Monday 23 October 2017

Doctor Who - Silver Nemesis (1988)

Finding myself discussing 1980s Doctor Who recently I decided I just had to watch some last night. So I dragged out Silver Nemesis, from 1988.

I know it’s an episode that has a fairly dire reputation, but I’ve found that some of the most reviled Seventh Doctor stories are the ones I enjoy most (like Paradise Towers and The Happiness Patrol). And while most of the criticisms of Silver Nemesis are valid (the plot is overly complicated, the various plot strands don’t quite come together, and the cybermen are absurdly vulnerable) it was still rollicking good fun.

When you have a female 17th century black magician, an ageing Nazi trying to usher in the Fourth Reich with the aid of alien technology, a setting that jumps back and forth between 17th century England and 1980s England, some bizarre and horrendously destructive piece of Gallifreyan technology that the Doctor may well have been responsible  for unleashing, some intriguing hints about the Doctor’s dark and mysterious past and secrets about himself he would prefer not to have revealed, plus you have Ace getting to blow stuff up, how can you not have fun?

It also has a fine supporting cast, with the standout performance being by veteran actor Anton Diffring as a crazed Nazi with a Wagner fixation. Fiona Walker is also excellent as the equally crazed Lady Peinforte, the 17th century dabbler in black magic and time travel with her own plans for world domination.

I was always quite fond of Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor, although nowadays I find Ace to be just a little bit tiresome.

Maybe there are just too many interesting ideas thrown together, but perhaps the biggest problem is that it’s only a three-parter. Usually the major problem with classic Doctor Who is an excess of padding, but this is a rare case of a story that might have benefitted from an extra episode. I still thought it was great fun.


  1. Anton Diffring is ALWAYS a terrific actor when playing Nazis.

    1. I can't help think that when offered the role he must have thought "I'm STILL getting typecast paying Nazis?! *Sigh* Oh well, it's a wage..."

  2. For the entirety of this story to be done properly, it could have been 10 parts-- 4 with Lady Peinforte, and the other 6 being the modern-day "sequel".

    It really works best as the non-stop-action climax of the whole of season 25 (it was intended to be broadcast LAST), especially as so much of it is a mirror image of the season opener, "Remembrance of the Daleks", only with Cybermen instead.