The Doctor is custodian of an ancient Gallifreyan artifact of almost unimaginable power. One of the Doctor’s oldest enemies wants it (as do others) and after various adventures they acquire it. But far too late they discover that they’ve fallen into the Doctor’s trap.
Sounds familiar? It should do, since it’s the plot of Remembrance of the Daleks. And then a month later exactly the same story was used in Silver Nemesis. It’s hard to believe that Andrew Cartmel would have commissioned two writers to pen the same story, so presumably it was a coincidence. But when the similarities became apparent, Silver Nemesis really should have been rewritten.
To be honest, Silver Nemesis really isn’t very good. It’s similarity to Remembrance is only one of its problems. I’ve always found the notion that the Doctor set his pocket watch to remind him that the Nemesis statue would crash to Earth in 1988 to be bizarre. He has a time machine, so why didn’t he nip forward 350 years as soon as he’d launched the statue, in order to deal with the consequences?
And the scenes with the skinheads are particularly painful. Why keep them in, since they don’t advance the plot at all, when other cuts were made which did impact the narrative? The story would have probably been better as a four-parter, or a re-drafted three-parter, but what was transmitted was a bit of a mess. The VHS edit (incorporating some of the cut footage) was an improvement – but the DVD only had the broadcast version. If ever a story needed a re-edit, then it was this one – but sadly the DVD didn’t get it.
The Cybermen aren’t much cop (there’s a train of thought that posits it was all downhill for them after The Tenth Planet). Even the briefest touch from a golden arrow is enough to kill them (whereas in Earthshock the Doctor had to grate Adric’s batch into their chest unit) and even worse, they run away when they spot gold on the ground. As Ace would say, wimps!
Anton Diffring adds a touch of class as De Flores. It’s not much of a part (he’s the leader of an inept bunch of neo-Nazis) but he does what he can. Fiona Walker makes a fairly forgettable villain, although Gerard Murphy as Richard gives a nice, comic performance.
Silver Nemesis is also notable for dropping hints about the “truth” concerning the Doctor. All this “more than a Time Lord” business was covered in depth later in the New Adventures, which was probably the best place for it.
This story is a perfectly inoffensive 75 minutes, but as its sandwiched between two stories that have considerably more scope and depth, it can’t help but look a little threadbare.