Doctor Who and the Nightmare of Eden
When the Doctor and Romana answer a ships’ distress
call they find that one ship has materialized partway inside another
ship. Whilst investigating this, the Doctor discovers that someone on
one of the ships is transporting Vraxoen the most addictive drug
in the universe. Posing as an investigator from a defunct insurance
company the Doctor sets himself the task of separating the ships,
finding the drug dealers and solving the mysterious murders that
suddenly started happening. But what does all this have to do with Tryst
the owner of the mysterious CET machine?
Some might argue that this story falls into the tail
end of Tom Baker’s reign when Tom had really had enough and the stories
stopped being good solid sci-fi and started being a little “Weird”,
Full Circle, Warriors Gate, anyone?
But the reality is that this is a good story with
some punchy dialogue dealing with an adult theme that is only let down
but some of the acting, the direction, the overly ambitious script and
the production design…oh and the lighting.
First let’s deal with Tryst and his accent.
According to the writer Bob Baker there was no reason for Tryst to have
a German accent and it wasn’t in the script. So why Tryst has a German
accent is a mystery and why the director allowed him to continue with
the accent when everyone heard how bad it was is positively enigmatic.
But the fact is that Tryst has an accent that would have been considered
insulting during the war. Then we have the monsters. Not a single child
that was alive during the airing of this serial didn’t want to take a
Mandrel home and cuddle him all night long, such was the cuteness
quotient of these supposedly terrifying creatures. The ships look
rubbish and the whole production has a “cheap” feel. Despite all this,
we have a really engaging and quotable story that just reached too far.
Audio: Two channels, check.
Video: How much you like badly done CSO (blue screen)
will probably dictate how much you like the video quality of many scenes
in this serial. Me? Not so much.
I’m pretty sure that this is the first release we
have had since BBC worldwide took over from 2Entertain all I can say is
that it’s looking even cheaper, if that were possible. There seems to be
no love or care put into the special features here, no stars; only
behind the scenes people who were happy just to get the call. Even the
fonts on the title cards look cheap. Ok it’s not the most respected
story in the Doctor Who archive but if you’re going to give me some
special features then try to make them special instead of terrible.
These underwhelming features include:
The Nightmare of Television Center: A short that
details some of the behinds the scenes shenanigans that went on during
the filming of this story.
Going Solo: Writer Bob Baker talks about how proud he
was of the script and how short the production fell of his expectations.
The Doctors Strange Love: Two people you’ve never
heard of who are far too pleased with themselves talk about the story to
another person you’ve never heard of to grating effect.
Ask Aspel: Lalla Ward is asked stuff by Michael Aspel.
She answers, I snooze.