Doctor Who 7×12
“Nightmare in Silver”
To say that Neil Gaiman’s second episode of Doctor Who was highly anticipated is an understatement, especially when it was released that he was penning an episode for the Cybermen. While “Nightmare in Silver” wasn’t as feels heavy as “The Doctor’s Wife”, it was still a cracking good episode of Doctor Who and one hell of an acting showcase for Matt Smith.
Yet, despite me thoroughly enjoying the episode, I have found myself staring at my computer screen over the past few days trying to come up with what the hell to write about this episode. And I think that speaks to the problem with this series of Doctor Who. It has felt a bit soul-less and forgettable, has it not? The Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who has been characterized by its cleverness and whip fast dialogue, but as of late, that cleverness has come at the expense of emotional impact. Doctor Who has also always been, as Darren Franich put it in his EW recap this week, like an anthology of short stories. It can take on a different genre each week, yet still always be the same show. Series 7 as a whole (including the five episodes with Amy and Rory) has really felt like this. There have been no two-parters and each episode has been billed as its own “mini-movie” down to the way the marketing team promoted each episode. While it is a cool idea in concept, there has been no through line for the series. Think about it. Series One had Bad Wolf. Series Two had Torchwood. Series Three had the return of the Master. Series Four was the Universes collapsing. Series Five had the crack in time and the Pandorica. Series Six had the mystery of River Song. What is the through line for Series Seven??? The Impossible Girl? The Great Intelligence?
To be fair, we don’t always know what the through line for the series is until the very end (this was especially true in series three). But still, they always FELT like there was something tying them together, and it hasn’t felt this way in series seven. Maybe that’s because of the first half with the Ponds and the second half with Clara. Maybe it’s because the mystery with Clara has been teased on, but not developed fully. All I know is the series has felt unsatisfying, and that makes me sad.
Sage touched on this in her recap last week and Franich touched on it in the EW recap: the Doctor/Companion relationship has always been the grounding factor in the modern era of Doctor Who and the fact that Clara has not been developed very well as a character is a problem. Sure, she’s adorable. She’s always ready with a clever quip and she has spunk to spare. But that’s about it. As Sage said last week, “Clara has really only been good for punch lines.” We keep HEARING that she is impossible, but that is it. There have been no other clues as to what MAKES her impossible or what drives her and what makes her tick. The writing and under-development of Clara has been a great disservice to Jenna-Louise Coleman, as she has been fantastic performance wise and has a lovely chemistry with Matt. We, the audience, just don’t care enough yet. At least that’s how I feel.
And again, I could take this all back after the finale on Saturday. We shall see.
Anyway…back to the episode at hand. One thing Neil Gaiman has always been good at is making things accessible to new comers while still peppering in references that make geeks lose their minds. There were a lot of classic episodes and motifs that were referenced in the episode (the opening scene on the moon, for one) that would make classic Whovians squeal yet not alienate newer viewers. I really liked what he did as far as upgrading the Cybermen as well. When we saw one move at super speed for the first time, I gasped “Have they always been able to DO THAT?” (no, they haven’t). I liked how they were capable of upgrading their defenses mid-attack and how they were able to detach body parts at will. They were truly terrifying in this episode and I thought it worked wonderfully.
And GOOD GOD, Matt Smith. If I ever anyone say that he is a bad actor, I am going to sit them down and make them watch this episode. Playing a split personality and having to act with yourself is not easy and can quickly veer into camp. (Ask me about the time when I saw Constantine Maroulis in Jekyll and Hyde. Or rather don’t. ) Matt, unlike Constantine, never crossed over into the realm of ridiculousness. He was grounded physically (I loved how he would alter his physicality for Cyber-Doctor. His face became truly villainous) and he created two VERY different characters and played off of them beautifully. It was really a joy to watch.
– We can all agree that Angie is the worst, right? I mean, who complains about traveling through space and time like that. I would have been fine is she would have been completely upgraded. That would have shown her.
– In all my bitching about Series Seven, I failed to mention how wonderful Warwick Davis was. I literally squealed when he was revealed. I thought he played Porridge/The Emperor so wonderfully…he was so sad and lonely and wanting to be free of the burden of his position. Much like the Doctor.
– Cybermen infestation aside, how AWESOME did that theme park look??
– Cyber-Doctor saying Nine’s “Fantastic” and Ten’s “Allonsy!!”? Kill me with feels now.
– I am not quite sure what they are doing with the whole Doctor/Clara romance angle…
– Another possible through line for Series Seven is The Doctor erasing himself from history. This started in “Asylum of the Daleks” when Oswin erased the Doctor from the memory of the Daleks and River mentioned in “The Angels Take Manhattan”. And now the Cyber-Doctor says it as well. Hmmmmm….
That’s it for this week! Sage will be your guide for the finale “The Name of the Doctor”. God be with her. AND DON’T TELL US THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR, MOFFAT!! DON’T YOU DARE.