The Friday Docback Faces The 'Silver Nemesis'!! DOCTOR WHO Story #154, The Coming Of Capaldi, HornOrSilk Reviews 'The Final Phase' Big Finish Audio, And More!!
...with a quick look at Silver Nemesis, a three part McCoy era DOCTOR WHO adventure originally transmitted November/December 1988.
This one’s a trip - and is a story which many WHOvians seem not to respect a great deal. My reaction to SN, however, is a tad more non-conformist.
How so? More on Silver Nemesis shortly. But first...
PETER CAPALDI IS THE DOCTOR
BBC announced as much in a tacky show last Sun day, and the point was re-affirmed by this video - released shortly thereafter.
If the plan holds, Matt Smith’s Doctor will be regenerating into Capaldi’s iteration of the iconic character during this year’s DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special - which will in all probability transmit on Christmas Day.
More on Capaldi’s unveiling can be found HERE.
Here’s a pice of Tom Baker-era art Capaldi created as a teenager...
...and a WHO-related missive sent to RadioTimes by a 15 year old Capaldi.
[via Radio Times - EMBIGGENABLE]
Several mash-ups intermixing Capaldi’s combustive character from BBC’s THE THICK OF IT and the WHOverse have gopne online - my favorite ones appear below
NICE DOCTOR WHO THEME MUSIC COVER BY TRAFFIC EXPERIMENT
Yes, The Middle Eight!
A NEW WHOTININNIES IS ON LINE
There’s a new episode of the WHOTININNIES podcast on which Ken Plume and I appear together - this one primarily dedicated to the casting of Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor (we touch on STAR WARS as well - although I can’t recall how we got there at the moment).
You can find said fresh installment HERE!
HORNORSILK REVIEWS THE FINAL PHASE BIG FINISH AUDIO
Fourth Doctor Adventures 2.07 The Final Phase
Written By: Nicholas Briggs
The final Tom Baker of the Big Finish Fourth Doctor “season” is out. While there is much in it which is good, it doesn’t hit all the notes I wished for it. Though the story is not without merit, there is something about it that makes it feel like a weak rehash of “Journey’s End.” Sure, there are differences between “Journey’s End” and “The Final Phase,” especially with the inclusion of David Warner’s Cuthbert (who sort of stands as a proxy to a Delgado Master), but the plan of the Daleks is similar to what we have already seen on the air, and without as many interesting Doctor Who character moments to fill it out.
Now, the story is enjoyable. There is something with Dalek stories that they can “repeat” themes without much problem. It is not that there are no other avenues to take the Daleks, there are (the Dalek Empire stories I think show this well), but, we should not be surprised that Daleks will try to find new ways to take over and destroy the universe, given their inner nature. There is a slight twist here because Cuthbert has his own desires, and does not seek destruction of the universe. He thinks he is in control and he has found a way to heighten his business plans by having a way to manipulate the universe at its core. He wants to engineer success. And in the end, he is more successful than the Daleks here, however, his success does not do for Cuthbert as he expected. What this is, I will not say, though I will say, I feel there is room left to explain it better, and this would require Big Finish to bring Cuthbert back. The Doctor’s explanation of what happened just doesn’t feel right. There seems to be something missing. But if Cuthbert never comes back, the explanation is there, and works to complete the season and end Cuthbert’s story.
It is with Cuthbert and his heightened interaction which I find most enjoyable here. Some of it is not unexpected. His contract with the Daleks could only end as it did. Cuthbert just didn’t understand who or what the Daleks were, and so he was easily led by the nose by them, as they pretended to work for him, leaving Cuthbert in a mess when he finds himself double-crossed. And it feels like the kind of double-cross one gets with Delgado’s Master, the kind which requires him to work with the Doctor (such as with his first story, Terror of the Autons). Warner might have been more interesting if they turned him into a previously unknown incarnation of the Master, allowing him to be the immediate predecessor of the Delgado Master, because it would help lead into the Pertwee era’s Master. It would also open up for a new version of the Master to be used in the audios. Who said he can’t do a River Song in the Doctor’s life? But we don’t have that here; we have a Master-light Cuthbert who is finally front and center in the story, and a joy to listen to, when he is involved. Too bad his plan and this story was not up to par, lifting itself to the heights Big Finish can do, not only because of David Warner’s inclusion, but also because this is the last adventure of Mary Tamm’s Romana for Doctor Who.
The rebellion in the Proxima system, established in the previous episode, also is brought back and its story is brought to a rather typical conclusion. The Doctor has found a way to bring the factions together, and the leaders reveal their respect for each other in a rather dramatic fashion. It would have been more daring and interesting if this did not happen. But this is Doctor Who, and the Doctor’s ability to bring about resolution to petty egotistical conflicts is typical, and is done here with a sense of tragedy, that it works well enough, if not imaginatively so.
Tom Baker is, more or less, in proper form. Mary Tamm’s Romana could have been given more to do, but there is some good here with her. Her relationship with the Doctor is finally brought front and center, and she is finally able to acknowledge her own respect for the Doctor and her caring for him. While there could have been more to bridge this story and “Destiny of the Daleks,” this at least establishes Romana’s relationship with the Doctor in a stronger fashion, allowing for Romana’s change of perspective and willingness to work with the Doctor and follow his ways from here on out. This certainly is one of the better aspects of the story, because it establishes a kind of character development for classic Who. Now, clearly, this was not needed. The change could have been easily explained as Romana’s new personality from her regeneration, but now we have something further behind it, and this I think is all for the better.
I give this a 7/10. The problem I have is that the “threat” is the kind we have seen before. Cuthbert’s exit at the end is, I feel, muddled. Though it is explained, I just wish something more was done with him. Again, there is room for it, and I would not mind his return if done with the right story. I would not mind that, because I do think the character of Cuthbert has a lot of potential, but a potential which was squandered this season. Alas.
In the pantheon of funky and odd DOCTOR WHO tales - an assemblage which is considerable if not total - this one ranks high amongst the absolute craziest stories you’ll ever come across. It features events occurring two time periods (spread hundreds of years apart), displaced/fish-out-of-water time travelers from 1638 England in 1988 UK, invading and trigger-happy Cybermen awaiting the arrival of a sprawling attack fleet...
...a sentient metallic statue weapon thing, some lunatic old guy trying to establish a Fourth Reich - with a merc army to support his ambitions, and no small adulation of contemporary jazz (it is both exalted and is used as a weapon here). This is Saturday afternoon serials and pulp storytelling at their best - and it’s directed with considerable energy and cinematic gusto by helmer Chris Clough (Dragonfire - McCoy, Story #147, The Happiness Patrol - McCoy, Story #149).
Silver Nemesis is far from perfect. More than a few performances are over the top (Dolores Gray as an American visitor to England, for example) - and at times Kevin Clarke’s undisciplined and scattershot script seems to get tripped up by its own funkiness (the ultimately disposition of Fiona Walker’s Lady Peineforte is a bit of a ‘what the fuck?’ moment). But what SN lacks in clarity it more than makes up for with its abandon and enthusiasm. There’s a great deal of heart and gusto afoot here; conveyed via a brisk three episodes, there’s not much time for the nitpicks to attain too strong a foothold.
McCoy is at his best - zipping between mysterious and aloof and nonplussed flawlessly, and even managing a surprising degree of menace when he cooly suggests that companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) destroy a parked Cybermen ship. Aldred is, perhaps more comfortable in her role here than I’ve yet seen her my exploration of DW. The father/grandfather/teacher--->daughter/granddaughter/student dynamic at play between them is charming and interesting and works especially well when SN pings contemporary issues (the aforementioned jazz, the workings of a boom box of the Doctor’s construction).
One of my most frequent criticisms of vintage WHO is their pacing and the sloppy distribution of material across what I often believe to be too many episodes. Silver Nemesis, much like Dragonfire of the same era, is a potent example of...excuse the pun...the power of three. Three (generally) doesn’t overstay a welcome yet is enough time to efficiently develop a tale, and would likely have accommodated the many overlong episodes which...despite their potential...have simply gone on too long.
The Power of Three allusion reminds me: this story, with its pep and action and wild abandon, is very reminiscent of Moffat-era WHO. Which to me, at least, makes for a very agreeable and fascinating case study. Silver Nemesis emerges - for all its ADD tendencies - as both an example of what a particularly troubled era of DOCTOR WHO could be when the show straightened up and flew right, and a compelling portent of a WHOverse that was yet to come.
Silver Nemesis. A flawed but spunky and roundly enjoyable entry. And, as stated above, one of the stranger WHOish ditties I’ve yet seen. Or may ever see. And that’s saying quite a bit...
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