Doctor Who - Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC
Doctor Who – Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC

Nightmare in Silver

First Broadcast May 11th, 2013 @ 6.00pm (6.64m viewers)

Following the success of the critically acclaimed ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ writer Neil Gaiman was tasked with revitalising the Cybermen who had stagnated since being reintroduced to the series in 2006. This would also include a redesign to the Cybermen’s costume, developments to the Cybermats and new concepts to the mythology of the silver giants. Most have now acknowledged that ‘Victory of the Daleks’ was a misstep, which although having its merits, it hampered the Daleks with a redesign that was slated and subsequently ignored. This episode proves another error, failing to revitalise the Cybermen and actually damaging their mystique.

Cybermen - Doctor Who - Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC
Cybermen – Doctor Who – Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC

Where ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ had been refreshing because of its unique ideas, ‘Nightmare in Silver’ rehashes concepts presented in other places. Firstly the redesigned Cybermen costumes are heavily influenced by the popularity of recently released Iron Man movies. This decision, although aesthetically pleasing, is a disappointing departure from the original horrific concept of assimilated humanoids and degrades the creatures to little more than generic robots. This wasn’t the only superhero influence as these new Cybermen can now move at incredible speeds, like ‘The Flash’, but this is not the worst of the concept borrowing.

There have always been parallels between the Cybermen and the Borg, who debuted some 25 years later and were no doubt influenced by Doctor Who’s creation, but this is the first time that a specific idea is lifted straight from the other direction. It would be impossible to argue that the introduction of the ‘Cyberiad’, a collective consciousness shared by all Cybermen, is not a rip off of the established ‘Borg Collective’ concept. To confound the distasteful borrowing the Cybermen have also developed an ability to adapt to weapon attacks, just like the Borg, and the use of Cybermites to assimilate others also mirrors the Borg’s use of nanoprobes.

The Eleventh Doctor ( Matt Smith) and the Cyber Control (Matt Smith) - Doctor Who - Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC
The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and the Cyber Control (Matt Smith) – Doctor Who – Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC

Matt Smith is largely entertaining in the dual roles but it is disappointing that it was felt Smith needed some additional acting challenges to stretch his skills. Unfortunately, the majority of the other characters in this story are incredibly irritating, starting with Tamzin Outhwaite’s meaningless ramblings about the Doctor being a Proconsul and asking for news of the Emperor. Similarly, the children Angie and Artie are unimpressed or even grateful for the unique trip they blackmailed themselves aboard. If anything, the viewer is left cheering for the Cybermen.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

Porridge (Warwick Davis) - Doctor Who - Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC
Porridge (Warwick Davis) – Doctor Who – Nightmare in Silver (c) BBC

Mercifully Warwick Davis’ likeable but curiously named Porridge, is the highlight of the story. His character would be revealed as the Emperor in a blatantly obvious signposted twist but he benefits from his quest to enjoy a quiet existence for a time. Even when he orders the executions of Clara and her companions, viewers know he is not serious, such has been the likeable portrayal which Davis delivers. Unlike the other blandly painted characters, Porridge is the only individual given some reasonable motivation and flourishes because of it.

Cast:

The Doctor – Matt Smith
Clara – Jenna Coleman
Webley – Jason Watkins
Porridge – Warwick Davis
Angie – Eve de Leon Allen
Artie Kassius – Carey Johnson
Captain – Tamzin Outhwaite
Beauty – Eloise Joseph
Brains – Will Merrick
Ha-Ha – Calvin Dean
Missy – Zahra Ahmadi
Cyberman – Aidan Cook

Crew:

Writer – Neil Gaiman
Director – Stephen Woolfenden
Producer – Marcus Wilson

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • The Wheel in Space : Episode 3
  • Planet of the Spiders : Part 2

1 COMMENT

  1. I’m surprised Clara is ignored in this review. Aside from being the best part of the episode (other than Warwick Davis’ Porridge), this was a vitally important episode because it’s the first time Clara is put in the Doctor role, essentially starting her character arc towards not only the echoes, but ultimately her drive to become like the Doctor which of course becomes a (literal) fatal flaw two seasons later. I found most of the episode annoying – especially the kids – and the script didn’t have a patch on Doctor’s Wife, but between Matt Smith’s Mr. Clever, Jenna Coleman’s breakout episode as Clara (building on what came before, and launching the next phase of her character development) and Porridge, it was more than a passable episode.

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