NIGHTMARE OF EDEN

Part One

Nightmare of EdenSue: Bob Baker. I know that name.
Me: He’s one of the Bristol Boys.
Sue: Oh. Did they have a big falling out?

We open on the Empress, a large space liner which is ploughing its way through the cosmos. And then the ship suddenly shimmers and disappears.

Sue: Either the ship has gone into warp drive or they really screwed up the chroma.

We cut to the bridge of the Empress where Captain Rigg is in command.

Sue: He’s famous.

It would be a boon if she could place him, but David Daker will have to be happy with having “a really famous face that’s been in just about everything” instead.

Nightmare of EdenRigg: We’re coming out of warp in thirty seconds.
Sue: I was right, they were using a warp drive. How geeky am I?

In the passenger section of the liner, everyone is dressed in sunglasses and hooded silver jumpsuits.

Sue: That’s a lot of anoraks. Doctor Who fans must have loved that scene.
Me: They look like they are going to a Rocky Horror convention. It’s the old women in the sunglasses that do it.
Sue: Why are they dressed like that, anyway? Do they turn the heating off in the spaceship to keep the costs down? Is it Ryanspace?

Meanwhile, on the bridge, Rigg’s first mate, Secker, is behaving very oddly indeed.

Sue: What the **** is wrong with him?

Secker’s complacency results in a mid-air collision with another spaceship.

Sue: That won’t look good on his appraisal.

The TARDIS responds to Rigg’s Mayday, and the Doctor, Romana and K9 arrive on the Empress.

Sue: Are they shagging at this point?
Me: I wish I’d never mentioned that now.
Sue: At least K9 is allowed out with them this time. I do worry about that dog, you know. I don’t like Romana’s dress, though. It isn’t very flattering. It makes her look frumpy. I bet the dad’s were pissed off.

Nightmare of EdenThe Doctor investigates the accident which has fused the two ships together.

Sue: It’s a bit low-key for a Doctor Who story, isn’t it? From the destruction of a planet to a traffic accident. But I think I like it. It’s a nice change of pace.

As the Doctor and Romana explore the Empress, Sue praises the set design.

Sue: I really like the corridors. I’m a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to corridors in Doctor Who, now. I like the way they’ve used the colour yellow. Yes, very nice.

The Doctor follows Secker into a darkened area of the ship and he watches as the crewman collects a hidden container before leaving.

Sue: Wouldn’t it be funny if he was on drugs?

The Doctor learns that the substance is Vraxoin, the most lethal drug in the known universe.

Sue: Oh, he is on drugs. Well, I wasn’t expecting that. I was only joking.

On another part of the ship, Romana meets the eminent zoologist, Tryst.

Nightmare of EdenSue: He sounds like Peter Sellers. (pause) It’s not Peter Sellers, is it?
Me: I wish.
Sue: Well, we had John Cleese the other day. Anything’s possible.

Tryst shows off his Continuous Event Transmuter (CET) machine to Romana.

Sue: I like this Romana. She’s playing it just right, now. She’s cute and intelligent.

Meanwhile, Secker, now completely off his tits, commits suicide by walking into the void between the two ships.

Sue: When your drug taking starts to interfere with your job, it’s probably time to stop.

Romana is left to examine the CET machine more closely. As she turns a dial, scenes from various planets appear on a large screen on the far wall.

Sue: Haven’t we seen something like this before? Monsters stuck in a TV?
Me: There are some similarities to Carnival of Monsters, I suppose.
Sue: So Doctor Who is ripping itself off, now? Has it run out of other people’s stuff to rip off?

Nightmare of EdenRomana turns a dial on the machine and we see a slice of Eden.

Sue: That doesn’t look like Eden to me. Eden should be beautiful and inviting. That looks like a Vietnam flashback. Ooh, spooky face in the jungle. Did you see it?

Yes, Sue spotted the face of a man lurking behind some potted plants. If only his name was Charlie.

The Doctor sends K9 into a matter interface to investigate the sound of someone screaming.

Sue: I can’t believe the Doctor sent K9 in there like that. It’s dangerous!

K9 reverses straight back out again.

Sue: He’s not stupid, that dog.

The Doctor returns to the hidden stash of Vraxoin but somebody has got there before him.

Sue: Has he been caught by a drug runner?

The Doctor is shot down.

Sue: (As Scarface) Say hello to my little friend!

Rigg wants to know if Tryst brought any live specimens onto his ship with him.

Nightmare of EdenSue: Tryst looks like he’s just walked out of a tanning booth. I really like him, though. He’s very entertaining.

I definitely didn’t expect that. She doesn’t even have a problem with Tryst’s accent.

Sue: It’s fine. It’s the future and accents change. He’s from the same place as the people with all the other funny accents that we’ve heard on this programme. I’d be bored if he was playing it straight.

The episode concludes with a monster bursting through a hole in the wall.

Sue: Oh dear. This isn’t the cliffhanger, is it? That’s terrible.

I definitely expected that.

Sue: It was doing okay up until that point. Oh dear.

 

Part Two

The Mandrel doesn’t frighten Sue at all.

Nightmare of EdenSue: It looks like a muppet. One of the really big ones.
Me: This monster brings back so many memories.
Sue: Really? I thought you were in New Zealand. Didn’t you miss this story?
Me: Yes, but Birmingham’s Nostalgia and Comics had a full-size Mandrel in the window of their shop during the 1980s. I spent a great deal of time staring at it.
Sue: Why? It looks ridiculous.

The Doctor orders Tryst to turn his unstable CET machine off before storming out.

Sue: Don’t leave the room until he switches it off! You can trust Tryst as far as you can –

Tryst switches the machine off.

Sue: Oh. I definitely didn’t expect that.

Nightmare of EdenThe Doctor finds himself chasing a Gary Glitter impersonator through the Empress’ passenger sections, which, thanks to some very clever editing, seem to go on forever.

Sue: So that’s why they are dressed like that: it cuts down on the number of extras they need. Very, very clever. You know, it’s not bad this.

The Doctor hands a jelly baby to one of the passengers.

The Doctor: Here, have a jelly baby and don’t forget to brush your teeth.
Sue: This is a public health and safety film about the dangers of drugs, tooth decay and driving spaceships under the influence.

Rigg has his drink spiked with Vrax and he ends up off his box.

Sue: I want what he’s having. At least then I wouldn’t care about the crappy model shots in this story.

A Mandrel appears in a corridor.

Nightmare of EdenSue: It’s the Honey Monster in a really bad mood. Or a really hairy ninja turtle.

Tryst accuses his assistant, Della, of conspiring with a dead expedition member to smuggle drugs onto the ship. She vehemently denies this and when Tryst shares his suspicions with the Doctor and Romana, they are appalled that he could even suggest such a thing.

Sue: Sing ’em a song, Della!
Me: That’s obscure, even for you.

And then the police turn up.

Sue: How camp? I wish Gary was here, he’d love this. Oh, it’s Don from Coronation Street again. He’s been in Doctor Who before; he can’t keep away. Oh look, the end of his truncheon lights up. Seriously, how camp?
Me: He makes the cop from The Village People look like Columbo.

Nightmare of EdenThe Doctor escapes from the cops thanks to the oldest trick in the book. It’s so corny, Sue provides her very own comedy parp-parp soundtrack. In the same key as Dudley, of course.

Sue: The blonde guy in the spacesuit looks like he should be in Starlight Express. Does he ever become important or does he just stand around bitching?

The episode concludes with the Doctor and Romana jumping into the CET projection of Eden.

Sue: Quick! Into the Stargate!

Sue has never seen an episode of Stargate, so that was a big leap for her as well.

As the credits roll at the halfway point, Sue sums up:

Sue: I like the plot. I like the plot a lot.

I think she just wants to prove that she can pay attention and follow the story after the last entry.

Sue: It wasn’t bad at all. The monsters are a bit silly but they don’t turn up very much. It’s definitely well above average so far.

 

Part Three

Nightmare of EdenOn Eden, the Doctor is attacked by a man-eating plant.

Sue: And today’s monster based on a sexual organ is…

As the Doctor battles to free himself, Sue leans forward in her chair.

Sue: He’s like Bear Grylls in this one. Very butch. I like it.

The Doctor bites into a root and green sap is squirted into his face.

The Doctor: You know, that didn’t taste at all bad.
Sue: Too much information!

The Doctor and Romana hide in the undergrowth as a Mandrel passes by.

Sue: They are quite scary when you can’t see their cute heads.

K9 returns to his Master with the news that alien creatures are wandering around the ship.

Me: Are you used to K9’s new voice, now?
Sue: I think I still prefer the original. This one sounds like R2-D2 (she means C-3P0, bless her). The original sounded, I don’t know… more human?

Nightmare of EdenRigg, high as a kite on Vrax, entertains himself by watching his passengers being torn to pieces by rampaging Mandrels on television.

Sue: If they made this story again it could be really, really scary. The monsters are more cute than scary. I want to give one a hug, just like the Doctor is doing now.
Me: It’s trying to kill him.
Sue: Don’t be daft. It just wants a cuddle.

K9 shoots the Mandrel down.

Sue: I think I can see the zipper at the back. This costume is very tatty considering it must be brand new. I’m sure I caught a flash of an actor’s white Y-fronts just then.

However, aside from the substandard Mandrel costumes, this episode is definitely tickling Sue’s fancy.

Sue: This isn’t bad at all, Neil. Neil? … NEIL?
Me: Sorry, I drifted off for a second there. What’s wrong?
Sue: Nothing’s wrong. I was just saying that this episode is pretty good. For a Part Three, there’s a lot going on.

This isn’t to say she has become immune to the story’s clash of styles.

Sue: On the one hand, they’ve definitely toned down the horror. It’s definitely more for the kids. But on the other hand, it’s about drug addiction and suicide. The mix of slapstick comedy and dark humour is very strange.
Me: I know. Terrible, isn’t it?
Sue: I like it.

Nightmare of EdenAs the Mandrels continue to wreak havoc, Sue has a question:

Sue: What do the Mandrels want, exactly? I don’t see the point of them.

When Romana skips between Eden and the Empress, Sue wishes she possessed such a machine.

Me: Which locations would you store in it?
Sue: Hmm…. the Dordogne, probably. Tuscany. That sort of thing. What about you? Wait, don’t tell me… The Red Rhino?
Me: The red what?
Sue: You know, the strip club.

A Mandrel is accidentally electrocuted and in its death throes it turns into to a white powder. It’s the drug Vraxoin.

Sue: Ooh, that was very clever. I didn’t see that coming.

Nightmare of EdenMeanwhile, Rigg is coming down from his Vrax fix.

Sue: He’s having a really bad whitey.
Me: He’ll have a serious case of the munchies soon. Then death.

Rigg threatens to cave Romana’s face in if she doesn’t give him another fix.

Sue: It’s suddenly turned into Play For Today. With cute monsters.

The episode concludes with the Doctor racing to escape the matter interface that exists between the two ships, just as they begin to separate.

Sue: That was a great cliffhanger. So did he get out or not? I can’t wait to find out.

 

Part Four

Nightmare of EdenSue: How many Tom Baker episodes are left?
Me: That would be telling.
Sue: But he could regenerate at any moment.
Me: I know. That’s the general idea.
Sue: I’m definitely ready for some Peter Davison action right about now.

Romana tells Della that her boyfriend, Stott, wasn’t killed during their expedition to Eden after all.

Sue: It’s quite sweet. This story has everything: love, violence, drugs, monsters, spaceships crashing into each other. I bet this one is highly regarded by the fans. Neil? … Neil?
Me: What? Sorry, I was thinking about something else.

Dymond, the pilot of the other ship, is revealed to be a drug smuggler.

Sue: So is he the bad guy?
Me: Yes.
Sue: I knew he was the bad guy! Didn’t I tell you he was the bad guy?
Me: You’ve hardly mentioned him!
Sue: Really? Then it’s very clever. He flew right under my radar even though it’s really obvious that he was the baddie.

The Doctor sneaks on to Dymond’s shuttle.

Nightmare of EdenMe: Aren’t you going to mention Dymond’s terrible peripheral vision, here?
Sue: He’s got a big helmet on. He wouldn’t see a thing from the sides, silly.

Yes, it’s true. Sue loves Nightmare of Eden and she will forgive it just about anything. Well, almost anything.

Sue: There’s one thing wrong with this. Well, aside from the Mandrels, of course. And that’s the names of the characters. I keep getting Tryst and Fisk mixed up in my head. That’s shoddy script editing. I blame Douglas Adams.

Dymond shoots Della in the head, but when she falls to the floor she is clutching at her stomach. But Sue has the perfect excuse:

Sue: Maybe she came down with a bad case of IBS at exactly the same moment?

Thankfully, K9 comes to the rescue.

Sue: Good old, K9. I don’t care what he sounds like, he never lets me down.

Nightmare of EdenThe Mandrels are rounded up by the cops.

Sue: Why is that Mandrel juggling invisible balls?

The cops herd the Mandrels down a corridor with the help of their firearms.

Sue: It’s not the Mandrels’ fault they are walking bags of cocaine. I feel sorry for them.

When the cops’ weapons run out, the Mandrels turn around and run at them.

Sue: Excellent! Kill ’em all!

The Doctor intervenes and he leads the Mandrels away with his dog whistle. It isn’t long before they are mewing like contented pets.

Sue: That’s so cute. This is a lovely moment.
Me: Are you on Vrax?

The Doctor leads the Mandrels back to the CET projection of Eden. And then, well…

The Doctor: Oh, my fingers, my arms, my legs! Ah! My everything!
Sue: What the ****? Is the Doctor being gang raped by Mandrels?

The Doctor escapes from Eden, his coat in tatters, and Sue is still giggling when he hooks K9 up to the CET machine.

Sue: K9 is going to save the day! Awww, bless him.

Nightmare of EdenAfter lots and lots of technobabble, the Doctor flips a switch to reveal Tryst and Dymond sitting inside the CET machine, ready to be collected by Fisk and his men.

Sue: Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Tryst tires to explain his reasons for smuggling the drugs but the Doctor won’t even look at him.

The Doctor: Go away.
Sue: Ooh, he’s really pissed off with him. Does Tryst become his archenemy?

The episode concludes with the Doctor and Romana preparing to release the CET’s specimens back to their home planets, where they probably become extinct, just as nature intended.

Sue: That’s nice.
Me: Yeah, just dump the walking bags of coke back on Eden for the next explorer to stumble across. I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Sue: Ooh, is there a sequel? Good.

 

The Score

Sue: I really enjoyed that. The premise was great and it kept me guessing. There were some nice twists and turns in that one. The monsters were a bit rubbish, but they weren’t really monsters, not really, and the direction wasn’t great either, but if you take it for what it was, it did the job. Bob should continue to work on his own.

7/10

 

Coming Soon

 

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Comments

  1. Lewis Christian  August 9, 2012

    As I watched this story for the first time last week, I happily skipped through this remembering the scenes. And it’s really not that bad. So glad Sue enjoyed this! (Maybe there is hope for Nimon and Season 24 after all :p).

    “Me: It’s trying to kill him.
    Sue: Don’t be daft. It just wants a cuddle.”

    Brilliant! The Mandrels are pretty crap, but I find them pretty secondary. They’re a major plot point, but the rest of the story still stands up pretty well. So I’m in full agreement with Sue’s 7/10 πŸ™‚

    • Jane  August 10, 2012

      Me too, I think 7/10’s a very fair score. And I haven’t had any Vrax for weeks. πŸ˜‰

  2. Gavin Noble  August 9, 2012

    Delighted Sue enjoyed it – aside from City of Death I think Eden is the best story in this season. I think there’s some terrific ideas in the story and it feels quite adult at times. I think The Doctor’s cold dismissal of Tryst at the end is wonderfully played.

    I don’t even mind the way the Mandrels look. Why shouldn’t aliens look like that?

    I’d say 7/10 is the right score for this.

    Quick question for Neil – Are you going to be watching Shada as part of this experiment?

    • Piers Johnson  August 13, 2012

      Make Nicole watch Shada and see the confusion all Douglas Adams fans (I being one of them) experience when viewing it. Especially in the light of City of Death and Dirk Gently…

  3. Chris  August 9, 2012

    How wonderful when Sue reacts totally differently to expectations. Well, it’s good when it’s in the story’s favour, anyway. And I now want to hear a preview from Glen for every story from An Unearthly Child to The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe. Get on it, please.

  4. Robert Dick  August 9, 2012

    I think this is *beautifully* plotted. Fang Rock quality plotted. I’m so pleased Sue liked it.

  5. matt bartley  August 9, 2012

    Yeah, I like this one a lot. There are some wonderful lines – “I wondered why I hadn’t been paid!” – and the ideas work well.

  6. CJJC  August 9, 2012

    Sue’s going to love the Vervoids, the equal-opportunities sex organ monsters.

  7. Bryan Simcott  August 9, 2012

    HOOOrayyyy see fan wisdom be dammed . I love the Nightmare of eden and sue points out exactly why. The mandresl are simply a form of wild animal, they are not monsters and are not meant to be scary in the traditional sense , but more like a Tiger or Lion. Both of whoch are ferocious and wild but just look adorable.

    I still thenk the drug being the mandrels is a great plotline and one that could be used today (like using rhino horn in medicine its barbaric and vile, but it happens)

    I`d still love a stuffed mandrel to hug

    • encyclops  August 9, 2012

      I love this insight too. I’m so used to thinking “monster” on this show that I forget that sometimes a big fuzzy clawed creature in an ill-fitting suit is just a lovable animal made of drugs.

      Totally with you: the Mandrels are my number-one choice for Plush Doctor Who Creature I Want To Buy. They are the huggablest.

      • PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

        Forget that, does anyone know where I can buy a kitten that craps cocaine?

        • PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

          Further. I have for ages been trying to figure out a way of making something commercially viable out of litter waste.
          I did suggest catshit jewellery at one point, and had some interest from agents purporting to represent Victoria Beckham. Swarovsky and QVC were also involved in negotiations for a while, until the PR people – probably with good reason – raised concerns that promoting gemstones from the process under the name Catamite might not be in their best interests.

          Heigh-ho. Love goes in, turds, ammonia and grudging indifference come out. How is the good Captain, btw?

          • Neowhovian  August 11, 2012

            OMG, that’s one of the best descriptions of a cat I’ve ever heard! ~snort~

  8. Jack  August 9, 2012

    Well that brightened up my day!

    Excellent news about the updates – what with that, and Philip Sandifer posting on the Eruditorium M-T-F, that’s a Doctor Who-related quasi-analytical read every day apart from Sunday, when I rest anyway πŸ™‚ Serendipity, or was it planned I wonder?

    Thanks for enduring with your blog, I joined about mid-way through Troughton and I am always pleased when there is a new update.

  9. CJJC  August 9, 2012

    I knew it was worth mentioning Mike Oldfield a few updates back, as I seem to have summoned him into Glen Allen’s trailer.

    That’s the actual TV version of his Blue Peter theme, too, not the alternative one available on the compilations so that’s doubly impressive. 500 Oldfield points to you all!

  10. Chris Lindsay  August 9, 2012

    Glad she liked it, I feel exactly the same about this story – it’s adult and edgy and clever, just let down by flat direction and a dodgy monster (but those things are hardly anything new in classic Who). I’d put off watching this as “fandom” seemed to write it off but I found it pretty gripping and smart. And Tom’s ‘Go Away’ is one of his great moments.

  11. John S. Hall  August 9, 2012

    Is “Shada” next, then?? πŸ™‚

    • Lewis Christian  August 9, 2012

      We’ve got Soldeed’s Story to get through first, if Shada is gunna happen, surely? :p Can’t forget Soldeeeeeeeeeeeed!

      • John S. Hall  August 9, 2012

        D’oh!!! How could I ever forget “Nimon”?!

        Another story that I adore in spite of fan wisdom to the contrary…

        • Dave Sanders  August 9, 2012

          Next week on Tales Of The Overacted….

        • Broadshoulder2  August 9, 2012

          I thought fan wisdom had been reversed for Nimon. Its seen as great fun if yiou arm yourself with a bottle of plonk and a sense of humour.

          • PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

            What was that about wan fizzdom, again? Hic!

          • Jane  August 10, 2012

            Yes, Nimon’s been redeemed, in no small part by The God Complex.

  12. Glen Allen  August 9, 2012

    Well I have to say, and echoing Sue I didnt see that coming. I thought it would get panned.
    I have a soft spot for Nimon despite the flaws but NOE just isn’t one I can get excited about. Maybe I was too young at the time to get the drug references nad people being off their faces, but it still doesnt excite me that much now.

    Back in the old UK Gold days I made a promo for Nightmare of Eden. I didnt take it seriously mixing it up with some Blakes 7.
    Its here if you want to see it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOPe7HBsS1U

    Still Im very impressed with the score and it just goes to show that a fresh pair of eyes can make you reevaluate stories. (The word “you” there being used literally as I still think its a pile of doo doo)

    • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

      You made that promo, Glen? I remember that! Very great fun. Girls with guns and Avon taking on two curly-haired heroes. I love how UK Gold really felt celebratory about old SF, the ironic winks always stayed completely the right side of affectionate. For several years in the 1990s (disregarding the rather pervy feel of late weeknights spent on the couch ogling/videoing Hartnell and Troughton, to my fiancees consternation and eventual soporific acceptance) the weekend was The Vortex and some hot Romana/Jenna action more often than not. Such days! We shall not see their like again. Unless Jenna Louise-Coleman goes subscription-only.

  13. Dave Sanders  August 9, 2012

    Hear, hear, the second-best story of the season. It’s just that the season in question should be Eighteen. Because this *is* a season 18 story at its conceptual core; it’s all about conceptual spaces that clash with each other, of other environments that deteriorate and fall apart with disastrous consequences, and human beings whose lives decay before your eyes. Chris Bidmead – he of Logopolis – would have had a script editor’s orgasm over the interlocked ships, and everyone who matters is playing the central story hook – drug smuggling in space – with sincere earnest (though even Tom Baker would have had a hard time justifying sending that up). The only ‘comedy’ elements that really clash do so not because they aren’t terribly funny, but because as presented, they simply don’t belong here.

    If you were to take Nightmare Of Eden specifically, and one particular one from the next year (I’ll tell you which and why when we get there, but it’s not the one everybody thinks), swap them around and remake them according to the reversed production teams, then not only would each one turn out manifestly better – or at least, less easy to take the piss out of – but the abrupt change of style that’s coming up would instanly make a lot more sense.

    • solar penguin  August 9, 2012

      I agree. “Nightmare” is a great season 18 story, whose only flaw is that it just happened to be in season 17 instead. There was a very good fan edit on YouTube which gave it season 18-style titles, and it just somehow worked a lot better with them.

      • PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

        Ah those new titles. If you think Leela got a crappy sendoff, spare a thought for the poor old slit-scan and radiophonics!
        Actually I reckon much of season 18 wouldn’t seem like such a change in tone if coupled with season 17 titles. Most of it is deliberate throwback, to my mind. Tom brooding and contemplating his P45 reminds me of pre-daft Tom. Bit of doppelganger ‘ow’s your father’, mini series a la KTT, then an arc that reaches back even further.
        The production style hadn’t changed all that much, and even though the scoring is increasingly reliant on DX7s rather than bass clarinet, it’s not so very different.
        But there’s those new titles…
        (I remember at the time sending off a postal order, for thus it was done in such long-ago times, for the single of the Dr Who theme, wanting the classic, but got sent the new version. Wrote back to complain and never got a response.)

        • John G  August 10, 2012

          The direction in S18 is a definite step up from the previous year.

    • encyclops  August 9, 2012

      I think I’ve read this idea before, of swapping a season 17 and 18 story, but I can’t remember where (probably About Time?) and which story (5N, I think, though I somehow think 5P might have been more fun). I can see it, though frankly I love almost all the comedy moments (except maybe “my everything,” but Sue’s line above made me laugh out loud).

      I love this insight, though. And I love that Nightmare of Eden got 7/10. I really really enjoy it.

    • Jane  August 10, 2012

      Meglos would have been hilarious in Season 17.

      • Dave Sanders  August 10, 2012

        Actually, I doubt whether Meglos would have been made at all under the Williams/Adams regime since it reuses so many Doctor Who tick-box standards that the Williams period had already employed once or twice. Every season 17 storyline starts off with a ‘hook’ that you could pitch towards Douglas Adams’ own lateral-thinking science-imagination, and having engaged it, develop it from there. All of them have one – yes, we know the ‘two robotic intelligences locked in a logical empasse’ idea is hoary old cobblers *now*, but we’ve had the benefit of three decades of real computing advancement to learn from since then. Meglos, however, doesn’t actually do that, and the season-17-ness that’s present is just a surface layer based on the common preconception of what the Williams era was believed to be like – cheap, whimsical and not taking itself entirely seriously – before VHS and DVD allowed us to scrutinise and re-evaluate it all. Meglos is pleasant, but as much as I personally like the Bidmead approach, it doesn’t actually exist for any other reason than a quick shoe-in for a new script editor for whom, out of lack of prior interest, the old standbys hadn’t worn out their welcome yet. Money for old tropes.

        So no. Not that one.

        • Dave Sanders  August 10, 2012

          Just as a quick example: Meglos has a jungle planet. Creature From The Pit has a jungle planet on which metal is scarce but vegetation would be a exportable commodity, if only the balance of power would allow it. Nightmare Of Eden has a living, breathing photograph of a jungle planet, which carries on existing in its own little unstable bubble. You see the difference?

    • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

      “If you were to take Nightmare Of Eden specifically, and one particular one from the next year (I’ll tell you which and why when we get there, but it’s not the one everybody thinks),”

      Okay I’ll giess – is it “State of Decay”?

  14. Marty  August 9, 2012

    One of my favourite stories and completely agree with Sue on this one.

    It is a story with lots of unexpected turns, well unexpected for Doctor Who.

    Hopefully this bodes well for the next story…

  15. PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

    I had no idea the fans (fans be praised!) had the knives out for this one. I’ve always liked it.
    Particularly like the fact that, as Sue points out, important things get cleverly put under your nose with very little redundancy. Not least: the CET isn’t just some whizzbang sci-fi thingy, it gets imaginatively used for the resolution.
    (Note to new series team: read Todorov on detective fiction.)

    Good luck with stepping up the pace – good decision as you’re reaching that point in the race. As to the next one – think I’ll have the scenery al dente, with a crisp side salad.

    Oh – Dordogne? Tuscany? Some pretty posh choices there…
    And why was I not surprised that you’ll be meeting Gary in Sitges!

    • Jane  August 10, 2012

      I’ll admit, I had it in for this story for a long time. Only recently — the last couple years — did I recant, having seen the light of its brilliant conceptual blending, as well as (finally) developing a taste for camp.

      • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

        Better late than never! I loved this story in its Target incarnation and in every repeat since, but – I must admit, this was the point (having been watching since Pertwee) that I though Tom Baker had played the Doctor too long. Reading stories of the grand earlier Doctors made me yearn for a change. Luckily I got it next season – and didn’t even need a change of Doctor (but I still hurrahed at Davison).

        But this is far from his worst story. And Tom Baker’s worst stories would be regarded as great stories, in many other Doctor’s eras.

        • Dave Sanders  August 11, 2012

          Uhhhhh…. no, I don’t think anything by Bob Baker and Dave Martin has EVER been thought of that way, even the better ones.

  16. Lewis Christian  August 9, 2012

    Pretty surprised Sue didn’t see the similarity to the Byzantium forest/ship too!

    • encyclops  August 10, 2012

      I still don’t. :-/

      • Lewis Christian  August 10, 2012

        Just the imagery of a large screen on a spaceship opening up to show a forest you can walk around in. πŸ™‚

  17. PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

    Oh, and for the Shadaphiles:

    I strongly suspect that had it been completed (I know, I know – I mean in the original run) it would not exactly have been regarded as a classic.

    Interesting how some of the ideas got recycled though – Chris Neame with his evil Ood ball, Time Lord prison.

    • Dave Sanders  August 9, 2012

      The version that you play in your own head reading the script book that came with the VHS release is BRILLIANT though.

      • PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

        As was everything first experienced in Targetvision.
        Still think it suffers from Adams Overreach though.

    • encyclops  August 9, 2012

      I’ve heard the Big Finish version and was pretty let down. Paul McGann is no Tom Baker (at least not when the one has to say the other’s lines), and though some of the other voice acting is terrific (especially Skagra), the concept promises way more than it delivers. I did buy the Gareth Roberts novelisation, though — if anybody still with us πŸ™ can fix it, he can.

      As for recycled ideas, don’t forget the cliffhanger in The End of Time. Too bad it was the lamest element in both stories.

      • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

        Dave Sanders is right – the script book rescues the VHS and raises the missing images to greatness.

        I’ve seen Ian Levine’s (and an army of animators’) version of the complete story – and yes, Christopher Neame’s Skagra is one fo the all-time classic villains.

        Sadly, DVD buyers will never get to hear him fulfil his destiny. He didn’t conquer the universe, but he did conquer Dr Who – he was on a par with Julian Glover. And the people who heard him do that will probably number less than a hundred. Shame.

        • PolarityReversed  August 10, 2012

          Great actor. I recall him mainly in the context of Colditz and Secret Army.

  18. Smith  August 9, 2012

    Looking forward to the start of the JNT era in a few stories time. Then I’ll start having opinions on things.

    • PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

      And I’ll stop!

      But enjoy the onward journey. Who is many things to many people.

  19. John G  August 9, 2012

    β€œIt’s suddenly turned into Play for Today. With cute monsters.”

    Look no further for the t-shirt/mug quote this time! I’m glad Sue was able to follow the plot so well, because this one lost me a bit – there is so much going on it gets a bit confusing. However, I agree that it is one of the better stories of the season, with the drug smuggling plot an unusually bold move for this period of the show. I don’t share Sue’s enthusiasm for the corridor sets, which look just as drab to me as pretty much all the others from this era.

    One of the ultimate Marmite stories up next – I’m going to stick my neck out and predict Sue will enjoy it…

    • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

      STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN “HORNS OF NIMON” YET.

      THIS MEANS YOU, SUE!

      I loathed “Nimon” at age 12 – a cheapo end to a too-short season, Tom seeming bored and everything studio-bound with a crap monster. At one point my dad came in, with his usual impeccable timing (he normally falls asleep for any TV that isn’t Formula 1 motor racing, and dismissed Blakes 7 with “he’s a grinning tw*t, isn’t he” directed at an acting-drugged Tarrant: four years of drama written off in one scene) and it was just as the Nimon revealed its glorious nylon-wearing, platform shoe-bedecked self – cue dad “That monster’s complete crap”.

      Revisiting it in the 90s via UK Gold, and then on video and DVD (and the jolly book), and experiencing (admittedly sometimes with a bottle of red and some friends) its humour, campery, amazing sounds and lunatic visions – it’s tons of fun. And its also a great story to shag to.

      I don’t think “Shada” could surpass it. Maybe “City” could’ve. And for all the queries above, no, Neil has confirmed they’re not doing Shada after Nimon – so nyerr…!

      • Andrew Bowman  August 10, 2012

        A good story to shag to?! Really? How? What? Sorry, that comment took me aback, far back, to the land of Flabbergasted! Extraordinary! Is it Romana? Soldeed? No, I can’t get my head around that! πŸ˜‰

        • PolarityReversed  August 10, 2012

          Perhaps best experienced aurally while engaged in another far more interesting activity?
          (I do mean Nimon and sex, not the other way round.)

  20. Simon Harries  August 9, 2012

    Great review! I loved Nightmare of Eden when it was first shown… but I didn’t see it again for the best part of 30 years, until the DVD came out. In that time I’d forgotten it, and tended to just accept Fan Lore – poor story featuring monsters whose legs look like flared trousers. What a mistake! It has a lot going for it – the drug storyline especially. I also love Tom’s final comment to Tryst.

  21. jamieskilt  August 9, 2012

    Sue isn’t the only one to get names mixed up. At one point, whilst talking to Romana, Geoff Hinsliff (Fisk) refers to Tryst as Fisk!

    • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

      That was a bona fide classic fluff. I thought of that whilst reading Sue’s perceptive comment!

      She likes Romana II though. Lalla worked hard in a fairly thankless job – so kudos to both ladies, and thanks Lalla for a great tribute to Mary Tamm by tackling the character so seriously, in a fun way!

  22. Richard Lyth  August 9, 2012

    Great to hear Sue liked this – like most of this season, it’s a really good story if you ignore the dodgy monsters. Question is, will she rate the next story higher or lower? Let’s hope she’s in a good mood…

  23. chris-too-old-too-watch  August 9, 2012

    re Mary Tamm: Jus been announced that her husband has died suddenly whilst answering condolences.

    • Gavin Noble  August 9, 2012

      Link here:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/09/doctor-who-mary-tamm-husband?newsfeed=true

      How horrible for their daughter to lose both parents in such a short space of time.

      • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

        I know it’s diabolically sad, and I’ve spread the news and shared grief with my friends about this news… but if I had to pick a way to leave my family, going quickly without long suffering, and within a few days of my wife and with my daughter grown up and with a family of her own is the way I’d choose. I’d have wanted my wife to go painlessly (the drama plotline “they died in a car crash together” is actually not a bad way to go!). It’s horrible that we have to go though. RIP, and condolences to their family and friends, grandchild and daughter included.

        Whew, what a year. πŸ™

  24. David Embery  August 9, 2012

    Always enjoyed Eden so glad it got a good reception. Love the way K9 says bushwhacked at one point, no idea why.

    It is very season 18 in its story as has been said – if I could play with time, I’d swap it with Meglos as that looks like it escaped from 1979.

  25. Checkerton  August 9, 2012

    Y’know, until I read this I had no idea that was David Daker

  26. Pete Galey  August 9, 2012

    Yeah, I’m not surprised that away from the weight of fan expectation this one got an upbeat reception – I’ve not seen it for years but I remember being impressed. Particularly that the drugs storyline isn’t all preachy and after-school-specialy. It’s just treated like one more element in the storyline.

    I wonder if Creature From Down’t Pit might have got a better reception if it had been a standard entry? That’s another one I’ve a lot of time for, especially Bayldon’s astronomer character. Perhaps Horns of Nimon will be the litmus test – lots of fun for the most part.

    • Robert Dick  August 10, 2012

      Yeah, I think sometime after it’s all over. Neil and Sue should sit and watch the stories she did the Video commentaries on. Just as a after-thought. Not for writing up.

  27. Tim Cook  August 9, 2012

    I wonder if Capt Rigg laughing while watching footage of daft monsters killing people was an intentional in-joke?

    Oh well, just one fun story left before 2 or 3 years of monster-free poker-faced ‘high science’ adventures…

    • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

      I keep forgetting that the “vulva vine” plant is a monster. I think a Sontaran got consumed by something similar in the Doctor’s conservatory – considering the shape of the Dapol Sontarans, somewhat Freudian, that.

      Monster-free season 18 and 19? You forgot the Marshmen, Meglos in cactus form, Foamasi (far more monstrous than their scripted green Mafiosi versions), Melkur/the rotted Master (as monstrous as they come, literally in both the new and the old sense of the word), Mara, Urbankans, Terileptils, C******n Androids, C******n, Plasmatons… those seasons are as monster-infested as any. For monster-free seasons, see some Hartnell and Troughton/Pertwee eras (Wiles and Sherwin). What’s wrong with a lack of monsters if scripts are great, anyway?

      • Lewis Christian  August 10, 2012

        I hope Sue doesn’t read all the comments! But you’re right – Season 18 isn’t all that ‘monster-less’.

  28. Frankymole  August 9, 2012

    No “Boon” fan then – so I doubt Sue will recognise the Queen Camilla of E-Space as Ken Boon’s girlfriend. Shame!

  29. Broadshoulder2  August 9, 2012

    Sue ready for a change for Tom doesnt bode well for season 18. Not only is he on his way out but we have a brooding subdued reigned in Tom./ And whatever production problems for season 18 she has enjoyed his vibrant performances.

    Also the slow dismantling of Lalla and K9 as they leave one by one and the introduction of the terrible trio could be a testing time for Sue.

    • PolarityReversed  August 9, 2012

      The terrible trio? Oh yes,

      When shall we three meet again?
      When I’ve calculated the vectors, you sillies.
      Talk to me like that again, pyjama-boy and I’ll ram this time rotor right up….
      Faints for diplomatic purposes, but lands in tasteful pose.

      She’s going to have a field day, isn’t she?

    • Dan  August 9, 2012

      It’s just the way it is, and it’ll be interesting.

      • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

        Let’s not anticipate. Sue has been unpredictable – fan wisdom need not apply. She has already given one season 17 story 10/10 and gave Nightmare of Eden a 7/10. There’s no point in any pre-emptive wailing and gnashing of teeth. I think she even gave a high mark to Androids of Tara and that was derivative tosh!

        • Lewis Christian  August 10, 2012

          This 7/10 has given me hope for Season 24 πŸ™‚

          One of my favourite seasons, actually.

  30. Matthew Kilburn  August 9, 2012

    Good story, patchily executed, but on the whole I agree with Sue!

  31. BWT  August 10, 2012

    Oh, I bluddy love Sue. And the rest of the Nightmare-luvvers. I really thought I was the only one who liked it. It’s the best of the season for me.

    And yes, this storyline would fit perfectly into NuWho without any changes at all. Well… except for K9 and Romana, that is. (Or, OTOH, maybe not?)

  32. John S. Hall  August 10, 2012

    Neil, did you tell Sue that Bob Baker did continue writing on his own — just not for DOCTOR WHO? πŸ˜‰

    I’d be curious to learn her reaction when you tell her of Mr Baker’s involvement in WALLACE AND GROMIT… πŸ™‚

    • Frankymole  August 10, 2012

      And Call Me Mister, Bergerac, Into The Labyrinth, Succubus, The Function Roon, The Mysti Show, Kipper, The Jazz Detective…. and the Aussie kids’ K-9 spin-off series… But yeah, it’s nice when he crops up in Wallace and Gromit (another couple of Bristol Boys) – he even appears on screen in plasticene form as “Baker Bob”!

    • Lewis Christian  August 10, 2012

      I’d completely forgotten he did W&G!

      Now for me to get W&G into the DW canon πŸ˜€

      • Jet Simian  August 13, 2012

        It was them that made the current TARDIS console, wasn’t it?

  33. P.Sanders  August 10, 2012

    I had feared for Eden after The Pit had failed to impress her but I’m delighted Sue recognised the quality of the story underneath the production issues. Considering the director was fired/walked out/was difficult and Tom Baker was on bad form throughout it’s impressive to see it holds up as well as it does. The Mandrels work best in the shadowy jungle and once again bright studio lighting shows them up (imagine how much creepier the show might look if the crash had damaged the ship’s power, leading to low-level emergency lighting in the corridors). I wonder if she’ll like Nimon – at least Romana gets a lot to do.

  34. Matthew Marcus  August 10, 2012

    You know, Wife In Space is fine when it’s Sue (deservedly) panning ropey old Doctor Who episodes. But it’s even more fun when she really enjoys episodes that fan consensus has written off. A breath of fresh air blowing through the samey corridors of time!

  35. Ryan Hall  August 10, 2012

    I always liked the Mandrels, i kinda thought they were good monsters , do agree with sue about them being scary in the forest , i think there main problem is there not shown so much in the dark and would have been actully more terrifying like that rather than them in very well lit corridors.

    I think i really only remember the mandrels from this , not much else , they were also on the cover of Dr who weekly during that season so they were proberly burned onto my mind from that to .

  36. Paul Mudie  August 10, 2012

    I was also struck by the similarity with the Carnival of Monsters, when I saw this on DVD a while back. I quite like this one, but I’d probably give it a 5 or a 6. Sue is certainly enjoying this era more than I expected her to!

    • John G  August 10, 2012

      I wonder if Red Dwarf’s “Timeslides” owes anything to Nightmare…

      • Lewis Christian  August 10, 2012

        Moffat’s “Flesh and Stone” certainly does, in any case.

    • Lewis Christian  August 10, 2012

      I wonder if the suspension of disbelief will hold for the last of the series… (not counting Shada).

  37. Nev Fountain  August 10, 2012

    Well done Sue. Excellent taste.

  38. trav28  August 10, 2012

    Ah, the Mandrell in Nostalgia, wonder where he is now? I thought I recognised a Brum lilt in your accent πŸ˜‰

    • Neil Perryman  August 10, 2012

      Coventry, mate. How dare you! πŸ˜‰

  39. Tarquin  August 10, 2012

    Too true , Neil.
    Theres an awful load of muppets on Galiifrey Base. lol

    • P.Sanders  August 11, 2012

      As a fan who’s never actually visited Gallifrey Base, is there a particular reason not to post there relating to GB procedures? Or do some of the trolls who come on here and call Sue a **** come from there? Which of course is reason enough not to link there if that is so, but I’m genuinely curious.

  40. Steve White  August 10, 2012

    “Sue: Why is that Mandrel juggling invisible balls?”

    That has got to be another mug quote right there…

  41. Rad  August 11, 2012

    Sue quoting the poets that were Spirit and Destiny made my day.

  42. Dan  August 11, 2012

    I suppose once you got through The Sensorites you were guaranteed to get this far.

    • Dave Sanders  August 11, 2012

      Talk about damning with faint praise… πŸ˜›

      • Dan  August 11, 2012

        It was meant to be virtually a nonsense statement but to genuinely remind them of their humble beginnings. πŸ™‚ I think it’s amazing!

      • Dan  August 11, 2012

        I know who gets the Gold for watching old Doctor Who…

  43. Demian Katz  August 11, 2012

    My earliest Doctor Who memory is walking through the living room as my dad was watching the show and being startled by a big monster bursting out of a wall. I was probably two or three years old, and this profoundly disturbed me. I had recurring nightmares about it, and I didn’t dare linger too close to windows for any period of time for years thereafter, just in case something was waiting on the other side.

    When, much later (age 10 or so), I became a fan myself, I wondered what it could possibly have been that had such a profound effect on my younger self. I had to work my way through most of the Pertwee and Baker eras before, suddenly, I had a moment of deja vu watching Nightmare of Eden. It was a Mandrell! My innocent youthful brain was scarred by a Mandrell! I still can’t quite believe it, but apparently if you have never seen a monster before, they’re pretty scary.

  44. Paul Lenkic  August 11, 2012

    You’ve no idea how happy it makes me that Sue likes this story!

  45. Professor Thascales  August 12, 2012

    I always found this story fairly enjoyable.