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17x5. The Horns of Nimon
Writer: Anthony Read
Director: Kenny McBain
Script Editor: Douglas Adams
Producer: Graham Williams

Synopsis: The TARDIS arrives on a Skonnon ship carrying young people from the planet Aneth en route to pay tribute to a godlike figure known as the Nimon. In fact, the Nimon is a member of an alien race manipulating the Skonnon leader Soldeed's dreams of empire for their own purposes, and the Doctor and Romana become involved in trying to foil the Nimon's scheme.

Review: "The Horns of Nimon" may be one of those cases where I was misled by expectations. I came into it expecting either a truly atrocious installment or some sort of farcical camp classic, but instead I actually found it a bit dull. True, Soldeed is memorably over the top, particularly his notorious death scene in which the actor reportedly believed they were only rehearsing as he proclaimed his enemies' imminent "dooooooooooom." Between him and the co-pilot of the Skonnon ship who  has to bark "weakling scum!" at the Anethans every chance he gets, the serial might have had the makings of a light sendup of imperial hubris
. But a lot of screen time is taken up by fairly mundane corridor-wanderings and relatively uninvolving dialogue scenes, and some of the more potentially amusing material ends up falling flat. The Doctor notably comes off as a bit of a dunce when he accidentally beams Romana halfway across the galaxy and then has to spend several minutes in the Nimon's control room trying to get her back. In fact, there seems to be some sort of stupidity gas loose in the control room, given that the Doctor, Romana, and a couple of the Anethans are able to sneak around right under the Nimon's nose in there, and later Soldeed is able to pull off a similarly improbable escape. And unfortunately, there's no getting around the fact that the Nimon is a pretty poorly designed monster. I know, I was willing to let the Mandrels off the hook in "Nightmare of Eden," but I guess it helped that they weren't front-and-center throughout the episode, whereas the rule of "don't show the monster" certainly was not applied to the Nimon. While amusing at times, "The Horns of Nimon" doesn't settle on an approach that works consistently enough to be a successful either as a comedy or as a "straight" adventure story.

Rating: ** (out of four)

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