Sue: Bob Baker. Why do I know that name?
Me: He’s one of the Bristol Boys.
Sue: Oh, has he gone solo? Did they fall out?
A large space liner is hurtling through the cosmos when it suddenly shimmers and disappears.
Sue: Either that ship has gone into warp drive or they’ve really screwed up the chroma.
On the bridge of the Empress, Captain Rigg is in command.
Sue: He’s famous.
The ship’s passengers are dressed in sunglasses and silver hooded jumpsuits.
Sue: That’s a lot of anoraks. Doctor Who fans must have loved this.
Me: They look like they’re 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 this supposed to be Ryanspace?
Meanwhile, Rigg’s first mate, Secker, is behaving very oddly indeed, and his 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 still shagging at this point?
Me: I wish I’d never mentioned that now.
Sue: At least K9 is allowed out this week. I worry about that dog, you know. And I don’t like Romana’s dress. It isn’t very flattering. It makes her look frumpy. I bet the dads were pissed off.
The Doctor investigates the accident which has fused 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 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 the crewman collect 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: He is on drugs! Well, I wasn’t expecting that. I was only joking!
Romana meets the eminent zoologist, Tryst.
Sue: That isn’t 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 version of Romana. She’s playing it just right. She’s cute and intelligent.
Meanwhile, Secker, who’s completely off his tits, commits suicide by walking into the void between the two ships.
Sue: When your drug-taking interferes with your job, it’s probably time to stop.
Romana is left to examine the CET machine more closely, and as she turns a dial, scenes from various planets appear on a large screen on the 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 ideas to steal?
Romana turns a dial on the machine and we are treated to a slice of Eden.
Sue: That doesn’t look like Eden to me. Eden should be beautiful and inviting. This looks like a Vietnam flashback.
The Doctor sends K9 into a matter interface to investigate the sound of somebody 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.
Rigg wants to know if Tryst brought any live specimens on the ship with him.
Sue: 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 have a problem with Tryst’s accent, either.
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 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!
Yeah, I definitely expected that.
Sue: It was doing okay up until that point. Oh dear.
The Mandrel doesn’t frighten Sue at all.
Sue: It looks like a muppet. One of the really big ones.
Me: This monster brings back so many memories for me.
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 their shop window 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’t trust Tryst as far as you can…
Tryst switches the machine off.
Sue: Oh. I definitely didn’t expect that.
The 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’re dressed like that: it cuts down on the number of extras they have to hire. Very clever.
The Doctor hands a jelly baby to one of the passengers and warns him not to forget to clean his teeth.
Sue: This is basically 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.
Sue: The Honey Monster is in a really bad mood. Or maybe it’s a hairy ninja turtle…
Tryst accuses his assistant, Della, of conspiring with a dead expedition member in order to smuggle drugs onto the ship. She vehemently denies this, and when Tryst shares his suspicions with the Doctor and Romana, they are appalled he could even suggest such a thing.
Sue: Sing ‘em a song, Della!
Me: That’s obscure, Sue, even for you.
And then the police turn up.
Sue: How camp? I wish Gary was here, he would 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.
The 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 blond guy in the spacesuit looks like he should be in Starlight Express. Does he become important later on, or does he just stand around bitching all the time?
The episode concludes with the Doctor and Romana jumping into the CET projection of Eden.
Sue: Quick! Into the Stargate!
Sue has never seen a single episode of Stargate, so that was a massive leap for her as well.
As the credits begin to roll, 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 blog entry.
Sue: It wasn’t that bad at all. The monsters are a bit silly, but they don’t turn up very much. It’s definitely above average so far.
The Doctor is attacked by a man-eating plant.
Sue: And today’s monster based on a sexual organ is…
As the Doctor tries 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 and Romana hide in the undergrowth as a Mandrel passes by.
Sue: They’re quite scary when you can’t see their cute heads.
K9 breaks the news that alien creatures are now wandering around the ship.
Me: Are you used to K9’s new voice, now?
Sue: I think I prefer the original. This one sounds like R2-D2 (She means C-3P0, bless her). The original sounded, I don’t know… more human.
Rigg, who is as high as a kite on Vrax, entertains himself by watching his passengers being torn to pieces by the rampaging Mandrels.
Sue: If they made this story again, it could be really scary. Here, the monsters are more cute than scary. I want to give them a big hug, just like the Doctor is doing now.
Me: It’s trying to kill him.
Sue: Don’t be daft. It wants a cuddle.
K9 shoots the Mandrel.
Sue: I think I can see a zip. 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.
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.
That isn’t to say she’s become immune to this 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, it’s about drug addiction and suicide. The mix of slapstick comedy and dark humour is very strange.
Me: I know. It’s terrible, isn’t it?
Sue: I like it.
As 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.
As Romana skips between Eden and the Empress, Sue wishes she had a machine like that.
Me: So 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.
When a Mandrel is accidentally electrocuted, it transforms into a white powder – the drug Vraxoin.
Sue: Ooh, that was very clever. I didn’t see that coming.
Meanwhile, 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 a Play For Today. But with cute monsters.
The episode concludes with the Doctor racing to escape the matter interface which exists between the two ships 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.
Sue: How many Tom Baker episodes are left?
Me: That would be telling.
Sue: But he could regenerate at any moment?
Me: Yes. That’s the general idea.
Sue: I’m definitely ready for some Peter Davison action right about now.
Romana tells Della 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 a drug smuggler.
Sue: So is he the bad guy, then?
Sue: I knew he was the bad guy! Didn’t I say 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 was really obvious he was the baddie.
The Doctor sneaks on to Dymond’s shuttle.
Me: Aren’t you going to mention Dymond’s terrible peripheral vision?
Sue: He’s wearing a massive helmet. He wouldn’t be able to see anything from the sides, silly.
Yes, it’s true. Sue loves Nightmare of Eden so much, she will forgive it just about anything. Well, almost anything.
Sue: There’s only one thing wrong with this, 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, that is. I blame Douglas Adams.
Dymond shoots Della in the head, but when she falls to the floor, she clutches her stomach instead.
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.
The Mandrels are rounded up by the cops and herded down a corridor.
Sue: It’s not the Mandrels’ fault they’re 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 leads the Mandrels away with his dog whistle, and 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 into the CET projection of Eden. However, things don’t go according to plan and the Doctor is left screaming: “My fingers, my arms, my legs! Ah! My everything!”
Sue: 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! Aww, bless him.
Tryst tries to explain his reasons for smuggling the drugs, but the Doctor won’t even look at him.
Sue: Does Tryst become his archenemy?
The episode concludes with the Doctor and Romana preparing to return the CET’s specimens to their home planets, where they’ll 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.
Sue: I 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, 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.