The Horns of Nimon
|(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".
In-Depth Analysis Review
by Martin Izsak
WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for
those who have already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers,
read the Buyers' Guide version instead.
"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. Notice how often the story has her charging off to confront
the unknown while the Doctor and K9 trail behind and play catch-up.
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. I would have liked to see the Doctor reach
Crinoth, but he's got lots of other things to do instead.
Luckily, I don't think anyone can fault John Bailey's portrayal
of Sezom in the final episode. He is perfectly cast to recreate his
role as Edward Waterfield, only under a different name and circumstance
this time. He now regrets his collaboration with the Nimons just as he
did that with the Daleks, and he mourns for the future of Crinoth just
as he did for that of his daughter Victoria. It's 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
"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)
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.
for North America
for the U.K.
Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact
the author from this page:
Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story:
the unfinished, never broadcast, enigmatic