Doctor Who begins the 1980s with an episode that’s not a million miles off what Christopher H Bidmead might have enjoyed, with lots of old men in charge of the second Skonnon Empire, the science of wormholes connecting two quantum singularities, the power complex modelled on a giant circuit board, and Soldeed marvelling at the ‘monumental piece of electronic engineering’ that is K9. Of course, Bidmead would have disdained the story’s roots in Greek myth, and Tom fooling around trying to spy on the Nimon. But apart from that, there aren’t really many jokes: some of the performances may raise a smile, but the script probably won’t.
The Nimons are pretty good monsters: their voices, with a low, rumbling effect, are suitably bovine, and the costume design looks like they’ve been lifted straight off the side of a Greek urn. Having the monsters slowly increase their numbers as they plan their takeover worked well in The Power of the Daleks, and it works well here. Equally, the concept of a species that hops from planet to planet, draining it of its vitality is hardly original (see also Axos, the Fendahl) but it’s a good one.
There’s not much more to say on this: it’s not one of the classic episodes, and all the previous caveats around the general shabbiness of the sets still applies. Kenny McBain’s direction is generally unremarkable, although there’s a nice handheld shot of Soldeed striding through the corridors of the power complex. Nothing about it is outstanding either way, although the Doctor accidentally dispatching Romana to Crinoth is scatty even for him.
Next episode: The Horns of Nimon – Part Four