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Home > Doctor Who > 31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #21: Sil

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #21: Sil

October 21st, 2012

My favorite episode of Colin Baker’s mercifully brief tenure as the 6th Doctor–an admittedly low bar–was Vengeance on Varos. It was a clever, self-aware story about televised violence which cast the Doctor and Peri as unwilling stars in a perilous journey through the “Punishment Dome.”

What I liked most about the production was its conceit of having the entire tale play out on the television screen of a bored married couple who never interacted with the other characters, commenting on the action like a Greek chorus. When the Doctor inevitably put an end to the system of video torture, they were merely left to wonder what they were going to watch.

Another notable element was the introduction of a new recurring villain, a cunning capitalist who was literally a slimy slug, a little creep named…

Sil!

Vengeance on Varos (1985)

Sil was a striking creation that took advantage of the short stature of actor Nabil Shaban, who was born with brittle bone disease. He made a surprisingly credible alien, sitting atop a bubbling water tank, sucking down “marsh minnows” and gleefully gurgling over his sadistic pleasures.

He was one of the Mentors, a race of rapacious investors who later got in dutch with the Time Lords over their attempt to grant themselves immortality via brain swapping.

I’ve long thought that Sil would’ve fit in nicely on the modern Doctor Who series, perhaps in an alliance with the equally mercenary (and silly) Slitheen.

Tomorrow: never underestimate the power of organic crystallography!

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