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Nightmare? Not really...
on 8 November 2014
'Nightmare of Eden' has a good script which features some good dialogue and smart ideas. Having said that some of the ideas aren't particularly original; the CET in this story is reminiscent of the Miniscope from 'Carnival of Monsters'. Really, it's the production that lets this story down.
The sets for the Empress are very badly overlit and as a result they look cheap and dull and fail to convince as the interior of a luxury cruise liner. The sets for the Hecate ship and the jungle on Eden actually feature rather good lighting and so there are some atmospheric and tense scenes set there.
The monsters in this story are the Mandrels and the costumes are very poor, they look more cuddly and endearing than threatening. When they are in the dimly lit Eden sets they don't look too bad, but seen in full in the harsh lighting of the Empress sets they just look comical. They aren't the only costume malfunction either, excise officers Fisk and Costa wear strange leather outfits adorned with sequins.
There are some funny lines of dialogue in the story but in other places the humour falls rather flat, often because it conflicts with the more serious themes of the story, such as the dangers of drugs. Lewis Fiander's performance as Tryst is very over the top, his comedy Germanic accent being a particular problem, and this undermines the serious nature of his character. He is supposed to be complex and ambiguous, misguided but not evil but he often seems more like a comedy character.
The scene in which the Doctor leads the Mandrels back into the CET is rather cartoonish. He walks off screen and the Mandrels follow, we then hear him crying out in pain as they attack him but he comes back seemingly unharmed but with his clothes torn to shreds. Aside from this though Tom Baker's performance is superb. He is eccentric and captivating, and he is deadly serious when the script requires it.
K-9 is quite prominent here, he is voiced by David Brierley who does a decent job but he's no John Leeson.
'Nightmare of Eden' is far from perfect but it is still fairly enjoyable.
The extras include 'The Nightmare of Television Centre' in which members of the crew on the story talk about their memories of it. The feature paints a very negative picture of the story as the interviewees mainly talk about how much they hated working on it and how poor they thought the finished product was.
They even had 'I'm relieved the nightmare is over' T shirts printed afterwards!
'Going Solo' is footage from an interview with the story's writer Bob Baker. He talks about his inspiration and research for the story and gives his opinions on the Mandrels and some of the performances.
'The Doctor's Strange Love' is a peculiar feature in which author Simon Guerrier, comedian Josie Long and writer Joseph Lidster have a discussion about various aspects of the story while, inexplicably, sitting on the set for Sarah Jane's attic from the Sarah Jane Adventures. It does have its moments.
'Ask Aspel' is footage of Michael Aspel interviewing Lalla Ward from around the time the story was originally broadcast.