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Aside from the big finale obviously, Nightmare in Silver was for most fans the most anticipated episode of this series, for it was to be the return of legendary author Neil Gaiman to scripting duties. And if that wasn't exciting enough, it was also promised to be the big return of the Cybermen, making them menacing again after some less than stellar appearances.
Furthermore this episode also featured something of a cult favourite Warwick Davis - and if you don't know why this fellow is a legend, go check out out his CV. Furthermore I think it's fair to say that his legend will be considerable extended post-Nightmare In Silver as I, and no doubt many others, will feel he pretty much steals the show from under the notional noses of the newly slickly redesigned conkless hordes from Telos.
And yes, the redesigned Cybermen are rather snazzy - more streamlined, more menacing, and much more speedy. However for my tastes, in one scene - the introduction to the new model - they were just too bloody speedy. What was that zipping in a lightning blur business about? Sorry to be a grumpy old git, but that was too fast for a Cyberman in my book.
And I'm afraid - keeping the grumpy git hat firmly on - I've got to say I was very underwhelmed by the rest of the episode too. At the end of the last review, I did voice my doubts about having kids onboard and I'm afraid in the end I felt they were pretty much just in the way of the plot, and Angie was flat-out irritating most of the time. Now partly that was due to a rather dull performance, but in fairness Eve de Leon Allen really wasn't given much to work with other than some bog-standard sullen teenager lines.
However it wasn't just the dialogue that was flat, the plot felt choppy and managed to come across as both rushed and padded. Aside from the extraneous children, we also had some underdeveloped soldiers cluttering the place up and another completely irrelevant character in the form of Jason Watkin's Webley. More crucially Gaiman had talked about delivering the ultimate Cyberman story, but instead we seemed to get a rather flimsy and vague Cyber-scheme stuck in the background of the story and centre-stage the Doctor playing chess with himself. Now as regular readers know, I'm a huge admirer of the boy Smith and his Doctor, but here I felt he was struggling a bit, partly from carrying the weight of the episode and partly due to some less than stellar lines slotted to his Cyber-planner other half.
Nope, sorry to say this one just didn't add up for me. There was some good ideas and performances in there but overall it just seemed like a bit of a mess. Now judging from what I'm seeing on assorted social media scanners, it would appear that I'm in the minority on this one, so I won't carry on carping. But I would stress that I'm not having a Worst. Episode. Evah! moment, more just a rather deflated 'Eh? What went awry there?' instance.
I don't know, perhaps it caught me in the wrong mood. Or perhaps either Gaiman or the director dropped the ball. No matter - as I always say part of the magic of Doctor Who is that it can tell all different sorts of stories, and if you don't like this one, maybe the next one will be more to your taste...
...And certainly the final episode doe look very interesting indeed! And I'm going to stick my neck out now and guess that I very much doubt everything is going to wrap up neatly - I'm predicting a cliff-hanger that leads into the big anniversary special coming later in the year...
JIM MOON, 11th May 2013