Doctor Who: 5 Reasons the First Cybermen Were the Scariest

Categories: Doctor Who

I recently got a chance to see the newly released "The Tenth Planet" DVD, which featured an incredibly brilliant animated version of the missing fourth episode. Though a lot of people find the story to be a little slow and listless, a common complaint in many early serials, I consider the story to be not only brilliant but absolutely terrifying.

The reason being that the Cybermen, making their debut in the series for the first time, have never been this frightening ever again. No other enemy has undergone such continued radical redesign throughout the series as the Cybermen have, and to my mind neither later classic Cybermen or the modern variants are particularly scary. They're threats, but they don't reach down and shake you.


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The Costumes: There's no denying that classic Doctor Who, and even some of the modern Who as well have featured some silly-looking monsters. Hartnell's reign in particular is full of them. Monoids, I'm looking at you.

However, the first Cybermen were utterly brilliant. Rather than the harder shells they would eventually develop, their skin was more plastic and they still had flesh-and-blood hands. They were essentially the most human of the Cybermen, and that made them even harder to look at because they resembled people with frightening mechanical additions rather than robots.

To put it another way, you know what makes Jason Voorhees such a striking figure? It's because from a distance you see nothing but his hulking form and black spots where his eyes should be. Closer up, you can see just a touch of the face behind the mask, that one baleful eye. The first Cybermen were like that.

The Voices: When you think of the Cybermen's voices, it's always an emotionless, electronically manipulated drone. It's the epitome of machine-like sameness, and frankly it gets a little old.

The first Cybermen had a voice distinctly different from those of later incarnations. Their delivery was in a strange sing-song manner, and it is totally unnerving. It's like the way Daleks talk, but colder and more sinisterly inhuman.

Though like all Cybermen they claim to have replaced all emotions with logic through the process of cyber-conversion, there remains in their speech enough human smugness and misplaced superiority that a comparison to Gestapo agents is not out of line. Later Cybermen just can't pull it off.

Piece continues on next page.

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