‘THE ULTIMATE EVIL’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Mordant with the Sixth Doctor and Peri
I didn’t think Big Finish would ever adapt ‘The Ultimate Evil’ so quickly! 😀
Back in 2019, I reviewed the Lost Season 23 of ‘Doctor Who’ by Big Finish for my Easter review season. This looked into many ‘Doctor Who’ stories originally meant for TV, but for one reason or another never got made and are now adapted as audios. They starred Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.
Three stories from the pre-planned Season 23 were adapted into audios in the Lost Season 23 of ‘Doctor Who’ back in 2009. They were ‘The Nightmare Fair’, ‘Mission to Magnus’ and ‘The Hollows of Time’. Due to rights issues, Big Finish couldn’t adapt ‘The Ultimate Evil’ by Wally K Daly into an audio.
Until now that is! 10 years after ‘The Lost Stories’ range of ‘Doctor Who’ audios began, Big Finish have now been able to adapt ‘The Ultimate Evil’ by Wally K Daly into audio, starring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant. And I’m happy to say, I had a great time listening to this audio drama. It’s very good! 🙂
I knew about ‘The Ultimate Evil’ from watching ‘The Lost Season’ special feature that was originally on ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ DVD. I was lucky to hear sound-bites of the Big Finish audio adaptation from watching ‘The Writers’ Room: The Missing Season 23′ feature on the Season 23 Blu-ray box set.
Wally K Daly had novelized his scripts of ‘The Ultimate Evil’ for the Target range of ‘Doctor Who’ books back in 1989. He’s also seen it adapted as an audiobook for a fundraising exercise. It’s nice to now have the story as a full-cast audio adventure with Colin Baker’s Doctor and Nicola Bryant’s Peri.
I pre-ordered ‘The Ultimate Evil’ with ‘Nightmare Country’ from Big Finish back in June 2019. The story is two-part bumper episode story as would’ve been the case had it been made for TV. Somehow I wonder if ‘Yellow Fever and How To Cure It’ and ‘The Children of January’ will be audios.
Sadly, I don’t think that’s the case. But it’s nice to hope, isn’t it? I hoped I would enjoy ‘The Ultimate Evil’ and be able to get into it easily compared to the struggle I had with getting into ‘Nightmare Country’. Thankfully I did manage to get into it and found Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant engaging. 😀
So what’s ‘The Ultimate Evil’ about then? Well, let’s take a look. It has the Doctor complaining about the TARDIS being in perfect working order before Peri suggests that they should take a holiday. The Doctor is gobsmacked at Peri’s suggestion, but agrees, collecting something from the storage locker.
It happens to be a crystal ball and soon the Doctor and Peri end up on an alien planet where there is the peaceful, idyllic continent of Tranquela for their holiday. But all is not well as the Doctor and Peri see the Tranquelans turn into savages when a hate ray hits and sweeps the planet from outer space.
The intention behind this is to provoke a war between the Tranquelans and their old enemies, the Amelierans. The Doctor attempts to make contact with his old friend Ravlos whilst Peri is in trouble, attacked by a Tranquelan turned savage. Soon, they have to fight the menace of the slimy Mordant.
I don’t know much about Wally K Daly as a writer and how he came to write ‘The Ultimate Evil’ in the first place for TV. He’s written plenty of TV, radio and theatre plays beforehand, dabbling in the works of ‘Juliet Bravo’ and ‘Casualty’. His writing style for this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure is really good.
It’s interesting to note that ‘The Ultimate Evil’ would’ve been directed by Fiona Cumming had it been made for TV. Now it’s being directed for audio by another woman – Helen Goldwyn. Helen Goldwyn has been an actress, writer and director herself in many of the ‘Doctor Who’ Big Finish audio stories.
Many of the concepts featured in this story were intriguing to listen to, especially with the Doctor’s crystal ball that acted as a holiday brochure but also as a device for the villainous Mordant to spy on our heroes. The concept of literal ‘thought balloons’ to get you to places was so intriguing to listen to.
The utilisation of a hate ray to turn people angry and into mindless savages is another novel concept and very atypical of the 1980s. I can imagine how that would’ve looked in terms of outer space special effects. They would’ve been pretty dated had they been made for TV. Or they would’ve not.
It was lovely to hear Colin Baker back as the Sixth Doctor for this audio adventure. Of course, we’ve gone back to the brash, arrogant Sixth Doctor as he would’ve been in the TV series and how Wally K. Daly would’ve written him in script and novelization. But there are some sweet moments with Colin.
I like how Colin’s Doctor interacts with Peri in the TARDIS for most of the first half of ‘Part One’. It does take a while for them to get to Tranquela on the alien planet, but when they do arrive they get thrown into the heart of things. They barely have time to enjoy their holiday once they have arrived.
It is unfair that the holidays the Doctor and Peri try having end up in disaster. Colin’s Doctor does go ‘Hulk Smash!’ when he’s affected by the hate ray and when he interacts with Ravlos and his wife Koreelya. But he copes fine and it’s interesting how his visit to the Amelierans turns out in this story.
I loved hearing Nicola Bryant in this audio adventure. Surprisingly, Nicola plays two characters in this story. She plays Peri with Colin Baker’s Doctor and she plays Mariana, Locas’ lover. Apparently Mariana is identically similar to Peri, except she doesn’t have the American accent. Makes a change! 😀
I love how Peri interacts with Colin Baker’s Doctor in this audio drama. There’s not so much bickering between them as you would expect from watching the TV series. In fact, Peri seems to have learnt how to tolerate the Sixth Doctor’s brashness and she even gently teases him in this little adventure.
It was fun and intriguing how Peri paired with Locas who initially believed she was Mariana brought back from the grave. Peri and Locas work together to solve the mystery of what’s occurring in Tranquela and try to find ways to reach the Doctor and the TARDIS by travelling in ‘thought balloons’.
The guest cast are equally fun to listen to. There’s Robin Sebastian as Mordant, who is a slimy super-salesman that gave the holiday brochure crystal ball to the Doctor. Quite why he wants to provoke a war between Tranquela and Ameliora is unclear since he seems to thrive on making people savages.
There’s Guy Burgess as Escoval, one of the Tranquelans who works with Mordant to provoke a war between his people and the Amelierans. Escoval comes across as a troublemaker and power-hungry in wanting to be in control of Tranquelan instead of Abatan who is this higher family authority figure.
Kim Durham guest stars as Abatan, who is like the overall leader in charge of Tranquela. He takes a strict view on things especially when laws are broken. There’s Jack Forsyth-Noble as Locas, Abatan’s son, who risks breaking Tranquela’s laws when he and his lover Mariana go into dangerous territory.
There’s also Paul Panting as Ravlos and Issy Van Randwyck as his wife Koreelya. Ravlos and Koreelya work together to solve the problem of Tranquela; its death ray and preventing an outbreak of war with the Amelierans. Ravlos and Koreelya work with the Doctor, after sorting out his ‘Hulk’ states. 😀
The story also features Jack Myers as Shankel, a security guard and a friend of Locas who easily gets hypnotised by Escoval to do his bidding. Wally K Daly also plays the bird…or parrot…that belongs to Mordant in his outer space ‘lair’. I didn’t realise it was Wally K Daly doing the bird voice till the end. 🙂
I greatly enjoyed ‘The Ultimate Evil’ as a ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. I admit I did feel it was too easy with the Doctor and Peri changing Mordant’s mind to provoke a war between Tranquela and Ameliora. Even they admit it! Otherwise, this was a very satisfying and fun audio adventure to listen to!
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. On Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, writer Wally K Daly, script editor John Dorney, producer David Richardson, director Helen Goldwyn, etc.
‘The Ultimate Evil’ rating – 8/10
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