Doctor Who Review: Nightmare in Silver
In Neil Gaiman’s second penned script for Doctor Who, Clara convinces the Doctor to bring along Artie and Angie, however what should have been a trip to the universe’s largest theme park turns into the return of an old foe.
Best Moment: Pretty much any scene with Warwick Davis.
Verdict: This is a tough one. Certainly viewers seem to be split about this episode. The problem is all Neil Gaiman’s fault of course. He set the bar so high with the previous year’s The Doctor’s Wife, how could anyone, even Gaiman, top that? But in all seriousness, I didn’t come away from the episode feeling much one way or the other. Some parts worked, others didn’t.
The part that worked is Warwick Davis. He was brilliant as Porridge AKA the emperor in hiding. I didn’t clue in to his real identity, but he carried himself with dignity and with a certain graveness that just perfect. He really made his scenes work. I hope to see more of Porridge in the future.
The return of the Cybermen was interesting. They were certainly menacing, especially with all their new upgrades. Some people will have a huge problem with the upgrades because it makes them seem increasingly more like the Borg. That’s not an unfair comparison to be honest. However, it didn’t bother me too much. It would make sense that they would be upgrading like this and it keeps them a formidable enemy. However, I would prefer to see just one Cyberman versus an army of them. I liked Cold War because of the Alien-ness of it. Picking off the crew one by one. As a story, it works better for me. I did like the addition of the Cybermite, that’s certainly an upgrade I hope we see more of.
The things that didn’t work for me was the squad. I get that they are ineffective, but they just seemed a little bumbling and too much like fodder. Tamzin Outhwaite was entirely wasted in her role. The kids were annoying though not as annoying as I had feared since they were very quickly captured and placed on the back burner. Still, it would’ve been nice for Angie to show at least some enthusiasm for outer space, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. Both the kids and Clara seem a little too unreal to me. They take everything in a little too easily. Also, I’m really hoping we do get some explanation for the pictures of Clara from the past.
As for the Doctor and Mr. Clever, that didn’t entirely work for me either. Matt Smith is more than up for the challenge, but what could have been menacing had too much frenetic energy. We didn’t need the spinning or the audio cues. I would like to have seen a quieter, more sincere performance. I did like how he managed to trick Mr. Clever. Again, some people will complain about it, but I thought it was nice to see the Doctor use his wiles to get out of a situation rather than his screwdriver.
The plot was questionable at points. It was great that Porridge is able to save the day, but all along I thought “why didn’t they get everyone into the TARDIS in case they have to blow the planet?” Also, when Clara makes the kids take a nap I of course thought, “why not make them nap on the TARDIS?”
So yes, not quite the episode I expected from the writer who penned The Doctor’s Wife. In fact, it left me wishing I could read the original script for the episode just to see what got changed.