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Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden
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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
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The story and characters are weak and the producer wanted to save money which affected everything.
The sets are actually very good and the SFX are decent but the director Alan Bromly just didn't understand Doctor Who. So much so in fact he tired of the struggle and walked away!
Graham Williams the producer, had to step in and finish up.
This affected the actors, their performances are tense and uninspired.
There are some interesting concepts in this story and they are well represented but most of the characters dialogue is a waste of time.
In one scene the Doctor has to bite the root of a carnivorous plant that is attacking him and it sprays his face with juice and he tells Romana something like, "You know, that doesn't taste at all bad."
I am disappointed by the lack of intensity shown regarding drug addiction.
The loss of family, friends and one's own life really aren't discussed.
I think Heroin itself would have been a much more powerful drug of choice to represent.
Immobilizing and peaceful, it makes death attractive.
I can't think of any drug more evil and misleading.
The Mandrel creatures whose bodies become the drug Vraxoin when they die are ridiculous Muppet looking humanoids.
A very poor cost cutting measure.
Considering what potential they have they should be horrible demons, not child friendly cartoons.
The planet Eden itself looks more like a WalMart Garden Center, not the Biblical Garden Of Eden.
This story may have had good intentions at the beginning but I don't think they happened, not effectively anyway.
I do like the Professor Tryst character even though he is a smuggler/dealer, he reminds me of Peter Fonda and Peter Sellers.
There is a photo of a model set used in the Guardian Of Piri episode of SPACE:1999 to illustrate the capabilities of Professor Tryst's CET device.
Another cost cutting measure.
This may be the worst Tom Baker story ever and if so it really isn't saying much. It is still enjoyable.
I just see it as mediocre Saturday Morning kid stuff like Sid & Marty Krofft's work.
This review is for the Import PAL Format release of this title.
Mono Audio and Audio Navigation for the vision impaired.
My favorite included extra, The Nightmare Of Television Centre includes a wrap-party T Shirt that reads, "I AM RELIEVED THE NIGHTMARE IS OVER".
The British are so formal and proper, even when sarcastic!
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. The crew of the starcruiser looked like escapees from a Village People concert, and so did the excise men for that matter. Finally, for the performances this story really needed a stronger director and/or producer: Lewis Flander, playing the scientist Tryst, should not have been allowed to use such a stereotypical accent. No other character had any sort of noticeable accent, so the fact that only one character had an accent stood out like a sore thumb. Also, I think Tom Baker needed a stronger personality to rein in some of his tendencies, the most glaring example is the way over-the-top scene where the Doctor leads the Mandrells back into the projection, then moans about his arm, his leg, his everything from offscreen...
On the positive side, Tom Baker beautifully underplayed a couple of scenes to great affect: the best instance is the scene where Tryst tries to validate his actions, and the Doctor quietly tells him to "Go away." Lalla Ward has grown quite comfortable in her role as Romana, and is nearly the Doctor's equal. Also, since Bob Baker, one of the creators of the K-9 character, wrote the story, K-9 was used to good affect in this story. There were also a couple of nice supporting performances, most notably David Daker as the spaceship captain who slowly descends into drug addiction; his role was very subtly and effectively played.
The extras could have been quite interesting, because it sounds like there were a lot of very strong memories about the difficulties in creating this story. Unfortunately, the extra features felt like they were slapped quickly together, and are a bit on the shoddy side. The first extra is a very short interview with Bob Baker discussing what it was like to write his only solo Doctor Who story. "The Nightmare of Television Centre" discusses the many problems encountered trying to finish this story. Again this was quite interesting, but it felt too short, and from listening to the commentary it seemed that this story had left an indelible mark on most of those involved with its production, so I would have to assume it could have been expanded even though the director and producer are no longer with us. There is also an interview with Lalla Ward from a show called Ask Aspell which was done around the time that this story was either filmed or being shown, which is kind of fun. Of course there is the usual photo gallery, production information subtitles, and Radio Times information. Finally there is an odd extra called "The Doctor's Strange Love" which really comes off as a fan panel from a Doctor Who convention. The most annoying thing about the fan panel bit is that it was longer than the making of featurette, "Nightmare of Television Centre."
The commentary option was pretty good. Toby Hadoke once again moderates a group of people who rotate through the booth. The biggest bonus is that someone must have had a talk with Lalla Ward, and told her to take it down a notch or three in her comments about Tom Baker. While she obviously still doesn't have warm and fuzzy feelings towards Tom Baker, her discussions of him on the commentary primarily focus on his commitment to the program, and how seriously he took the role. (A welcome relief after the other commentary tracks that I've heard with Lalla Ward.) Also contributing to the commentary was Bob Baker, the writer; Colin Mapson, effects designer; Joan Stribling, make-up designer; and Peter Craze, who played a customs inspector. It's a lively group that covers a lot of aspects of the production and there were some interesting discussions about the various eras of the show that each had worked on. Peter Craze is also the brother of the late Michael Craze who played a companion to Patrick Troughton's Doctor, and gave an insight into how this show and it's fandom had affected his brother's life.
While I think the story could have qualified for a 4, its' production was less than optimal and brings it down to a 3. (Somewhat similar to how I felt about Creature from the Pit, an interesting story that was tremendously let down by production values and a few performances). But for rating the DVD release, I feel you also need to consider the extras, and the extras are rather lackluster giving this DVD an overall rating of 3. This really isn't a must-have story, but it definitely has its moments. So, should you buy it? Well, that really depends. If you are just trying to collect a few essential stories from each Doctor, then you can bypass this story. It's interesting, but definitely not essential. If you're a big Tom Baker fan, then you'll probably want this, however I would probably wait a bit to see if the price drops.
Okay, first of all, the acting can be simply dire, with the actor playing Tryst being absolutely awful. However, Tom Baker and Lalla Ward both give fantastic performances. The script is all over the place, and is in such a rush to tie every subplot together that it actually hampers the story. The pacing is clunky, and the story doesn't become interesting until episode 3. Also, the production is simply hilarious. The Mandrels are some of the worst monsters to appear in the show, and the sets are awful. I know it sounds like there is nothing to recommend here, but there are actually some fantastic standalone moment. But for every great moment, or funny Tom Baker line, there is a terrible set or a pointless and convoluted plot point. I only recommend the story if you are a fan of the classic series. If you're looking to get in to Tom Baker, I wouldn't start here.