don’t think Solar Penguin has any idea how insane he is. Sorry, IT is.

  51. Paul Mudie  September 26, 2012

    “it’s all coming together this week. It feels like proper Doctor Who for a change”

    Exactly! This remains one of my favourite Davisons. The script, direction and production values are all top notch. The performances are mostly good, but Beryl Reid lets the side down a little. It’s a straightforward adventure serial that feels very refreshing after the likes of Castrovalva and Four to Doomsday. The reveal of the Cybermen was one of the greatest “wow” moments of 80s Who for me, and Adric’s death was pretty shocking. Fabulous stuff.

  52. simon  September 26, 2012

    Yes. This is the best story of the whole season, easily. I dont agree about the “superficial, its all just style of substance” arguments. Its so good, because they really did try the hardest, and the rest of the season was so poor. And it was a proper Doctor Who story with monsters and some action. Also add in the Cybermen and Death of Adprick and you are on a winner.
    For me these are the best Cybermen ever, the best look, the best design. I know the back story says emotionless, BUT you can still see a part organic face underneath. They look like they are wearing life support suits, armour and so on, you can still see the organic origins, so would they not still have bits of emotions in there too in this version? They are the best versions of the Cybermen. The new series Cybermen are just like Robocop and when you see the production designs they could have used for the 2006 versions anything else they could have picked would have been better than what they decided to use and what we got on screen. They picked a bad design and bad update, just like the new Daleks and new Silurians…Anyway Sue is right, Peter Davidson comes across as a bit limp in his anger and gravitas. Seeing the clip of Tom Baker at the time made me remember just how good he was and how much I missed him. Stunt casting..hehehe heh it only gets worse from now on MUCH worse…wait till the seventh Doctor shows up. They should have skipped Black Orchid and kept the money for the next story, and poor old Peter only has about three more good stories for me in the rest of his run..oh well.

    • Thomas  September 26, 2012

      How on Earth is this better than Kinda?

      And my problem with the Cybermen here is that they’re just emotional robots. There’s almost nothing else to them thematically, which for me makes them as dull as ditchwater.

    • DPC  September 27, 2012

      As an American, I don’t know the background of many of the stunt cast… comedy or otherwise…

      Unfortunately, having sat through drek like “Voyage of the Darned”, with Kylie Monologue and all… so that’s a benefit of WHO dropping its UK roots and going global for the new series (2005-??) – the rest of us can finally start to relate to the criticisms…

  53. Oz Baxter  September 26, 2012

    Been stuck in bed for two days with stomach virus. Wife handed me my ipad to kill time. First site I check is this. I’m immediately thrown back to 10yrs old…my illness giving me lucid flashback emotions. I hated Adric. We all did, right? But, in the end, he WAS one of the crew. He had known my Doctor, briefly. Then had helped me realize this new blondy was still the same guy. And suddenly….he’s dead? No music? The Doctor looking bewildered, as if asking himself…”How did I allow this to happen?”

    The rest of my night was filled with feverish dreams of running down spooky corridors, knowing that just like Adric, I wasn’t safe either. It was so much fun, in hindsight, to experience that uncertain, no-previews, clinical, truly dangerous era. A time when Doctor Who was about the mysteries and danger of the universe versus what seems to be nothing but a parade of overly-emotional angst for the main character. A time when The Doctor was happy to be alive and whatever darkness in his past drove him to greater heights rather than shackled him to a private, lonlely hell.

    I love Doctor who, still. But, there are times when I miss those uncertain days. Thank you Sue. Thank you Neil. A comfort unseen is still a comfort. 🙂

  54. Mill.I.Am  September 26, 2012

    I suspect almost but not quite entirely everyone is reacting so warmly to this particular blog – including Neil – because Sue watched Earthshock like someone who is beginning to develop a grudging affection for Doctor Who and its funny little ways, probably as a result of watching so much of it in such a short space of time. (Don’t fret, specialists, Time-Flight should return her to ‘factory settings’.)

    • DPC  September 27, 2012

      LOL… even those of us who adore half of season 19 and like/dislike the remainder (5/6 for me so far) knows that the story coming will reveal some ‘factory settings’ goodness…

  55. David C  September 26, 2012

    Glad to see there are other Who AND Jesus Christ Superstar fans out there Neil!

    • Thomas  September 28, 2012

      Holy crap, just saw that. Surely you’re not referring to the 1973 Norman Jewison masterpiece which happens to also be my all-time favorite film, Neil?

      • PolarityReversed  September 28, 2012

        If you’re not the Sandifer,
        Yes, the great Philip Sandifer,
        Prove to me you’re not qlippothic,
        Expound a little on post-modern gothic…

        • Yiz Erbigum  September 28, 2012

          If I knew Dr Phil was among us, I’d certainly be politer about TE. Actually, I was very fond of TE until around the JNT era, when it seemed to go a bit nuts. I went from an unusually thoughtful and intelligently-written episode-by-episode account of Doctor Who, which I looked forward to every bit as much as WiS, to some weird pseudo-mystical thing bordering on the unreadable, I’m not sure what happened.

          Thomas’s opinions and misconceptions about Earthshock do seem to match up with those of the great Dr S though – even though this is apparently the first time Thomas has ever seen Earthshock. So it could be coincidence.

          • Yiz Erbigum  September 28, 2012


          • Frankymole  September 28, 2012

            Adric’s death is not much different to Gan’s in Blakes 7 (another character with not much narrative weight). That was done to make the audience more jumpy in future, thinking “this lot aren’t invulnerable after all – any of them could die”. It doesn’t quite work the same way in Who, because we know the Doctor must always survive, but maybe not his friends, even his oldest ones… they did intend to bump off the Brigadier, remember. Then again, we thought Blake must survive in a series bearing his name, and he was off by season 3…

          • Thomas  September 28, 2012

            Trust me, if I was actually Sandifer, my posts would be written a heck of a lot better. I just happen to agree with him on this particular story almost 100% (this isn’t always, the case, of course- I’m much more favorable to the Pertwee era than he is, and even in terms of Saward I don’t think he gives Revelation of the Daleks nearly enough credit as it deserves).

            (plus if you actually click on my name it gives a link to my own blog, so yeah (though it’s old and not very good- I keep meaning to add a couple essays to it but never find the time))

        • PolarityReversed  September 29, 2012

          Ah Lego!!
          Why didn’t you say so. Great stuff. Sincerely.
          Heaven knows what they’re doing with it now, but I was bowled over by the introduction of the hinge!

  56. encyclops  September 26, 2012

    I’ll stick up for Beryl Reid — a welcome incongruity in an otherwise grim all-soldier story — and of course Adric, whom I did and do feel sorry for even though I think that if they weren’t going to write him better, he was better off killed off. I can’t really imagine anything anyone has described working over the end credits except silence. And it kind of makes me angry imagining the corpsing as they played their reactions to his death; it just seems representative of what must have been a really uncomfortable professional atmosphere for Matthew Waterhouse. It can’t have been easy working as part of a show where no one liked you, no matter how your inexperience contributed to their reactions.

    I will say this: I’ll no longer be able to watch his episodes without noting the times he puts his hands in his pockets. Thanks for that, Sue. 🙂

    I’m glad someone else has brought up the Cybermen’s emotions. Agreed that just because you intend to eradicate your emotions doesn’t mean you actually can. I always try to remember the inner blob when I watch Dalek stories too, and consider whether they’re being written as robots.

    As for Earthshock itself: it’s not what I’d want all Doctor Who stories to be like, but I agree it’s one of the better examples of its kind, that “well-prepared meal” speech notwithstanding.

    • DPC  September 27, 2012

      “Well-prepared meal”.

      I’ve never understood the dislike for that line.

      The big speech could otherwise have come off as completely corny and lame, but the line about the meal is entirely out of left field and original. Good meals take time and care to prepare. Most people just shovel things in their mouths without thinking about it, much less being grateful… the stuff about the sunset and the rest are trite and token, but the meal – for something that is ultimately small, a lot of effort went into making it that way. Especially for the emotional responses it produces. Of course a Cyberman would have know knowledge, much less care – Cybermen have mechanical and electronic bits superseding organic functions. To them, everything the Doctor says is irrelevant. But the well-prepared meal does elevate the speech from being one big cliche…

      it is a GREAT line and I will defend it, goofy as that might seem to any number of people reading my response just now… 🙂

      • encyclops  September 27, 2012

        I love that you’ll defend it. Some of my favorite moments reading this blog are seeing Sue or commenters sticking up for stuff that “fan wisdom” (as “military intelligence” is said to be, an oxymoron) says is awful.

        The sentiment behind the line is laudable and I like that it sticks it. It just seems an awfully abstract way of expressing the idea, making it sound as though the Doctor’s never had one before. To me it sounds a bit like “an enjoyable session of intimate relations.” I probably would have written something about a juicy steak or a crisp apple, but then I’m no Eric Saward.

        • encyclops  September 28, 2012

          “I like that it sticks it”? What on Earth did I mean? “Sticks out,” maybe?

  57. Yiz Erbigum  September 26, 2012

    The night Adric died, I remember lying in bed picturing his pyjamas all tattered and covered in blood (I wasn’t really au fait with how getting blown up in a spaceship actually worked)… he seemed so alive and vibrant, I couldn’t believe he was dead, and I couldn’t really form a picture for it in my mind. It was a very odd sensation, I think he was the first example of a good guy dying in anything long-running I’d seen.

    Oh, and I used to get Beryl Reid and Mollie Sugden mixed up at the time too.

  58. Adam Birch  September 26, 2012

    I loved Earthshock at the time and Still enjoy it almost as much.

    The only diminishing return? With repeat viewings, the Cybermen are no longer a surprise and neither is Adric’s demise. Once that particular balloon is popped, you can’t get back.

    On the up side, Adric is still a really big and complicated jigsaw. Tee hee!

  59. DamonD  September 27, 2012

    Yeah, thumbs up for Earthshock, glad Sue enjoyed it.

    Big congratulations Neil for not letting the cat out of the bag with this one. The whole experiment wasn’t building up to this one story or anything, but it speaks volumes by how meaningful and shocked Sue was by this point as opposed to just shoving it in the DVD player for a random watch.

    Earthshock’s flaws show up more on repeated viewings, but it’s still one of Davison’s best and for initial impact it’s tremendous.

  60. Auntie Celia  September 27, 2012

    I have been so enjoying Neil and Susan’s comments and observations. I hope it is not plain wrong of me to do so.

  61. CJJC  September 27, 2012

    Cheers, Sue. Love Earthshock. Love Beryl Reid. Oh, and when I first saw it, it was on DVD and I knew Cybermen were in it and that it would be the end of Adric but that didn’t matter as it was my first conscious encounter with Adric (my earliest Who memory is the Tom/Peter regeneration but that’s not the same thing as knowing who the characters are and I still didn’t properly watch the programme throughout the rest of the 1980s except for a few times when McCoy was doing the business) and as such I don’t have any way to have experienced it in the way intended – and in the way that is claimed are the only reasons anyone thinks of it as a classic – and yet I still think it’s a great hoot.

    Mentioning earlier my irregular Who viewing in the 1980s is also relevant as I never saw this or The Five Doctors or Attack or Silver Nemesis, didn’t read Target books, didn’t read DWM, meaning that my first encounter with on-screen Cybermen was during Dimensions in Time. I still knew what they were through cultural osmosis. Doctor Who = TARDIS = Daleks = Cybermen. Done and done.


    “random killing in Doctor Who is hardly a new thing. Random killing of a major character is, but countless minor characters have been killed off randomly, sometimes to great effect.”

    Nor are they an old thing. How many people are killed in the Auton attack in 2005’s Rose? Well, er, there’s Clive and…. well, some other people. He wasn’t recurring, but he was a named, established character and thus his removal is memorable even now.

  62. matt bartley  September 27, 2012

    “Death of Adprick”

    Sounds about right.

  63. Broadshoulder2  September 27, 2012

    If each season of the JNT era had one story which was excellent. A one in six batting average which isn’t great. Earthshock doesn’t just stand out within season 19, it stands out within the entire JNT era. It was dangerous. It was edgy. You believed they were in peril. It was so different from the fluffy pastel adventures of most of the JNT era. It was necessary and very welcome.

    • DPC  September 27, 2012

      Depending on whom you ask… 1/6 is true for some, others will say 6/6, and others will go for the cool beige of 3/6…

  64. James  September 28, 2012

    Bloody hell – I’ve almost caught up!!!

  65. Barry Williams  October 3, 2012

    Hey Neil,

    I only stumbled across this blog recently, at which point I had completely forgotten that we were once in a fan video together! I have to say that I am hugely enjoying this, keep up the good work! I’ll have to get the book, now…