What’s It About
When two spaceships materialize in the same airspace, they become fused. This causes a drug smuggling ring to be exposed, but where are the drugs coming from, and who is responsible for their transfer?
Their worse than idiots, they’re bureaucrats
After a few seasons of scripts by Bob Baker and Dave Martin that didn’t work, it is pleasant to see one of them turn in a script which does, by and large work. Baker’s “Nightmare of Eden” is probably his strongest effort since “The Claws of Axos.” From the start, he creates a concept that is realized fairly well on a BBC budget: two ships, a luxury liner and a transport ship, become fused when they attempt to materialize at the same coordinates in space. And it is from this crisis that the drama unfolds. The drug smugglers in this story had a good racket, but this one mistake was the catalyst that revealed their actions and led to their downfall. This is what I enjoy about the story, it is a fairly good mystery (although, it isn’t too hard to work out who the smugglers are), and the accident is what shed light on the mystery. Like many mysteries, it is the one mistake which trips everyone up. So, Baker has crafted a story which blends the sci-fi, monster aspect of Doctor Who with a mystery (drug running rather than murder). And his big, conceptual ideas become the backdrop rather than the main idea of the show. While there are a number of big ideas in this story, they all service the mystery and fit together, interlocking quite well. Even the Continual Event Transmuter fits the idea of spaces fused together, and creates three interlocking locations: the Empress, the Hectate, and Eden. In a way, this foreshadows the conclusion of the story.
This is a confident script, and, overall, it works. It is a solid effort. The production lets it down in a few places, but that is hardly Baker’s fault (well, unless you criticize him for not realizing the ability of the production to service his ideas). But there is a completeness and competence to “Nightmare” that other stories in this season lacked. “City of Death” is still the highlight of the season, but “Nightmare” is clearly the second-place story. And, as I said, this is probably Baker’s best work since “Axos.”