Silver Nemesis (1988)

Silver Nemesis is the 150th Doctor Who story and is also the 25th Anniversary story. It was also the final appearance of the Cybermen before they would return in 2006. Silver Nemesis is a story that is very underrated and in fact was ranked 176th in the DWM Mighty 200 poll. This was a three part story which was the norm during McCoy’s era. It allows the story to move at a much better pace than a four parter and reduces the need to pad things out. This story is quite interesting in that there are actually three threats that the Doctor must face. The first being the Cybermen who’s appearance was much more regular than it had been in the 1970’s. Then we have the Nazi’s led by De Flores and then Lady Peinforte.

The whole idea that the Doctor sent the Nemesis into space to lure the Cybermen to Earth in 1988 was quite clever though it does lead to the question ‘Surely there was an easier way?’ A lot of time is made in the later part of this story was about the mystery of just who the Doctor is. Apparently (according to the DVD Information Text) its considered that the three people responsible for Timelords were Rassilon, Omega and someone called ‘the other’ who is more of a god-like figure. That figure is apparently the Doctor. I’m not convinced about the Doctor being god but I very much like the mysterious element. In modern TV it’s a useful plot device to create a bit of mystery to try and keep the viewer coming back. In 1988 when the show had been going for 25 years and it must have been a breathe of fresh air to have this mystery about a character that most people knew a lot about.

Sylvester McCoy revels in his outing with the Cybermen. It would have been nice to just have the Cybermen on their own battling the Doctor but McCoy by this point has got his hands on the role and is making the role his own. The revelation that the Doctor is a big fan of Jazz (never mentioned again) was quite a surprise and I don’t know whether McCoy is a fan of Jazz but if he isn’t then it doesn’t show at all. Sophie Aldred was also very good as Ace. This was her first full season as the companion and by this point had gelled well with McCoy and his Doctor.

Despite the serious tones there are a lot of humorous bits. When I first saw this story (after paying £20 for this in late 2002/early 2003) I found the humour to be a bit out of place. However watching it several years later I think some of it works. The skinheads which were a 1980’s product and are infact the pre-cursor to today’s hooded youths added little bit of light relief. When hanging from a tree in just their boxer shorts and asked by the Doctor what happened, they replied “Social Workers”. Funny. Another funny line was when one of the Cybermen after hearing Lady Peinforte shouting “Is this human form of madness?” Its not a perfect story but its more to do with character development. The character of Mrs Remmington is an unnecessary distraction and also the character was very annoying. Also the character of Richard was a bit silly for my liking, true he had his moments and was believable in his terror but I just got the sense that his only purpose was to be Lady Peinforte’s kickbag.

Silver Nemesis is a far better story than its given credit for. Its one of Sylvester McCoy’s best stories on TV and the mystery to his past is one of the main reasons why it should be watched.

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