Doctor Who #526: The Horns of Nimon Part 3

"I fawn to him a little. That satisfies his bestial ego and he gives us what I ask. I play the Nimon on a long string."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.5 1980.

IN THIS ONE... The Nimon start their backdoor invasion of Skonnos.

REVIEW: The Nimon has set itself up as a god to turn tributes into the energy needed to puncture a hole in spacetime (the ill-named black hole) and allow its people to T Mat to Skonnos before their own planet dies. And there's every possibility that they've tricked other worlds as well, and might grab themselves an empire overnight. The Nimon's complex/temple is actually a massive circuit, and the walls of its labyrinth change as the giant computer processes the wormhole into being. What's even more interesting is that Soldeed doesn't really believe in his "god" and thinks he's only patronizing it, playing on its ego, so he can get the empire HE wants. He's being played of course. So it's incredibly frustrating to have these epic and/or well-observed ideas in a serial that only cares about camping it up.

On paper, Soldeed has that one moment of clarity. On screen, he's just over the top and silly, walking the corridors beckoning the Nimon in a yoo-hooooooo tone and spouting matinée villain insults. And he's incredibly stupid. After trying to open the TARDIS in vain, he doesn't notice the door closing behind K9 when the tin dog is summoned. And in the cliffhanger, what's the worth of shouting at the Doctor not to touch the Nimon's machines and then destroying them yourself? Sadly, he's not alone. The Anethans don't know when it's a good idea to run, and Teka sure overestimates Seth's ability to defeat the monster. There's that room full of Skonnan generals limply cheering Soldeed. A worst bunch of extras, you're unlikely to meet. And there's the Nimon who is just BLIND and DEAF if he can't see or hear the Doctor and Romana skulking around behind him.

Worse, it's rubbed off on the Doctor. There's that silly sequence where the Doctor plays matador with a red cape, which would work better if they hadn't dressed Romana in a red riding outfit. Does the color incense and confuse the Nimon or not? And stupidly, he sends Romana to inspect the T Mat "egg" capsule and then accidentally sends her to the Nimon planet. That's just ramping up the danger by sacrificing the characters' integrity. Yes, the Doctor is easily distracted and often makes mistakes, but that's really taking the cake. Under these conditions, I can't even enjoy the idea that the Time Lords are inspecting the capsule with nothing more than a small spoon. I'm all for Time Lord super-tasting power, but it really just feels like another gag in a story that has too many of them.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - What a way to enter a new decade, with panto smothering every good idea the script evidently had.

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