Written Kit Pedler
Directed Derek Martinus
The Cybermen reveal their secondary objective: The destruction of Earth.
This episode is rather fast-paced. Ben’s sabotage of the rocket was successful and Cutler is furious. No, furious is not the correct word. He starts to go blind with rage. The Doctor makes a glorious re-appearance and the battle of words commences. Unfortunately, Cutler grabs a gun and makes to kill The Doctor, Ben, and Polly, which is when The Cybermen show up. Cutler is quickly shot.
Mondas is starting to be overwhelmed by the energy it is absorbing. The Cybermen are preparing their secondary objective, which is to destroy the Earth with the very z-bomb Cutler would have used to destroy Mondas. Polly is taken back to the Cybership as a hostage while Ben, Barclay, and Dyson are put to work dismantling the z-bomb to The Cybermen’s specifications. This is when Ben happens upon a useful theory. The Cybermen have a fatal reaction to radiation. This seems to work better than gold dust, in my opinion. Having a new weapon to use against The Cybermen, Ben and Barclay make short work of them.
When Mondas finally breaks up we get a bit of a deus ex machina. Without the energy of the planet to sustain them, The Cybermen disintegrate. Granted, there was a quick line of dialogue about the Cybership drawing its energy from Mondas. I suppose there are enough pieces to make this particular solution work, but I’m not entirely thrilled with it. Regardless, it quickly resolves the world-wide Cybermen invasion. Well, the first one, anyway.
“It’s all over. Is that what you said?”
How much did audiences at the time know? These days, if the actor who plays The Doctor even thinks about leaving, it makes the news, either in print or on the internet. But back in the 1960s when William Hartnell fell to the floor of The TARDIS and while light engulfed his face, did anyone at home know what was happening? I’m sure there were rumblings, I’m sure there were stories about some guy named Troughton, but how much of a surprise was it?
Hartnell has had many great moments, many that move me to tears. And while his final moments as The Doctor didn’t make me cry, there was a catch in my throat. It is hard for me to approach the death of The First Doctor without knowledge of William Hartnell and his absolute love of Doctor Who. He was a man who had played countless roles, and felt none of them really showcased his expertise. He felt as if he had not achieved the level of fame, or at the very least, respect, that was deserved of him. Doctor Who was a role for which he was extremely passionate, and it delivered in spades. He was beloved by children. He got to play drama and humor. And now, depending on the story you hear, he was forced out due to health considerations, due to antagonism with the new behind-the-scenes crew, or just because some felt the show should be taken in a new direction with a younger lead. Regardless of the reason, regardless of how Hartnell felt, the show was changing. And I, for one, am going to miss him. He may not be my first Doctor. He may not be my favorite. But for me, he defined the role. The would be no Doctor Who without William Hartnell. He set the standard for every actor who followed. He was The Doctor.
Next: Closing thoughts on the Hartnell Era and “Where do we go from here?”