Doctor Who: Nightmare in Silver
How do you make Cybermen threatening, frightening, and just cool? You let Neil Gaiman write them. After his previous episode, The Doctor’s Wife, I, like many, gave prayer and offerings to many gods that he would write many more. Well, I have just doubled my offerings after watching the latest episode of Doctor Who: Nightmare in Silver.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Cybermen. Sure they are creepy and intimidating in large numbers, but overall, it always seemed you could just hit them with a rock and be done with it. (Not really but you get the idea) This version of Cybermen have actively evolved and learned to adapt to any present threat, making them surprisingly fast, and hard to kill. Surprisingly cool Cybermen were not everything this episode had going for it. It also had Warwick Davis.
The episode had its faults, or rather single big fault. Children that can act at all one in a billion, children that can act at all are one in a million. Here we witness the performance of one that is not of the million, and unfortunately, not one of the billion either. Fair warning, from here on out I’m going to spoil this for anyone that hasn’t seen it. I am also about to be very rude to a child.
I’m going to start with the bad, I long to get this foul tasting child out of my mouth. Yes, I am aware of how that sounds, but it’s too late now, let’s just move on and pretend it didn’t happen. I am talking about Eve de Leon Allen, who played Angie Maitland, or as you may remember, the awful child we saw in The Bells of St. John, and at the end of The Crimson Horror, or the children for whom Clara is caregiver. To briefly recap, through use of the internet these kids found pictures of Clara through history, put two and two together, and decided she either has remarkable genes or can time travel. So naturally, the Doctor steps in and takes them to the best theme park in the universe. To put this bluntly, this kid can’t act. On the other hand, maybe she forgot to give a shit. Someone should have reminded her that pretty much the entire pantheon of British actors has lined up for guest spots on this show, and she is just pissing on the whole thing. I have never, cheered for The Doctor to not save someone, until now. I can only hope now we will never see or hear from you again.
How about some good, and believe me, there much good. Warwick Davis was simply fantastic. It’s not often you can say a performance in an episode of Doctor Who is nuanced layered in complexity, but I can honestly say that here. It was a relatively small part (my apologies for the pun), but he managed to inhabit every inch of the screen when he was present, even when he was simply serving stew. When his identity was revealed to be that of the long lost emperor there was no waffling, no denial, one moment he was an employee in a derelict amusement park called Porridge, the next he was every bit the Emperor he never wanted to be. I almost wanted Clara to marry him when he proposed in the end.
Speaking of incredible performances, in what could be his best performance yet, Matt Smith. It was surprising to see The Doctor being upgrade by the Cybermen, in the past, they couldn’t adapt his unique physiology, but here, they managed. Fortunately the upgrade was incomplete, they didn’t quite figure it all out and The Doctor, fought with himself. At times, this was amusing. Other times, it was spooky. There were a few moment, that gave me chills. For anyone that has not seen this I will save you those spoilers, you should just experience those for yourself.
Two absolutely fantastic performances and one horrible, the rest of the performances were quite good. On one hand, by comparison everyone else was magnificence incarnate. On the other hand, everyone else was pretty good, but far overshadowed. This is unfortunate because Jenna-Louise Coleman really was very good here, and I enjoyed each moment you were on screen.
There we have it, the final episode before the final for this season, and the second of what I hope will be many from American treasure Neil Gaiman. (Yes I know he is British, but he live here now, and we’re keeping him) I give Nightmare in Silver 3.5 out of 4 feet.