Back in the 1960s the Cybermen were quite scary (I’ve seen the DVDs – I’m not that old!). They met Patrick Troughton’s Doctor Who many times, towered over their victims and spoke in an unsettling electronic monotone.
When the BBC brought the Cybermen back in the 1980s they were less formidable, less scary and almost became figures of fun. They were susceptible to gold and at a real low point in their history, the Doctor’s companion, Ace, dispatched them with a pocket full of gold coins and a catapult.
Even the Cybermen in the rebooted post 2005 Doctor Who have suffered from poor stories and have been too easy to defeat.
Show runner Stephen Moffat promised us that Neil Gaiman’s script Nightmare in Silver would make the Cybermen scary again.
So did it succeed in its mission?
The new Cyberman design actually looks very like the 1960s creepier versions so I approve of that. And that they can detach their hands and their heads to attack their enemies is innovative but hardly the stuff that nightmares are made of. I liked their new ability to speed up and their time flow to dash in and kidnap the children, but then found it confusing later when they did not use this technique to attack the castle. Cybermites – tiny little robotic bugs, are an excellent evolution of the Cybermats. The Cybermen’s other new ability to “upgrade” to counteract new threats reminded me of The Borg in Star Trek The Next Generation.
So I think Neil Gaiman has made the Cybermen interesting again but I wouldn’t go as far as scary.
The cast is very strong with Matt Smith showing absolute relish playing an evil “cyber-planner” version of himself. His interactions with himself were very well-played. Jenna-Louise Coleman continues to shine as Clara proving that she is one of the strongest companions the Doctor has had since the show returned in 2005.
I didn’t particularly like the soldiers who just came across as buffoons and ultimately served no purpose other than as Cyberman cannon fodder.
Warwick Davis, I felt, excelled as Porridge, the little chap who the Galactic Emperor. But as has happened to much this season the ending was too easy. Porridge arranges for everyone to be teleported off the planet so that they can use a huge bomb to destroy the Cybermen. Another Deus Ex Machina which left me feeling a little disappointed at the end of what was undoubtedly a very entertaining episode.
Your turn: Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Nightmare in Silver? Did Neil Gaiman succeed in making the Cybermen scary again? Please leave a comment or post a link to your own review.