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Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden

Tom Baker , Lalla Ward    Unrated   DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 30.98
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"Interfere? Of course we should interfere! Always do what you're best at!" declares the Doctor at the beginning of Nightmare of Eden, a four-episode story from the classic British science fiction series Doctor Who. In no time at all, the Doctor is masquerading as an intergalactic insurance agent, seeking to separate two spaceships that merged interdimensionally, and investigating the smuggling of the most dangerous drug in the universe--and that's leaving out the alien monsters roaming around. Nightmare of Eden is a particularly jam-packed story from the Tom Baker era, considered by many to be the best of the early Doctors; with his mop of curly hair, his bulging eyes, and his toothy grin, Baker's Doctor was wildly capricious and charismatic as he jaunted around time and space, applying his fierce intelligence and staunch moral sense to all sorts of thorny situations. In Nightmare of Eden, the Doctor is accompanied by the second incarnation of Romana (Lalla Ward), a Time Lady, and the robot dog K-9, who is loved and hated in equal measure. Nightmare of Eden has even more cheesy special effects than usual (the spacecraft are particularly unconvincing), but the zippy plot, good dialogue, and solid performances--including some startling moments that mix humor and horror, potentially giving younger viewers unsettling dreams--keep the show engaging. Among the extras are a featurette about the fractious making of these episodes (loaded with caustic comments from technicians); reminiscences from the writer, Bob Baker (who later went on to write for Wallace & Gromit); an interview with Lalla Ward; and strange but enjoyable conversation by three people whose relationship to Doctor Who is never explained, but who cheerfully discuss Nightmare of Eden in engrossing detail. --Bret Fetzer


Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
One day, they will make a TV-movie about the October 2003 Staten Island Ferry disaster, and that movie will be atrocious. Right before the ferry is about to crash, some actor, who's already seen "Nightmare of Eden", will utter the line, "Oh no!". That's what actor David Daker did right before his character's starship collided with a space freighter. It is not, on its face, a proud moment, or a good beginning for a story.
"Nightmare" tops several "Worst of" lists in the "Doctor Who" pantheon. Worst costumes, certainly. There's not a single character in this piece who's dressed sensibly. Starting at the top, Romana appears to be dressed in a gray maternity gown. With red trim. Most of the starship crew is dressed in leather: the ship's crewmen are wearing red sleeveless vests with glitter added. And white pancake makeup, to boot. The two federal agents whose comic banter takes over the second half of the story, are dressed like the biker from the Village People. Tryst's team wears white T-shirts under black vests, so the only thing missing, cleary, is the rhinestone studding. Daker's black jumpsuit has spandex sleeves. I won't even get into what the starship passengers are wearing. I fly coach three times a month and they just don't issue that at the departure gate.
The special effects are bad. The opening shot is of a styrofoam spaceship wobbling its way across the stars. There's a lot of experimental computer imaging in this 1979 epic, but explosions happen before the gun blasts which cause them, and after Della is shot in the neck, she famously falls to the floor clutching her midriff.
So why, then, is "Nightmare of Eden" so entertaining? At what point does "bad" become "good"?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The profits of suffering... Jan. 23 2004
Format:VHS Tape
"First a collision, then a dead navigator, and now a monster's roaming about my ship. Well, it's totally inexplicable." So says Rigg, captain of the passenger liner Empress, to the Doctor.
What happened? A freak accident takes place within orbit of planet Azure. The Empress nearly collides with a small ship, the Hecate, while in lightspeed and materializes around the smaller ship so that they have fused together. The nose of the Hecate is sticking into the Empress, blocking the larger ship's access to the power room and passenger deck. The blurred overlap areas, or matter interfaces between the ships, however, are unstable.
Into this situation comes the Doctor, Romana, and K9. The Doctor offers to help separate the ships, something to which both Rigg and Dymond, pilot of the Hecate on a survey contract job, are amenable to. All that has to be done is to recreate the circumstances of the accident: "excite the molecules, full thrust, then full reverse." However, Rigg's navigator Secker, who got them into this accident, is on vraxoin, a highly addictive drug that "induces a warm complacency and total apathy until it wears off that is, and soon you're dead." In fact the Doctor's seen entire planets destroyed by this drug. Secker's then attacked and killed by something clawed. The questions are, who provided Secker with the vraxoin, and what killed Secker? After all, vraxoin can be detected by the Empress's scanning device, and the Empress's route is the milk run from Station 9 to Azure, nowhere else, with no stops inbetween. And who is the mystery man who knocks out the Doctor, then tries to evade him later?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching, but not a classic by any means May 14 2002
Format:VHS Tape
There are two Tom Baker eras - one is very dark, sophisticated and Gothic, the other is mostly rather tacky, childish and spoof-like. Unfortunately 'Nightmare of Eden' falls into the latter category. The idea behind it is sound enough, with interesting concepts such as two spaceships emerging from light-speed at the same point in space, as well as the grown-up theme of drug-smuggling. The problem lies in the story's execution. For a start, the central villain is just too comical to take seriously. Then there are the cartoon-like scenes in which the Doctor leads the Mandrels away, and later emerges from a mauling with his clothes in tatters but not a scratch on him. In fact the whole thing feels too much like a live cartoon. If you want a Dr Who story from the campier Tom Baker seasons you'd be better off with the far superior 'Sun Makers' or 'City of Death'.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare to watch July 7 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden

The first time I chanced on DOCTOR WHO, I couldn't believe how hokey it was.

The Doctor is an intergalactic time traveller who drops in on various planets to save it from archfiends. Usually the Earth because we always need saving --- mostly in England --- mostly near London. He is accompanied by a pretty screamer always, and sometimes by an adventuresome man or two.

The satire happened to be aired in a slot when I couldn't catch sleep, so I kept it on the telly, hoping that WHO might deliver my quarry. Until Lala Ward came in as the Screaming Maiden. I fell in love with her. So did Tom Baker, who played the Doctor. Their chemistry was palpable; they married during their stint. Campier than a Scout Jamboree, the cliches grow on you. The underfinanced production crew is in love with their silly work, and it shows. The interminable series holds a large following around the world, over 30 years, spawning movies and books. M.A.S.H., CHEERS, and DALLAS should be so durable.

The Curse of Eden is a morality tale about recreational drugs. Preaching is sudden death to most stories; remember those perils-of-sex instruction films, all you ex-draftees? This episode might be tolerated by hard-core addicts in love with the nunnish Mrs. Baker. Newcomers to the DOCTOR WHO camp should begin with the perennial threats to civilization as we know it, the Daleks, robots who destroy everything they see. Whimsical Tom Baker is the best loved of the many Doctors, but saturnine John Pertwee is the definitive character. Catch that hyperspacial theme music.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Here, have a jellybaby! Don't forget to brush your teeth!" May 11 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
"Nightmare of Eden" is actually a hidden gem. Even though the acting and direction is alittle awkward at times, and the design of the Mandrels(why is the Graham Williams era filled with unimaginative monsters?) is laughable, the story itself is very adult, one of the few Who strories to deal with the addiction of drugs. The script is absolutely hilarious! Tom Baker excells(as does Ward)! The scene where Rigg has been drugged by Vraxion, witnessing the massacre of his passengers on the Empress by the Mandrels is a scream: "What's all the fuss? They're only economy class?" David Briely's voice for K-9 this season is also a welcome change, almost giving him a personality and humor. Tryst gives us his best Dr. Strangelove/Peter Sellers impersonation(without the physical humor). I used to think that "The Creature From the Pit" was the funniest ever Tom Baker adventure, I might be wrong. But don't take my word for it, I liked "Time and the Rani"!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Have a jelly baby, and don't forget to brush your teeth" Feb. 29 2004
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
One day, they will make a TV-movie about the October 2003 Staten Island Ferry disaster, and that movie will be atrocious. Right before the ferry is about to crash, some actor, who's already seen "Nightmare of Eden", will utter the line, "Oh no!". That's what actor David Daker did right before his character's starship collided with a space freighter. It is not, on its face, a proud moment, or a good beginning for a story.
"Nightmare" tops several "Worst of" lists in the "Doctor Who" pantheon. Worst costumes, certainly. There's not a single character in this piece who's dressed sensibly. Starting at the top, Romana appears to be dressed in a gray maternity gown. With red trim. Most of the starship crew is dressed in leather: the ship's crewmen are wearing red sleeveless vests with glitter added. And white pancake makeup, to boot. The two federal agents whose comic banter takes over the second half of the story, are dressed like the biker from the Village People. Tryst's team wears white T-shirts under black vests, so the only thing missing, cleary, is the rhinestone studding. Daker's black jumpsuit has spandex sleeves. I won't even get into what the starship passengers are wearing. I fly coach three times a month and they just don't issue that at the departure gate.
The special effects are bad. The opening shot is of a styrofoam spaceship wobbling its way across the stars. There's a lot of experimental computer imaging in this 1979 epic, but explosions happen before the gun blasts which cause them, and after Della is shot in the neck, she famously falls to the floor clutching her midriff.
So why, then, is "Nightmare of Eden" so entertaining? At what point does "bad" become "good"?
Make no mistake, this is deep in the doldrums of Season 17. There's the serious plot masked by the off-the-wall script. Two spaceships collide, one still half in hyperspace. The resulting dimensional instability causes a bunch of ape-like monsters wearing bell-bottoms to kill a dozen extras merely by brushing their elongated arms across the victims' heads. Seriously, what is the message of "Nightmare of Eden"? With the customs agents trampling over everyone's civil rights, and the drugs giving several people a really bad trip (including, presumably, the director who quit and the costume designer), you could package this on the "Starsky & Hutch" DVD and it would seem right at home.
There are moments of great subtlety in the script. Before Vraxoin is slipped into his Kool-Aid, Rigg is unusually competent for a "Doctor Who" starship captain. He blows the Doctor's cover after just one scene, and holds his own on the witty banter front for several scenes after that. Once he gets high, he gets to deliver some wickedly funny lines ("They were only economy class, what's all the fuss about?"). The rest of the comedy is a little too broad (Geoffrey Hinsliff and Peter Craze are awful), and Lewis Fiander's accent remains baffling, but at least Fiander seems to be intentionally overacting, so I can take the joke. I do not understand, however, why he pronounced the word "three" as "ten". Or why customs officer Fisk is introduced as a "Water Guard". There was no water in this story. Again, it wasn't just Captain Rigg who was on the Vraxoin.
Tom Baker is completely off the wall. He's already been much maligned for the "Oh! My fingers! My arms! My legs! My everything! Ohh!" shtick. But he also bites into a phallic green appendage for the second story in a row (remember "The Creature From the Pit"?) and tells us that it "didn't taste at all bad." Lalla Ward remains the picture of confidence and competence. Maybe she was having flashbacks to "Hamlet".
I come away from "Nightmare" with Lewis Fiander saying: "We worked on this idea together, before he died, of course. Then we stopped." If I close my eyes, I am having a great time. And learning to brush my teeth after meals.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Average Episode - with Average Extras Feb. 24 2012
By Happy Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am a big Doctor Who fan, and purchase every episode as it comes out of DVD. If you're a casual viewer, though, this may not be one of the must-have episodes.

The story-line is pretty good. The spaceship "Empress" emerged from hyperspace in the exact spot where the spaceship "Hecate" already was. This caused the two ships to be locked together - intermingled, as the two ships co-exist in the same time and space. Not good. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 arrive, and set to separating the ships.

But there's something else going on. One of the Empress passengers is Tryst, a zoologist, who has a Continual Event Transmuter (CET). This gadget stores a part of a planet, its flora, fauna & minerals, on crystals, to be eventually "projected" (brought back to full physical size). Now that's the kind of toy that begs to be misused. And it is, and people die before the Doctor can put things back to right.

The costuming of the Mandrels has to be some of the worst costuming ever for a Doctor Who adversary, and depending on your point of view, that's a plus or a minus!

There isn't much well-placed humor, and I think it could have used it. Tom Baker is my favorite of the classic Doctor Who's, but his companion in this episode, Romana (played by Lalla Ward), is not my favorite sidekick personality; she's usually too dry for me.

Here's a list of the extras, according to a British website:

1. Digitally remastered picture and sound quality
2. Commentary with actors Lalla Ward (Romana) and Peter Craze (Costa, a customs inspector), writer Bob Baker, effects designer Colin Mapson and make-up designer Joan Stribling. The commentary is moderated by Toby Hadoke (who was not involved with the episode.)
3. The Nightmare of Television Centre - A look back at a somewhat troubled production with three of the behind-the-scenes crew who worked on it. There must have been some "interesting" times during the filming. Alan Bromly is credited as director, but he actually quit in the middle of production. Or, according to another source, "his services were dispensed with" by Graham Williams, the producer. Williams completed the episode as director (uncredited). In any case, the cause of Bromly's leaving (or the last straw) was a flaming row with star Tom Baker.
(Added after my DVD was received and watched:) It sounds like there is near-unanimous agreement, in the commentary, that Alan Bromly didn't understand sci-fi or the type of show they were shooting.
4. Going Solo - Writer Bob Baker talks about The Nightmare of Eden (originally titled "Nightmare of Evil")
5. The Doctor's Strange Love with comedian Josie Long and writers Joe Lidster and Simon Guerrier
6. Ask Aspel - Lalla Ward's appearance on the popular BBC children's show
7. Radio Times Listings (DVD-ROM)
8. Program Subtitles
9. Production Information Subtitles
10. Photo Gallery
11. Coming Soon Trailer
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Tom Baker Nov. 10 2007
By Who4Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
First off, ANYTHING with Tom Baker is good. END OF DISCUSSION. Those who pan the episode are totally off base. Of course the sets and the costumes have flaws! They ALWAYS have flaws. It's the BBC for crying out loud. Overall it's a great story and it's one of my favorites, probably because of all the humor. You get the feeling that they just had a lot of fun with this one. The tax men are appropriately wacky (in a bureaucratic way), Tom has innumerable funny quips that go by so fast you sometimes have to rewind to get them, and the "silly" scene at the end where he hams it up fighting with the monsters was just ... well, fun to watch.

Other people have given a good synopsis of the plot so I won't repeat it. There's a reason why copies of this episode sell for so much. It's a great Dr. Who story. You don't critique Dr. Who episodes by judging the sets and costumes. You look at the characters, the acting, and the overall story. In this case, I liked everything. The characters all had a lot of personality, they were all well acted, and the story was unique and very well done. A terrific Dr. Who!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The profits of suffering... Jan. 23 2004
By Daniel J. Hamlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
"First a collision, then a dead navigator, and now a monster's roaming about my ship. Well, it's totally inexplicable." So says Rigg, captain of the passenger liner Empress, to the Doctor.
What happened? A freak accident takes place within orbit of planet Azure. The Empress nearly collides with a small ship, the Hecate, while in lightspeed and materializes around the smaller ship so that they have fused together. The nose of the Hecate is sticking into the Empress, blocking the larger ship's access to the power room and passenger deck. The blurred overlap areas, or matter interfaces between the ships, however, are unstable.
Into this situation comes the Doctor, Romana, and K9. The Doctor offers to help separate the ships, something to which both Rigg and Dymond, pilot of the Hecate on a survey contract job, are amenable to. All that has to be done is to recreate the circumstances of the accident: "excite the molecules, full thrust, then full reverse." However, Rigg's navigator Secker, who got them into this accident, is on vraxoin, a highly addictive drug that "induces a warm complacency and total apathy until it wears off that is, and soon you're dead." In fact the Doctor's seen entire planets destroyed by this drug. Secker's then attacked and killed by something clawed. The questions are, who provided Secker with the vraxoin, and what killed Secker? After all, vraxoin can be detected by the Empress's scanning device, and the Empress's route is the milk run from Station 9 to Azure, nowhere else, with no stops inbetween. And who is the mystery man who knocks out the Doctor, then tries to evade him later?
There's also Tryst, a zoologist with a funny accent and really thin trendy rectangular glasses, on a research expedition to preserve rare species on government funding, made difficult by the Galactic recession. With the aid of the CET (Continuous Event Transmuter) machine, he records the flora and fauna of planets on an event crystal that continue to exist in the machine. A simpler way of naming the CET is an electric zoo. However, the lack of a dimensional osmosis damper in the CET means that with the freak accident, the unstable overlap zones affects the dimensional matrix of the machine, meaning things can go in and out of the machine.
Things heat up when two trigger-happy and bureaucratic Azure excise men, Fisk and Costa, try to arrest the Doctor and Romana as the vraxoin smugglers, and someone slips some vraxoin in Rigg's drink.
The cliffhanger to Episode 1 is effective, as a shaggy monster with glowing green appears from a wall panel K-9 has lasered away. And some interesting special effects are used when the Doctor enters the unstable matter interfaces. However, two goofs are apparent. When Della, Tryst's colleague, is shot in the head, she clutches her stomach. Also, Fisk calls Tryst "Fisk" in Episode 4.
Two funny lines from Tom Baker. When the Doctor's cover as an insurance agent is blown, he says, "I wonder why I hadn't been paid." "That's not good enough," says Rigg. "That's what I said." responds the Doctor. Also, he playfully says that Tryst helps conserve species in the same way a jam-maker conserves raspberries.
If one adds a shaggy beard to David Daker (Rigg), one will recognize him as the warlord Irongron from the Who story The Time Warrior. His transformation from an upright responsible captain to a complacent, laughing, apathetic man addicted to vraxoin is good. When someone points out to passengers being killed, the vraxoin-addicted captain says "They're only economy class, what's the fuss?"
The issue of drug addiction is key here, but are the dealers justified in saying of the buyers, "they had a choice"? If it's something dangerously addictive that totally incapacitates a person, as in vraxoin, well, no, but what about something less or not addictive, like marijuana?
Apart from the flaws in Episode 4, Nightmare Of Eden is watcheable, with laudable special effects, but nothing too special.
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