Doctor Who ‘Nightmare in Silver’ – Series 7, episode 12
This week Neil Gaiman was in the writer’s chair with a story that saw the return of a classic Doctor Who foe: the Cybermen. Gaiman plus the Cybermen, what could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, unfortunately.
The last Doctor Who story to come from the mind of the American Gods author was The Doctor’s Wife, a wonderful adventure which personified the Tardis and made us quake at the thought of getting lost in the infinite corridors of the Old Girl. However, this week failed to excite the imagination in the same way.
Perhaps it is just me, but repeatedly bringing back the Cybermen or the Daleks gets tedious because we all know that the Doctor will save the day. Granted he always does, but with a new villain it is fresh and different and usually simpler. Every time the Daleks or the Cybermen rock up on the scene, the audience is given a convoluted explanation of how they managed to survive. This was the case for the Nightmare in Silver and in the end I gave up trying to think about it too much and just went along for the ride.
None of this episode seemed to make much sense, including the underwhelming twist at the end, where the audience discovered that Porridge (Warwick Davis) was actually an emperor. There was also the snap marriage proposal Porridge made to Clara which felt ridiculous and came out of nowhere. To add insult to injury I felt that Davis was criminally underused. While other guest stars have had more to do in this series, Davis had a minor role in Nightmare in Silver. It was quite disappointing because he is such a great actor and yet his involvement felt minimal.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Matt Smith’s performance was one of the few reasons to watch this episode. He exuded so much energy as he switched between the Doctor and the Cybermem hive mind and it was impressive to see the transition. Whilst some may find his acting over the top, in my opinion the frenetic movements and the eccentricity is characteristic of the Eleventh Doctor. He is essentially a mad professor with flailing limbs; his mind is racing ahead while his body plays catches up.
The other thing that really stood out in this episode was the use of special effects which were top notch. It was simply stunning to see the supersonic Cyberman manouvre its way through a room and kidnap a child. Then there was the shot of the abandoned amusement park which was breathtaking to see because it looked so realistic, particularly compared to the cartoony CGI in The Rings of Akhaten.
On a small note, the development of Cybermen technology and the cybermites were lovely little touches and added to the mythology of this Doctor Who monster.
Nightmare in Silver was another episode which failed to live up to the hype, the best thing about it was Smith’s performance coupled with fantastic visuals. Gaiman is a superb writer and his dialogue for the Doctor’s internal battle was written well but the other characters felt superfluous and two-dimensional. I wasn’t completely convinced by the story which lacked depth and never really went anywhere. There were so many ideas but they were picked up and dropped without any real exploration.
Next time on ‘Doctor Who’… It’s the series finale and River Song is back on the scene for more flirting and general feistiness. The mystery of Clara will also be unveiled. Meanwhile the Doctor will have to cross his own timeline. But hooray, Jenny, Vastra and Strax have turned up! The scariest-looking creatures on the show make their debut. And finally, Richard E. Grant has returned as Simeon Klein, I knew we hadn’t seen the last of the Great Intelligence. But the question we all want to know is: what is the Doctor’s name?Tagged in: doctor who, Doctor Who series 33, Doctor Who series 7, Jenna Louise-Coleman, matt smith, steven moffat
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