November 28, 2021

Gabbing Geek

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Doctor Who “Nightmare In Silver”

The Cybermen try to assimilate the Doctor. Big mistake.

Oh boy!  Neil Gaiman came back with another script!  And he brought Warwick Davis with him!

Apparently, because those two kids Clara babysits realized she can time travel, she now has to take them somewhere.  Because, really, that’s what the Doctor did.  He took two kids in the TARDIS to a future amusement park where some hobo Willy Wonka type is hiding from some soldiers.  Oh, the hobo has a Cyberman who plays chess, but there’s nothing inside because a little person sitting underneath is doing all the playing, something I think actually happened in the 19th century when people were more likely to believe in chess-playing automatons.

That little person is named Porridge.  He was played by Warwick Davis, and he’s pretty friendly, particularly as the older child Angie is noticing things as her kid brother Artie doesn’t.

OK, small problem:  the Cybermen are not as inactive as they appear to be.  See, in this era, the human race won a war against the Cybermen at great cost and believe the things are extinct.  The Cybermen kept upgrading themselves and whole galaxies were destroyed in the process.  All that seems to be left over are a handful of empty armor casings.

Oh, and Cybermites, the next evolution of the Cybermat.  They assimilate Hobo Willy Wonka and then steal the kids.  The Doctor goes after them, confident in the fact that as he isn’t human, he can’t be assimilated.

Then he gets partially assimilated, with his Cyberman half calling itself Mr. Clever and essentially, Matt Smith is now playing two characters:  the Doctor, and the sinister Mr. Clever, connected the Cybermen hive mind and controlling just under half of the brain.  The Doctor also has just under half, and if Clever gets the part neither control, it’s game over, man, game over.  The Cybermen learn about time travel and everything.

That said, the Doctor does still have some trump cards.  He can threaten to regenerate, knowing the energy output would eliminate Mr. Clever in the most final way possible and then the Doctor could still save the kids. if he just wins at chess.

Meanwhile, Clara, Porridge, and the soldiers are worrying about more Cybermen.  The soldiers are actually on punishment detail, screw-ups and the like, with only a handful of weapons that can actually do anything, the big weapon being a bomb in the planet that only the commanding officer can trigger with a voice command…and then a Cyberman sniper kills her.  Porridge, who seems to have been surviving on his own, is largely disregarded by everyone except Clara…and that includes the Cybermen.

So, does the Doctor win at chess?  Nope!  He cheats and zaps Clever out first, but Clever was cheating already, even trying to get Clara on his side by posing as the Doctor and trying to romance her (she knows better about that sort of thing from this man).  And by then, Angie and Artie are free and Angie makes a simple observation:  Porridge’s face is on the money, so he’s secretly been the emperor of the human race the whole time, hiding out somewhere to avoid the lonely responsibilities of being emperor.  He can set off the bomb, and he has a space ship in orbit that can teleport everyone that was still alive and unassimilated (plus the TARDIS) to safety before the whole place blows.

So, that’s nice.  Well, except for the lonely emperor and the sheer fright of the Cybermen adapting as they went.  Man, the Borg had nothing on these guys.  But there was this fairy tale air too, that fits a Gaiman script.  It’s a nice story that doesn’t really advance the Clara plot, but tells a nice tale…you know, until the series finale comes along to set up the 50th anniversary specials that concluded this Doctor’s time in the TARDIS.

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