Released June 2010
‘Legend of the Cybermen’ brings to a close the adventures of the Sixth Doctor and Jamie, somehow satisfactorily answering the lingering questions from the previous two stories while also reintroducing The Land of Fiction, showcasing the Cybermen in an intriguing new light, and even bringing back Wendy Padbury’s Zoe Heriot in a very meaningful role.
The Land of Fiction, first introduced in the Second Doctor serial ‘The Mind Robber,’ is, of course, a reaml fueled by imagination, and Mike Maddox’s script certainly does the fantastic premise justice. Putting the completely logical Cybermen in the realm is a masterstroke in contrasting philosophies, and having them transform the likes of giants into enormous Cybermen and Moby Dick into a living submarine is simultaneously frightening and hugely entertaining. Even an exceptionally meaningful and deep appearance by the ephemeral Count Dracula adds to the overall spectacle of this unique spin on the typical story about the ravages of war, and the visuals created here are easily some of the most powerful and robust that a Big Finish release has ever created. With the surprising and sometimes heartbreaking treatment of other famous literary characters such as Oliver Twist, Alice, and Artful Dodger, ‘Legend of the Cybermen’ deftly relies on nostalgia while blazing a completely new path along the way.
As with the two preceding stories, Maddox captures the inherently wonderful chemistry between the Doctor and Jamie perfectly. Though the Doctor continues to forget that this is not the same man he traveled with, there’s a mutual respect and even admiration between the two characters that’s always present. As the story twists and turns, Baker proves adept at portraying an incredible range of emotions as he vehemently loathes Dracula because of his race’s relationship with vampires, copes with the possibility that he never actually escaped The Land of Fiction in the first place, and has to look inwardly in order to explain why he continues to run and why he never returns for his companions. At the same time, Frazer Hines again does masterful work as the older Jamie. The entire trilogy has been building to the return of Jamie’s memories, and the revelatory scene is handled with perfectly as emotions swirl. Even more powerful is Jamie’s reaction, though, unable to accept that there are so many versions of his life and that he himself if a fictional creation from this land.
Inserted into the madness is Wendy Padbury’s Zoe, and Maddox does a superb job giving her a crucial reason to be here rather than simply baking on more nostalgia. After being forced to leave the Doctor and having her memories wiped, a medical exam back on the Wheel revealed that Zoe was two years older than she was a couple of years ago. Working out what must have happened for herself, Zoe was at some point captured by the Cybermen, their intent to make her their new Cyberplanner. During their interrogation of her, her mental blocks were breached and she remembered everything about her travels, deciding that the Land of Fiction would be the best area to hold them at bay. Inserting herself as the new Mistress of the Land of Fiction, Zoe gave the fictional creations free will and has been using the stories of her childhood as weapons against them. At the same time, though, she is not above asking for help, creating a version of Jamie with no memories of him as a lure for the Doctor.
Fittingly, the Cybermen have more grandiose plans than simply gaining control of The Land of Fiction. They have their sights set on the Master Brain, control of which would allow them to alter the thoughts of humans, destroying imagination and emotions and thereby destroying the essence of humanity itself. It’s also fitting that one of the most notorious of fictional creations, Count Dracula, would be so crucial in undermining the Cybermen’s plans, but the glorious parade of fictional characters as the Cybermen and the Doctor do battle with the inky lifeblood of the land is tense and riveting, even including crucial characters from the previous two stories to give a wonderful sense of coherency to this madcap trilogy.
Every once in a while, a story comes along that completely encapsulates the utter uniqueness of Doctor Who. As the plot continues to subvert expectations and precariously twist upon itself, ‘Legend of the Cybermen’ is certainly that story, dealing with the tragic aftermath of ‘The War Games’ while providing a hugely entertaining story that stands on its own merits as well. A sequel, a mystery, a parody, a nostalgic homage, a sterling piece of character drama- ‘Legend of the Cybermen’ has everything and is the perfect conclusion to a fantastic Big Finish experiment.