I review the latest episode of Season 7 of Doctor Who, entitled Nightmare in Silver, written by Neil Gaiman, with spoilers.
Doctor Who S7x12 “Nightmare in Silver”
It seems that as just as we’ve got Doctor Who back on our screens, it’s the penultimate episode in the season already and it won’t be long before it goes. with next week’s The Name of the Doctor, being the second most anticipated episode for me of the entire season. Behind of course, Nightmare in Silver. As any Whovian will know, the writer of Nightmare in Silver is also the genius behind The Doctor’s Wife from Season 6, which was arguably the best Doctor Who Episode since Blink, and this is the writer behind such incredible things as Sandman, Neverwhere and American Gods. I was really expecting this episode to be a strong contender to be one of my favourite episodes for the Series so far, but as much as I liked it, it doesn’t have that sheer awesomeness factor to beat the likes of the two episodes that I’ve already mentioned, and other fantastic episodes like Dalek and The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon two parter.
Picking up from the end of Episode 11 where the two kids discovered that Clara’s a time-traveller, we don’t waste time with the kids getting introduced to the TARDIS for the first time, and immediately have them land on a futuristic theme-park. The best day out for a young child from present day Earth? Normally, that would be the case – however, they’ve arrived several years after the planet’s prime, following the Cyber Wars, and the park is now closed down, and inactive. On the planet, the Doctor, Clara and the kids whose names I’ve already forgotten find themselves quickly introduced to a band of soldiers sent to the Moon on punishment duty, and you can quickly see why. They’re out of shape, untrained, and unequipped for the return of the Cybermen.
The Cybermen themselves are interesting, having been upgraded from when we last had an episode devoted to them in Closing Time, so they’re now quicker, and can adapt to any situation thrown at them – lead by the Hive Mind itself. They’re more threatening. Gaiman’s brief for this episode was to make them scary again, and whilst he doesn’t quite succeed, I think it’s safe to say that the Cybermen, who haven’t had the best track-record of appearances since Season 1, with stories like The Next Doctor and the aforementioned Closing Time letting their reputations down one of the Doctor’s greatest nemesis, it’s good to see that they’re now once again a credible threat.
Clara herself is also quite interesting here – she’s closer to becoming Oswin that we know from Asylum of the Daleks, and has a key role to play here. Warwick Davis also plays his role brilliantly, and is one of the more memorable guest-stars that we’ve had on Doctor Who since its return to screens in Season 1. The weak part of Nightmare in Silver however, is quite clearly the child actors. I had my doubts about them before going into this episode, but I held faith that Gaiman would be able to make them likeable. However, they’re not, they’re forgettable, and in general you don’t warm to their characters at all. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who wouldn’t have cared if the girl had been killed by the Cybermen at some point in the episode.
Aside from Warwick Davis, Matt Smith also performs exceptionally well, with a key portion of the episode being devoted to his Doctor having to play chess with the Hive Mind/Controller of the Cybermen, who has infected his brain. It’s one of the most complex scripts that he’s been given during his run as the Doctor, and one of the highlights of the episode.
Overall, Nightmare in Silver has been a fairly mixed back. If this was a Mark Gatiss penned episode, or written by anybody other than either Gaiman or Moffat, I think I would have enjoyed this episode a lot more. But because it’s Gaiman, it’s also a bit of a let down. We’ve seen what he’s capable of in The Doctor’s Wife, and hopefully – his next outing for Doctor Who (if he does return – and please, please make him return) is along those lines. However, despite the flaws of the episode, I still enjoyed it a lot. It’s one of the better episodes of Season 7 for me, and now I’m really hyped for the Season Finale.
DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7 EPISODE GUIDE – Part 1: S7x01: Asylum of the Daleks, S7x02: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, S7x03: A Town Called Mercy, S7x04: The Power of Three, S7x05: The Angels Take Manhattan CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: The Snowmen PART 2: S7x06: The Bells of Saint John, S7x07: The Rings of Akhaten, S7x08: Cold War, S7x09: Hide, S7x10: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, S7x11: The Crimson Horror, S7x12: Nightmare In Silver, S7x13: The Name of The Doctor