Doctor Who #686: Silver Nemesis Part 1

"This may qualify as the worst miscalculation since life crawled out of the seas on this sad planet."
TECHNICAL SPECS: This story is available on DVD. First aired Nov.23 1988.

IN THIS ONE... The TARDIS at Windsor Castle, a comet crashes to the ground, Lady Peinforte travels 250 years in time, and South American Nazis too.

REVIEW: As you can see, this aired AND HAPPENED on the exact day of Doctor Who's 25th Anniversary. They mention the date often enough in the dialog. That's a cheeky bit of Anniversary business, though the program otherwise avoids being a big fankwanky blow-out like Remembrance of the Daleks which opened the season. Many have said this has the same plot as Remembrance, and we'll see how true that is over the next couple days, but that sameness is superficial for now. Multiple factions vying for control of an artifact the Doctor had a hand (pun not intended) in placing there, and the participation of one of his greatest enemies (though the 80s Cybermen don't carry a lot of weight with me, I find them quite tedious). Sounds like the same ingredients, but a different recipe. In fact, Silver Nemesis is kind of the anti-Remembrance. The Doctor may have a master plan, but he's forgotten all about it and is forced to improvise. And from Lady Peinforte's comments, it's more a question of her trying to trap the Doctor as revenge for an unseen adventure than the reverse.

If Silver Nemesis feels different from Remembrance, it's that it isn't celebrating the Anniversary by throwing out references to the show's past. It IS celebrating, however. There's a very real visit to Windsor Castle, with a (faked) cameo by the Queen (not quite as dumb as the one in Voyage of the Damned, mind you), a live musical performance, an actress from the show's first season (Fiona Walker, who was also in The Keys of Marinus), and a record for greatest number of trips in the TARDIS in a single episode (I think). For New Whovians, there's a retroactive reference in that it's the first time the Doctor wears a fez, for fun, while in the castle's vault. Foreshadowing closer events, the Doctor also takes a look at a chess set back in 1638, noting the game isn't going very well, a reference that will lead us to The Curse of Fenric (chess was the original Bad Wolf, wasn't it?).

Both leads are engaging, but really at the mercy of the three factions who want the Nemesis statue embedded in the fallen meteor. Lady Peinforte is a strong presence, though the means by which she time travels with her flunky is a bit suspect. It's all so alchemical. But who am I to quibble with the properties of the living metal called Validium? The Nazis - a surprisingly rare set of foes for the Doctor - have the bow that matches Peinforte's arrow, so there's an immediate sense that the two will meet and clash, though here I wonder why they make that early attempt on the Doctor's life, especially since De Flores doesn't know who he is when they meet at the crash site. And then there's the Cybermen, who pop up at the end, for what looks like no better reason than they're a big name, it's an Anniversary episode, and they're silver-colored. I could do without them, frankly.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Some fun, some mystery, lots of villains, and a different kind of Anniversary "special". I kinda wish the Cybermen weren't in it.


Anonymous said...

They're Nazis - making attempts on people's lives is what they DO. :-)

- Jason

Anonymous said...

BTW - missing episodes recovery is now OFFICIAL. No word yet on how many and which ones. (But latest rumors say all of Enemy of the World and all of Web of Fear bar episode 3.)


- Jason

Jeff R. said...

It is interesting to consider what their choosing those 9 as the first 9 to process to digital means about the overall find. (If that part of the story holds up, that is.) I'd say that probably means that there isn't enough Hartnell to finish any serial, maybe not even enough to all-but one any of them.


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