“Silver Nemesis” is an adventure of the twentyfifth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired in 1988. It follows “The Happiness Patrol” and it’s a three parts adventure written by Kevin Clarke and directed by Chris Clough.
The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) brings Ace (Sophie Aldred) to England in 1988 to listen to some jazz. However, something worries the Doctor, who feels he has to do something important but doesn’t remember what, at least not until a strange meteorite strikes nearby.
In the sixteenth century, Lady Peinforte uses knowledge she considers magic to travel into the future, where it was calculated that what she seeks will arrive. There, she’ll have to face a group of neo-Nazis and the Cybermen, who have the same goal. The Doctor must stop these evil forces from seizing an enormous power.
This DVD contains a decent amount of extras. There are typical contents such as production subtitles, the Radio Times Listings, a promo of the “Doctor Who” DVD to be published soon and a gallery of pictures from this adventure.
There are various comments in the adventure alternative audio track by protagonists Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred and script editor Andrew Cartmel.
Industrial Action. A documentary about 33 minutes long about the production of this adventure.
Deleted and Extended Scenes. 22 minutes of scenes deleted in part or completely from the final version of this adventure.
Isolated Score. The option to watch this adventure listening to jazz along with the soundtrack.
Kevin Clarke was accumulating experience writing scripts for various television shows. He was advised to contact the production of “Doctor Who”, which was just looking for a story for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show. Clarke claimed to have an interesting idea, although in reality he had nothing in mind.
When he went to talk to script editor Andrew Cartmel, the first thing that came to Kevin Clarke’s mind was that no one had ever answered the question “Doctor Who?”. According to Clarke, the answer is that the Doctor was God. Cartmel was trying to include mysterious elements into Doctor’s figure so he offered Clarke the opportunity to develop a story that was about the Doctor’s identity, even if he discarded the possibility to have explicit religious references.
The story was to be produced for the silver anniversary of “Doctor Who” so producer John Nathan-Turner decided it would be appropriate to include the Cybermen. The production of this adventure, whose title was changed several times until it becomes “Silver Nemesis”, ran into trouble when the discovery of asbestos in the BBC studios led to shutting them down with the resulting inability to use them for the shooting.
John Nathan-Turner was able to set up a makeshift studio in a tent but the production suffered huge delays that led to the cancellation of most rehearsals. At least one of the major problems of “Silver Nemesis” is a consequence of that situation because director Chris Clough could only get a limited idea of the duration of the various scenes so he ended up shooting a lot more material than necessary and the editor had to cut off a lot and parhaps in a somewhat chaotic way.
The result is a story too complex to be well developed in three episodes, especially if it includes some frankly unnecessary scenes such as the one with the skinheads and the one with the American tourist. The presence of so many characters that initially formed separate subplots required a tight script, without further digressions.
The final script of “Silver Nemesis” also has other flaws. The story is in many ways similar to another one broadcast a few weeks before and the Cybermen are a joke since in this adventure their vulnerability to gold looks more like a very strong form of allergy.
The performances of the cast have ups and downs. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred do their job, for the others perhaps the lack of rehearsal time was a problem because only Fiona Walker and Gerard Murphy as Lady Peinforte and her servant and Leslie French in the small role of the mathematician are convincing.
It’s no coincidence that “Silver Nemesis” is one of the most controversial adventures in the classic “Doctor Who” series. In my opinion, the part with Lady Peinforte and her servant is overall a pretty good comedy, the rest is anything but memorable starting with the neo-Nazis, who in the end are useless. To have good quality stories that explore the Doctor’s identity in which he’s wearing a fez and handles a mop we had to wait for the new series.
Despite all its flaws, I think “Silver Nemesis” is an adventure all in all funny for the elements of comedy it contains but I understand that many people may cry rather than laugh. Among the extras on the DVD, the documentary is interesting because it makes you understand how they developed the story and the deleted scenes give you an idea of what was eliminated during the editing. The inclusion of the re-edited version for the VHS edition might have improved the DVD. Overall, it’s a product for “Doctor Who” fans.
In Region 2 nations, this DVD is part of a box set, available on Amazon UK, together with “Revenge of the Cybermen”. It contains two adventures that aren’t exactly brilliant and not exactly the most beloved. It’s therefore a box case targeted to the “Doctor Who” fans who want to have the complete collection of DVDs.