‘THE HORNS OF NIMON’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Nimon Be Praised
The third ‘Myths and Legends’ story, ‘The Horns of Nimon’, is a four-part adventure by Anthony Read. It features the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9 as they face against the minotaur-like Nimon.
Anthony Read was a former script-editor on ‘Doctor Who’ for ‘The Key to Time’ season. Commissioned by Douglas Adams, now script-editor of the show, Anthony wrote this freelance tale.
I really like ‘The Horns of Nimon’! It’s a story that divides fan opinion, but I consider this a guilty pleasure. It’s a very intriguing story and is based upon the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur.
‘The Horns of Nimon’ ultimately became the season finale of Season 17 instead of ‘Shada’. Although by Anthony Read, the tale itself has plenty of Douglas Adams humour which worked well and didn’t.
In the story, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 in the TARDIS collide with another spaceship on its way to the planet Skonnos. The cargo aboard is a group of young sacrifices as tributes from the planet Aneth.
When at Skonnos, the young sacrifices of Aneth are taken to the powerful minotaur-like Nimon in its Power Complex. Will the Doctor, Romana and K-9 rescue them as well as everyone else on Skonnos?
Anthony Read had the inspiration of using a printed circuit board as a labyrinth for the Nimon to dwell in its Power Complex on Skonnos. In all fairness, it is a very clever and intriguing concept here.
However the execution of that concept is poorly handled and wasn’t what Anthony Read had envisaged. This is a shame, as it would have been great to have seen that concept in its proper glory.
As I said before, this story contains plenty of humorous moments on the part of Douglas Adams as the script editor. This meant that some of the cast tended to go over the top in their performances.
Tom Baker is bonkers as the Doctor in this adventure. I enjoyed his moments in this story and whilst he may be too flippant and reckless in his performance, he certainly shows off his confidence in this.
Lalla Ward as Romana is equally great in this adventure. Romana gets to have her own adventure when she’s without the Doctor, as she and the tributes from Aneth venture into the Power Complex.
K-9 is voiced by David Brierley, not John Leeson. As I said in other reviews, I prefer John Leeson than David Brierley. K-9 does have some great moments and I did enjoy his scenes with the Doctor in this.
Graham Crowden (who was a potential contender to be the Fourth Doctor) guest stars as Soldeed, the arrogant leader and scientist on Skonnos. Graham Crowden is very over-the-top in this story. 😀
Janet Ellis (future ‘Blue Peter’ presenter) guest stars as Princess Teka of Aneth. I liked Janet Ellis’ performance in this story. Teka is in love with Seth and believes he will save her and Aneth’s people.
Simon Gipps-Kent guest stars as Seth, the supposed prince and hero of Aneth but actually isn’t. Seth doubts that he can save Aneth’s people, despite Teka’s faith in him. But he turns out to be very brave.
There’s Bob Hornery as Sekkoth the Pilot and Malcolm Terris as Sardor the Co-Pilot taking the Aneth tributes to Skonnos. I’ve used the Pilot and Co-Pilot’s names from Terrance Dicks’ novelization here.
The Co-Pilot (Sardor) is ‘a blundering idiot’ and gets his mate, the Pilot (Sekkoth) killed. He believes himself superior, bullies the Anethians as ‘weakling scum’ and ends up ripping his trousers as he dies. 😀
There’s also Michael Osborne as Sorak, Soldeed’s confidante and John Bailey as Sezom of Crinoth. John Bailey previously played Victoria’s father, Edward Waterfield in the story, ‘The Evil of the Daleks’.
The Nimon as monsters are terribly unconvincing. They’re meant to be minotaur-like, yet they end up looking like lumbering creatures that can’t see where they’re going with the awkward head sets.
I feel sorry for the actors who played the Nimons in this story. They also seem ridiculous in those ‘dresses’ they wear when walking about. Their menacing voices don’t help a lot in their appearance.
There’s a line of dialogue by the Nimon that’s supposed to be funny and yet is absolutely ridiculous. When finding the Doctor, a Nimon says “Kill him, but not yet!” That makes no sense whatsoever! 😀
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘Who Peter 1963-1989’ (Part 1) documentary (Part 2 is on ‘The TV Movie’ DVD). There’s also ‘Read the Writer’, which is an interview with writer Anthony Read on his thoughts about writing ‘The Horns of Nimon’ and the outcome of it. There’s also the ‘Peter Howell Music Demos’ for ‘The Horns of Nimon’ and a photo gallery of the story. There’s also a commentary with Lalla Ward, Janet Ellis, Graham Crowden and writer Anthony Read. There’s an info-text commentary option to enjoy and PDF materials including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and ‘Studio Floor Plans’. There’s also an Easter Egg to look out for on this DVD disc. There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Creature From The Pit’ with Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and K-9.
‘The Horns of Nimon’ is a ‘Doctor Who’ pantomime of an adventure. It’s silly and ridiculous in places, but I enjoyed it very much for the fun and inventive style that it had, even if it does not always work.
The ‘Myths and Legends’ DVD box set has been a fun collection of ‘Doctor Who’ stories that feature sci-fi takes on the Greek myths. ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is probably my favourite out of the collection, but they have all been inventive and imaginative which is what I always like to find in ‘Doctor Who’.
‘The Horns of Nimon’ rating – 8/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE HORNS OF NIMON’
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The Great Journey of Life
This ‘Doctor Who’ novelization by Terrance Dick is pretty solid!
‘The Horns of Nimon’ is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that definitely divides fan opinion. Some like it; some loathe it. Me personally, I consider this as one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the Tom Baker era and the classic series. It’s my guilty pleasure and I can forgive this for its over-the-top acting.
But as ever, due to my curiosity getting the better of me, I wonder is that what ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is going to be remembered for? Its over-the-top-ness? I’d like to think ‘not so’ because as far as I’m concerned ‘The Horns of Nimon’ has this decent story to it, especially from the mind of Anthony Read.
I know that’s something ‘Doctor Who’ fans can’t see through on the surface of this story, but it’s something I can see through. So, like I did with the ‘Batman Forever’ novelization, I pursued to read the Target novelization of ‘The Horns of Nimon’ by Terrance Dicks. I hoped it’d provide a solid reading of the tale.
The original author, Anthony Read, had been commissioned to write a new novelization of ‘The Horns of Nimon’ for audiobook publisher AudioGo in 2013. I would’ve liked to have heard that audiobook novelization by Anthony Read and to delve a lot more into ‘The Horns of Nimon’ tale via his viewpoint.
Sadly however, AudioGo went into bankruptcy towards the end of 2013. This meant ‘The Horns of Nimon’ novelization audiobook by Anthony Read never saw the light of day. This is such a shame as I hope ‘The Horns of Nimon’ novelization audiobook won’t be forgotten about and be left unattended.
It’s also sad because Anthony Read passed away not long afterwards in November 2015. I was shocked to discover this as I did my research into ‘The Horns of Nimon’ novelization for my review. I hope that ‘The Horns of Nimon’ novelization audiobook will be released someday and that we can hear it.
For now though, we’ll have to contend with ‘The Horns of Nimon’ novelization provided for us by Terrance Dicks. That’s not to say Terrance Dicks’ novelization is bad. Oh no! On the contrary, I’m rather pleased with what Terrance Dicks has given us in his novelization of the story as he’s made it stronger.
The book was originally published in October 1980, not long after the TV story was transmitted from 1979 to 1980. ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is divided into 12 chapters with a prologue at the beginning. The book itself is slimmer compared to other ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations by Terrance Dicks. This is unusual.
It’s made clear that Terrance Dicks didn’t regard ‘The Horns of Nimon’ highly as a story, according to author Paul Cornell in the ‘On Target: Terrance Dicks’ documentary on ‘The Monster of Peladon’ DVD. This was so intriguing to discover as I was doing my research in preparation for my review of this book.
Terrance Dicks also doesn’t regard Douglas Adams’ talents highly as a ‘Doctor Who’ script editor, according to an interview with him in an issue of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ I read a while back. This I can appreciate, since Douglas Adams isn’t good on narrative and structure despite being a good ‘ideas’ man.
But with that said, Terrance Dicks doesn’t shy away from tackling some of the weaker points of the story that were clearly identified in the TV version during transmission. He amends on a lot of the dialogue given to supporting characters as well as clarifying some plot points featured during the tale.
The biggest selling point of Terrance Dicks’ novelization for ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is that he gives it a brand new prologue to the story. I enjoyed reading this prologue. It gives us a history of the Skonnan Empire and Soldeed and what occurred with the Nimon’s arrival during Skonnos’ crisis e.g. its civil war.
There is a sense of history during the prologue as well as in certain parts of the novelization regarding Skonnos. For example, the First Empire Wars are referenced. It’s not given in full detail, but it does illustrate what the First Skonnan Empire was like before its downfall as well as the arrival of the Nimon.
Soldeed is developed rather interestingly as a character. Terrance Dicks makes it clear that Soldeed is no scientist and that it was by luck he found a scientific resonance when encountering the Nimon for the first time. It’s also clear that Soldeed is a lunatic and is only interested in military value for Skonnos.
The advantage of reading a Target novelization of ‘Doctor Who’ is that you can dispel the over-the-top acting that was featured in that story performed by the actors. This is certainly the case with Soldeed as most of the hammy acting by Graham Crowden is toned down by Terrance Dicks in writing.
I also feel other supporting character are strengthened by Terrance Dicks’ writing. For example, Seth seems more heroic and strongly-written in terms of dialogue compared to how Simon Gipps-Kent played him. Not that Simon Gipps-Kent’s acting is bad, but he did come across as wimpy at times.
I found myself reading Seth’s dialogue as a character and found he was more competent in handling tricky situations during the story compared to how it was performed in the TV version. There are times when I wished I was playing Seth in the story. Working opposite Janet Ellis would be a plus for me. 😀
Speaking of which, Teka’s capture by Soldeed in the ‘Part Four’ section is handled well in the novelization compared to the TV version. In the TV version, Teka had a gun but couldn’t fire it on Soldeed. In the novelization, Teka has no a gun as she tries to run away before running into the Nimon.
The chapter structure for ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is unusual in the novelization. Usually it’s three chapters comprising an episode in the usual Terrance Dicks twelve-chapter structure. This time, it is four chapters for ‘Part One’, three for ‘Part Two’, two for ‘Part Three’ and three for ‘Part Four’.
I’m not sure why Terrance Dicks divided the story up in that fashion compared to what he’d usually do for a Target novelization of ‘Doctor Who’. Clearly, Terrance saw weaknesses in the plot and he found certain scenes padding in the ‘Part Three’ section that he compressed to make the pace flow quicker.
I’ve mentioned this in my TV review of this story, but the Pilot and the Co-Pilot are given names in the novelization. The Pilot is called Sekkoth and the Co-Pilot is called Sardor. I prefer these names compared to what they’re called in the TV tale. Simply called ‘Pilot’ and ‘Co-Pilot’ sounds disrespectful.
I also found Sardor competent as a character compared to the TV version. He’s still an idiot yes, but he’s an idiot with motivations in wanting Skonnos to have new weapons and spaceships from the Nimon and getting impatient when things get in the way. He says “Weaking scum!” less in the novel.
Soldeed is also devious and cunning in the novelization compared to how he was on TV. The reasons why he gets Sardor the Co-Pilot to go through the Power Complex doorway as well as the Doctor are handled effectively, as he wants to please the Nimon and not get blamed for anything that goes wrong.
A lot of the silly moments from the TV version are removed in this novelization of the story. The line “Kill him, but not yet!” by the Nimon about the Doctor is omitted, which is a relief for me since it sounds silly anyway. The TARDIS console exploding and making those comic sound effects is removed as well.
The story’s ending in the novelization is expanded upon rather well compared to the TV version. There’s more information given between the Doctor and Romana on what happened after the Power Complex was destroyed with the Nimon inside on Skonnos. The two simply did not just leave Skonnos.
There’s information given on how Skonnos and Aneth will cope following the events of this story which I enjoyed reading including Sorak’s promotion to Skonnos leader and the young Anethians’ journey back to Aneth. The Doctor also makes a reference to the Theseus and the Minotaur legend in the tale.
This was hinted at during the TV version of the story, but not explicitly referenced. I wondered why it was cut out during the TV version, as Terrance Dicks must have based his novelization on the scripts by Anthony Read. It’s meant to stress that ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is based on Theseus and the Minotaur.
The Doctor also makes reference to the events of ‘Underworld’ in the closing moments of ‘The Horns of Nimon’. The same lines and interaction between the Doctor and K-9 from the closing moments of ‘Underworld’ are repeated here too. This could be due to the fact Terrance Dicks also novelized ‘Underworld’.
‘Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon’ is a pretty good novelization by Terrance Dicks. I enjoyed reading it very much and found it a faithful novelization of a ‘Doctor Who’ story. Terrance strengthens some of the weaker points identified in the TV version and it was refreshing to read his take on the tale.
I wish that the BBC would release the audiobook novelization of ‘The Horns of Nimon’ by Anthony Read someday. It would be interesting to discover what extra material he provided for this ‘Doctor Who’ story of his and it would also be a great tribute to him by the BBC. Let’s hope that day will come.
‘Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon’ rating – 8/10
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