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25 February 2016 @ 07:15 pm
NuWho Rewatch: Nightmare in Silver  
Sometimes it's interesting to re-read my previous reviews, if only to see how one story can come across differently on different viewings. I had remembered Nightmare in Silver as a weak episode in a weak half-season and I wasn't really pre-disposed to revise my opinion on a second viewing. However, looking back I seem to have, not exactly liked it, but felt it was OK first time around.

The two things that stood out in my memory were the story's wierd Monachism and the over-powerful Cybermen. Looking back I seem to have liked these elements - or at least I felt the problem with the whole "return of the rightful King" vibe was more of a problem with the acting/direction than a script-level issue. I'm now divided about that. I think you can certainly read Nightmare in Silver as a critique of monarchial systems and a criticism of Porridge's abdication of responsibility but I'm not sure those elements are clear enough to work against the return-of-the-rightful-king trope which is dominating the narrative. Certainly, if Gaiman intended the story as a critique of the trope, then the acting and direction is working against that.

It's sufficiently well-known that series paint themselves into corners if they make their recurring monsters ever more powerful at each appearance, so it surprises me that so many fall into this trap. Doctor Who gains a little wiggle-room with the time travel element but even so, I feel the Cybermen are rapidly approaching the point where they will need a reboot to make them into a manageable enemy. The fact they just about get away with it here doesn't alter the fact that the instantaneously ever improving Cybermen are both vastly over-powered and a little silly.

Beyond that, I feel pretty meh, about the rest of Nightmare in Silver. The Doctor's turn as the cyber-controller is nicely done (and I liked it better this time than last), but it looks more like a self-indulgent opportunity for the lead actor to show off, than something that is really driving the story. It's a good story for Clara. *shrug*

Ultimately Nightmare in Silver feels like a bit of a mess with nothing that's really good enough to make up for that. I think it remains the weakest story in a fairly weak half-season.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/185741.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on February 25th, 2016 09:23 pm (UTC)
I think the Cybermen here were inspired by the Borg, who were supposed to adapt to Federation weaponry almost instantaneously. But there it was more the frequency of the phasers (so they could be defeated by randomly generated phaser frequency); here it seems to be everything.

I didn't like this much either and am not looking forward to it on my eleventh Doctor rewatch (which has sped up since reaching Matt Smith's second season... I'm beginning to think that contrary to fan belief, it's his first season, not his third, that is the weakest). I'm currently up to Angels Take Manhattan, and Nightmare in Silver is the only episode left I'm really not looking forward to (I sort of like The Rings of Akhaten!). It just didn't fit together properly. I remember on transmission noting that if they couldn't get the visual joke about the short, fat soldier and his tall, thin colleague to work properly, how could the rest of it work? Particularly not the far-from-comical Comical Castle. That said, I think that some of the disappointment is that this is from the pen of Neil Gaiman - we expect better from the author of The Doctor's Wife (and more).
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 26th, 2016 10:06 am (UTC)
I've certainly revised my opinion of this half season upwards on rewatch, but I don't think either this or The Crimson Horror have improved and The Crimson Horror is better than this.
cynthia2015: pic#125932134cynthia2015 on February 29th, 2016 06:17 am (UTC)
Random marriage proposal for Clara.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 29th, 2016 10:17 am (UTC)
If I had more confidence that the story was actually trying to critique Porridge, I'd say that was another example of him desperately attempting to shirk responsibility by dumping it on Clara. But as it was, I've no idea, I half think it was a nod to classic stories like Curse of Peladon where the enraptured King proposes to the companion...
cynthia2015: pic#125932134cynthia2015 on February 29th, 2016 12:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for explaining the reference.

We don't get to know who Porridge really is until the last moment so it felt like it came out of nowhere. Obviously Clara was going to decline the offer.