The Discontinuity Guide
The New Series

The Age of Steel

20th May 2006

Writer: Tom MacRae

Director: Graeme Harper

Roots: Genesis of the Daleks and Inferno. Marc Platt is thanked in the credits for his audio Spare Parts, though other than both stories being origin of the Cybermen tales, there's little similarity. The earpods are very similar to those worn by the Remote in Interference. The Invasion (Lumic-Cybus = Vaughn-IE). Earpods is a play on I-Pods. The finale is full of action-movie clichés. Mrs Moore's fake name may be inspired by Mrs Moore's Cookbook. The scene where the CyberController falls to his doom from the ladder into the processing plant may well be inspired by the fate of Mrs Tweedy in Chicken Run.

Goofs: If Lumic can use the EarPods to control people, why didn't he do that at the party in the previous episode.

How does Mr Crane overcome the mental control from his earpieces? [Having some idea what's coming and knowing the technology, he's built some safeguards into his own earpieces.

Why is Lumic so reluctant to upgrade? The whole reason he created the Cybermen was to ensure that his brain could survive indefinitely.

The factory isn't even remotely big enough to contain the population of London like the Doctor says.

Why are the guards at the Zeppelin ladder humans rather than Cybermen?

There is a distinct lack of screams in the factory - so why were all the subjects screaming at the conversion process last episode?

Why is Rose taken to Cyber Control with Pete? She didn't work with Cybus Industries - which was the reason for Pete being taken there.

Why didn't the Cybermen at the party detect the Doctor's "binary vascular system". [Perhaps it's the factory's sensors which detect it.]

The Cybermen are remarkably inept at stopping or even slowing the fleeing humans.

If the emotional inhibitor is so vital to the Cybermen, why does it have an override code, why is Lumic immune to its deactivation, and why do so many things explode as a result of it being switched off?

Why does the second rope on the Zepplin's ladder snap roughly at the same point as the one that's been cut as soon as it has been cut?

When the van pulls away at the end you can see a sign saying "Welcome to Newport". [Perhaps they've just tracked Angela Price's family to Newport.]

Dialogue Triumphs: Mr Crane: "I've seen the future, and it's copyright Cybus Industries."

Mickey: "You're just making this up as you go along."
The Doctor: "Yup. But I do it brilliantly."

The Doctor: "Lumic, you're a clever man. I'd call you a genius, except I'm in the room."

Continuity: The TARDIS fuel cell can be used as a weapon to destroy a lot of Cybermen. However, this adds four hours to the time needed to recharge.

Pete Tyler has been working for Lumic since 20.5. He is Gemini - broadcasting secret information about Lumic on encrypted 957 using binary 9. He believed that he was passing the information to the secret services, not to the Preachers.

Ricky is London's most wanted for parking tickets. Mrs Moore is able to access the schematics of the Cyber Factory's cooling tunnels, She claims to have a device for every occasion - including two sets of fake earpods, two head-mounted torches, and an electro-magnetic bomb. She has given Jake at least two phials of chemicals which will knock out human guards. She used to work for Cybus Industries, read a file she wasn't supposed to, and ended up on the run, before meeting the Preachers and teaching herself enough to become their techie. She took the psuedonym Mrs Moore - from a book - in place of her real name of Angela Price.

The new Cybermen consider that the humans are suffering and, therefore, must be upgraded. The dormant Cybermen in the cooling tunnels sound like hollow plastic when their heads are tapped. They have artificially grown nervous systems and emotional inhibitor chips. They can detect that the Doctor has a binaryvascular system, even though the ones at the party don't appear to have been able to do so [perhaps it's sensors at the factory]. They have designated Lumic as the CyberController, a "superior" unit to the other Cybermen, and the CyberController has a larger headpiece (like the CyberController in Tomb of the Cybermen) which is transparent.

Lumic can use the EarPods to take control of the population of London, sending them to the Cyber-Factory at Battersea. He has factories waiting on seven continents [suggesting that there's a substantial human population on alt-Antarctica.]

The sonic screwdriver can somehow cause the Cybermen to walk away from where the Doctor is hiding and can cut rope. The Doctor considers a hot dog to be the Cyberman of food, but tasty. The recharged fuel cell only gives the TARDIS about five minutes of power. The Doctor says that he has to close the crack in time which the TARDIS fell through when he leaves.

Mickey learnt to fly Zeppelins on his Playstation. He decides to stay in the parallel universe as there is important work to be done, and because his gran needs him and Rose doesn't anymore. The Doctor leaves him Rose's phone, which has the deactivation code for the Cybermen's emotional inhibitors.

The alt-Earth has an Earthlike planet/moon in orbit. [Presumably in this universe Earth and Mondas - The Tenth Planet - are still twin planets, and the alt-Earth could even be Mondas.]

Links: The "real" universe's Cybermen first appeared in The Tenth Planet, Rose went back to see her father's death in Father's Day. The "real" universe's version of International Electromatics was seen in the 60s Cyberman story The Invasion. Alt-Mickey is called Ricky, and the ninth Doctor frequently called Mickey Ricky in Aliens of London and World War Three. Rose mentions seeing a Cyberman head in Van Statten's Museum (Dalek), and the Doctor briefly mentions the origins of the Cybermen from his own universe. The Doctor's comments about attacking "above, between, below" are a nod to The Five Doctors. Mickey refers to being "the tin dog" (School Reunion, and is called an idiot a couple of times (Aliens of London/World War Three). Mickey mentions saving the universe with a big yellow truck (The Parting of the Ways).

Extras: The BBC created a one-minute trailer called a "Tardisode" for each episode of series two, available to download on your mobile or watch at the BBC website. They also made a commentary track available online, and with the red button during the digital repeats. Also the Henrik's Online site has biographies for both John Lumic and Alt-Jackie.

Location: London, 1st-2nd February 2007, in an alternative universe.

The Bottom Line: 'This is the age of steel and I am its creator.' The thing that really stands out in this episode is the presence of the Cybermen, who come across as the impersonal massed menace that they should always have been - it really does feel like there are thousands of them. The plot is fairly pedestrian, though - being simply a matter of ramping up the threat and suspense. The character drama is clearly subordinate to the action, and the only other aspect that has any impact is Mickey redeeming himself in the Doctor's sight, albeit for the umpteenth time. His decision to stay in the alternative universe is disappointing, as I've come to prefer Mickey to Rose, but hardly a big surprise.


Thanks go to all the folk who commented on The Age of Steel in the Bloopers thread on Outpost Gallifrey's forum. Without them, the goofs section would have been a lot smaller.


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