01/10/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. Times for each volume: 66min; 69 min; 73 min and 74 min. Each volume: £10.99 (UK). ISBNs: 1-84435-117-3; 1-84435-118-1; 1-84435-119-X and 184435-120-3)cast: Sarah Mowat, Mark McDonnell, Hannah Smith, Toby Longworth, Barnaby Edwards, Ian Brooker, Samantha Sanns, Lizzie Hopley and Nicholas Briggs.
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One of the advantages to having the rights to audio 'Doctor Who' is the available spin-off potential of the big villains of the long-running show. Everybody has their favourite and whilst the Daleks push all the buttons for some in Dalek Empire, it is the cybermen that are, for me, the more menacing. There is something about them that translates well onto audio and this spin-off series called Cyberman is a cracking adventure.
Without the Doctor, humans are quite alone. Their great creation, the android, which was supposed to fulfil all the mundane tasks without question, has broken free of its chains. Androids with their false memories and emotions believe themselves to be as good as human, who want to destroy them. The War of Orion where the androids make their stand seems to be never ending. Each side is battling for survival. It is only a new threat to both that can possibly make a difference.
Paul Hunt is in charge of the Scorpius Project. One night, he is summoned to the project because there has been a breakthrough. Then nothing. His girlfriend, Samantha, is left to wonder what happened to him when he doesn't come home.
Admiral Karen Brett is a rising star in the fight against the androids. She will go far. She's prepared to torture and kill to get the intel she needs about how to win the war. She will go even further than that. Her friend, Commander Liam Barnaby, is wondering what happened to the girl he knew.
When Karen gets an offer from Paul Hunt that could help her win the war against the androids once and for all, how can she resist the offer? After all what could it cost, apart from her humanity? Once it seems that all hope is lost, she appears to only have one choice. But there are choices and choices.
The drama sows the seeds early on to show us what decisions the humans and the androids will make. It's chilling and doesn't even need the presence of the cybermen to get the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up. The drama follows the main characters in four episodes as it moves inexorably towards a major showdown.
Despite its title, this drama is at its best when the cybermen are absent. The frustratingly, halting delivery occasionally slows the plot down. You just want them to get on with it. That said, most of the time it is behind the sofa time even without the visuals and when they do arrive it's all guns blazing.
This is a thoughtful series of plays that follows the course you expect, some of the time. The Orion War between humans and androids is referenced in 'Sword Of Orion' featuring the Eighth Doctor. Luckily, you don't need to have listened to this to get plenty out of this adventure. Of course, it would be a good excuse to get hold of it for completion sake...
This deserves absolute attention and I thoroughly recommend it for a long journey - it lasts 4 hours. It's a real old-fashioned space adventure that reminds me of the classic adventures. It also contrives an interesting plot structure which doesn't reveal all the secrets at once. Combined with the excellent voice skills of the actors and Nicholas Briggs' Cybermen, this is has been a highlight of recent listening.
The good news is that there is a follow up with Cyberman 2 coming out in instalments starting in November. Give this a listen now. You won't be disappointed.
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