Nightmare of Eden
|(Doctor Who Story No. 107, starring Tom Baker)
- written by Bob Baker
- directed by Alan Bromly
- produced by Graham Williams
- music by Dudley Simpson
- 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: When a cruise liner and
a cargo ship emerge from hyperspace
in the same place and fuse together
above the planet Azure,
the Doctor answers their distress call
and finds himself untangling more than
he bargained for. Will Zoologist Tryst's
habitat miniaturization machine keep all
his specimens contained? Are there
Vraxoin drug smugglers at work aboard
the cruise liner? And who or what is the
mysterious figure in the shadows of
the Eden projection?
DVD Extras include:
- Audio commentary by
writer Bob Baker,
actors Lalla Ward (Romana) and
Peter Craze (Costa),
effects designer Colin Mapson, and
make-up supervisor Joan Stribling.
Moderated by Toby Hadoke.
- "Going Solo" interview of writer Bob Baker (8 min).
- Television Centre production featurette (13 min.),
with Colin Mapson,
video & laser effects designer A.J. "Mitch" Mitchell,
assistant floor manager Val McCrimmon.
- "Ask Aspel" interview of Lalla Ward (1980, 11 min.)
- Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
- Photo Gallery (6 min.)
- "The Doctor's Strange Love" fan appreciation featurette (16 min.)
Buyers' Guide Review
by Martin Izsak
(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended
for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed
No matter how great any television production may be, it is the
writing that determines the story content, without which the other
elements become mere empty calories and window dressing. And it is
mostly due to excellently rich writing why "Nightmare of Eden" blows
away all other contenders for my favourite season seventeen story.
The narrow view of time travel and the Doctor's doomsaying impotence in
"City of Death" (story no. 105)
drop that particular story into an honourable second place.
On the level of social themes, Bob Baker's strong script for
"Nightmare of Eden" explores the problems and dangers
of drug addiction, the how and why of trafficking, and
the authorities' red-tape inadequacy to deal with the problem.
David Daker's portrayal of Rigg in particular is one of the most
dramatic elements of the entire
season. The script is full of plot twists and fantastical
science fiction ideas, and the pace never lets up for a moment.
The characters are very well motivated as written, thus even those
portrayed with a mediocre acting performance still seem real.
The Doctor is kept quite busy investigating and solving problems
all throughout the story, and he comes up with some very creative
solutions in the end. As in his previous scripts with Dave Martin,
Bob Baker gets the Doctor's character perfect, filling his screen
time with everything that I want to see him do, and nothing that I don't.
Production isn't perfect, but remains satisfying. The season
continues to boast a large quantity and quality of model work
and electronic effects, much to my personal satisfaction.
Particularly in the last episode, the model work contributes
greatly to the atmosphere as some of the final secrets of the
story are discovered. A lot of the studio footage is not composed
in a fashion to make it easy to add visual laser beams, but A.J. Mitchell
devises a nice combination of line-of-fire beam and impact flashes,
and moves things around as required to keep it as decent as possible.
Humour seems to have top priority, even over dramatic realism, but then
what season seventeen story doesn't display this tendency at times?
Unfortunately, Romana's costume for this story is a true eyesore,
and many of the extras aren't able to manage a remotely convincing
performance, particularly during the closing action. At another
point, one early character, meant to be a crewmember, seems
to make a better television reporter instead, more excited by his
"exclusive" on the accident than worried about the threat to himself
and his ship, or what he should be doing about it.
Indeed, the opening warp-smash does not have the impact it
deserves, despite the technical brilliance and complexity of the
eye-candy model shots and phasing effects, largely because of sound
and the composition of the sequence itself. We need to see the ships
shaking and grinding into position, and hear a cacophony of devastating
sound effects, but unfortunately all we get is a tired, whiney piece
of music that can't possibly do the sequence justice all on its own.
The rest of Dudley Simpson's score is far better, effectively backing
many of the detective-work scenes with the same style of piano
dramatics as he had done with similar scenes in "City of Death".
Dick Mills also later comes up with some very creative, creepy sound loops
for areas of the ship that are not stable, allowing the story
to gain atmosphere where it is needed most.
The performances from the major characters are well done. Della
and Stott are solid, while Secker successfully achieves a
necessary range in a short period of time. Captains Rigg and Dymond
are exceptional, and, I think, comparable to any of the great performances
of the Hinchcliffe era.
Tryst and Fisk are much more satirical characters that may not
sit as well with those without a sense of humour. I find them highly
enjoyable, and they remain interesting on repeat viewing.
The Mandrells... were they meant to be scary? Perhaps the writer,
director, and all the actors playing Mandrells thought they should be,
and didn't quite achieve as spectacular a job of that as they'd hoped.
Personally, I don't think the story needs frightening monsters to be
effective, thanks to so much other interesting stuff going on.
There's more to be said on this subject, but I'll leave that and
all the potential spoilers that go with it for the
in-depth analysis version of this review.
If you're a fan of the horror/fearful elements of Doctor Who,
"Nightmare of Eden" and its Mandrells may probably disappoint you.
you like a good science-fiction mystery, with social commentary and
satire thrown in, and a good dose of colourful eye-candy on top,
check out "Nightmare of Eden". It is one of the less-hyped classic
gems of Doctor Who.
This story has become available on DVD and VHS video:
|DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
|DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
in the U.S.
for the U.S. & Canada
for the U.K.
Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact
the author from this page: