If there’s one thing Doctor Who has done with Series 7, it’s providing arguably the best Cyberman and Dalek episodes of the relaunched era. Last week we had a fun but ultimately weak episode with The Crimson Horror, which I judged on different standards since it was an episode by Mark Gatiss, one of the weaker writers of the show. This week I’m judging the episode on different standards once again as Neil Gaiman (one of the strongest writers of the show) returns with his Cyberman episode, Nightmare in Silver. In short, it’s a winner.
As you may know, Neil Gaiman wrote the instant classic that was The Doctor’s Wife for the last Series, so of course once he was announced to return, I was more than excited for his episode. Now if you’re coming in expecting something that’s like The Doctor’s Wife, then you may walk out disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, Nightmare in Silver is wonderful, but it’s also completely different from his last episode. Will this one also be considered a classic? That’s for the fans to decide, but I personally can’t see it becoming one.
We continue with where we left off last week as the kids, Angie and Artie asked to time-travel with Clara. So the Doctor takes them to the largest amusement park in the universe, Hedgewick’s World, on a planet that’s not the moon but totally is. You’d think that the kids would be amazed at time-traveling for the first time and going to outer space, but Angie just decides to moan about the whole thing and (gasp!) calls the TARDIS a “stupid box.” How dare she! Artie on the other hand finds it all very interesting.
The gang meets a guy named Webley who takes them to a room full of waxwork representations. This also includes a Cyberman, and the moment it’s introduced we cut to the theme music. It seemed kind of abrupt considering the Cyberman barely did anything. But apparently it can beat you at chess, only for it to be revealed that there’s a guy operating it from underneath.
His name’s Porridge, played by the wonderful Warwick Davis. Seriously, he’s fantastic. Another great guest star, playing a role that could’ve been played by Peter Dinklage (and not just because he’s short). Which is funny because in Gaiman’s last episode, we got Idris, a character that Helena Bonham Carter was meant to play. Yet the actors that we had did such a fine job with it that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Webley is also a fine and interesting character until he becomes Cyber-mated (came up with that myself). But more on that later.
So apparently anti-gravity isn’t enough for young Miss Angie to have fun, she wants more. Can’t blame her, if all of time and space were at my disposal, jumping around the moon would be just the appetizer. But they’re not about to go back home yet because the Doctor wants to investigate the “funny insects” that are the Cybermites, which are much cooler than the Cybermats.
The visuals are great again in this episode as the amusement park seems beautiful and the entire planet looks gorgeous, although there is a bit of spotty CGI here and there. Overall, it’s all quite beautiful and enchanting. There’s also a kind of haunting feeling to it all. The Cybermites themselves look great and much better than last Series’ Cybermats.
Anyway, the Doctor makes the mistake of putting the kids in one place and explicitly telling them to not wander off. Seriously Doctor, haven’t you learned that never works? And unsurprisingly, it’s Angie who grows restless and decides to leave. Artie is left alone and eventually captured by a Cyberman and cyber-mated. Even though Angie is annoying most of the time, the actors do a wonderful job playing the kids, and they’re never boring. I do enjoy seeing the Doctor with kids, and even though we don’t see a lot of interaction between them, it’s still fun to have them for an episode.
What I hadn’t mentioned so far is that there’s a platoonon this planet who is placed there as punishment from their home planet. Apparently they’re also looking for news of their Emperor who’s gone missing. Angie runs into this group and so does the Doctor and Clara. Once they’re all together a new and improved Cyberman shows up. And this one is way more badass than any of the previous Cybermen ‘models.’ It’s upgraded and can move super fast, taking Angie with it in the process. There’s a great sequence showing us how quickly it moves by slowing down everything around it.
The Doctor goes looking for them while leaving Clara in charge of the platoon. I love that Clara gets a lot more to do here and it kind of makes up for not seeing her do much in the last episode. That said, she just fell into her role too easily, she knew what to do and what to say and she wasn’t scared a bit. Not that I’m complaining, but part of me now wonders if that’s a plot point in itself.
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