Timestamp #107: Nightmare of Eden

Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden
(4 episodes, s17e13-e16, 1979)



We’ve been told since 1971 that drugs are bad. Maybe we should add vicious alien teddy bears to that list?

The cruise liner Empress, drops out of warp into orbit of Azure. All seems well until Captain Rigg realizes that the coordinates are wrong, and as the Empress phases back into real space, she collides with the Hecate. The two ships are fused together, and the navigator, a man named Secker, is useless in the emergency.

The TARDIS arrives at the collision site. The Doctor, Romana, and K9 make their way to the Empress‘s bridge where the two captains are arguing about their losses. The Doctor believes that he can separate the ships, and he and K9 accompany Secker to the power unit. Secker sneaks away and the Doctor follows, discovering that the crewman is under the influence of vraxoin, a deadly drug. While the Doctor worries about that development, Romana and the commander of the Hectate, Captain Dymond, meet with Tryst and Della, two zoologists on an expedition who have a crude matter transference device called the CET. Inside the device are several miniature habitats, similar to the device last seen by the Third Doctor and Jo in Carnival of Monsters.

The Doctor reports back to Captain Rigg with his findings, and Rigg points out that the Doctor’s cover story has some holes. A suspicious Rigg points the Doctor to Tryst for clues about the drugs while he searches for the wayward Secker. As Rigg and the Doctor continue making their way to the power unit, Romana plays with the matter transference device and sees a human face in the trees during the Eden simulation. Coincidentally, Tryst and Della lost a crewmember on the real Eden recently.

Rigg and the Doctor hear a scream and discover Secker in an area of matter flux between the two ships. Rigg takes the crewman to the infirmary as the Doctor returns to the cabinet where the drugs were stored. Unfortunately for the Doctor, a mysterious man shoots him and steals the drugs from his pocket. Also unfortunate, Secker dies from his injuries.

Meanwhile, Romana and K9 locate the Doctor and learn of his assault. Romana also explains what she saw in the CET, and the Doctor sends her to investigate further while Rigg, the Doctor, and K9 continue on to the power unit. While Romana is investigating, something knocks her out, and when the Doctor’s group cuts through a wall, they discover a monster behind it. K9 repels the creature and the Doctor seals the hole before revealing Secker’s addiction to the captain. Rigg and the Doctor return to the bridge and scan the ship for vraxoin, but the results are negative.  They make plans to separate the ships.

Della finds the unconscious Romana and helps her recover with a drink. When Rigg arrives, someone spikes the drink meant for Romana, and Rigg accidentally takes it instead. Rigg returns to the bridge as the Doctor constructs a device and takes K9 to find Romana. In the lounge, Romana tells the Doctor about her experience. Tryst arrives and the Doctor coerces the zoologist into deactivating the device.

The Doctor returns to the bridge and coordinates with Romana and Captain Dymond to separate the ships. They fail, and the Doctor encounters a hip-looking stranger when he tries to find K9. The stranger runs and the Doctor pursues, eventually catching up to him at one of the unstable areas. As they enter the area, the stranger changes into a monster.

Captain Rigg, under the influence of the drugs, accuses the Time Lords of being the drug smugglers. Romana goes in search of the Doctor and encounters the Doctor and the monster at the unstable area. An unseen person shoots the creature, driving it back into the mists, and the Doctor reveals an unexpected prize from the encounter: A radiation wrist band. As they head back to the lounge, Romana explains the captain’s state of mind.

Tryst and Della activate the CET again in a quest to determine if their former crewmate was the smuggler. Tryst finds the Doctor and explains his investigation, speculating that Della is the smuggler. The Time Lords are called to the bridge where the find Azurian Empire Customs officers who question them about their involvement. They discover traces of the drugs on the Doctor’s clothes, and the Time Lords escape before they are arrested. They head to the lounge, tune the CET machine to Eden, and jump into the projection. The customs officers pursue them to the lounge, but don’t think to investigate the projection. Tryst also discovers that the selector switch is missing and that he cannot turn off the machine.

While inside, the Time Lords discuss the logistical problems with the machine before being trapped by a man-eating plant. The Doctor frees them biting its root. They proceed deeper into the Eden projection and are attacked by a monster. Stott, the missing crewman from Tryst’s expedition, saves them from what he calls Mandrels, and provides refuge. He explains that he was left behind, but was able to escape into the CET. He’s also an agent of the Space Corps’ Intelligence Section, and has come to believe that Secker was involved with the smuggling ring. The trio leave the simulation and find K9 in the power unit, and the Time Lords set to work freeing the ships.

The mandrels leave the projection and attack the passengers, and Customs Officer Fisk is appalled at the captain’s disregard for the passengers’ lives. The mandrels also converge on the power unit, and one attacks the Doctor. K9 saves him as Stott stands around. The Doctor claims that the monster is dead, but it’s obviously breathing. As Stott holds off the creatures, the Doctor continues his work.

Fisk arrests Captain Rigg, and orders that the Doctor and Romana are to be apprehended. If they resist, they will be shot. Meanwhile, Tryst pleads that the mandrels not be killed. Why is that, you ask? We’ll find out in short order as K9 takes his position at the Doctor’s device, Romana and Stott head for the bridge, and the Doctor finishes his work on the power unit. The stunned mandrel wakes up and attacks, but the Doctor’s trap electrocutes it. The monster turns to dust, or more accurately, vraxoin crystals. Smuggling drugs in teddy bears, huh?

Romana reaches the edge of the projection and sends Stott back to help the Doctor as she continues on. She reaches the bridge and is attacked by Rigg as he demands more drugs.  She is saved by Fisk as he kills the captain, but he then turns his weapon on her. He orders her not to touch the controls, but she does anyway, and the ships start to shake as they separate. In the chaos, the Doctor vanishes and Romana escapes.

With the ships separated, Dymond requests permission to leave orbit, but Fisk declines as he needs a witness. Romana finds Della, informs her that Stott is alive, and asks her about their history. She reveals that Tryst told her that Stott had died.

The Doctor wakes up on the Hecate and discovers a laser with a direct line of sight to the Empress. He digs into the computer and finds evidence that Dymond is involved in the smuggling operation, then stows away on Dymond’s shuttle as the captain heads back to the cruise liner. He enters a healing trance to survive the trip without atmosphere.

The Doctor is reunited with Romana and K9, but two armed guards ambush them and take Della prisoner. The Doctor asks Romana about the laser and she explains that it could send a CET crystal. Since Tryst and Dymond are the smugglers, they could transport the drugs through the mandrels in the projection. Della confronts the smugglers as the customs officers find the Doctor, but Stott points the officers in the right direction. A mandrel attacks Tryst and Dymond, and they stun it before shooting Della and destroying the Empress‘s control console.

The smugglers fly over to the Hecate as the Doctor lures the mandrels back into the CET. Romana rebuilds the CET to transport the Hecate into the machine, and the smugglers are arrested in short order. The Time Lords make their farewells to Della and Stott, and then set out on an expedition to return the rest of the CET’s occupants to their proper homes.

There’s not much more to say about this adventure than that it was average. Nothing terrible, but nothing extraordinary. Just mediocre.


Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Horns of Nimon


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.




4 thoughts on “Timestamp #107: Nightmare of Eden

  1. That’s probably a fitting epitaph for this one. “Just mediocre.” Can’t wait to read your review of The Horns of Nimon. Are you doing Shada?

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.