Doctor Who #522: Nightmare of Eden Part 3

"The passengers should be your first concern, yet I find you drunkenly looking on as they are attacked and killed! Well?" "They're only economy class. What's all the fuss about?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Dec.8 1979.

IN THIS ONE... There's a narc agent on/in Eden, and barbecued Mandrels makes vraxoin.

REVIEW: Though perhaps not as pronounced, the acute pointlessness of Part 2 does continue in Part 3. The Doctor and Romana argue about whether to name a random direction "East" or "North" (Romana should read her Bible, it's clear it should be East), and when they try to disentangle the ships, Fisk tries to stop it for no other reason than that would advance the stalled plot. But while this is all rather annoying, it's nothing compared to the massive plot holes and unexplainable science being demonstrated. Tryst has created "bigger-on-the-inside" TARDIS tech BY ACCIDENT, though apparently, you don't have to use the viewer as a portal, any unstable matter zone will do (so why aren't there creatures from the other environments he's got in there?). Stott the narc agent gets trapped in the Eden zoo, escapes, but returns because that's somehow a good "base"? And stupidest of all, if you fry a Mandrel, it'll decompose and turn into vraxoin, previously said to be an extinct fungus' byproduct. Does it make sense for the same drug to have two completely unrelated sources like that? Why don't we have cocaine squirrels and marijunalligators then? The silliness of the premise destroys any good will I might otherwise have had towards the clever idea of smuggling drugs in a carry-on ecosystem.

So I've seen more complimentary reviews of Nightmare of Eden than mine calling it surprisingly mature for its era. I suppose the whole drug angle might give it that label, and we do have Rigg here coming down HARD from his high. While I don't dispute this, but with its cuddly monsters, caricatured accents and crazy plot holes, I rather think Nightmare is GOOFY. So in its moments of violence, it seems sadistic and overblown, not "adult". The Doctor bites a giant man-eating flower in the roots, causing a ridiculous chlorophyll spray. Unnecessarily gory. The Doctor callously kicks a prone/dead Mandrel. Just ugly. And when that Mandrel actually dies at the end of a power cable, it's rather disturbing to watch a relatively cute creature's chest and face cave in like that. Meanwhile, anyone who tries to take a swing at someone else is so badly choreographed, they might as well be in a pantomime fight. Nightmare of Eden should take itself more seriously, or less. It certainly doesn't achieve the right balance.

At least Part 3 reveals some crucial information. Stott isn't dead and is a drug enforcement agent. Tryst and Dymond are partners in crime. Mandrels = Vraxoin. But then you get to yet another dialog fluff, or to a scene where a Mandrel attacks passengers next to the only giant ALARM button we've seen in the serial and you wonder if anyone's really making an effort.

- The plot slowly gets out of the mud and starts to move again, but it moves in stupendously idiotic and tone-deaf directions.



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