Doctor Who – Nightmare of Eden

Another day, another classic Doctor Who DVD from the pile of things I’ve been meaning to post about.

This one was first shown in November and December 1979, and stars the wonderful pairing of Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana, accompanied by K-9 with his alternative voice, provided by David Brierley in the absence of John Leeson.

The fun starts with a hyperspace collision between a space liner and a smaller ship, which leaves the two vessels interlocked in a special-effecty sort of way. Naturally, it’s just after this point that the TARDIS arrives and the Doctor and Romana start to investigate.

It soon becomes clear that some strange things are going on. There’s a Mad Scientist, complete with one of the worst fake Germanic accents ever heard, and a very suspicious bit of technology. There seems to be a bit of a problem with a very illegal and very dangerous drug, for which someone has found a new source, what with the previous ones having been eliminated with extreme force.

Ah. And then there are the monsters. Large things with big heads and claws, the Muppets Mandrels, which somehow fail the looking even a bit scary test, but never mind. As usual, there’s lots of peril, and this being from the year when Douglas Adams was script editor, some good old fashioned jokes. Perhaps the best bit is this nice bit of dialogue:

Romana: I don’t think we should interfere

Doctor: Interfere! Of course we should interfere! Always do what you’re best at, that’s what I say!

It’s all a bit of a jolly romp, and perhaps doesn’t quite work as well as it might have done. There was a lot of friction between the cast and director Alan Bromly, which can’t have helped. But it’s worth a watch, to enjoy Tom Baker at his bonkers best.

Extras, in addition to the usual stuff that I don’t really need to tell you about again, include:

  • The Nightmare of Television Centre – some of the production people talk about the “difficult” process of making this story.
  • Going Solo - Bob Baker, writer of this story, had previously worked with Dave Martin. Here, he talks about their amicable split and the process of writing his only solo Doctor Who story
  • The Doctor’s Strange Love – Josie Long joins Joe Lidster and Simon Guerrier to basically have a nice chat about Doctor Who. Nice.
  • Ask Aspel - a clip from the BBC children’s TV show in which Lalla Ward is interviewed.
So, not a spectacular release, but good fun. There’s one bit that’s stuck in my memory from the first time I saw it – near the beginning, when the Doctor starts interfering, he pretends to be an insurance agent, and suggests a “knock for knock”[1] approach to settling matters. It was supremely silly then, and still is now. Lovely.

 [1] The idea was that in a collision, each party’s insurance would pay for the other’s damage. Apparently they don’t do that these days.