Written by: Kevin Clarke
Directed by: Chris Clough
Editor's Note: Hello, friends! Welcome back to our continuing coverage of "Evil" month. Of course, you might be asking "But Silver Nemesis and "Evil"? I dunno, man..." Well fudge fudge magic magic and the word "Silver" has an anagram for the word "Evil" in it (if you must know, it's an anagram for "Evil Sr." so there's that) and wonder of wonders I'm not writing this one. This is all Cassandra sharing her thoughts on the 7th Doctor and a buncha buncha Cybermen (also Nazis). So enjoy this one and I'll be back for a wonderful delight of a story next week!
Now, I’m only guessing at that right now, because obviously I can’t talk to the guy (unless I was a necromancer or something), but you know what? He was sort of right, in that 25 years of something is a big deal, especially when it comes to a television show. Well, okay, it definitely is a big deal. Silver for everyone!
Ultimate Foe” and “The Happiness Patrol”, among others), “Silver Nemesis” had a bunch of production snafus, including a very limited rehearsal time that resulted in all three episodes running long, actors not being available and showing up when they were supposed to, and location mishaps. As a result of the various delays and problems, this story as a result feels a tad sloppy and rather rushed in places, especially when you consider they had to trim down and edit the episodes for time. I personally would rather have spent a little more tender loving care with a 25th anniversary celebration, but production schedules being what they are, I’m glad it got churned out in any case.
I wish this had some subtlety to it. At least in the beginning.
Right up front there’s a bunch of “Hey! Hey, look at this! We’re being so clever and magical, look at all these references to our 25th anniversary!” which is cute, I guess, but it gets really old really quickly and just makes me roll my eyes. I’m sure this was a JNT mandate, since we all know how much he loves himself some fan wank.
See, I’m much more a fan of the super subtle cameo that Nicholas Courtney, aka The Brigadier has in this first episode (along with director Fiona Cumming, and other people who worked on Doctor Who) posing as a tourist at Windsor Castle. We don’t even see his face, but if you know where to look, you can spot him, and it’s awesome. I love that sort of thing. Give me more of those little subtle Easter eggs, not a blaring announcement that makes my ears ring with cheesiness.
Of course, that is revealed pretty quickly, because everybody wants their hands on the titular Silver Nemesis. Which is pretty cool and also a good, basic conflict that drives the action and the characters. I’m down.
Earthshock” and it’s a great callback to that iconic story.
The first thing about this that I’m noticing is that I’m really rather liking this script. Going in for the first time, I was super super dubious, because this story seems to have such a bad rap in the Doctor Who community for whatever reason. I had heard that it wasn’t that great, and so I was prepared for something truly dismal… and was pleasantly surprised, which is the best. I love going into a Doctor Who story and having it prove me wrong, it’s the greatest.
And the Doctor and Ace… I think it’s interesting that they haven’t really done anything yet. I mean, sure, the Doctor had Ace blow up the Cybermen’s ship in an awesome exchange, but they haven’t really gotten involved in the plot of this. They’ve primarily been jumping around from one location and time to another, trying to get one step ahead of everyone else after the Nemesis. I think it’s interesting that they’re caught in the middle of this conflict, literally sitting around and waiting to see what happens until they can move in and dominate. I still find what they do do in this pretty entertaining, especially when they jam the Cyberman transmission with some classy jazz music, but they don’t have much else going on. I think this would be boring normally, but I absolutely adore these two as a team, and so it really works for me so far.
I have another complaint with this script, and that being that the Nazi characters are not fleshed out enough. Sure, they’re Nazis, but make them more interesting. (Though I do like De Flores’ coat, that’s some classy shit right there.) Maybe the alliance with the Cybermen was an attempt to make them more interesting and instrumental in the story, but I think this has the opposite effect: now they’re eclipsed by the presence of the Cybermen and our interest in De Flores and his men has gone from one where we’re trying to get more invested in their characters, to seeing when the Cybermen are going to kill them. The alliance with the Cybermen completely pushes them out of the arena, which I’m not the greatest fan of; I know the story needs to be wrapped up soon, but their characters are not satisfying to me; I don’t know hardly anything about them or their motivations to reach and obtain the Nemesis. Which is lame.
Interestingly enough, I think this part is where it all falls apart for me.
There’s really great touches, like all the action in this part, what with Ace running around with a slingshot and taking out some Cybermen. And man, do I love action in Doctor Who when it’s done well, because this is the stuff. It’s also in this part that I realized how well this is directed; the shot where Ace is running in the warehouse and is dodging Cybermen shooting at her is excellent, in my opinion. That’s the shot that really brought to my attention how good a director Clough is. Great stuff.
And I think I like this whole motif with the Doctor’s secrets and his identity and such, but it comes a little too heavy and a little too late into the story for me. Again, I think if it’d been scattered more throughout the story in the first two parts instead of all of that being laid on real thick in the last ten minutes of this story, it would be a lot more compelling. I get that they’re trying to set it up for a more darker and scheming Doctor, but you don’t have to bash me over the head with the questions. Spread them out, build up to them. Subtlety. (We seem to have come full circle.)
I just wish the resolution of this wasn’t as weird or hamfisted. Also, can somebody explain to me what happens to Lady Peinforte and why she loses her shit and the Nemesis eats her, because I have no clue. (Again, maybe if it were explained adequately. Or maybe it’s just the alcohol. The world will never know.)
Also, the way the Nazis die is SUPER lame.
I'm actually kind of sad that it has as bad a reputation that it does, because I think this is quite enjoyable . Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but entertaining and surprising and a fun little romp, which I think is good for an anniversary celebration, because it depicts the show as it is, with all its glorious awesomes, and silly things, and yes, even some fumbles. But it's true to the show, and I like that about it.
So, while not perfect, I really think this serial successfully celebrates everything Doctor Who was and will be. Because Doctor Who isn't perfect. But I can still really enjoy it. And I do.
Next Time!: Third Doctor! Jo! The Master! And his Asian companion? UNIT! Brainwashing! Prison riots! And everything's in black and white! Matt's back to discuss "The Mind of Evil"! Coming Next Tuesday!