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Doctor Who ‘Nightmare in Silver’ – Series 7, episode 12

Neela Debnath

Doctor 300x203 Doctor Who Nightmare in Silver   Series 7, episode 12SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen ‘Doctor Who’ episode 12 of series 7/33

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?

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  • Doctor80

    I agree completely. I can’t recall an episode where Clara has actually shown any amazement as to what’s going on. Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Rory all had moments where their emotions took over and they had trouble coping with the experiences. Clara just gives lip and flirts. All.The Time.

  • WhistlingNeil

    Poor, very very poor. I haven’t even programmed the finale into the recorder I am so not bothered about what happens.
    Smith is ruining the role, he has gone from a quirky Tom Baker like envisaging to the disaster of Sylvester McCoy in one run.

  • twoheartsonemind

    Am I the only one who loved this episode? I found the story inventive and engaging with very good dialogue. I honestly don’t care if the SIDE characters weren’t fully fleshed out, because the focus of the episode was Clara and the Doctor, both of which did a fantastic job.
    I have enjoyed this season. I think every episode (Cold War excluded) have all been good, but there are few that have been great or stand out. Nightmare in Silver was a stand out episode in my mind, as was The Crimson Horror and Hide. I also happen to really enjoy the Rings of Akhaten. I think that they have taken to overhyping episodes which has led to more discontent. Personally I have enjoyed this season and it has added some interesting episodes to my favorites list.
    I find Clara an interesting companion. Her dialogue is quite good and her mystery is a draw. She is up there in my favorite companions. Someone else mentioned that this is better than series 2, which I feel is the weakest season, and I agree. Matt Smith is my favorite doctor and this episode really showcased his talent, but the Doctor’s personality I have also enjoyed. To each his own, I suppose, but I think that fans are becoming very cynical and negative, perhaps overly.

  • feath

    I agree with the story as far as I think this was Matt Smith at his best. Until this show, all I saw of his acting was a dark brooding, sly secrets and lots of angst. I never once felt he cared about humans. I miss Eccleston and Tennant – they were fun, dynamic, loved humans, loved what they were doing. I tried warming to Matt as the doctor, but it’s not working for me. I don’t know if its just the acting, or the director or the writing or all of that and more. The special effects are very good in this one, the best yet. But I’d rather see them running through back alleys in Liverpool, to get the love of Doctor Who back.

    There was no reason for the kids in this show, their parts could have been done by pretty much anyone. Warwick Davis was wasted.

    I dont want long, involved, twisted plots, over several seasons. I just want the joy and wonder of the universe and a doctor who cares.

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