Return of the Cybernauts
Good grief! An evil, diabolical, sadistic mastermind hell bent on revenge played with relish by none other than creep master Peter Cushing? To paraphrase Mrs. Peel, what's there not to like about it?
The music is creepy. The camera angles portend danger. And Cushing's Beresford is as charming as he is menacing, making him all the more sinister. Watch out for those that smile as they kill.
True, the Cybernauts might not be as "all that" as in their first go round; even the Daleks lost some of their menace after, say, the 18th time the Doctor escaped from them by running up the stairs. But like the Daleks, one still gets a thrill out of seeing such "old friends." And this story is worthy of them. In addition to Cushing, there is the equally creepy and amoral Professor Chadwick who seems to get caught up in the excitement. Funny how a guy named Chadwick would have a German accent, though. Oh, well. And I also get a kick out of the highly dippy Rosie, who appears just long enough to amuse, but not too long where she would get sickening. I found her a nice diversion because she was such a blatant stereotype of a "Swinging London" girl. And finally, of course, there is the jealous Steed routine rightly pointed out by fellow fan Biff points out. It's amusing and endearing (and worth the extra bowler).
About the only thing I will quibble over this episode is that I found it odd that Steed and Mrs. Peel would discuss their work semi-openly with Beresford. That seemed rather out of character, particularly for Steed. They usually saved the "shop talk" with others from the Ministry, or an allied office. Why would they confide, even in a superficial way, with a man they just met?
I can forgive this last sin only because the rest of it is just so deliciously evil and well played. Three and one-half bowlers.
Return of the Cybernauts
Plot: Poor. A story of brotherly revenge works but there are some outlandish elements of this episode that pull it down. Everyone has an individual heartbeat pattern? I don't think so. Heartbeat varies depending on activity and most humans are roughly the same. You can control the entire human nervous system with ten switches?
Humour: Very Good. "I've got a super bikini. It's ever so revealing. Do you know I've nearly been arrested twice wearing it?" Rosie was funny, especially Steed's reaction, but she should have been knocked out when the cybernaut hit her. Steed's jealousy over Emma's liking Paul was good. I loved Steed's imitation of the cybernaut's killer arm.
Direction: Good. Nice shots of the clock tower during the introduction. Interesting shots of Emma at Steed's when Dr. Garnett arrived.
Acting: Very Good. It was a pleasure to see Peter Cushing. Seems Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing appear to follow each other, considering there many horror films together, and that Christopher was just in an episode entitled "The Living Dead" which resembles this episode.
Music: Excellent. I loved the chase music when Steed followed Emma.
Miscellaneous: Emma fighting Steed was reminiscent of "Man-Eater of Surrey Green." The cybernaut could not have stopped that car, unless it had weighed a ton or had extremely good traction. So, while cybernauts are off kidnapping, Steed and Emma still find time to stop and have a drink at Paul's for the third time that week! I salute Dr. Russell for refusing to go along with Paul's plans. Dr. Garnett was very smart to build that smoke bomb—one of the rare occasions where a secondary character has a brain—but alas it did not work very well. Apparently I'm just a sucker for the unstoppable monster machine episodes.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Return of the Cybernauts
Dr Clement Armstrong (Michael Gough) was the madman who invented the deadly Cybernauts with the intention of overthrowing the government and replacing it by automation. However, Steed and Mrs Peel overthrew his plans and Armstrong died when trying to stop his inventions from destroying each other. Two years on, Armstrong's brother Paul Beresford (Peter Cushing) is seeking vengeance against Steed and Mrs Peel. He kidnaps three top leading scientists and pays them to create a device that electronically jams the brain so that Beresford can control their every thought and action. The scientists place their instruments in a replica of Steed's watch and in an ornate watch that Beresford gives to Emma as a gift. Meanwhile, Beresford deliberately cultivates the friendship of our heroes in order to add insult to injury.
The first of two sequels to "The Cybernauts" (first broadcast 1965), the other was "The Last of the Cybernauts...??" in The New Avengers series of 1976. In some respects this manages to top the original as guest star Cushing gives a finely tuned performance as Beresford portraying him as kind and charming at one minute and as a cold hearted psychopath the next. Steed and Mrs Peel seem completely fooled until at last they know what the man is really like and when it's almost too late in fact. It really does go to show that people are not always what they seem! His performance here ranks among the best of his Hammer film appearances such as Baron Frankenstein and vampire hunter Dr Van Helsing. Writer Philip Levene really was one of the show's true creators as he came up with some truly fantastic macabre plots that really could of been stretched to feature length such as "Death's Door" and the Cybernauts really are memorable and terrifying creations. Robert Day's direction is neat and the supporting cast is no less impressive including Falton Mackay as Professor Chadwick who seems almost as heartless as Beresford is as he is convinced that their killer invention could benefit mankind and doesn't seem to care if people die along the way. Charles Tingwell is also good as Dr Neville and Macnee and Rigg are now so used to their roles as Steed and Mrs Peel that they can play them effortlessly. All in all an excellent episode.
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