1 - Lalla Ward
This is probably what started all those people thinking a female Doctor might actually work. While Tom goes off on one for much of the story,Lalla ends up being a better Doctor than several actors who've actually played him. Wonderful only begins to describe Lalla in this story. I'd go on, but I think there's a 2Mb limit on e-mail size here.
2 - Malcolm Terris' Underpants
Add a sense of realism much more effective than many Virgin / BBC novels. Who is to say that future space-fabrics won't be subject to the same flaws as today's. His trousers splitting to reveal his underpants only serves to highlight Skonnos' problems of inadequate resources and failing technology. No doubt part of the bargain was that the Nimon would supply nice stretchy jogging bottoms or something to prevent embarrassing trouser splittage.
3 - The Cheap Sets
Again, these only serve to enhance the idea that the Skonnon empire is inadequate and failing. Alright, it maybe wasn't deliberate, but it works for me.
4 - Straightforward Storytelling
Much as I enjoy some of the McCoy stories, I'd rather have a story I don't have to videotape and playback half-a-dozen times to figure out what the flip's going on thankyouverymuch.
5 - Science!
Yes, those of you who joined with S18 onwards may not have heard about this. Science! (the exclamation mark is important) is Johnny Ball. Science! is Patrick Moore. Science! is fun! Science! is not trying to teach viewers things, checking the feasibility of plot devices or anything. None of Christopher H. Bidmead's mathematical nonsense inspired me to learn anything (although I got straight A's on my O-levels, so it may have had some effect) whereas S17 made me want to find out about neutron stars, the origin of life and stuff. I didn't know what a black hole was, but I knew the Nimon used them to travel, which sounded cool and between this and Disney's The Black Hole I was hooked on the subject. Just think about it, the Nimon artificially create black holes, just to use as some sort of taxi service! How cool is that?
6 - Humour
Something sadly lacking in most of the eighties (the years, not the book, although it's not exactly a laugh riot either) is humour. From the repeated shouts of "Weakling scum!", to "Threeee, thrreeee niiimoooonsss", from "Later, you will be questioned, tortured and killed" "Well I hope you get it in the right order." to "Lord Nimon! Looorrrd Niiiiimoooon! It is I! Soldeeeeeed!" you're never without a smile on your face. Unlike, say Terminus or Earthshock (although part one's "I'm going down" "I'll tell them you're coming" never fails to raise a titter.
7 - Tom
No explanation needed really. He's off on one. Definitely.
8 - Graham Crowden
What can I say. This surpasses badness and turns into hugely enjoyable, something which Paul Darrow didn't quite manage in Timelash. He is the archetypical mad scientist of the sort usually found in trashy 1950's US B-Movies. But somehow, it's not only appropriate, but it works, as he becomes more and more unhinged, until by the end, all he can do when he's about to shuffle off this mortal coil is have a laugh.
9 - Viewing Figures
The Horns Of Nimon - average audience 8.75 million
The Leisure Hive - average audience 5.1 million
10 - Those Titles, that music...
Alright, if Shada had been finished, it would have been the last to have the definitive way to start Doctor Who. That version of the music and those Tom Baker time-tunnel titles are like the Hallelujah Chorus to me. They scream out "Let Me Entertain You!" and even now, twenty-five years since I first saw them, they send a shiver down my spine.
Anyway, there you go. That's why I LOVE Horns Of Nimon. The only ways it could be improved would be Lalla stripping off and a guest appearance by Yartek, leader of the alien Voord. Why have the BBC not released this classic piece of Who on video? Write to them now!