Silver Nemesis

Written by:
Kevin Clarke
Directed by: Chris Clough
Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Year: 1988
Video Availability: Try

With portraits of Hitler, Swastikas and Wagner, the Nazi allusions this one opens with aren't exactly subtle. Neither is juxtaposing DeFlores's bow and arrow with Lady Peinforte's, 350 years earlier. However, neither set-up is particularly bad (if a little artificial) and in fact episode one of Silver Nemesis is really not all that terrible. What does worry about the story though is that it feels like Kevin Clarke's interests first, Doctor Who story second. Courtney Pine gets a cameo, while Slyv namedrops Louis Armstrong and tells us his favourite style is "straight blowing" (!)

There are some nice touches of humour here and there. The scene where Sophie lifts up the Daily Mirror with an unnoticed "meteor approaches England" front page is quite funny, as is the "I've been here before." "Deja Vu?" "No, with the school." However, the feeble pun about a duck, said just minutes after someone's tried to kill them, is pretty lame. As is the Doctor's "I know I built it for you, to replace the one that was destroyed by the Daleks" exposition. McCoy's mucking about with props while "the safety of the world is at stake" annoys, as does Keff McCulloch's jarring score. It's very similar to Battlefield in that it's very militaristic, but then McCulloch's music all has one thing in common... it's all shite!

The candles being blown out by the landing Tardis is a cool touch, and the chess board sequence is genuinely creepy. It's all too flabby though, too unfocussed. The plot lacks weight, while the narrative flits between obscure irrelevance (Ace's period costume portrait) and silliness (the Queen). Sylvester's embarrassing "make a spectacle of yourself" gag is also winceful.

That's the problem with writing a review as you go along, as I did in this case. I started out saying episode one isn't that bad, when in fact it really is a stupid pile of tripe.
* *

In terms of explosives then the opening battle to this one is very good, but in terms of direction it's very staid. In many ways it's what you imagine a fan's home video production would be like. I won't bother to mention the Cybermen's pathetic, ubiquitous allergy to gold as it's been said before so many times.

Richard is a silly, annoying character and a lot of the scenes - "Wot are you, social workers?" - are just stupid. And is that chameleon bit contrived or what? Sylvester's huge chunks of exposition pall, and oh God, it's really getting on my nerves now. It's not as crashingly bad as Battlefield, but it's worse than Delta and the Bannermen.

You know what used to get on my nerves about the publicity for this one? Sophie "I never used to really see it until the Pertwee years" Aldred saying how the Cybermen used to terrify her as a child. And yet they were never in a Pertwee story, the lying cow. Stop yer bullshitting love, I don't wanna hear it! And David Banks can f*** off an' all!

You know, I always assert that Tack of the Cybermen is worse than this, but I might be wrong. Silver Nemesis is like eating too many Kipling cakes on a Sunday afternoon and getting that pukey feeling. My God, it's annoying. Stupid, banal and irritating. And Sophie Aldred's acting is really poor in this one, too. I probably would though to be honest.

This is the episode where the Doctor's mystique is re-established. You remember - Lady Peinforte claims she knows something about him but we never find out what, and Sophie cheesily gives us "Who are you?"

The world's in danger, yet we still get time for comedy Americans. The climax you can see coming a mile off. You know, Sylvester really does act like a stupid arse in this one. What a rubbish episode - brash, amateurish and annoying. How many times have I said the word "annoying" now anyway? I apologise for that, it's just that whenever I thought about this episode, that's the word that kept popping into my head. It just fits the story so perfectly. And that asteroid looks like a flying turd. Funnily enough, so does the story.

While not (quite) the worst Sylvester McCoy story, this is certainly his worst three-parter. While I do like McCoy stories, this is yet another of his that make the ten worst stories of all time.