Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Nightmare In Silver

Yes, we haven’t done one of these for a while. Obviously we should have. Spoilers obviously.

1. Is There An Echo In Here?

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Rich says: I’ve been noticing a theme of echoes in Doctor Who Series 7.2.

Clara, splintered, echoing through time, in many versions, all dying. Also an echo of the Doctor and his many regenerations. They are more similar than we give them credit for. And Clara is as much a mystery to the Doctor as he remains to us.

The snow in The Snowman captures memories of people, and created them anew. The Great Intelligence in the present also captures people in digital form. All echoes of the original person. Clara, captured in digital form here, just as she was as a Dalek in Asylum Of The Daleks, both echoing Steve Moffat’s short story in the Doctor Who Storybook, Corner Of The Eye. Live, die, repeat, live die, repeat… a governess in Victorian England, a child carer in the present and in the future… Junior Entertainment Manager. Was she managing the entertainment of juniors?

Carmen played when we first met Oswin. It’s an opera concerning a young woman who represents independence, who draws the hero to her like a moth to flame, and whose death is tragically forseen and predestined, no matter what she does to avoid it.

Grand-Marshal Skaldak’s singing daughter echoed in Clara,the giant god thing of Akhaten fed on old memories, the TARDIS thew up echoes of the console room around itself, and tonight…

We land in a reproduction of the Moon landing. The Doctor fought a version of himself, in a mental echo chamber, while pulling up a display of his past selves, and then later bringing up the vocal patterns of the previous two Doctors. And then He Said, She Said.

And that’s before we even get onto the abundance of chairs as weaponry we’ve also been getting. And got again tonight.

Lather, rinse, repeat, echo. Then have a nice sit down.

2. See You Next Wednesday

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Brendon says: John Landis films repeatedly feature the phrase See You Next Wednesday. It’s an homage to Kubrick’s 2001, being the last line heard in that film’s super long distance videophone call.

It appears as a film title in Kentucky Fried Movie, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London (see above), Trading Places, Into the Night… and most of the rest of Landis’ films, in fact. In his debut feature, Schlock, it’s the name of two separate movies.

Guillermo Del Toro gave Landis a nod by using the title on a cinema marquee in Hellboy 2.

3. The Mechanical Turk

mechanical turkBrendon says: I spotted where the introduction of Warwick Davies’ character, Porridge, was going to come from because I knew the show was going to feature a chess playing Cyberman. That idea immediately reminded me of The Turk, an infamous automaton from the late 18th Century.

The Turk sought to create the illusion of being a machine that could play chess, but it depended on somebody hidden away, operating things from behind the scenes. I suppose we could say that resonates with the overall arc for Porridge in the episode.

Rich says: It’s also rather reminiscent of The Silver Turk, a Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama by Marc Platt, described thus:

Roll up! Roll up! To the great Viennese Exposition, where showman Stahlbaum will show you his most wonderful creation, the Silver Turk – a mechanical marvel that will not only play for you the fortepiano, the spinet and the flute, it will play you at the gaming table too!

But when the Doctor brings his new travelling companion Mary Shelley to nineteenth-century Vienna, he soon identifies the incredible Turk as one of his deadliest enemies – a part-machine Cyberman.

Considering the similarities between the Cybermen’s first New Who appearance and Marc Platt’s Big Finish drama Spare Parts, the question is… why not hire Marc Platt?

Hide also mentioned The Witch From The Well in passing… another Big Finish production with more similarities.

A shrieking, killing nightmare erupts from an overgrown well, hidden in the grounds of an old house, Tranchard’s Folly – and Mary Shelley, the Doctor’s latest travelling companion, rescues teenage twins Finicia and Lucern from the clutches of the monster.

While the Doctor investigates the strange lights at Vetter’s Tor, and the twins go in search of an artefact from the Hecatrix Dimension, Mary confronts the secrets of her past… and her future. The truth will out: Master Kincaid, the terrible Witch-Pricker himself, commands it!

Or are these… echoes?

4. Evil Dead 2

Brendon says: In the second Evil Dead film, Bruce Campbell’s character, Ash, finds himself partially possessed by a Deadite. He fights back, and ultimately localises the badness in one hand which he cuts off. That hand lives on – or ‘undies’ on, perhaps – and they get into a fight.

We saw a lot of this in tonight’s Doctor Who. There was the partially possessed Doctor, and there was the Cyberhand scuttling about by itself.

I would have loved to hear Matt Smith deliver a “Groovy!” but, alas.

Here’s a bit of man vs. hand fight from Evil Dead 2, my all time favourite comedy movie.

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5. Knight Moves

Brendon says: The Eleventh Doctor last played chess in the episode The Wedding of River Song. That time, the pieces were electrified. Previous incarnations of the Timelord played the game too, with the Fourth having games with both K9 and Magnus Greel in The Talons of Weng Chang.

There was even a single-player game too, after a fashion, in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

But there was a little bit more to the game tonight, what with the tie-in to The Mechanical Turk, and the resonances with knights and castles, visually parallel to the Cyberman marching about Hedgewick’s world, the bigger battle happening in microcosm on The Doctor’s chessboard.

6. Gottle Of Geer

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Brendon says: Amongst the waxworks display were the ventriloquist dummies from The God Complex. Why? No idea, but probably more to do with having them to hand than anything else.

7. A Nightmare In Silver… No Yellow… No Brown… No White… No Gray…

Brendon says: Fredric Brown wrote very short stories which would often run to no more than three pages, sometimes not even one. In his collection of short shorts, Nightmares and Geezenstacks,  are six colour coded tales: Nightmare in Gray, Nightmare in Green, Nightmare in White, Nightmare in Blue, Nightmare in Yellow, Nightmare in Red.

I don’t recall anything in any of the stories that ties into tonight’s Who, but the title works and it’s a nice tribute.

8. Kids In The TARDIS

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Rich says: I like kids in the TARDIS. Rarely happens. Adric counts I guess, but that didn’t end well. I was most reminded of the very early Doctor Who annuals with the First Doctor. I like it. It should happen more. Apart from the whole child endangerment issues of course. But hey, they save the day by paying attention. And one of them is going to be Queen Of The Universe.

9. The Monster Inside

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Rich says: My kids can handle any monster Doctor Who throws at them. But what put them behind the sofa this week, and last was The Doctor as The Monster. Whether a victim of the Poe-like Crimson Horror (and hey, is that when the Red setting on the Sonic Screwdrivers were invented?) or a man divided against himself and covered in a techno-organic virus, that got Mummy and Daddy extra snuggles. The Superior Doctor…

As for the real name of the Doctor… Locutus Of Borg? Combined with the Hive Mind, there’s a lot of that going on, but since Star Trek nicked the Borg from Doctor Who, this is only fair’s fair.

10. Making It Up As They Go Along

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Rich says: I enjoyed the use of artifice in the episode thoroughly. Recreating the past. Yes, yes, echoing it. We begin with the theme park that echoes Earth history, but includes a castle that comes in rather handy in a battle against Cybermen. We have Cybermites, turning people into Cybermen and, in turn, reviving a Cyber army.  And we have Porridge, his role escaping from that of the Emperor, echoing classic versions of that story across time. This isn’t the first time Neil Gaiman has explored them. Remember August in Sandman, in which, disguised as a beggar, Caesar Augustus recounts his life to the dwarf who helps him in his disguise? And then the Doctor taking what’s around him to MacGyver up an escape plan.

Oh and, again, the Doctor turning people into weapons. Just like the Cybermen…

One Bonus Thought

Rich says: I popped down with the girls to Trafalgar Square to see a little Fiftieth Anniversary action being filmed. You know how Matt Smith mentioned “paintings” in relation to this episode? Well, Trafalgar Square is home to the National Portrait Gallery. And every painting, an echo…

One Bonus Thought

How come the implosion bomb exploded?