Written by: Neil Gaiman
Directed by: Stephen Woolfenden
Produced by: Marcus Wilson
Executive Producers: Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner
Broadcast Date: Saturday 11th May at 7:00pm on BBC One
Reviewed by Oliver Jenkins for The Gallifrey Times
The Gallifrey Times have seen Series 7, Episode 12: Nightmare in Silver and have put our spoiler-free preview together:
After putting on their best Yorkshire accents in The Crimson Horror, the TARDIS crew, and their special guests, are off to the whimsical land of Hedgewick’s World for Nightmare in Silver.
Now Nightmare in Silver has been one of, if not the, most highly anticipated episode of Series 7 Part 2 for many fans. It’s easy to see why of course, not only are the Cybermen back, but they’re being written by Neil Gaiman, the writer that gave us the wonderfully conceived script of The Doctor’s Wife for Series 6. It appears on the surface that this episode is deemed to be one of the best Doctor Who episode’s ever televised. Suffice to say, I actually found Nightmare in Silver rather disappointing.
The episode is a chance to completely set the canon of the Cybermen straight. Ever since the creative decision was made to remove the Cybus logo from the Cybus Cybermen’s chest plates, fans have been completely and utterly confused as to what type of Cybermen the Doctor is fighting, be it Mondasian or Cybus. This episode produces a complete re-design of the Cybermen, and so naturally one would assume that now would be a good time for the Doctor to explain to the characters once and for all that these Cybermen are either Mondasian or Cybus. This doesn’t happen at all, and the audience are just left to guess what type these Cybermen are, which for me just felt like a completely missed opportunity and actually quite annoyed me to the point that it ruined the episode for me to a degree.
For an episode that’s main selling point is Cybermen, the Cybermen seem like background characters for most of the episode, with the unique inhabitants of Hedgewick’s World taking centre stage. When the Cybermen do appear, their presence is dissipated by a convention used in order for the Doctor to communicate with them. This communication focuses the conversation away from the Cybermen themselves, lessening their already lack lustre screen time.
Another surprise for the episode is the complete and utter lack of references to the Classic Series. The Doctor’s Wife, Gaiman’s previous episode for Doctor Who, was absolutely teeming with them, and a great deal of the fanbase that like both the New and Old series were very much looking forward to that being repeated in this episode, but it isn’t. In fact I was very hard pressed to find any Classic Series references at all and at one point in the episode the Classic Series is dismissed altogether, which quite frankly shocked me.
The story of the episode itself is a good story, and, if the episode weren’t such a pivotal one with a recurring villain, I would’ve loved it. But I think Nightmare in Silver suffers from the same problem that Asylum of the Daleks had, as both stories are good concepts and good stories by themselves, but they don’t focus around the monster they’re trying to focus on. So at the end of the day the story itself would be just as effective if you picked any random monster from the Whoniverse and had that as the enemy for the story.
The characters in the episode are wonderful, and are brilliantly portrayed by their actors. The usual TARDIS crew are on top form as always, and Matt Smith delivers one of the greatest performances as the Eleventh Doctor since he took on the role. The new additions to the crew, Artie and Angie, are acted well by Kassius Carey Johnson and Eve de Leon Allen respectively and don’t detract too much from the serious tone of the story. Warwick Davis delivers a wonderful performance as Porridge and Tamzin Outhwaite delivers a brilliant performance as the Captain.
The special effects for the episode look absolutely stunning, and follow the realistic and breathtaking quality set by Series 7 Part 2 so far.
Overall, Nightmare in Silver is a mixed bag. It delivers an extremely good narrative, and is filled with brilliant dialogue and some scenes that are, in my opinion, the greatest since Matt Smith took over the role as the Doctor. It is also, however, one of the weaker Cybermen episodes that the show has produced, and while the story itself is brilliant, it doesn’t serve its purpose of reaffirming the Cybermen back into the show effectively.
Pictures courtesy of BBC.