Monday, 31 December 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: The Horns of Nimon

Happy New Year, everyone. 

Soldeed has just read this review. And he's very cross.
Doctor Who - Season 17, Story 5 - The Horns of Nimon
Written 6/10/12. 

I like Bad Doctor Who. I'm a sucker for the bad acting, bad design choices and downright terrible plot holes, and nothing makes me laugh quite like an absolute catastrophe. Time-Flight is a camp classic, Time and the Rani makes me laugh like nothing else and Timelash, well, that's just awesome. So when I heard of this story's horriffic reputation as the shodily made filler for an story that was never produced (Shada), I was looking forward to ending the series on a camp high note of mischeivous fun. What more can a man ask for? A lot more, it would turn out. My responses as I go through Tom's era, however topsy turvey I may be doing it, aren't encouraging, and this story pretty much nearly wiped out any enthusiasm I had for it.
     The best thing in the story is the semi-villain, Soldeed, played by Graham Crowden. He stands as a Minos in a story filled with badly executed references to Greek Mythology, and the campyness with which he plays the role delivers the story's few laugh-out-loud moments. Of course most reviewers would criticise these lines, rightly, as some of the worst deliveries in the program's long history, but for me they came as a few glorious moments of entertainment in 100 minutes of solid tedium, stupidity and disappointing lack of effort. Crowden at least seems to know how bad the serial is, and seems to be hamming it up just so he can get something out of it, and if I was in the position (and I have been in similar positions in the past) I couldn't blame him.
     The story's main influence is Theseus and the Minotaur, the six tributes from Anthea being sent by Minos (Soldeed) through the Labyrynth to feed the Minotaur (The Nimons). I can see where this is coming from, and it would be a decent base for a story if it wasn't so shoddily executed. On the face of it, the story's adaptations to the Doctor Who format could be seen as rather clever - K9 is used as the ball of golden wool to guide the way back through the maze, the maze is constantly changing its dimensions to avoid people escaping; it could have been something quite innovative. But it's acted and directed in such a lacklustre style that doesn't even attempt to provide any sort of tension or excitement... I just got bored. I very rarely get bored by Who, this is a new thing for me.
So much fiddling around in the TARDIS for no
reason in this season...
     If there was a cutting off point between hope and despair for me while watching this story, it came in the third episode. There was a shot that lingered rather unnecessarily upon the back of the Nimon's head, and when the actor reached up, the helmet came half-off. Why was that left in? Why didn't they catch that in the recording and do it again from a different angle? It wasn't even that long a scene! All it amounts to is the fact that obviously the producers on this story didn't actually care. At all. The reason for this is probably that Adams was driving through the story so he could get to his "masterpiece" story Shada - a story that, due to another one of Who's famous strikes, was never made. Nevertheless, it feels like such a bad work ethic - it doesn't matter that this one comes out crap, the next one'll be fine. No, that's not how it works. You need to put effort into every single one of your stories. The Art Department definitely tried their damned hardest every single time, I don't blame them, but I do blame this story's lacklustre acting, directing, music and most of all, the damn script editor for not ironing out the creases.
     I came into Horns of Nimon hoping that it would be bad in the right way for me to get the most out of it, but even on that front it disappointed. It had a few decent ideas that would have worked well, but their executions as well as the overall execution of a poor script meant that this project was doomed from the very beginning. As it stands, this story alone is enough to see why Graham Williams would go on to leave the position of Producer and hand it over to one of the crew, John Nathan Turner, who would go on to make Who more powerful, insightful and at least, when it was bad, more fun than this.

Thanks for nothing, Nimon.

NEXT WEEK: I pick up where I left off with Tennant and look at Girl In The Fireplace.

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