A threat is headed toward Earth in the form of a comet called Nemesis. When Nemesis crashes near Windsor Castle, the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) find themselves in a race against time to reach it before other factions including a woman named Lady Peinforte (Fiona Walker) from 1638 and Nazis hiding in Brazil can claim it first. Nemesis is actually a statue, and with a bow and arrow, Nemesis could prove to be Earth’s destruction due to the Validium from which it is constructed. The stakes are high, but the arrival of the Cybermen could even make it more dangerous for the Doctor and Ace.
Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis aired during the twenty-fifth season of the long running BBC series. The serial aired in three parts from November 23, 1988 to December 7, 1988. Following Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol, Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis was collected as part of The Sylvester McCoy Years as Story #154 (or Story #153 depending on how you count the unaired Tom Baker serial Shada).
By this point in Doctor Who’s run, Doctor Who is in serious trouble. The story allegedly was an attempt to return to darker storytelling, but it doesn’t really accomplish this either. Instead, it ends up being kind of a mess.
Fortunately for Silver Nemesis, the serial is rather short. It often seems like short Doctor Who serials could be better fleshed out and long Doctor Who serials could be cut down. Here, with so many moving pieces, and a relatively underused Cybermen appearance (all the silver references are in relation to the fact that it was Doctor Who’s silver anniversary), the story could probably have been expanded to develop more.
The Cybermen should have been utilized better. This ended up being the last appearance of the Cybermen in the original run of Doctor Who and the characters did not show up again until the series’ relaunch in 2005 in which you see a head in Season 1’s “Dalek” and the characters return in full force in Season 2’s “Rise of the Cybermen”. The new Doctor Who realized the creepiness of the characters, but here they are rather dull.
The episode also features a lot of play on the whole “Doctor Who?” question. The original plan was the Doctor to be actually considered “God” by the writer Kevin Clarke. This was scrapped (thankfully) and then you just have some weird references to the Doctor’s real identity…but by this point in the series, it really doesn’t matter.
Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis is a rather forgettable entry in a rather forgettable period of Doctor Who. The serial tries to spice up the story by bringing in the Cybermen, but it is too little, too late and they really don’t end up doing that much but make more of a cluster in an already crowded cast. Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis was followed by Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.