REVIEW - Doctor Who - S07E12

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There was a lot of hype surround this episode as not only did it herald the return of one the Doctor’s most popular foes but it was penned by Neil Gaiman (who previously wrote the praised “The Doctor’s Wife”). The problem with hype is that it rarely lives up to the expectation. While “Nightmare in Silver” is not as good as “The Doctor’s Wife” it still manages to be one of the most entertaining episodes this year.

The Doctor takes the children Clara nanny’s for, Angie and Artie, to Hedgewick’s World Of Wonders, a popular theme park, only to find that it has long since closed down. The only people left are a small military troop, Webley (Jason Watkins) who runs a sideshow (including several deactivated Cybermen – remnants from the cyberwars), and a man who calls himself Porridge (Warwick Davis). They soon discover that the Cybermen are not as deactivated as they once thought and the park is currently over run by tiny mechanical bugs, cybermites.

These are not the Cyberman we know and love, these are the extreme version. It turns out the only way humans could defeat the Cybermen during the cyberwars was to destroy an entire galaxy. Angie and Artie are captured and the cybermites attach to the Doctor planning on uploading him (and all his knowledge) into their databases but the Doctor isn’t going to let go easily. He challenges the Cybermen inside his mind to a game of Chess. Meanwhile Clara is hanging out with the local military troop, whose mission was technically to search for the missing lecture but in the reality they are a punishment troop for the army’s failures.

The Doctor fights the Cybermen in a game of wits, Clara fights a trigger-happy platoon Captain who wants to blow up the planet and it turns out Porridge is actually the missing emperor. Ultimately the Doctor wins the battle, the children are saved, the planet gets destroyed taking the Cybermen along with it (after they escape of course) and the emperor proposed to Clara, she turns him down.

This episode was a little confusing at times but there was a lot to love starting with the fact that Gaiman has managed to make the well-loved but let’s face it, kind of laughable, Cybermen threatening again. Porridge’s plot-twist identity was fairly easy to guess but guest star Warwick Davis makes the predicable role incredibly likeable. The rest of the guest-cast are unmemorable but it’s over shadowed by a brilliant performance from Matt Smith.

Matt Smith spend much of the episode acting against himself, which is rather more interesting than when he’s acting against Jenna-Louise Coleman, and it’s amazing to watch. In fact every time the story left the Doctor’s inner battle to focus Clara’s military role I found myself getting increasingly frustrated. Had this episode focused solely on Smith’s performance it could have been fantastic but as is it felt rushed at times and loses some of it’s impact.

Next week it’s time to ask the question that must never be answered… also the conclusion to the mystery of Clara and the return of the always-wonderful River Song (Alex Kingston).

Review by Yvonne Popplewell

More of Yvonne’s work can be found at her blog.


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