The Horns of Nimon

Region 1

Region 2
Box Set
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 108, starring Tom Baker)
  • written by Anthony Read
  • directed by Kenny McBain
  • produced by Graham Williams
  • music by Dudley Simpson
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: While making some less-than-safe repairs to the TARDIS, the Doctor and Romana come to the aid of an old adrift Skonnon spaceship that blew its engines while transporting "tribute" from the subjugated world of Aneth. Is there a distant black hole affecting the craft, or is it something artificial being constructed nearby? Who, or what, is the dreaded Nimon that lives in the heart of a labyrinth on the Imperial planet Skonnos? And why does he demand such peculiar sacrifices?

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actors Lalla Ward (Romana), Janet Ellis (Teka), Graham Crowden (Soldeed), and writer Anthony Read.
  • interview of writer Anthony Read on the production of this story (6 min.)
  • "Peter Howell Music Demos" (3 min.)
  • Pop-up Production Note subtitles
  • Photo Gallery
  • "Who Peter - Partners in Time" featurette (30 min.) on the long-running symbiotic relationship
    between Doctor Who and the children's magazine show "Blue Peter".

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 here.)

"The Horns of Nimon" actually does deserve a lot of the negative criticism it has gotten in the past, but it also has its good points. Post-production and model work are again very visually ambitious, and a lot of effective sequences are achieved. The script has a good story that is also quite well structured and plotted, and the Nimon itself has a creatively interesting voice and costume.

That said, the bad points close in mercilessly. The scripted dialogue is full of ill-conceived gags, which get played up too much by the rest of the cast and crew. Much has been said and written about how important the character next to the Doctor is in helping him explain the plot to the audience. Notice the perversion of this taking place in this story: instead of letting the odd mediocre gag or joke slip through quickly, the person next to the joker often stops everything to ask to have the joke explained. Very bad move, because instead of making the joke more funny, it has the opposite effect, while also slowing down the story. Now the audience must witness a character who didn't "get it", which makes the joke and the joker seem less funny.

Notice how many other scenes are full of nothing but characters who can't understand what they're looking at, or are unable to learn anything from the phenomenon they explore or investigate. This is particularly a waste of time when they refer to the TARDIS or K9, because not only are they unable to pull out relevant information or suspenseful questions for the audience, but they are in fact struggling to catch up with and keep up with the audience. Such scenes are painfully boring to watch. Not attempted are any humorously wrong theories, like when Jago related how convinced he was of the Doctor's background at Scotland Yard in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (story no. 91). Endless scenes of characters simply not knowing anything don't deserve to have cameras turned on them. Quality science-fiction needs characters that are properly skilled and equipped to explore and investigate the concepts, places, and other beings that they encounter. Unfortunately, the guest characters of "The Horns of Nimon" give us a heavy dose of the opposite.

And then there's Soldeed, who turns out to be a nearly completely unwatchable character. Lalla Ward's otherwise wonderful portrayal of Romana suffers badly whenever she plays opposite him, especially when the two descend into childish shouting matches.

"The Horns of Nimon" really is Romana's story more than the Doctor's though. It's off the usual format, but nice for a change. Her costume also rivals the Doctor's nicely in style, less so than in "Destiny of the Daleks" (story no. 104), but not by much.

Luckily, I don't think anyone can fault John Bailey's portrayal of Sezom. He is perfectly cast here, considering his earlier role as Edward Waterfield in "The Evil of the Daleks" (story no. 36). His performance is still just as powerful now as it was at the end of season four. :-)

The TARDIS has some unusual manoeuvres to perform early in the story, which demonstrate the craft quite literately and prove interesting in themselves. However, the console and interior are in such a state of disrepair, and with this element also being treated with more misplaced gags than seriousness, this remains a story not well suited to be anyone's first impression of Doctor Who.

Special Music Demo Cues by Peter Howell
feature on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Volume 2

More info & buying options

"The Horns of Nimon" surely wins the Wooden Turkey Award for least favourite season seventeen story. However I will say that I prefer the bright clean electronically enhanced sci-fi shenanigans of this story over the dark amoral sicknesses and boredoms of "The Brain of Morbius" (story no. 84) anyday.

This story has become available on DVD and VHS video:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
Box Set
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC for North America
PAL for the U.K.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story:
the unfinished, never broadcast, enigmatic "Shada"

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