Sunday, 15 December 2019

521 Nightmare of Eden: Part Four

EPISODE: Nightmare of Eden: Part Four
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 521
STORY NUMBER: 107
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 15 December 1979
WRITER: Bob Baker
DIRECTOR: Alan Bromly
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 9.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Nightmare of Eden

"You! You're smuggling the Vrax!"

The ships successfully separate. Dymond requests permission to leave but Fisk demands he stays. Della tells Romana about the last day on Eden when Stott disappeared in a Mandrell attack. Romana tells her that Stott is alive. The Doctor finds himself aboard the Hecate with some advanced laser equipment connected to a CET Machine. He interrogates the Hecate's computers and finds data on the profits of the Eden project, then hides in the Hecate's shuttle as Dymond flies it over to the Empress. Tryst attempts to incriminate the Doctor to customs officer Fisk. K-9 detects the Doctor's arrival and he is reunited with K-9, Romana & Della. Della is seen with the Doctor and arrested by the ship's guards. The Doctor deduces that Tryst intends to transmit the Vraxoin, inside the Eden projection to Dymond on the Empress. Della escapes when her guard is attacked by a Mandrell and finds Tryst. Fisk arrests the Doctor but Stott arrives incriminating Tryst & Dymond. Della confronts Tryst about the Vraxoin smuggling, and escapes when a Mandrell attacks but is wounded. The Mandrells are driven back into the projection and secured. The Eden projection is transferred to the Hecate but the Doctor uses K-9 and scans the Hecate into the CET machine allowing the customs officers to arrest Tryst & Dymond. Tryst pleads for clemency but the Doctor dismisses him. Della & Stott are reunited and the Doctor take Tryst's collection of projection crystals to return the samples within to where they came.

You know what? That wasn't bad at all. A bit more running about and a big K-9 episode with quite a bit of him shooting Mandrells which I'd have enjoyed it if I'd have seen it at the time

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Unfortunately K-9 does unintentionally spoil a scene where he, the Doctor & Romana are creeping around: the Doctor "Shhhs" them and all you can hear is K-9's motor making a dreadful racket!

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You get to see a lot more of the Mandrells this episode too but they spend far too little time rampaging and far too long being herded like sheep back to the CET machine which leads to this dreadful piece of dialogue as the Doctor lures them inside and disappears off screen:

DOCTOR: Ah. Oh gosh, oh lord, oh Doctor! Steady, steady. This way. Not that way! This. Oh! Oh! Oh, my fingers, my arms, my legs! Ah! My everything! Argh!
I'm sensing a bit of Tom improvising in rehearsals there.

But given that the ending is a clever resolution, but a clever resolution quite clearly sign posted earlier in the story.

DOCTOR: All I did was increase the range of this machine and brought them back. Matter transmutation, you see. And because the projection's still unstable, all you have to do is pluck them out.
FISK: You heard him. Pluck them out.

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TRYST: Doctor! Doctor, I didn't want to be involved in all this. Tell them. Tell them that I only did it for the sake of funding my research. You understand all this. You're a scientist.
DOCTOR: Go away.
TRYST: What?
DOCTOR: Go away.

And the Doctor's complete dismissal of Tryst is fabulous!

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There's a lot of similarity between the CET machine here and the Scope in the superb Carnival of Monsters. There the Doctor does something clever with the Tardis to return the specimens home, here the solution is a lot less clear but looks like journeys to each planet to manually release them.

I've liked Nightmare of Eden far more than I expected to. Like it's predecessor, Creature from the Pit, there's some clever ideas going on but here they reach the screen a bit more successfully albeit not 100% successfully. There's a few down points, notably Lewis Fiander's accent as Tryst and the Mandrells themselves. They don't look *too* bad but then you think of previous marauding monsters, the Axons in particular spring to mind, and you start to think that maybe they aren't that much cop. It's certainly not obvious that the production was fraught, with tensions developing between lead actor & director to such a point that Alan Bromly walked away from the production and the final day's filming was completed by producer Graham Williams.

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Bromly never worked on Doctor Who again, but there again after this season only one director and 3 writers with prior experience of the program will be back! So this too is a last appearance for Bob Baker who would go on to write for the Wallace & Gromit films.

Nightmare of Eden was novelised by Terrence Dicks and released in August 1980. It was released on video in 1999 and but was released on DVD on 2nd April 2011.

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