The Ultimate Evil

Posted in Audio by - November 19, 2019
The Ultimate Evil

Released November 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Originally planned for season twenty-three and later novelized for Target in 1989, Wally K Daly’s ‘The Ultimate Evil’ now receives the full-cast treatment in the second of two new instalments in Big Finish’s The Lost Stories range. Arriving on the peaceful and idyllic continent of Tranquela that is home to the Doctor’s good friend Ravlos, the Sixth Doctor and Peri instead find a land fallen victim to a hate ray that turns the inhabitants into savage beasts and soon become embroiled in a long-standing armistice threatening to crumble under the watchful eye of the unscrupulous Mordant far above.

As should be the case with any of The Lost Stories, ‘The Ultimate Evil’ successfully replicates the storytelling modalities and pacing of its intended era. In this case, however, that means that an early Sixth Doctor and Peri are written somewhat more combatively when together without any supporting reasoning aside from it being the accepted norm. While the prospect of the TARDIS functioning at full capacity with no errors or glitches to be found is an inherently exciting one, the lengthy discussion about the Doctor now having nothing to do in his down time does little in terms of plot progression or characterisation and instead serves to highlight just how long it takes for the duo to become involved in affairs. To their credit, both Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant do their best with the material given them, but the entire storyline featuring the Tranquelans and Amelierans is filled with banal dialogue that far too often lends itself to overacting from everyone involved.

As the names of these two groups suggest, ‘The Ultimate Evil’ is hardly the most subtle or creative with its ideas, and a literal hate ray that has settings such as fear, war, and peace presents science fiction at its most rudimentary. Unfortunately, the villainous Mordant who all too gleefully revels in his evil is just as hackneyed, and while the notion of the people below chaining themselves up at the appointed times of the ray’s use to avoid doing further damage to each other is genuinely interesting as a philosophical point, the tenuous motivations for certain key actions do little to inspire any sort of believability or empathetic connection with the lead Locus or these civilisations as intended. Even this horrible act is undone by a quirk of biology, however, but even with the consequences becoming nonexistent, it still does not fully explain how easily everyone- including Peri- is able to brush off what has occurred and simply continue on as if nothing happened.

Strangely, this is a story that relies incredibly heavily on the lengthy summary that comes with it as the script itself rather confusingly introduces these two peaceful continents being driven to the brink of war by an unknown force. Considering how derivative the plot elements are, this confusing approach to introducing them is all the more glaring, and the absurdity of the weapon and its scope becomes memorable for the all the wrong reasons. With far too many plot contrivances and even the sound design somewhat more lacklustre than usual, there is little to recommend here other than to experience a lost piece of Doctor Who history. There probably is a much more powerful and resonant way to tell this story, but as presented ‘The Ultimate Evil’ is hardly a highlight of what may have been and lacks any of the imagination that has been so paramount to the franchise throughout its incredible run.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.