Here’s a Doctor Who story I’m not very familiar with, a rare solo outing for writer Bob Baker. Nightmare of Eden starts with the pilots of a space cruise ship. One of them is all business, but the other one is played like he’s high on drugs or something. I presume this will be explained. There’s a collision, with the cruiser rematerialising in the path of another ship, and the two are fused together.
That’s when the Doctor and Romana (II) arrive. She urges caution.
ROMANA I don't think we should interfere
THE DOCTOR Interfere? Of course we should interfere. Always do what you're best at, that's what I always say.
The pilots of the two ships have an argument about whose insurance should cover the damage. “I’d say it was knock for knock” says the Doctor.
We discover the co-pilot is on drugs after all, one that induces apathy and complacency, called Vraxoin.
One of the passengers is Professor Tryst, played by Lewis Fiander with an extremely odd mittel-european accent.
He’s a biologist who wants to catalogue every living species in the galaxy. Quite a task. He has developed a machine which shrinks specimens down to a tiny size and stored them in data crystals, where they continue to grow. It sounds a bit like the Miniscope in Carnival of Monsters.
Romana flips through some of the locations stored in the machine. This one looks a bit like a stock shot from Space 1999.
I like the way the production team have made no effort to disguise some file drawers.
The big reveal of a monster at the end is a little disappointing.
While looking for K9, the Doctor spots a suspicious character and gives chase – it looks like Trevor Horn off of The Buggles.
There’s some outrageous doubling and tripling of identical sets and corridors t make the ship look bigger, especially when the Doctor runs through the same set, and the same set of extras three times.
The cliffhanger of episode two is interesting, as The Doctor and Romana, running from some excessively bureaucratic cops, jump right into Professor Tryst’s projection from his collecting machine into the sample from the planet Eden. This is quite a cerebral cliffhanger, more mystery than threat.
Episode Three sees the Doctor and Romana meeting Evil Trevor Horn, who turns out to be Professor Tryst’s lost crewmember, thought to have died on Eden, and who further turns out to be a drug enforcement officer on the trail of people trafficking Vraxoin. We also discover that when the Mandrells die, their bodies dessiccate into pure Vraxoin.
The episode reaches its climax when they attempt to separate the two fused ships, and the vision mixer’s effects sliders go all the way up to 11.
Episode Four reveals that it’s Tryst behind the smuggling, and sees the crew using ray guns to round up a load of Mandrells, which seems excessively cruel. But when their guns run low on energy, and the Mandrells turn on them, The Doctor brings them under control with a dog whistle, which is a very Doctor Who thing.
It gets a bit Panto when he leads them back into the crystal projection of Eden. “My arms! My legs! My everything!”
This isn’t the show at its best. The budget is starting to look very stretched, and the monster design doesn’t really inspire fear. I like the fact that it’s touching on issues like drugs, and the aliens being the source of the suggests Frank Herbert’s Dune might have been an inspiration.
This was part of the season when my old boss Douglas Adams was script editor, and you can occasionally glimpse his voice in the dialogue, especially between The Doctor and Romana. It never reaches the exquisite peak of City of Death, but the style is there.
After the last episode, there’s a trailer for other programmes, which is cut off as the recording stops, and underneath there’s one of the previous episode recordings continuing, with a black and white movie. According to the credits at the end it’s The Last Appointment.
After this there’s a trailer for The Million Pound Note, Then we get some pop videos. There’s Dreams by The Cranberries, On A Leash by Salad (me neither), Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by the Crash Test Dummies, It Will Be You by Paul Young and Lick a Shot by Cypress Hill.
UK Gold closes down with a look at programmes for Friday Evening.
Then, UK Gold switches over the What’s In Store – basically a whole channel dedicated to long-form infomercials.
The first one, though, is quite interesting. Dick Van Patten invites you to buy a Magic course, from Mark Wilson, author of one of the most respected general books on magic.
Of course, this is exactly as annoying as all the other infomercial, but at least he’s also doing magic tricks.
The next infomercial is in the Amazing Discoveries series wherein regular host Mike Levy eschews his usual woolly jumper for an equally ugly shellsuit. They’re selling diet and exercise in this one, hence Mike showing off ‘Mr Fat’.
Such a programme wouldn’t be complete without the mulleted personal trainer, here it’s Tony Little, ‘America’s top certified personal trainer.’
He’s very enthusiastic. Whatever his exercise regimen is, it makes you shout a lot.
The next one is selling you a Wok. Yes, this was the 90s when the Wok was an exotic and mysterious implement virtually unknown to western households.
There’s a game I used to play with programmes like this. Look at what they’re selling, then imagine the absolute maximum you’d pay for it. In almost every case, the selling price turns out to twice my absolute top price.
In this one they’re selling a wok, with a couple of implements thrown in, for £40 + £5 p&p.
Then there’s a programme that will help you ‘win the war against Acne.’
But wait! There’s more. Quick ‘n’ Brite cleaner. Only £25 for a 2 litre bucket.
The tape runs out during this one.
- L’Oreal Perfection
- Mother’s Boys in cinemas
- Nestle Clusters
- Mars Dark and Light
- VW Passat
- Special K
- Head & Shoulders
- Speed Kills
- trail: Cher Extravaganza