27 Cool Things About "Silver
(And 23 Stupid Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Previously published in Celestial Toyroom issue 397
1. “He’s God. Obviously he’s God but he messes it up. That’s why he can travel through space and time. That’s why he comes among us trying to put it right.” Writer Kevin Clarke’s interpretation of the character of the Doctor, anticipating Russell T. Davies by some 17 years.
2. Hence, presumably, the Nemesis being named for, and linked to, the Greek goddess of retribution.
3. Clarke also envisioned the Doctor’s Nemesis as being the Devil. This would later be picked up in “The Curse of Fenric.”
4. In the cut scene when the Doctor and Ace return to 1638, they discover that the Mathematician’s body is missing and someone has moved the chesspieces. Question is, who moved the body, and who is the Doctor playing chess against?
5. Since it becomes clear (here and in subsequent scenes) that the Doctor is playing himself, then he himself is by implication the Devil (see above).
6. The picture of Adolf Hitler which appears in De Flores’ villa would later appear in “The Curse of Fenric.” And had, in fact, previously guest starred in an episode of “Colditz.”
7. Around this time, Andrew Cartmel, Marc Platt and Ben Aaronovitch, feeling that the character of the Doctor needed more “mystery,” decided to make him secretly “The Other,” a mysterious, godlike being who is one of the founders of Time Lord society. Which is rather like how, ten years earlier, the Star Trek movie franchise retconned the crew of Enterprise from ordinary people whose adventures we happened to be following, to the Best and Most Important People in the Whole of Space, Ever! And unfortunately works about as well.
8. And Kevin Clarke’s decision to instead interpret the Doctor as being the Christian God sounds much more entertaining, if only for the inevitable response by the Whitehouse family.
9. Originally the American was a male character named “Milton P. Remington,” continuing the tradition of depressingly crude American stereotypes begun with Morton Dill.
10. Andrew Cartmel, on the DVD documentary, says that De Flores is clearly a pseudonym for the Nazi in question. But why would a Nazi name himself after a Jacobean character? And why do other neo-Nazis use that name for him?
11. Twelve people of Afrocaribbean descent appear in the Courtney Pine scene. That’s the most that have ever appeared together in the programme up to this point (and they’re also in a contemporary setting, rather than in some mythical multicultural future). Of course, none of them have speaking parts.
12. The Doctor likes sax, and especially straight blowing. There, that’s got that out of the way then.
13. The writers of this series of articles live about six miles away from Windsor Castle, and we can confirm for those who haven’t seen it that there isn’t actually a gasworks next door.
14. Indiana Jones Recyclingwatch: Nazis looking for a magical artifact which will give them ultimate power, annoying juvenile sidekick.
15. Let’s just savour the irony of the fact that the neo-Nazis are all armed with Uzis.
16. The Doctor has a fob watch which has an alarm to alert him to when he has to do something. Which, for someone who travels continually back and forth in time, is utterly pointless.
17. The Doctor says he’s known the world would end since 1638.
18. When a story is overrunning, which sequence do you cut: the one which tells us what’s actually going on, or the comedy bit with the Queen lookalike and the corgis?
19. One might equally point out that without the comedy bit with the Queen lookalike and the corgis, the story might have been set anywhere in Western Europe, so why not just split the difference and set it at Arundel?
20. And to cut out the brief moment of stardom by a duck is just criminal.
21. Most of the serial’s problems, in fact, appear to stem from a conflict of interest between a group of overserious 20ish youths who want to turn the programme into something Literary and Postmodern Just Like Frank Miller Did With The Dark Knight Returns, and a not-serious-enough 40ish theatrical producer, who wants to turn the programme into a Visit England brochure (complete with tourist attractions, Shakespeare, royalty, celebrity cameos and World War II).
22. The Doctor wears a fez, beating Matt Smith to the punch by twenty-one years.
23 It has been argued that the Mathematician’s calculations as to when the Nemesis statue would reappear do not take into account the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars in 1752. However, in a cut scene the Doctor admits the Mathematician needed “a little help to get started” and burns a note which he gave the Mathematician. Presumably, this tells him to take the change in calendars into account.
24. The Doctor instructs Ace to take the scrolls containing the Mathematician’s calculations as he doesn’t want them to “fall into the wrong hands... just yet!” According to the DVD information text, the scrolls and parchments we see at De Flores’ home are meant to be the same ones. So the Doctor himself is responsible for bringing both Peinforte and De Flores to Windsor for the landing of the Nemesis statue on 23rd November 1988.
25. Following on from this, since Cybermen are hardly likely to be up on Early Modern European history, the fact that they know who Lady Peinforte is suggests the Doctor’s been having a quiet word with them too.
26. Lady Peinforte and Richard are in no wise Jacobean characters, as they come from 1638, and are therefore Carolinian characters. Which makes sense, as the Carolinian period was notoriously bad for drama.
27. Lady Peinforte’s continual Shakespearean allusions thus suggest that she’s got a bit of a thing for retro drama.
28. A meteorite crashes with a huge explosion, three policemen are killed, two skinheads are mugged, criminal damage is done to a tearoom, and a pitched battle is fought between neo-Nazis and Cybermen right next door to one of Britain’s premier tourist attractions and the part-time residence of the Head of State. Why hasn’t the army been called in?
29. “This is no madness, ‘tis England!” Credit where it’s due, that’s a great line.
30. As is “am I to remain a prisoner in my own house while world dominion waits beyond the door? I would have married if I’d wanted that.” Unfortunately it was cut.
31. Ace’s earrings consist of a German stick grenade on one side, and a British Mills bomb on the other.
32. The Cybermen’s operatives are run by cassette tape, like an old Commodore 64. There’s something pleasing about that.
33. Ace’s portrait was painted two hundred years ago, but, as the Doctor says, it hasn’t happened yet. What he means is, it hasn’t happened for Ace, it has clearly happened for other people.
34. When pushed over by Karl in a cut scene, a Cyberman goes “ooh.”
35. The Doctor refers to his last encounter with Lady Peinforte as involving a battle with Roundheads and Cavaliers. However, this has to have taken place prior to 1638, when the Nemesis statue was launched, and the English Civil War didn’t begin until 1642, so that’s a little anachronistic.
36. “A Cyberman killed with an arrow? That’s ludicrous!” You said it, Doctor.
37. Everybody knows that Lady Peinforte gets her name from the phrase “peine forte et dure.” However, fewer people know that a Panforte is a kind of Italian Christmas cake, and we like that etymology better.
38. Entertain the easily amused! Dub your own music onto the scene where the Cybermen pick up the Doctor’s jazz collection on their Cyberscope. Possibilities include “Ying Tong Iddle I Po,” “I Wanna Be Like You” “Jamie’s Awae in his Time Machine,” and “Shaddapa You Face.”
39. The Cybermen are yet again on the Brink of Extinction as a species. As in every single other original-series Cyberstory bar three (“The Wheel in Space,” “The Invasion,” and “The Five Doctors,” if you’re interested). Shouldn’t they have died out by now?
40. It takes the Cybermen over fifteen shots to kill two unresisting blokes. Talk about a waste of ammunition.
41. For that matter, one of them fires a dozen shots at Ace at close range, while she in return kills him with a single shot to the chest-unit with a gold coin. It’s hardly a fair fight.
42. As the Doctor and Ace wander through the forest in Episode 3, the sound of someone chainsawing a tree is distantly audible.
43. And, in the Dolby Digital enhanced soundtrack on the DVD, as the Doctor sets up the cassette recorder in the warehouse, the sound of birds chirping is audible. Windsor is known for its unusually high-volume chaffinches.
44. Reportedly, when John Nathan-Turner, a fan of musical theatre, suggested Dolores Gray for the part of the American, Andrew Cartmel, not such a fan, thought “I wonder who Dolores Gray is?” Alas for Ms Gray and Mr Nathan-Turner, that was indeed the reaction of the entire non-Broadway-viewing public.
45. There are parallels set up between different pairings within the main characters: De Flores and Karl, the Cyberleader and the Lieutentant, Lady Peinforte and Richard, and the Doctor and Ace. All of whom have designs on the Nemesis statue, and all of whom plan to wipe out all the other pairs once they get it.
46. Which, if you think about it, doesn’t really paint the Doctor in a terribly good light, as it associates him with a lunatic, a monster and an embittered old Nazi.
47. If you want to form a contrived, overstretched link between something negative that happened in 1913 and the influence of the Nemesis statue, here are a selection of better alternatives than referring to a world war which wouldn’t start for over a year and a half: The 16th Amendment to the US constitution (authorising the federal government to impose and collect taxes) was ratified, the House of Lords rejected the Irish Home Rule Bill, British suffragette Emily Pankhurst was sentenced to 3 years in prison, Henry Ford instituted the moving assembly line and the Netherlands football team beat England.
48. For that matter, in 1938, you have the bombing of Alicante, the formation of the House Un-American Affairs Committee, anti-Jewish riots in Dabrowska, Poland, the invention of instant coffee, and Japan declaring war on China. Anschluss? Pfui.
49. While we’re at it, 1963: 200,000 French mine workers strike, Dr. Richard Beeching issues a report calling for huge cuts to the United Kingdom's rail network, New York experiences the 7th worst snowfall in its history, Mao Tse-tung writes his poem "Reply to Comrade Kuo Mo-jo" (don’t ask), and Paul McCartney is fined £17 for speeding.
50. And finally, 1988: “Silver Nemesis” is written, filmed and released. Make of that what you will.