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DVD Review: Doctor Who – The Horns of Nimon

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Doctor Who is a long-running British science fiction television series featuring The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey whose adventures see him travel through time and space. Over the years, different actors have starred in the role, and to compensate for the realities of the television business Time Lords were given the ingenious ability to regenerate their bodies when they die.

The Horns of Nimon is the 108th story of the Doctor first broadcast in four weekly parts from December 22, 1979 to January 12th, 1980 on BBC 1. “Part One” opens with the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and his companions Romana (Lalla Ward who followed Mary Tamm in the role), a fellow Time Lord, and K-9, his robotic dog, coming upon a dilapidated ship of the Skonnan Empire transporting sacrifices from the planet Aneth and hymetusite crystals. Both items are intended for the Nimon, a creature who promises to restore the Skonnan Empire to prominence.

The Doctor and Romana restore power to the Skonnan ship, and while The Doctor is back on The TARDIS, which is also in need of repair, the ship’s co-pilot leaves him and K-9 behind to resume his mission. When he arrives on Skonnos and reveals one of the crystals was used to fix the ship, the leader Soldeed orders everyone from the ship into a labyrinth where the Nimon resides and is revealed to look like the Minotaur from Greek mythology. Though slow moving, the Nimon is powerful and dangerous with the ability to shoot deadly rays out its horns.

When the Doctor arrives on Skonnos, he heads into the labyrinth to rescue Romana and the others. Before they can figure out how to defeat the creature, more Nimon arrive through a transport set up in a lab. While trying to figure out how the device works, the Doctor accidentally sends Ramona back to wherever the transport originated.

The story of The Horns of Nimon is rather straightforward and it doesn’t offer a great deal of conflict or stakes. The saving grace is there’s a good bit of humor in the Doctor’s character this time out, no doubt in part because Douglas Adams was serving as the script supervisor, which makes it a pleasant watch. It was also good to see Romana take an active role in the story and solving the problem rather than being a companion who needs saving. The DVD suffers from a short segment of bad audio.

The BBC again offers some interesting extras. “Who Peter – Partners in Time” (30 min) presents the relationship between the children’s program Blue Peter and Doctor Who through some amazing archival clip and modern-day footage. “Read the Writer” (6 min) is an interview with episode writer Anthony Read. “Peter Howell Music Demos” (3 min) presents scenes accompanied by an all-electronic score that new producer John Nathan-Turner wanted to use in the following season. There’s also the usual photo gallery (8 min), PDF Materials of the Radio Times listings and studio floor plans, and the highly informative Info Text option.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Really interesting review. As a fan of the Doctor, I should pick this up, as I’m woefully behind on a lot of his past adventures. Nice work, El Bicho.

  • Thanks, Lynn. There are certainly quite a few to catch up on. They ran the Tom Baker’s on my local PBS channel and I caught all those. Saw a few Peter Davison and then drifted off until they brought the series back