Monsters in Metropolis was the third and final story in the audio anthology Lost Warriors, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by John Dorney and featured Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor.
Berlin, 1927. The making of a science fiction legend. But death stalks the film set and history is not what the Doctor expects it to be. And this new ‘Machine Man’ is a more terrifying vision of humanity’s future than Fritz Lang had in mind...
The Doctor arrives at Babelsberg Studio, on the set of the film Metropolis, in August 1925, where he meets Anna Dreyfus, assistant to director Fritz Lang. As Dreyfus escorts him to the set, he expresses his excitement seeing the film being produced, to the her annoyance. They reach the set, they see Fritz Lang directing the scene, and the Doctor further expresses excitement in those involved in the production. However, he is surprised when he finds out Gustav Fröhlich is not cast as the film's male lead, with another actor, Olaf Richter, taking on the role, instead.
As he meets Lang, the Doctor waits in anticipation for the film's iconic character, "The Machine Man". However, the Doctor is horrified to see that "The Machine Man" is not the costumed character played by Brigitte Helm, but instead, a Cyberman. The Doctor tries to warn them of the danger of the Cyberman, but no one is listening to him. The Cyberman technician and "creator", Dieter Jovanovic, tries to activate the Cyberman but the Doctor uses his sonic to disrupt it before it could fully activate, causing it pain. Angry at the Doctor's interference, the Doctor is escorted off the set by Dreyfus.
The Doctor finds another way into the studio, where he's met by Jovanovic who asks for the Doctor's help. He offers to show the Doctor the Cyberman and explains how he found the creature. When they reach the creature, the Doctor is surprised to see the Cyberman expressing pain, which should be impossible for the Cyberman race. Jovanovic continues to believe the Cyberman has evolved, and the Doctor tells the technician of what a Cyberman is. Jovanovic demonstrates that he is in complete control of the Cyberman's actions. They leave the creature alone to rest, though the Doctor still expresses his concern that the Cyberman might revert back to its base program to convert and destroy. Jovanovic begs the Doctor to leave it be, as he spent so much to buy it. It is all he feels he has left after losing his father and many friends in the recent war, and being propelled into poverty by the peace settlement. Empathizing with Jovanovic, the Doctor relents and agrees to spare the Cyberman, on the condition he stay on set to make sure it does not cause much damage if it goes out of control.
While in his dressing room, Olaf Richter is confronted by the Cyberman which attacks and kills the actor. Dreyfus enters to witness the murder and becomes the Cyberman's next target. The Doctor and Jovanovic follows her screams and intervene. The Doctor tries to use the sonic screwdriver again but it fails to affect the creature. As the Cyberman approaches the three, also voicing commands to kill the Doctor, the Doctor remembers that Fredersen's pen prop has gold plating and uses it on the Cyberman. Clogging its respiratory system, the gold forced it to retreat. They find Richter's body, and the Doctor is convinced the Cyberman has reverted to it's true base drive, and needs to be destroyed. The Doctor, concerned with preserving history, asks Dreyfus to work with Lang and keep filming going, while he and Jovanovic hunt the Cyberman off the studio.
The Doctor and Jovanovic follow the Cyberman into the sewers, where they find the creature in unusual emotional distress. It begs for the Doctor's help in returning home. Noting scorch marks that match the form of the Cyberman, the Doctor concludes that it first appeared in the sewers, damaged. The Cyberman continues to express regret for its actions and how it does not wish to kill, and the Doctor believes the human within the Cyberman is becoming more independent of the machine. The Cyberman asks "Why does he order me to kill?" and the Doctor figures out that the Cyberman is indeed being controlled by Jovanovic. Unfortunately, as he discovered this, Jovanovic strikes the Doctor and orders the Cyberman to kill him. The Cyberman attacks the Doctor who collapses. Believing him dead, Jovanovic orders the Cyberman back to the studio, to kill again.
Jovanovic arrives back with the Cyberman, claiming the Doctor fixed it. However, once filming proceeds, Jovanovic has the Cyberman attack Lang. The Doctor reappears brandishing a pen, pointing it behind Jovanovic with the implication it is a weapon. He orders Jovanovic that he command the Cyberman to release Lang. Forced to admit his intentions, Jovanovic declares he must stop the film's production, fearing its message of peace will encourage further humiliation and hardship for Germany like that foisted on her after the war. With peace as the enemy, Jovanovic instead believed Germany must seek revenge on the Allied nations. Jovanovic then turns to see the Doctor is threatening him with a pen, not a gun. He orders the Cyberman to kill the Doctor, Dreyfus and Lang.
The Cyberman pursues the three through the studio until the trio are cornered. Jovanovic orders it to kill the Doctor first. It tries to strangle him, but in the struggle he reasons with the creature, appealing for it to resist the order, just as it was able to resist killing the Doctor back in the sewers. The Cyberman finally breaks from Jovanovic's control and turns on Jovanovic, strangling him instead. However, it ultimately chooses to show mercy, tired of killing, and Jovanovic only falls unconscious. He is arrested for murder, to which he later confesses. The Doctor leaves, taking the Cyberman with him. The production of Metropolis continues as history unfolds as intended, with Brigitte Helm being cast as the Machine Man.
The Doctor and the Cyberman watch the finished version film of Metropolis, which the Doctor retrieved from 1927, alone in a rented-out theatre. The Cyberman was moved by the film but still insists that the Doctor end its life, fearing it will be used again to kill. The Doctor meets with Dreyfus again after dealing with the Cyberman. Dreyfus informs the Doctor that Lang had to replace Richter with another actor, Gustav Fröhlich, and she remembered the Doctor mentioning him when they spoke earlier. She questions how the Doctor knows so much about the future. Avoiding any answers, the Doctor instead explains to her Metropolis will fail upon release and attract no audience, rendering Jovanovic's actions pointless as nobody in the 1920s adhered to its message of peace anyway. It nearly bankrupts the studio and will remain lost in an incomplete state for decades before being re-evaluated by future audiences. For now, he speaks of Jovanovic as symptomatic of "a bug" spreading throughout Germany fomenting disaster. He recalls Dreyfus comparing the Cyberman to a golem, and simply advises her to leave Germany as soon as possible, before he departs in the TARDIS.
- The Doctor - Christopher Eccleston
- Fritz Lang - Nick Wilton
- Anna Dreyfus - Helen Goldwyn
- Dieter Jovanovic - Peter Bankole
- Olaf Richter - Raj Ghatak
- Cyberman - Nicholas Briggs
- The Doctor names Sunrise, The General and The Wings as being among the great works of the silent film era.
- The Doctor notes the huge influence Metropolis had on Star Trek and Star Wars.
- The Doctor says that the Cybermen think of themselves as the most efficient lifeform in the cosmos, a belief he notes is not entirely unfounded.
- The Doctor sarcastically compares Jovanovic's control over the Cyberman to Jim Henson.
- This was the first story in a performed medium in which the Ninth Doctor encounters the Cybermen. Supremacy of the Cybermen, The Bidding War and The Patchwork Pierrot had previously made the match in print. The Ninth Doctor also came across the inert Cyberman helmet in Dalek, a scene which Matt Fitton felt made their eventual encounter "inevitable". (VOR 152)
- Although the synopsis claims that the story is set in 1927, dialogue within the story actually establishes the setting as 1925. Likewise in the real world Metropolis was filmed in 1925 but released in 1927.
- John Dorney's initial thoughts for the story were for it to be a celebrity historical in the style of the RTD-era. He knew very little about Metropolis or Fritz Lang upon being asked to submit some story ideas, although he had seen M. He later watched Metropolis with friends for a podcast and formed further ideas around the film, leading him to conduct his own research into its director and production. Much of these details made it into the script. (VOR 152)
- The Cybermen were not originally planned to have appeared in the Lost Warriors box set. Their inclusion in this story came about at Dorney's suggestion as he continued to develop ideas about his Metropolis storyline. (VOR 152)
- The Doctor finally arrives in 1925. (AUDIO: The Hunting Season, The Curse of Lady Macbeth)
- The Doctor scrapes gold into the Cyberman's chest unit. (TV: Earthshock)
- During an adventure on the planet Calandra, having been "hijacked" by Time Agent Keira Sanstrom, the Twelfth Doctor is reminded of being at the film shoot for Metropolis and encountering a Cyberman, comparing it to the "chrome trimmings" Calandra has. (AUDIO: Flight to Calandra)