Now that the penultimate episode of Doctor Who series seven has aired on British television (and about to air in just a few hours on BBC America), I really want to hear from you: what did you think of Neil Gaiman’s Nightmare in Silver? Warning, though: spoilers follow!
I’ll go first. The only thing I know of Gaiman’s work as a writer is last season’s The Doctor’s Wife, and while I enjoyed that one, it wasn’t my favorite. And to be honest, I sort of feel the same way about Nightmare in Silver. It was good, but I didn’t love it. Does that mean I won’t ever watch it again? Of course not—I mean, eventually we’ll get to it here on the blog—but it probably won’t be one that I watch over and over.
The Cybermen should be frightening. But I keep coming back to the feeling that, more than anything, Gaiman made them comical. I mean, they can detach their heads and hands now? And rotate their heads 180 degrees? To me that’s not scary. That’s silly.
Same thing with the ongoing battle for control between the Doctor and the Cyber Planner. The back-and-forth banter and the Doctor flailing about depending on which one was in control, was more laughable than scary or compelling. And on that point, I would have expected the Cyber Planner personality to be completely devoid of humor or any other emotionally-based response. Sure, the Cybermen were hoping to take advantage of the Doctor’s mind, but I felt like the emotional elements would have been filtered out. I don’t know; maybe it’s just me.
To be honest, I didn’t love the inclusion of Artie and Angie (who is, frankly, annoying here), either. For someone who claims that the Cybermen scared him as a kid in a way the Daleks never did, Gaiman borrows liberally from Remembrance of the Daleks, who connected a little human girl up to their battle computer in order to harness her imagination. Gaiman’s done the same thing. It worked in Remembrance, but it seems a little clichéd here.
I don’t want to sound completely negative, like one of those stereotypical Doctor Who fans (you know the type), because there were genuinely some good moments in this week’s Doctor Who. The new iteration of the cybermats, the cybermites, are definitely a cool progression to this cyber technology, and the idea of the Cybermen instantly being able to upgrade their operating system in response to new or changing conditions (although you’re telling me that the Cybermen have never encountered water before? Really?) gives them an advantage for future encounters that makes them more far more dangerous.
I think I went into Nightmare in Silver expecting a little more than what we ultimately got. I want to see these Cybermen again, but I’d like to see them handled by a writer who understands Doctor Who a little better than Neil Gaiman. Yes, I know that’s going to get under the skin of the Gaiman fan boys and girls, but that’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Unless it changes later, then I’m sticking to that one.
Now I want to hear from you. What did you think of Nightmare in Silver? Let me know your reaction to this week’s Doctor Who in the comments.
Daniel is the owner and Managing Editor of Time and The – !. He's been a fan of Doctor Who since watching Tom Baker regenerate into Peter Davison on his local PBS station as a kid. He launched Time and The – ! in 2011 after having the bright (?) idea to watch every Doctor Who story from the beginning and blog about it. (Yeah, he's way behind.)