By Jeffrey Zyra
“It's all over, Ace. My battle, all my battles, I've lost. I can only surrender.”
Written by Kevin Clarke
The Doctor and Ace are sitting and relaxing while they listen to a Jazz jam session when The Doctor’s alarm goes off. It appears that he set it to remind him of a catastrophic event that would affect a planet but he doesn’t remember which one. It turns out to be the planet they are on - Earth and The Doctor set it back in the 17th Century where we find Lady Peinforte making up a concoction to get her and Richard to 1988 as that is where her astrologer has predicted that the comet Nemesis will crash back to Earth. Lady Peinforte has the arrow and along with the bow, which a bunch of Nazi’s have, combined with the statue will grant that person ultimate power over everything.
To make matters worse there is another factor thrown in to disrupt The Doctor’s attempts to secure all three items and send Nemesis back into space, The Cybermen. The Cybermen want the statue also to help their battle fleet, which is hidden from radar orbiting the Earth, to turn Earth into the new Mondas. With this new X – Factor The Doctors game of chess might have too many players and it might be too much for him to save the Earth from the power of the Nemesis statue and the power that goes with it. If the Doctor fails, the Cybermen will win and be the true masters of the universe.
Silver Nemesis is the story that celebrates Doctor Who’s 25th Anniversary and to herald the Silver Anniversary John Nathan–Turner thought it would be good to incorporate them into Kevin Clarke’s story. You get it, don’t you? Cybermen are silver and it’s the Silver Anniversary, yeah well, there you go then. Silver Nemesis is not a good Cybermen story and having them in the anniversary story with Nemesis didn’t really enhance the story at all as it would have been fine with just Lady Peinforte and the Nazi’s. In fact, Silver Nemesis showcases the Cyberman the weakest in the Classic Series as they just appear to be background characters that get killed off way too easily.
With that said I really did not like the way the Cybermen where portrayed in this story. They appeared weak and looked like nothing more than tin soldiers that were romping along the English countryside. Gold coins and gold tipped poison arrows were the Achilles heel for the Cybermen in this story and that is pretty pathetic if you ask me. Ever since they came up with the fact that gold can kill the Cybermen back in Revenge of the Cybermen it became pretty easy to kill the Cybermen and made it a good out for the writers. Thankfully they don’t use gold in the new series but Silver Nemesis took this way too far especially with the gold coins. You have Ace shooting gold coins at the Cybermen’s chest plates with a sling shot and they die convincingly. In Revenge, it was stated that it was gold dust that clogged their breathing apparatus so how does a solid gold coin fired at its chest plate kill a Cyberman? The same with the gold arrow dipped in poison. The Cybermen do not have any blood so how does the poison kill the Cybermen? This is just some of the questions that shouldn’t be asked in a Cybermen story especially since the Cybermen are supposed to be all powerful and hard to destroy like we have seen in earlier stories. I just did not like the way they were made to appear weak and that is just lazy writing using the gold crutch.
Silver Nemesis is almost a mirror image of Remembrance of the Daleks. Just like in the Daleks story where you had the hand of Omega and had two Dalek factions trying to get it you now have the Nemesis Statue and everyone is trying to get that. Even with the ending when the Hand of Omega destroys the Dalek fleet and Skaro while the Nemesis Statue destroys the Cybermen fleet. Why were the two stories similar and in the same season none the less? If you take the official answer it just happened that way and they didn’t catch it. The stories were just so similar that it just doesn’t help that era at all to have almost complete duplicates. Oh well at least the Dalek story is considered one of the best ever.
The 25th Anniversary was another example of trying to expand on The Doctor’s character and to make him more mysterious especially with the final confrontation with Lady Peinforte where she threatens to expose The Doctors secrets about Gallifrey and the dark times. I actually liked this idea and actually enjoyed the more mysterious and manipulative 7th Doctor. This is expanded on more in the next season but it really took off in the Virgin New Adventures book series. By adding more mystery you start wondering who The Doctor really is and if he is more than just a Time Lord. It is just too bad that they were not able to expand on it more before the shows cancellation.
Lady Peinforte and Richard had some scenes in The Silver Nemesis that just made you scratch your head wondering what the hell are they thinking. There are two that really stand out. One is the scene with the two punks that are trying to steal their money. Why? What does this add to the story? The same can be said of the scene of the ride they get from the lady from Virginia. This scene doesn’t make much sense and hopefully it was added for filler as it does not really fit with this story. For a story that is supposed to celebrate 25 years of Doctor Who the Silver Nemesis sure had some horrible moments and unfortunately, they involved Lady Peinforte and Richard. I’m still trying to get my mind around a time traveling potion being aided by the Arrow of Nemesis.
Of the four Anniversary stories for Doctor Who Silver Nemesis is the worst, no wait if you count Dimension’s in Time that’s the worst, and unfortunately it is the worst Classic Who story that features the Cybermen. There are some good things in Silver Nemesis like the performances of Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred which are really good and are definitely the bright spot of Silver Nemesis and of course the Cybermen are in it and if you are a fan of the Cybermen it is always good to see them take on The Doctor even if the story is a letdown.
Grade C -