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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Doctor Who: Nightmare In Silver


Well, we can now add reckless child endangerment to The Doctor's list of crimes.

He took Clara and her two juvenile charges (why, God, why?) to the universe's largest (abandoned) amusement park, 'Hedgewick's World of Wonders', and even though he sensed something was wrong he wandered off and left them alone to be grabbed by the metal beasties waking up on the planet.

After the kids get nabbed by cybermites, The Doctor gets infected too and much of his role in this episode is split between him facing off against a cybercontroller (who has taken over his mind) in a  hive mind and trying to beat his 'alter-ego' in a game of chess.

Throw in a squadron of disgraced soldiers, led by Tamzin Outhwaite, dispatched to the planet to keep them out of the way; some interesting backstory on a massive cyberwar and humanity's missing emporer; and an army of super-advanced borg cybermen coming to life and you'd be surprised just how unengaging the whole affair is.

Which is surprising given that it was penned by Neil Gaiman, although I fear the heavy booted involvement of showrunner Steven Moffat with the utterly pointless inclusion of the children Angie (Eve de Leon Allen) and Artie (Kassius Carey Johnson). Artie was just about bearable, but Angie was a stereotypical annoying brat - highly reminiscent of Kelsey (Porsha Lawrence Mavour), the character axed - and never spoken of again - from The Sarah Jane Adventures after the pilot.

My theory that this latter half of the season was sequentially homaging past Doctors appears to have fallen down with this - which should have been a nod to The Sixth Doctor (unless it was the whole duality motif of The Doctor versus Mr Clever The Cybercontroller).

In fact it managed to mention, and picture, all his previous regenerations and if it was lifting visual cues from previous Doctors, once again, it was The Second Doctor who came through most clearly: from the theme park's representation of Earth's moon as a stage set to the shot of the cybermen awakening from their tombs.

Of course, there's a degree of Seventh Doctorness as well with the emphasis on chess.

Sadly, as the series draws towards its finale, it is running out of steam - despite Gaiman's input - and Nightmare In Silver was quite a damp squib, with few (if any) surprises (and a major deus ex machina borrowed quite freely from Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - "do you know why I want a cup of tea?").

Even the super-duper, slick, redesigned cybermen - constantly adapting to new threats in a very borg-like way - were annoyingly inconsistent, given that the first we met could move like The Flash, how come none of the others did this? That might have made the massive cyber army more of a threat.

Next Week (The Finale):



Obviously we're NOT going to learn The Doctor's name as whatever Moffat could come up with, be it Bob, Bill, Mort, Mxyztplk or a random jumble of squiggly lines, could NEVER beat the mystique of not knowing. My personal speculation of the subject of The Doctor's "biggest secret" is why he left Gallifrey in the first place.

Prequel For The Name Of The Doctor:

6 comments:

  1. I was at the beach yesterday and didn't know whether I'd get back in time for this (I did) and I found that I was wholly unconcerned by the prospect of missing it. After watching it, I don't feel as if it actually added anything to my experience of the series as a whole. In fact, they could have left this one out and just fast-forwarded to next week and I don't think the series would have suffered.

    If anything, it's this series' equivalent of Fear Her. I wonder if it's anything to do with Neil Gaiman's involvement - I didn't rate The Doctor's Wife very highly either and I've yet to find a book of his that I get on with. It just seemed lacklustre and rather too quirky for its own good with nothing resonating with the wider Who universe. Although that's not necessarily a fault in a Who episode - part of what I like about this latest series is its lack of "Look At My Story Arc" - yes, there's the Clara bits but to be honest, they don't interfere with the main plot of each episode in the way that the River Song arc did in Let's Kill Hitler, which made that episode virtually meaningless to the casual viewer.

    Okay, whinge over - looking forward to next week's series finale.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your Fear Her comparison, Nightmare In Silver was just too wishy-washy and flighty. As you said it was totally skippable and added absolutely nothing to the season.

      I also agree wholeheartedly about how the Clara sub-plot is working very well, because it's not in your face all the time like earlier arcs of the Moffat era.

      Delete
    2. There are a number of references in this series to people looking like themselves, but being partly or wholly taken over by another entity. From the Spoonheads to Mr. Sweet to the Cybercontroller, these theme recurs in nearly every story, and are likely related to the "big reveal" about Clara.

      Or that tiny part of the Doctor's mind controlled by neither the Doctor nor the Cybercontroller?

      In either event, the 6th Doctor references could relate to the amusement park (one of the Missing Season adventures begins in an amusement park) and the 6th did do a redo of Telos, so the Tomb of the Cybermen references might apply.

      Final point, I imagine that we'll hear McCoy's "I'm not just another Time Lord" line or something like it in Name of the Doctor.

      Delete
    3. Good spot on the "twins" theme and, yes, now you mention it I suspect you may be right about it being connected with the Clara subplot. Although I have no idea how ;)

      Again, I hope you are right about the McCoy line (or similar) being part of the next episode. Less than a week to go!

      Delete
  2. What absolute equality in this episode. The three female soldiers (did I say soldiers?) killed while the 'nutritionally challenged' trooper and the ginger geek survived? Now that would never have happened in the 80s/90s. And I was so hoping the fat one would get 'assimilated' and become a large cyberman.

    Not a great episode. Very poor acting from some actors too. *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wasn't very good, was it? And I thought we were seeing an upturn in quality in this half of the season.

      Delete

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