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Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden (Story 107)

4.1 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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(May 08, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden

Two spacecraft fuse in a hyperspace collision. Fortunately the Doctor, Romana and K-9 arrive to help. But when a crewmember is found clawed by a ferocious animal, it seems there's something even more frightening stalking the corridors. The answers lie with zoologist Professor Tryst, his CET protection machine, and a planet called Eden – the home of the ferocious Mandrels.


"Interfere? Of course we should interfere! Always do what you're best at!" declares the Doctor at the beginning of Nightmare of Eden, a four-episode story from the classic British science fiction series Doctor Who. In no time at all, the Doctor is masquerading as an intergalactic insurance agent, seeking to separate two spaceships that merged interdimensionally, and investigating the smuggling of the most dangerous drug in the universe--and that's leaving out the alien monsters roaming around. Nightmare of Eden is a particularly jam-packed story from the Tom Baker era, considered by many to be the best of the early Doctors; with his mop of curly hair, his bulging eyes, and his toothy grin, Baker's Doctor was wildly capricious and charismatic as he jaunted around time and space, applying his fierce intelligence and staunch moral sense to all sorts of thorny situations. In Nightmare of Eden, the Doctor is accompanied by the second incarnation of Romana (Lalla Ward), a Time Lady, and the robot dog K-9, who is loved and hated in equal measure. Nightmare of Eden has even more cheesy special effects than usual (the spacecraft are particularly unconvincing), but the zippy plot, good dialogue, and solid performances--including some startling moments that mix humor and horror, potentially giving younger viewers unsettling dreams--keep the show engaging. Among the extras are a featurette about the fractious making of these episodes (loaded with caustic comments from technicians); reminiscences from the writer, Bob Baker (who later went on to write for Wallace & Gromit); an interview with Lalla Ward; and strange but enjoyable conversation by three people whose relationship to Doctor Who is never explained, but who cheerfully discuss Nightmare of Eden in engrossing detail. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Lalla Ward
  • Directors: Alan Bromly
  • Writers: Bob Baker
  • Producers: Graham Williams
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 8, 2012
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007AAEZY0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,916 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
"Nightmare of Eden" is actually a hidden gem. Even though the acting and direction is alittle awkward at times, and the design of the Mandrels(why is the Graham Williams era filled with unimaginative monsters?) is laughable, the story itself is very adult, one of the few Who strories to deal with the addiction of drugs. The script is absolutely hilarious! Tom Baker excells(as does Ward)! The scene where Rigg has been drugged by Vraxion, witnessing the massacre of his passengers on the Empress by the Mandrels is a scream: "What's all the fuss? They're only economy class?" David Briely's voice for K-9 this season is also a welcome change, almost giving him a personality and humor. Tryst gives us his best Dr. Strangelove/Peter Sellers impersonation(without the physical humor). I used to think that "The Creature From the Pit" was the funniest ever Tom Baker adventure, I might be wrong. But don't take my word for it, I liked "Time and the Rani"!
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Format: VHS Tape
One day, they will make a TV-movie about the October 2003 Staten Island Ferry disaster, and that movie will be atrocious. Right before the ferry is about to crash, some actor, who's already seen "Nightmare of Eden", will utter the line, "Oh no!". That's what actor David Daker did right before his character's starship collided with a space freighter. It is not, on its face, a proud moment, or a good beginning for a story.
"Nightmare" tops several "Worst of" lists in the "Doctor Who" pantheon. Worst costumes, certainly. There's not a single character in this piece who's dressed sensibly. Starting at the top, Romana appears to be dressed in a gray maternity gown. With red trim. Most of the starship crew is dressed in leather: the ship's crewmen are wearing red sleeveless vests with glitter added. And white pancake makeup, to boot. The two federal agents whose comic banter takes over the second half of the story, are dressed like the biker from the Village People. Tryst's team wears white T-shirts under black vests, so the only thing missing, cleary, is the rhinestone studding. Daker's black jumpsuit has spandex sleeves. I won't even get into what the starship passengers are wearing. I fly coach three times a month and they just don't issue that at the departure gate.
The special effects are bad. The opening shot is of a styrofoam spaceship wobbling its way across the stars. There's a lot of experimental computer imaging in this 1979 epic, but explosions happen before the gun blasts which cause them, and after Della is shot in the neck, she famously falls to the floor clutching her midriff.
So why, then, is "Nightmare of Eden" so entertaining? At what point does "bad" become "good"?
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a big Doctor Who fan, and purchase every episode as it comes out of DVD. If you're a casual viewer, though, this may not be one of the must-have episodes.

The story-line is pretty good. The spaceship "Empress" emerged from hyperspace in the exact spot where the spaceship "Hecate" already was. This caused the two ships to be locked together - intermingled, as the two ships co-exist in the same time and space. Not good. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 arrive, and set to separating the ships.

But there's something else going on. One of the Empress passengers is Tryst, a zoologist, who has a Continual Event Transmuter (CET). This gadget stores a part of a planet, its flora, fauna & minerals, on crystals, to be eventually "projected" (brought back to full physical size). Now that's the kind of toy that begs to be misused. And it is, and people die before the Doctor can put things back to right.

The costuming of the Mandrels has to be some of the worst costuming ever for a Doctor Who adversary, and depending on your point of view, that's a plus or a minus!

There isn't much well-placed humor, and I think it could have used it. Tom Baker is my favorite of the classic Doctor Who's, but his companion in this episode, Romana (played by Lalla Ward), is not my favorite sidekick personality; she's usually too dry for me.

Here's a list of the extras, according to a British website:

1. Digitally remastered picture and sound quality
2. Commentary with actors Lalla Ward (Romana) and Peter Craze (Costa, a customs inspector), writer Bob Baker, effects designer Colin Mapson and make-up designer Joan Stribling. The commentary is moderated by Toby Hadoke (who was not involved with the episode.)
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Nightmare of Eden is an interesting little conundrum. The story is actually quite interesting. However, in contrast to the interesting story you have some less than effective monster costumes, a couple of poor performances, and a lack of direction.

First for the story, I think that Bob Baker created a taut little thriller for his first, and only, solo story for Doctor Who: two spaceships are fused together when they accidentally materialize in the same place at the same time. First, there is the problem of trying to separate these two ships especially since it's difficult because of spatial instability where the ships overlap. Then you have a mystery about who is smuggling drugs, with a storyline that shows the dangers of drug use and addiction. You also have a subplot with an unstable virtual zoo (somewhat like the machine in Carnival of Monsters), and a few cheap shots at package vacations and insurance adjustors.

Unfortunately, this story was let down by the realities of budget constraints (the ridiculous Mandrells); the fact that this was created in 1979 (costumes...); a director that allowed some over-the-top performances (the character of Tryst and at least some of Tom Baker's scenes). Actually, after listening to all of the problems they had making this story, I'm impressed it turned out as well as it did. The Mandrells could possibly been saved if they had only been filmed in low-light settings like the jungle set, but to have them trundling through the very brightly lit spaceship corridors really showed their shortcomings. As for the comment about 1979: let's be honest the disco space wear just really hasn't aged well, in fact this is a problem that both this story and Destiny of the Daleks had in common.
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