Nightmare of Eden is an unusually complex story, centering around a smuggling operation in space, and a mystery of who is involved with it. Like all good mysteries, it’s fun to see it unravel and the pieces fall into place, like the hidden monsters, the portal machine, the odd behaviour of the navigator, the mystery of the missing crewmember, and so on. Touching on themes of animal captivity, drug-trafficking and class discrimination, there’s a lot crammed into four episodes.
For the most part, I found this to be quite enjoyable. It’s a bit slow to get going, some of the characters grate and, let’s be honest, the Mandrels look silly, but it has a lot going for it too and the production design is good for its time. Some of the Doctor’s lines are fantastic including the one about his date of birth. Tom Baker delivers these so naturally and deadpan, it’s great fun. He also blurts out the technobabble without breaking a sweat.
Elsewhere, some of the comedy oversteps the line into silliness again, as per when the Doctor is being chased by the Mandrels in the Eden projection. K-9, too, is used as an all-too-convenient plot device or to save people with his handy ray-gun. And Romana… well, she continues to be a bit of a non-entity. Ever-helpful and capable, but lacking a defining characteristic. She’s not bad, just a little bland.