The Wheel In Space

Huh, it’s the Cybermen again, is it? I do love them so, but it’s curious that the Daleks have only recently been retired following over-use, and yet no lessons seem to have been learned. This is their fourth appearance in 15 stories – the Daleks appeared in seven of 35, so there’s a far higher level of Cyber saturation in this period than there ever was with Skaro’s finest during Dalekmania.

As for this story in particular, it’s a hell of a good setting, but the overall plot isn’t much to write home about. After the Cybermen took a huge leap forward in Tomb, becoming more ruthless and scheming, it’s a shame that they’re returning to a bog-standard base-under-siege set-up. I’m still liking the majority of base-under-siege eps, but Tomb showed that the Cybermen are so much better in a more ambitious story. There’s an attempt at that here, with their plan being so complex and gambit-based, but really, for the most part, they could have been substituted for any other villain.

The Cybermats, on the other hand, are much improved from their first appearance, although that could have been because the bulk of this story is missing, and thus we’re unable to see them in motion. But the star of the show, mechanoid wise, is the Servo Robot from episode one. It later retired on the Moon, where it cleaned up after tourists and dreamed of going skiing.

The Wheel setting was an intriguing one, and it was another good ensemble piece. But one character in particular stood out right from her first appearance. I think that was the best introduction to a new companion we’ve seen in a long time, because Zoe is not your standard companion of this era. It goes beyond the fact that she’s so smart, and seems so unlikely to be subservient – there’s something other-worldly about her. Her super intelligence and devotion to logic is at the cost of emotional empathy and social skills. She’s got Asperger’s, basically, and she’s wonderful. It’s going to be fascinating to see how she fits in.

Last time, I spoke about there hardly being any decade-spanning mythology left to fall in to place, but I forgot one. Hello, John Smith. Hopefully I’ll have forgotten a few others, so that I’ve got plenty more grin-making moments of realisation to come.

The serial ends really weirdly, with The Doctor putting Zoe to the test by playing The Evil of the Daleks on the TARDIS Scanner via his brain. The broadcast of this serial lead directly into a repeat of Evil, and having a repeat being set up as part of an original episode is an utterly bizarre decision.

And so, unlike the previous three, the show’s fifth season ends on a bit of a whimper, exciting new companion aside. I reach another milestone, and it’s one I’ve been looking forward to, for now there’s only one more mostly-missing serial left. I’ve only got seven more missing episodes ever, and two of them are animated. So much joy awaits me.

SEASON AVERAGE RATING: 8.28

RATING: 7

  • Seasons/Series watched: 5 of 34
  • Stories watched: 43 of 253
  • Individual episodes watched: 209 of 813

Episodes wise, that’s a quarter of the way through! That’s weird. Although, there will be another couple of series by the time I get to the end, then there’s all those spin-offs to consider…

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