Romana and The Doc join Space Theseus in a Space Labyrinth to help prevent an invasions of Space Minotaurs
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A pilot, a co-pilot, and a bunch of people in yellow jumpsuits are jetting across space in a decrepit craft from the Skonnan Empire. Said jumpsuit aficionados are in fact being brought from their home planet of Aneth to be used as tributes to a local deity called the Nimon. The overzealous copilot manages to break the ship, however, and in addition to nearly collapsing themselves into a black hole, his unorthodox manoeuvre sucks in the TARDIS.
Thankfully, the Time Lord Duo are able to repair the damage before it’s too late, but they don’t leave before the copilot speeds off with his tributes and a fresh Gallifreyan hostage, Romana, to sacrifice to the Nimon. So while she must now lead the Aneths through the inevitable labyrinth on Skonnos, Doc must race to catch up with the action.
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Simultaneously hard sci fi and the campiest Who serial ever, this one is frankly weird. It feels a lot like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and apparently I’m not the first one to think it would be well suited to musical theatre. That said, novelty doesn’t make up for everything, and this is at turns very dull.
If less time had been spent on special effects shots of Nimons coming through a black hole portal, and more time had been spent giving those Nimons a musical number to perform and maybe some can-can kicks to do, we would have had something. But that wasn’t where the BBC put its resources, and so I’m going to have to give this a flat 3.0, more for potential than execution.
When Tom and Lalla were on speaking terms they had one of the best Doctor-Companion relationships in Classic Who; we see that here sometimes.
Romana had more to do than the Doctor in this serial, who spent most of his time being a mechanic.
Dr Who has often set the bar incredibly high for ham-villains and exaggerated deaths, but Soldeed jumps it like it was nothing.
The Skonnens are the henchmen of the piece, although they are so inept, Skeletor wouldn’t hire them. They have Fallout 4 style technology, but as this was a culture in decline, it made sense for the sets to look old and unmaintained. I came to like the Co-Pilot, with his pathetic berating of the Meeklings and his feeble lies, finished off with the indignity of dying then splitting his pants.
I actually like the Nimon (although I can’t stop suspecting they might be shite) who were wearing platform shoes to make them taller, but also makes them walk like 8 year-olds would while pretending to be monsters.
Having seen Horns of Nimon before, I thought my first Who-back-when review was going to be really negative, but watching it fresh (Spoiler alert) I don’t hate this. It was an easy watch, it was well-paced and the story built nicely (although the Skonnens seemed to let the Dr and the Meeklings go far too easily at the end; it’s as if they knew the serial was nearly over).
Fine, but by no means a classic.
Aaaah! You’ve finally got to it the Plan 9 from Outer Space of Doctor Who!
The guy playing Soldeed is literally crawling the walls in every scene. Bloody brilliant!
“Lord Niiiiiiiiimonnnnn…it is I, Soldeed!”
“MY DREAMS OF CONQUEST!!”
Are the Nimons unable to do anything without going ‘roaaar’ all the time?!
Why does the co pilot (he never gets a name) keep going into the back of the ship and shouting WEAKLING SCUM the whole time?!
Everything looks so cheap.
Romana gets so much screen time and has her own sonic screwdriver! The Doctor spends ages arsing about with K9 in the TARDIS (the bit with the rosette is so weird).
Fucking love it! The definition of so bad it’s good!
Ok, I’ll not beat around the bush here, when I showed the whole series to my wife (a 5 year undertaking only just finished) THIS is the story out of everything that stuck out the most. Frankly it’s nothing short of perfect, the synergy of hammy acting, the script and a complete and total lack of money make this story absolutely perfect.
Continuing the season 17 trend of “we’ve spent all the money on the final story (Shada)”, The Horns of Nimon is a good example of a reasonable story let down by having no expense spent.
I am not sure what to make of Graham Crowden’s portrayal of Soldeed. On the one hand it’s a masterclass on how to overact whilst keeping a straight face, but on the other hand you wonder if the director has a grip on the production. There are a few questions that go unanswered too. If the Nimon are so advanced, why do they need the help of technologically inferior races to collect the tribute? What is the purpose of the maze? Why are there no women on Skonnos?
We do at least get a classic line delivered by monsters throughout Doctor Who: “Kill him! But not yet…” (almost as famous as “I’ll explain later”). It’s a good story for Romana too, as she gets things to do beyond just handing tools to the Doctor. I love that she has built her own sonic screwdriver, and whilst it’s not featured much in the TV story, the novelisation makes it clear that it’s superior to the Doctor’s sonic.
Overall, this is a story you can laugh about with other Whovians, but not one to show when you’re trying to get someone interested in the series. 2.5/5
Things I Liked:
Summary: there are many good episodes of Doctor Who and there are many fun moments in Doctor Who. But there are very few stories that are genuinely hilarious. I suspect this tongue-in-cheek fun will only return with the Seventh Doctor story The Happiness Patrol.
Rating: 4.7/5 “weakling scum” Aneth teens refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a perfectly nutritious Nimon midnight snack. Slurp.
Greetings weakling scum! For my review, just take most what I said from last week and double down, but this one does it better.
The relationship between the Doctor and Romana reaches a perfect symbiosis in this episode and remains there until her departure. It’s one of the reasons I admire this era of stories. Soldeed is sooooo overdone you just gotta love him, and never have I ever rooted so much for an insignificant background character as Seth, but that’s probably because of Tika.
The design is done with such care. Exteriors are a little un-defined, yet still artistic. The interiors are fascinating to look at, with the possible exception of the circuit maze which is understandably repetitive. Costuming and makeup are perfect.
That leaves us with the Nimon in the room. It’s time for another plushy. They are enjoyably portrayed. What a horrible, and yet amazing creature of contradiction. The face, great, the horns blah, the cowl, great and blah. The deep black outfit with a gold skirt, great and dumb. The shoes, gotta go, but gotta love em. All this would amount to a joke however were it not for the refreshing, committed pantomime acting, and the invigorating double voice effect. I simply love it.
One parting thought. Imagine being cast as a character, prominently featured in 4 episodes of Dr. Who, but never uttering a single sound. Would you do it? Of course you would. You’d act your essence out. It’s a great journey of life.
(Now you know how to pronounce it)
The Horns of Nimon is a very clever piece of writing disguised as a comic pantomime and it offers much to those who want to laugh at Doctor Who and those who want to take it seriously. The gags and outrageous performances will make you chuckle but when it needs to be serious (the truth about the tribute, Romana’s trip to Crinoth) it becomes sedately earnest. It’s the last of old school Doctor Who where the show relied on strong storytelling and from here on in (including the new series) we are mostly treated to witty scripts and strong productions (with some standout exceptions). As such Nimon should be praised for its engaging use of ideas and dense plot construction rather than criticised for its lack of resources. The story tips over into farce (hello Graeme Crowden) but collectively I found this story a huge dollop of fun with some unexpected statements on some very tired ideas: 4.0
Plus Who Back When can now pronounce Nimon correctly! ?
Once again Classic Who delves in to Greek mythology – this time it’s Theseus and the Minotaur that gets the treatment.
Graham Crowden (who was offered the part of the Doctor before Tom Baker got the part) is waaaaay over the top as Soldeed and pretty much steals every scene he’s in, although often it feels too much, his death scene is tremendous.
The models and sets are great, the Skonnan ship has a definite USS Enterprise/Defiant vibe, and the Skonnos locations and labyrinth also make a nice change for long white corridors, although whoever thought about having the metal grating on the floor wants feeding to the Nimon – it’s too bloody naff and noisy!
Costume wise, Romana looks fab as does Soldeed, but Sorak looks like the Sydney Opera House on legs, and the Anethans are dressed in some very 70s gold curtains!
The Nimons are badly realised and in no way scary, and they walk around like they’re trying to hold in a poo!!
Romana gets lots to do in this story and largely outshines the Doctor and I wish we had more stories where this is the case. The story between Seth and Chicken Tikka is a fun counterpoint to the myth which the story is based on, but I wonder how long it’ll be after they get back to Aneth that Seth ghosts her.
Overall the acting is just a little too pantomime-y to make this truly great and of the Greek myth stories I preferred Underworld, but that said it is quite fun, so I award this story 3.0 gravitic anomalisers out of 5
In the name of the second Skonnon empire!