DWO’s spoiler-free preview of episode 7.12 Nightmare in Silver:
When The Doctor takes Clara, Artie, and Angie to Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, the greatest theme park in the galaxy, they find themselves in a run-down world, where a group of soldiers stand guard, and the only attraction is a shabby collection of ‘wonders’ from across the stars. But the time travellers aren’t the only visitors to this world. Unusual insects climb the walls, relaying data to ensure the re-emergence of the Cyberiad…
It may seem like an odd decision to pit The Doctor against The Cybermen in the penultimate episodes of both the Sixth and Seventh series, but the role they play in events are wildly different between the two stories. Whereas 2011’s Closing Time features a group of tin soldiers who were on their last legs, Nightmare in Silver is very much about looking to the future, and creating the next phase of The Cybermen.
Writer Neil Gaiman recently commented that he was asked to write the episode with a brief to make The Cybermen scary again:
"I thought, 'Let me see what I can do when I take the 1960s Cybermen and [incorporate] everything that's happened since'. So that's what I'm trying to do. I don't know if it will work."
We're pleased to report that not only does it work, but it works brilliantly. The episode is littered with references to the Cybermen’s past - with design elements from The Tomb of the Cybermen bleeding through into the new design of a Cyber-ship, to references concerning the creatures’ previous allergies and leaders. For a fan of the 20th century version of Doctor Who, this episode is a real treasure trove.
The Cybermen themselves have had a complete design overhaul, too, which makes them more streamlined that the version the programme has used since 2006. This new design takes in elements from the earliest versions of the creatures, while fully updating them to look sleek and modern. The design also brings with it some new forms of attack, and takes the opportunity to re-appropriate the idea of a Cyberman ‘upgrade’.
But the new-look Cybermen aren’t Nightmare in Silver’s only big draw. The episode boasts a fantastic cast, including Jason Watkins (best known for his role as vampire leader Herrick in Being Human), and a long-overdue appearance in the series for Warwick Davis, Who shines in the role of ‘Porridge’.
As ever, the episode allows plenty of time to showcase its two lead stars, even giving Matt Smith plenty of time to share the screen with himself, as he battles with the impending threat of a cyber-war. Jenna-Louise Coleman gets to show us what Clara is really made of, when The Doctor leaves her in charge of a platoon of soldiers with two simple instructions - stay alive, and don’t let anyone blow up the planet.
Stephen Woolfenden makes his directorial debut for Doctor Who with this episode, having worked as a second unit director on four of the Harry Potter films, and as a First Assistant Director on Gaiman’s Neverwhere in the 1990s. He brings a bold new look to the series with this episode, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the epic style of the episode.
Speaking of Nightmare in Silver at the MCM Expo Comic Con in London last year, Matt Smith predicted that the episode would be a ‘fan’s favourite’, and we don’t think he’s going to be wrong!
Five things to look out for...
1) It’s not the Moon.
2) “We all know there are no more living Cybermen…”
3) The Doctor encounters the 699th Wonder of the World.
4) Time Lords invented chess.
5) Nobody needs rescuing from anything.
[Sources: DWO; Will Brooks]