Are the Big Enemies Being Overused?
Guest contributor Barry Dixon takes a look.
With the Cybermen coming back for Series 8, I wanted to examine whether these types of monsters or enemies are being overused. Wouldn’t it be more appealing for a less used monster to be given more time?
First, let’s look at when the Daleks have been given ‘time off’ in the classic era. There were 5 whole years between Evil of the Daleks in 1967 to Day of The Daleks in January 1972. Although maybe not the best Dalek story, Pertwee and Manning said it was the nadir of their Doctor Who experience. The Radio Times said it was “Tremendously Exciting”. There was then a 4 year wait between Genesis of the Daleks and the 1979 story Destiny of the Daleks. Although, again, the latter wasn’t too well received, it was classed at the time as enjoyable due to the wait endured by the viewer. A 3 year wait occurred between 1985’s Revelation to 1988’s Remembrance Of The Daleks. It was described as the best Doctor Who story in a considerable time. This could be because it was the best or because it was their eagerly anticipated return.
Now, since the revival the Daleks have appeared in every series and various specials in one way or another so I would have to lean towards the side of them being overused currently. Now we all like a Dalek story (well most of them) but surely even their biggest fan could begin to tire if fed too much of a good thing?
The Cybermen have been around since the 60’s too like the Daleks but when they have had to wait for a return, they’ve really had to wait. Twice seven years has passed, 1968 – 1975 and 1975 – 1982. Although 1975’s Revenge of the Cybermen didn’t get the best reviews, the return must have delighted a large section of Who fans. 1982’s Earthshock faired better critically with one reviewer saying part one had one of the best cliffhangers of the whole series due and the element of “didn’t see that coming.” Three years passed before seeing them again in 1985’s Attack of the Cybermen. Again reviews weren’t great and then 3 years later we got the 25th anniversary story Silver Nemesis with a similar response.
Since the new series began the Cybermen have been used a bit less than the Daleks but they still seem to have been given a lot of screentime. It could be argued that their time has, like some of the classic series instances, not been used as well as it could have. Whether that was because the writers thought that the Cybermen just turning up would be good enough, well, who knows.
Personally, I think a break could do the Cybermen and the Daleks good and give them a big return with a well-written and thought out story in say 3 years instead of every series. The shock of seeing them again after almost forgetting about them could be immense, it would send the social media world and fans in general mad with excitement. And I for one would love to see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor do battle with them (especially the Daleks) in a big episode somewhere down the line.
Obviously Doctor Who will get new writers coming in and to make an impact they may want to make use of the Doctors biggest enemies which is understandable so I can’t see a decent break anytime soon especially with the 10th anniversary of the new show next year. But some of the best stories have been those without the Doctor’s biggest enemies: Blink, The Eleventh Hour and Vincent and the Doctor for example.
This is not saying stories with the Daleks, Cybermen etc are poor, far from it. Arguably Victory Of The Daleks and possibly Closing Time as well as some I’ve already mentioned weren’t the best but I feel that the impact, surprise and excitement element of them returning after a longer break could well make that story better for it.
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comments.