Okay, for real this time... One episode stories are really hurting this show! Nightmare in Silver is a perfect example of why.
Before I get into pulling apart this episode, allow me to commend the new design of the Cybermen. It is vastly superior to their previous look in the renewed show. I'm still not a massive fan of the wrist-mounted guns... But I'll overlook it since the redesign is closer to the classic Cybermen.
That being said, the rest of this episode is a mess and the blame for that falls on writer Neil Gaiman's (sorry Neil) inability to trim his material down to 45 minutes. Not that I can blame him for wanting to keep as much of his stuff in as he can, there are some fun and interesting ideas in Nightmare in Silver, but there are just too many of them and so many loose ends it just falls apart. Such a shame.
I'm fine with skipping the inevitable argument over bringing the kids along. But I would've liked a quick scene where the Doctor lays out the rules for traveling with him to the young 'uns.
The whole episode would have run smoother had the punishment platoon not been there at all. It was a nice idea, but they never had time to be more than cannon fodder. The same effect could have been achieved by two or three security guards for the park.
The Cybermen liberally stealing from the Borg is 100% cool. I mean, the ensuing cyber-lawsuit would be thrown out of Cyber-court. It is about time the Cybermen took a little back from these johnny come lately Borg.
They were hit and miss though. The slo-mo effect was cool and making Cybermen super-fast was novel, I wouldn't have thought of it but I like it. I don't mind the hive mind and I do like that they just salvage biological parts like mechanical parts to build a new army. One the other hand... The free roaming hand and twist around head were goofy. Atmosphere ruining daft. Also, did we really have to go for the universe threatening monsters needing kids "limitless potential" again?
The Cyberplanner isn't new, but this rejigged concept... Let's face it, this was good Ash/evil Ash territoy. I understand that Matt Smith vs. a dreary monotone Matt Smith wouldn't have made spectacular TV, but the moments were it came across as cunning, malevolent and sinister were too few.
Emperor Porridge wasn't bad. It even felt like the only developed subplot of the episode. Warwick Davis was wonderful, he really put forth a great performance, as did the woefully underused Jason Watkins as Webley. In my revision of this episode, he would have been the half-human/half-cyberman planner for the Doctor to banter with and try to outwit.
This was just rushed. It needed to be at least twice as long. The suspense could have been slowly cranked up, the supporting cast explored in more depth, the park more than just a few junk-strewn car parks and a fake castle... And so on.
There were some lovely touches. Cyber-mites? Neat. The Doctor using chess to battle his foe? Hell yes... Pity the end of that game was so cheap.
The moment that raised the biggest smile for me was the activation of the Cybermen, when they give a big loving nod to the classic show using mirrors to pretend there are more of them advancing towards the screen by animating them so precisely the same trick could have been used.
So yeah, Nightmare is Silver is a disappointment as an episode, but as a Cybermen fan I am forgiving a lot because of how much like the new style.