However despite all the obvious negatives there is a kind of wonderful glory about the whole thing to me. Tom and Lalla are on sparkling form, the script contains some great wit and charm and the Nimon themselves have been given a genuine menace totally outweighed by their actual appearance, certainly compared with our friends the Mandrels.
For once the cheap look of the sets is excusable. After all this is an Empire on the wane. It can’t even do fist waving and cheering properly anymore. Their ships are old and unstable so the fact that the co-pilot is a dumpy, unthreatening bully desperate to get home even if it means cutting corners makes sense. The co-pilot's regular cries of ‘Weakling Scum!’ hark back to a time when the Skonnon Empire meant something.
The relationship between the Doctor and Romana II is one of the great Doctor-Companion relationships. When I was young and a less cynical chap the fact that there were two bright, charming and witty people plotting the downfall of tyrants and monsters armed with just: “A teaspoon* and an open mind.” (To quote The Doctor in another Season 17 cheapfest ‘The Creature from the Pit’) was why Doctor Who was so great. No one apologised for being intelligent and witty. Only the bad guys had no sense of humour. It was what the world should be like.
The story itself is just Theseus + the Monitor in Space (with a dash of the Trojan Horse thrown in). The Nimon invade by stealth offering gifts to the people of Skonnos. But we learn this is just a devious way of draining a planet of its natural resources before pinging down a black hole to the next likely victim. Beware Nimon baring gifts. We get to see what they do when Romana arrives on Crinoth, the Nimon's previous victim planet.
Every time I finish watching it ‘The Horns of Nimon’ makes me happy and whilst some of that might be down to dumb nostalgia I’d like to think there’s more to it than that. ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is what brilliant people can produce when they’ve got no money but lots of inspiration.
I know a lot of Doctor Who fans find the Graham Williams era silly and childish. I think it’s generally the opposite. (With the exception of The Nightmare of Eden which is just a little too silly for its own good.)