The Horns of Nimon
It opens with a frankly rubbish model spaceship shot, and generic, cod-SF dialogue. However, this is one of the more misunderstood elements of The Horns of Nimon. The dialogue is intentionally (I think) cheesy. Malcolm Terris has so much fun shouting "weakling scum!" that even the scariest Shape from Sapphire & Steel (Bob Hornery) can't make an impact. Having said that, lots of the lines are sharper and wittier than you might remember, such as "Brilliant! I wish I'd thought of that." "Oh, you will, Doctor. You will." (Though I've since learned this is a crib from Oscar Wilde so it ain't that clever).
Tom, meanwhile, is on pure OTT form. This is far from the bullish, arrogant flippancy of seasons 15/16, but a half-drunk actor delighting in making a complete ass of himself. Giving K-9 mouth to mouth and yelping "it's uncanny!" I find him really quite amusing here. Yet blowing him off the screen is Graham Crowden as Soldeed. He doesn't crap over the programme like Richard Briers of Brian Blessed would later do, but carves out a self-aware parody of a typical SF megalomaniac. Trust me, it's genius.
There's a daft innocence to this one, where the Doctor and Romana can go from place to place talking to strangers. No being locked up, or genuine resentment. They just go around chatting to everyone. Didn't life use to be just like that when we were young? Fun, uncomplicated... just like the episode, in fact.
One of the weakest things about season 17 was the unenthusiastic extras - and Soldeed's chanting minions are as clueless as can be. You can also see why JN-T was initially so praised as the model effects on this one are appalling when compared to those of The Leisure Hive.
An amusing comedy for lighter occasions, there's only one problem with The Horns of Nimon: It should be even dafter. By attempting a balancing act between serious Who story and Christmas panto knees-up, the jokey bits can seem a distraction, the serious bits a dull pause between gags. Sadly, this means that Nimon never quite achieves its full potential as an all-out laugh riot. It is still good enough, however, to get:
* * *