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Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis

"Hello, I'm the Doctor! I believe you want to kill me?"

This was the story chosen to celebrate Doctor Who's silver jubilee in 1988. Why? I have no idea. Probably because it had silver in the title. Certainly wasn't because it was any good.

'Silver Nemesis' is pure, unfiltered horse shit. It is just beyond bad. The whole thing looks like it was made by drunken first year media students. Actually, that’s a disservice to drunken first year media students. They probably could’ve done a far more professional job than the people who actually shat out this mess. I honestly can't believe the makers of the show looked at this god-awful travesty and thought it was the best way to reward their loyal fans for 25 years of devotion. Is it really any wonder that the show was finally cancelled the following year?

'Silver Nemesis' is basically 'Remembrance of the Daleks' except with Cybemen instead of Daleks and also terrible instead of great. The plot is overly complicated and makes about as much sense as Tom Waits trying to explain the off-side rule in Welsh after having downed an entire bottle of absinthe. Only the Doctor knows what is really going on but he doesn't feel obligated to explain to anyone, not even his companion. They spend the entire story either zipping from one location to the next (including Windsor Castle for a cameo by Lizzie’s lookalike) or lazily relaxing in the countryside (Oi, get off ya backsides, there’s a world needs saving).

The whole thing suffers from too many villains, all fighting for control of a weapon that the Doctor hid long ago. Firstly, there's the Cybermen and their over the top hand gestures. While 'Remembrance' helped the Dalek regain much of their lost credibility, this story robs the Cybermen of what little they had left. They are just pathetic, easily taken down by a teenager with a slingshot.

Still, at least they aren't as stupid as the Fourth Reich, basically a dozen neo-Nazis in a Transit van who look like they'd have difficulties conquering a caravan site let alone all of Europe. Finally, there's Fiona Walker who all but steals the show as Lady Penford.

Auditions were well underway for Cybermen: The Musical 
Notes and Quotes

--The crew couldn't get permission to film at Windsor Castle so scenes set there were shot at Arundel Castle instead.

--Anyone who complains about Murray Gold’s music should be thankful we no longer have to endure the synth driven rubbish Keff McCulloch churned out.

--Look carefully and you can see Nicholas Courtney cameo as one of the tourists at Windsor.

--At one point the Doctor wears a fez. Fezzes are cool.

Ace: "We can't go nicking stuff in here."
The Doctor: "It's only temporary."
Ace: "It's probably treason, I'm too young to go to the tower."

The Doctor: "I don't suppose you've completely ignored my instructions and secretly prepared any Nitro-9, have you?"
Ace: "What if I had?"
The Doctor: "And naturally, you wouldn't do anything so insanely dangerous as to carry it around with you, would you?"
Ace: "Of course not. I'm a good girl and do what I'm told."
The Doctor: "Excellent. Blow up that vehicle."

One out of four Transit vans.
Mark Greig is blue da ba dee da ba daa More Mark Greig


Billie Doux said...

My sympathies. I'm getting something of a third year of original Trek "Spock's Brain" vibe.

Mark Greig said...

I wish it were, Billie. 'Spock's Brain' is at least hilariously bad. The McCoy era for the most part is just embarrassingly bad. I've cringed so much watching these stories I'm worried my face is going to stay that way

Billie Doux said...

Hang in, Mark. You're so close to the end!

Mark Greig said...

Only six more to go.

Remco said...

I occasionally check in to these classic Who reviews, and they are often scathing. Is it worth it to watch all of classic Who, in your opinion? Or should a new viewer watch a curated selection to maintain their sanity? ;)

Mark Greig said...

Remco, Classic Who is very uneven in terms of quality. This is what happens when you run for 26 years and have dozens of different writers and producers running the show. It is hard to judge the runs of the First and Second Doctors since so many of their stories are either missing or incomplete. What has survived is very hit and miss. Same can be said of the Third Doctor era, although I'm still rather fond of it. The show was at it's best during Tom Baker's reign as the Fourth Doctor. Sadly, Doctors Five-Seven are just dire. There are a few good stories, one or two stone cold classics, but the majority of their runs are just painful to watch.

I would never recommend trying to watch all of it. There's just too much and a lot of it isn't good. The Fourth Doctor era is probably the only one you can watch from beginning to end without wanting to pull your hair out. As for the rest you can just watch which stories appeal to you and skip the ones that don't. To help out, here's a handy list of what I think are the essential stories for Doctors One to Seven:

An Unearthly Child
The Daleks
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
The Time Meddler
The Power of the Daleks
Tomb of the Cybermen
The Web of Fear
The Invasion
The War Games
Spearhead from Space
The Silurians
Terror of the Autons
The Mind of Evil
The Curse of Peladon
The Sea Devils
The Three Doctors
Carnival of Monsters
The Green Death
The Time Warrior
The Ark in Space
Genesis of the Daleks
Terror of the Zygons
Pyramids of Mars
The Brain of Morbius
The Seeds of Doom
The Hand of Fear
The Deadly Assassin
The Face of Evil
The Robots of Death
The Sun Makers
The Ribos Operation
The Pirate Planet
The Androids of Tara
City of Death
The Caves on Androzani
Revelation of the Daleks
Remembrance of the Daleks
Ghost Light
The curse of Fenric

Remco said...

Ah, that's a super helpful list! I'm a fan of new Who and I'd like to see where it all came from, but I was scared by both the volume and the fact that everyone always says "there's this terrible episode of Doctor Who where such and such happened". Always terrible! :P

Since you said you'd never recommend trying to watch it all... how are you coping? ;)

TheShadowKnows said...

My wife and I watched the entire run of the show, including the stories featuring the first two Doctors that had to be recreated using the audio track and still photos. Some parts of it were a great test of patience, but I'm not sorry we did it. The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Doctors were the best, in my opinion, but they nevertheless had some dogs in their kennels. And all the Doctors had some great stories (well, the Sixth and Seventh Doctors maybe not so much).

Mark Greig said...

Remco, I've been watching Doctor Who for 30 years and I still haven't seen all of it. I only got around to finishing the Sixth and Seventh Doctors for these reviews (which I started way back in 2011), but still haven't seen most of the First Doctor stories that still exist in their entirety let alone the missing or incomplete ones.

Tim said...

I started watching in '75 and thoroughly endorse your list, Mark, (though I notice that 'The Talons Of Weng Chiang' didn't get a mention - oversight or just not one of your faves?).

I always enjoy your reviews and share you pain around having to slog through 5, 6 & 7.

Nearly there - stay strong!