Once more, no idea if I’ve seen this one or not, though the title seems to be very familiar to me.

Episode 1:

A ship flies through space (hey, seems like an awful lot of serials are starting off that way…) and on board, several crew work the controls, one of them complaining about the lack of modern equipment. The other is more laid back, trying to calm his companion down. They talk of wanting to fight, of promises by Nimon and how there will be plenty of fighting for the Skonnon people (inhabitants of Skonnos, not to be confused with Skaro…)

The laid back crewman gets fed up with his companion’s bitching and informs him that they are piloting the last shipment, fulfilling their part of the contract with Nimon. This puts the bitchy man in a better mood. He goes to check the cargo, now realising its import… and he goes into a room with a group of young adults in yellow suits, who cower from him.

Returning to the bridge, he gloats about how weak the prisoners are and then insists they can make the twelve hour journey to Skonnos in six. His companion says the computer can’t take it… and they agree on a nine hour trip. However, the enthusiastic crewman pushes for six and overloads the computer.

They switch to manual, but they lose track of the beacon and the ship goes out of control.

In the cargo hold, the captives fret, not knowing what’s going on.

In the bridge, there’s an explosion. Both men are down.

In space, the ship comes to a stop.

The Doctor works on the TARDIS. There’s comedy as he shocks himself. I didn’t LOL, but maybe you did. K-9 insists the TARDIS is still moving, though The Doctor says he’s “completely immobilised it”. K-9 confirms that while this is so, the TARDIS is now accelerating.

Romana shows up, looking rather hot in a red coat.

I’ve simply got to stop saying that. You know, every time I say ‘what could possibly go wrong,’ something does.” – The Doctor

The Doctor opens the scanner, showing nothing. Romana points out on the console that they’re moving very fast. She urges him to reassemble the dematerialisation circuits. K-9 moves to assist him and there’s an explosion that spins the dog’s head upside down.

The Doctor does mouth-to-mouth on K-9. No, really.

There’s more “comedy” involving things blowing up and all. Yeah.

On the scanner, they see the Skonnon ship – somehow, it has enough gravitational pull to draw the TARDIS to it.

On the ship, the enthusiastic crewman checks on the other, but the other seems to be very unconscious if not dead. Enthusiastic crewman then tries to contact Skonnos.

Presumably on Skonnos, a bunch of men in black march around inside a building. A bearded chap walks out of a wall, announcing that he has spoken with the Nimon. He speaks with one of the militant looking guys, and they talk of the last shipment of sacrifices coming and of the new ships promised by Nimon.

The bearded man (didn’t catch his name) confirms Sorak (the militant dude)’s belief that they are on the brink of having Nimon’s promise fulfilled. He prophesies, “The Second Skonnon Empire WILL be born!”

The Doctor can’t get the defense shields repaired in time and the TARDIS slams into the spaceship. The Doctor speculates that the ship is old and has been there for some time, possibly centuries. He extends the door defense shield (which conveniently operates on a circuit separate from the main shields, one that wasn’t fried) to create a safe walkway through space from the TARDIS door to the ship’s door.

They enter the ship, then The Doctor sends K-9 back to check on and begin repairs on the TARDIS. The Time Lords find radioactive cargo, and then move on to the next cargo hold, which is the one containing the captives.

Introductions are made – we learn that one is Seth, the prince of Aneth (a planet that The Doctor says is a charming place.) Seth tells the Time Lords that they were bound for Skonnos, that they were “the bearers for Aneth’s tribute to the Nimon”. He tells them the ship seems to have gone out of control.

The Time Lords discuss that the gravity is increasing on the ship; they hear other objects crashing into the ship, and The Doctor speculates that someone could be artificially creating a black hole.

The Skonnon enters, demanding to know who they are, what they are doing with “the sacrifices to the Nimon”. The man takes the Time Lords at gun point to look at the ship controls.

The co-pilot begins blabbing about the sacrifices being “payment in the great contract”.

On Skonnos, the bearded man (Soldeed, he is named, played by Graham Crowden, who… OH MY GOD, he was picked to play the Fourth Doctor, but ultimately turned down the role, not wanting to commit three years to the show. In fact, when they were thinking of him, and thinking he was going to accept, the producers decided he needed a younger male companion to do all the action, and thus Harry Sullivan was created!!!)

Anyhow, sorry. On Skonnos, Soldeed fiddles with a machine, confused to why it’s not responding (though whether it is the machine or something else, I don’t know.) The militant dude, Sorak, enters with something important to tell him – the transport ship from Aneth has been lost!

Soldeed is obviously the superior on Skonnos and he demands that the ship must be found. He leaves, saying the Nimon must be informed.

The Doctor says he can repair the ship, but he needs a source of power. Romana suggests using the ‘hymetusite’ crystals to generate the power needed to escapes before a black hole is generated.

Both Romana and The Doctor notice that the ship engine controls are a hybrid of different technology, new and old, and Skonnon and something else.

We see Romana’s personal sonic screwdriver, one she made herself. It’s smaller and daintier (much like her).

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, where he finds K-9 covered in tickertape, the full damage report bigger than he is! The damage to the TARDIS is quite extreme. The Doctor asks K-9 what his databanks have on the Skonnon Empire and the dog says that it was a military dictactorship that covered over 100 star systems.

Soldeed enters the Nimon’s lair/base, calling out for “Lord Nimon…”

On the ship, gravity effects are increasing – we have warbly audio as they talk and they’re moving slower. Oh, this is great television here. /sarcasm

All about the ship, the light increases and the gravity effects return to normal. The Doctor has returned to the TARDIS to bring it back into the Skonnon ship. The co-pilot pilots the ship away, leaving the TARDIS behind. As it is the greatest mass there, the asteroids and other space debris are drawn to it instead.

The Aneth tribute tell Romana that their planet gives a tribute every year, else the Skonnon battlefleet will attack. Romana questions if they’ve ever seen the fleet, but learns that it’s been several generations – the youth’s grandparents were the last to see it, in the days of the First Conquest.

Romana realises that the co-pilot has taken off without The Doctor.

The Doctor realises he and K-9 have been abandoned.

Romana goes to the bridge, demanding the co-pilot turn back, but he levels his gun at her, yelling that “the Nimon waits for no man!”

Soldeed enters a room, walking trepedatiously. It is filled with devices. The Nimon, a horned alien being steps forth, “You dare disturb me at this time?”

K-9 detects an asteroid of a mass of 228,000,000 tons approaching. The Doctor says that’s a small planet, and realises that it’s coming straight at them… and the credits roll.

Okay, that would have been a great cliffy if it weren’t for the completely over the top performance and farcical feel (one that pervades most of this season.)

Episode 2:

K-9 tells The Doctor they have a minute and a half. The Doctor gets all sorts of silly, putting a First Place ribbon on K-9. I wish I were making up this silliness.

Romana tries to take the ship back, but the co-pilot orders her back to the cargo hold at gunpoint.

The Doctor does something. The TARDIS spins wildly and the planetoid bumps it, sending it flying. The Doctor and K-9 get up off the floor. His gambit worked, the planetoid knocking them out of the gravity well.

The Nimon is not happy with Soldeed. The Nimon is a vaguely minotaurish type alien. It reminds Soldeed of the importance of the contract. Soldeed gets brazen, asking for an advancement of the technology promised them so that they could more easily complete their part of the contract.

The Nimon says no, the contract is very clear. He will be paid in full first.

Soldeed leaves, telling Sorak that the Nimon will seek reparation from Sorak personally if they do not either find the first ship or get a second shipment of sacrifices from Aneth. Soldeed says that they must attack Aneth. Sorak does not seem happy about this (presumably because of the rather decrepit state of the Skonnon battlefleet, not out of any lack of desire for war, being a military dude and all.)

Romana speaks to the tribute from Aneth, trying to get them to help her overpower the co-pilot and take over the ship. The Anethans are more afraid of the Nimon destroying Aneth. Despite Seth’s warning not to say too much, one girl, Teka, says that prince Seth is going to destroy the Nimon and “take us home in triumph”.

Sorak reports that the lost ship has been found and is two hours away. Soldeed is very gleeful. The two men look out the window at a building that is reminscient of the Nimon, the building has two large towers that quite resemble the Nimon’s horns.

Romana quizzes the Anethans about the Nimon. They tell her that he is the god of Skonnos. Seth says that he lives in the power complex, and only Soldeed can enter and return – all others who go in never come out.

It turns out that Soldeed is a scientist, apparently the only remaining scientists on Skonnos; he built the power complex for the Nimon. The other scientists were destroyed in the “Great Civil War” – only the army survived. In the aftermath, the Nimon arrived.

Seth is overwhelmed by his task, he doesn’t want to be a hero. He confides in Romana that he’s not even a prince, he’s a runaway, but somehow the king believed a story he made up. (Um, wouldn’t the king know who all the princes were?)

The co-pilot enters, demanding Romana to come assist him in landing the ship. Every time he is in the room with the Anethans, he’s yelled, “Weakling scum,” at them. I don’t know if it is to show him as a bully or if it’s comedy, but it fails at both, coming across as stupid.

The Doctor is effecting repairs or at least temporary fixes. He tries to start it up, but there are explosions and bizarre sounds. This is more comedy.

The ship has come to Skonnos, the tribute and Romana are brought to the great hall, where Sorak brings them before Soldeed. He demands to know why two of the crystals are missing, but Romana speaks up, saying she can explain. Soldeed is more interested in who she is. She gives her name and says she’s from Gallifrey, but because of her impertinence, Soldeed threatens to have her “eliminated on the spot” if she speaks again.

The co-pilot says she’s a space pirate; he claims that they attacked the ship, killed the pilot, but he drove the rest off and took her prisoner. He repaired the engines himself. Romana says that’s a lie.

Soldeed questions how the co-pilot repaired the engine and he claimed he adapted the engines to use the hymetusite crystals. Soldeed obviously doesn’t believe him, knowing he doesn’t has the skill. Soldeed says so, then accuses him of deviating from the set course.

The co-pilot (who is played by Malcom Terris, whom I believe we last saw in the Patrick Troughton serial THE DOMINATORS, as one of the natives, Etnin) now blames the computer, saying it malfunctioned.

Soldeed forces the co-pilot into the the power complex. He then says the rest will follow, including Romana.

The Doctor tries, again. This time it works.

Soldeed informs a group of men that the final tribute has arrived. He remarks upon the irony that through the tributes Aneth has given them, they will have the power to reconquer Aneth, and from there, build the Second Skonnon Empire. All they need is the secrets from the Nimon.

There’s lots of pompous speaking and cheering and steel and blood and all that.

The co-pilot wanders the halls of the power complex, pistol in hand. He hears growling and hides. Romana and the Anethans walk past and he follows, subversively, but then turns back and seems to be lost.

Romana and the Anethans hear the growling of the Nimon. They’re all frightened/spooked, even the Time Lady. As they move about, they discover that the walls seem to be moving or changing.

The Doctor seems to be in orbit and sees a… complex? The city? I’m not sure, but he seems to be reminded of something and decides to start there. K-9 detects a defense shield. The Doctor says they will have to land somewhere nearby, then, “somewhere unobtrusive”.

The TARDIS materialises in the great hall. The Doctor steps out and several Skonnons greet him. He tries to make small talk, but then two guards show up, pointing guns at him. They take him off to their leader.

More wandering through the corridors by Romana and the Anethans. They find a body, seemingly mummified or dessicated or dehydrated or something; dressed in yellow, much like the Anethans. Romana says it is dead and it appears that the life force was drained from it.

Teka realises that is their fate, that as much as the hymetusite, they are the tribute. She touches the body and it collapses into dust. Teka says the Nimon did this and Seth will destroy him.

The Doctor is brought to Soldeed. The Doctor is very interested in the machine Soldeed was working on earlier, asking if he’s having trouble with the neutrino converter. Soldeed claims this is his invention, but The Doctor says that’s curious as Soldeed has no concept of neutrino conversion.

The Time Lord then changes tack, asking if he knows someone is building a black hole on his doorstep. Soldeed realises that The Doctor is the one who rescued the ship. The Doctor asks if he’s seen Romana, but he claims he has not.

Sorak arrives with the gravitic anomoliser from the TARDIS (which was used to jury rig the conversion of the engines to use the crystals) and The Doctor calls out Soldeed on his prevarication. (Look it up.)

The Doctor flees as Soldeed grabs his big staff. The guards and Soldeed chase him and they end up before the wall leading to the power complex. Soldeed points his staff and says the command phrase to activate the portal, “in the name of the Second Skonnon Empire,” and The Doctor falls through.

Soldeed tells Sorak that the Nimon will take care of him.

The Doctor wanders the halls (I swear, they could have cut out an entire episode if they got rid of the pointless wandering scenes.) He places stars on the walls (stickers) as he goes, but checks back after a few moments and they’re gone.

Wow, the corridors are like a labyrinth, huh? (Nyuk nyuk nyuk.)

In another room, Romana and the Anethans find a bunch of other Anethans apparently in suspended animation. The Nimon’s larder. The co-pilot arrives, taking them into the next room, using his gun to herd them, keep them controlled. The co-pilot calls out to the Nimon, saying he’s brought the tribute from Aneth.

The Nimon appears, seemingly enraged, demanding to know who dares call him. He tells the co-pilot that the sacrifices didn’t need to be brought. The co-pilot says he was sent by Soldeed to keep them in check, but the Nimon knows better and says he was sent in to be executed.

The co-pilot begs for mercy. The Nimon blasts him with his horns, killing him, and then turns towards the tribute. Romana and the Anethans cower against the wall in fear… and the credits roll.

See, this was a much better cliffy, even with some over the top on Lalla Ward’s part.

Okay, that’s it for today, see you Monday!

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