The Ultimate Evil

Synopsis

With the TARDIS working perfectly, the Doctor and Peri use a gadget from the storage locker to find a holiday destination. On arriving on the seemingly peaceful planet of Tranquelya, they find that a hate ray is sweeping the continent, turning the civilians into rampant beasts and it can only originate from the other continent, home to their ancient enemies, Ameliarians.

Review

I came into this story with quite high expectations thanks to enjoying The Elite and enjoying The Nightmare Fair. Sadly, The Ultimate Evil feels a bit of a disappointment. Whilst the idea at the story’s core is a good one, it is let down by some poorly written dialogue and overacting.

One thing that is fantastic about this story is the sound design by Nigel Fairs, which does phenomenal work in evoking the Sixth Doctor’s television era. It is small things like this that really make a big difference to these Lost Stories and gives a narrative shorthand to where we are in the timeline of the Doctor and Peri’s relationship, for instance. In all of the Lost Stories that I’ve reviewed so far, the music and general sound design has been fantastic for establishing this. Helen Goldwyn’s direction also helps to recreate the feeling of a continuation from Season 23, and largely manages to keep the guest performances on the right side of overblown. That being said, she can’t do very much about the fact that Mordant

I think the biggest problem with The Ultimate Evil is that it feels pretty derivative of Vengeance on Varos, which, in my opinion is a far superior story. The very nature of having an antagonist who is watching the Doctor’s every move feels familiar and the general atmosphere of the story feels very gritty, which is both a plus and a minus. I’m not sure that Doctor Who, regardless of trouble behind the scenes, could have survived having two back-to-back Seasons with the tone of Season 22. Ultimately, the story feels so genuine Saward-era Doctor Who because the Doctor and Peri are absent from the main action for over thirty minutes of the narrative. It is no secret that Eric Saward was not in favour of the casting of Colin Baker as the Doctor, and the way he dealt with this was by keeping the Doctor apart from the action for as long as he possibly could. As much as I liked the Doctor’s outrage and feelings of betrayal that the TARDIS is working perfectly when he has nowhere in particular to be, the longer this scene goes on it just feels like a diversion. That being said, Daly’s story does having some interesting ideas. I like the idea of weaponising emotions like anger and fear, that Mordant is attempting to sell to the Tranquelans to restart the war with their neighbouring continent. I also liked the fact that when the Doctor visited them to warn them of the impending attack, the Amelierians were not the traditional peaceful society that we see in other stories, for instance Genesis of the Daleks. There are also ideas that aren’t developed fully, for instance, the fact that Peri is a doppelganger for Mariana, who dies at the beginning of the story. Despite being mentioned a couple of times and being given as justifications for the Tranquelans being so angry when the Doctor and Peri arrive, not very much else is done with this, and ultimately it feels pointless when it is revealed that Mariana is, in fact alive in the story’s closing moments.

The guest cast here are really quite similar and there are few stand-out performances. Mordant feels like rehash of Sil as well, which is ultimately disappointing and as he spends what feels like most of the story maniacally laughing, it is difficult to take him too seriously. Robin Sebastian does his best with what is essentially a one-dimensional villain who feels as though he is ultimately dispatched too easily by the Doctor. Guy Burgess does bring some feelings of distrust and sliminess to the character of Escoval, the traitor, but otherwise they are pretty non-descript.

Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are pretty good here, even if the narrative sees them spend most of the story apart. They are both particularly good in the opening TARDIS scenes, which highlights how their relationship has become a bit more amiable. Colin Baker and script editor John Dorney reflect on how the character has changed in the interviews, highlighting elements like the Doctor’s tendency to repeat words getting more and more outraged as a shorthand to do this, which is something that I hadn’t really noticed before.

Verdict: Sadly, The Ultimate Evil is quite bland and derivative, which is a shame because it does have an interesting idea at its heart. It’s worth a listen but probably doesn’t have much replay value. 3/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown/Mariana), Robin Sebastian (Mordant), Kim Durham (Abatan), Guy Burgess (Escoval), Jack Forsyth-Noble (Locas), Paul Panting (Ravlos), Issy Van Randwyck (Koreelya), Jack Myers (Shankel/Leader) & Wally K Daly (The Bird).

Writer: Wally K Daly

Director: Helen Goldwyn

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • Big Finish did attempt to obtain the rights for this story in the original run of Lost Stories, however, Wally K Daly was involved in adapting the story for a version for the RNIB. The story had previously been novelised for Target Books.
  • Had the story been made for television, it would have been directed by Fiona Cumming.

Cast Notes

  • Robin Sebastian has also appeared in The Masquerade of Death and Imperatrix.
  • Paul Panting has appeared in a number of Big Finish plays, including Revenge of the Swarm and Mistfall.
  • Issy Van Randwyck has appeared in Family Matters, Requiem for the Doctor and Carnival of Angels.

Best Quote

Look at this, Peri!

Hmm…an ostrich egg on a plinth.

You have no idea. Follow me!

The Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown

Previous Sixth Doctor Review: The Nightmare Fair

The Abominable Snowmen

Victoria, I think that this is one of those instances where discretion is the better part of valour: Jamie has a plan.

The Second Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive in Tibet in the 1930s, where the usually gentle Yeti have besieged a Buddhist monastery, and the the TARDIS team become ensnared in the plans of the Great Intelligence.

The Story

It feels as though we constantly hit a story in the Troughton era with parts missing. The Abominable Snowmen is no exception, with only the second episode still existing. I have watched some fan-made reconstructions to get a feel for the story, but I don’t think it’s fair to give it a rating based on these. If in the future, an animated version is released, then I’ll review it then – like I did with The Faceless Ones earlier this year.

This story is notable for introducing the Great Intelligence, who would reappear in The Web of Fear, later in Season 5. The Great Intelligence currently holds the record for the longest period between onscreen appearances at 44 years, reappearing in The Snowmen in 2012, voiced firstly by Sir Ian McKellen and then portrayed by Richard E. Grant. Created by the writers of this story, curiously, Haisman and Lincoln did not receive a credit for the creation when it returned in 2012. The Intelligence went on to feature in the expanded universe, appearing in Big Finish audio stories such as The Web of Time opposite River Song, set prior to the Second Doctor’s arrival in this story and in books, most frequently the Candy Jar published books about the Brigadier’s childhood and life prior to meeting the Doctor.

The story also has another recurring character who would go on to appear in The Web of Fear, in the shape of Edward Travers, played by Jack Watling, Deborah Watling’s father. It is his endeavour to find a real life Yeti that links the two stories, with the story starting with a Yeti killing his travelling companion, John in the story’s opening moments. The Doctor comes to visit the scene of a previous and unseen adventure, only to find that the situation has changed as the Great Intelligence seeks freedom from the astral plane, possessing the body of Padmasmbhava in his quest to do so.

The Abominable Snowmen has a pretty solid reputation to live up to, and I would love to see it either found again or brought back via the means of animation, with memorable creatures and villain. Having not known much about this story before researching it and now knowing how it ties into The Web of Fear, I’m now looking forward to seeing the returning elements!

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Jack Watling (Professor Edward Travers), Wolfe Morris (Padmasambhava), Charles Morgan (Songsten), Norman Jones (Khrisong), David Grey (Rinchen), David Spenser (Thonmi), Raymond Llewellyn (Sapan), David Baron (Ralpachan) & Reg Whitehead, Tony Harwood, Richard Kerley and John Hogan (Yeti).

Writer: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln

Director: Gerald Blake

Parts: 6

Cast Notes

  • Norman Jones would later appear in The Silurians and The Masque of Mandragora.
  • David Baron is often erroneously claimed to be Harold Pinter, as this was his Equity name, however Pinter had abandoned the name before production on this story had commenced.

The Faceless Ones

It’s a flying beastie!

Jamie McCrimmon

Synopsis

Arriving at Gatwick Airport, the Doctor finds that a great number of young people are disappearing, including Ben and Polly.  Together with Jamie and Samantha Briggs, the sister of one of the missing people, he investigates what the Chameleons are up to.

Review

The Faceless Ones is latest Troughton era Doctor Who story to receive the animation treatment to allow us now to enjoy it in its full glory. The release gives the options to watch all six parts in animated format in colour or black and white, or to watch the surviving two episodes alongside the animation. Whilst writing my notes on this story, I watched the colour animated version, however, I have also watched parts of the two other options. I have really enjoyed the animation of these stories in the past and I am pleased to report that this one is no exception, helped in no small part by a great story.

As much as I enjoyed seeing this story in its full glory, there are some problems that I have here. It is a testament to how different television was in 1967 that this was how the departure of a companion was dealt with, as Ben and Polly are largely absent from the story, with the production team deciding to focus more on Jamie and Samantha Briggs played by Pauline Collins, who was being eyed up as a potential companion. Unfortunately, once Anneke Wills and Michael Craze stop appearing on screen it is all too easy to forget about them and their plight until they briefly turn up again at the end of Episode 6. It is also difficult to imagine any production set in modern times which would spend so much time fleshing out a character so much as Samantha Briggs is here, without having secured her signature as a companion going forwards. As it is, in terms of her departure from the story and her kiss with Jamie, it does feel unresolved. In modern television, contracts would have been signed months in advance of production starting, ensuring that the actor was committed to stay with the programme. This is something that will certainly return to be an issue with other actors, significantly, Caroline John, Louise Jameson and Mary Tamm, so I suppose we should be grateful we got a departure scene for Ben and Polly. The story being six episodes long makes it potentially too long, but I found it gripping for the whole of its running time, although the conclusion did feel a little rushed.

The story revolves around the mystery of missing young people who have travelled on Chameleon Tours, and Polly gets kidnapped very early on in the story when she discovers a body in their hanger. The Chameleons take the forms of some of the people they have kidnapped, leaving to a sense of unease about who is an alien which is pulled off really well. The shape-shifting nature of the Chameleons means that it is believable that the Doctor and his companions are regarded with suspicion by the Commandant of Gatwick Airport and the airport staff. Once the Doctor discovers the nature of the duplicates, the search is on for the originals as the copy cannot be sustained without the original being frozen. The Chameleons look fantastic in their usual form and the animation makes them look better than they did in the story, and it is actually quite nice to have a bit of a wait until we actually see them in their base form. The Chameleons have managed to go quite a while unchecked, as they state that they have been able to kidnap a large number of young people, which does stretch credulity slightly as it seems that people have only just started to notice that their loved ones have gone missing.

As Polly and Ben are sidelined for a lot of the story, the Doctor and Jamie are allowed to shine here. Troughton is fantastic as usual, and even in animated form, you find your eyes drawn to his performance, whilst Jamie gets a romantic interest in the form of Samantha and shows some initiative in his investigations away from the Doctor, including him hiding on the plane which prevents him from being shrunk. Pauline Collins is also good as Samantha, who enters the story looking for her brother who has travelled with Chameleon Tours. The rest of the performances are solid and I particularly enjoyed the performance of Bernard Kay in the join role as Inspector Crossland and the Director of the Chameleons.

Verdict: A solid Second Doctor story with a good storyline, if a lacklustre departure for Ben and Polly. It’s great to have this as a complete story and I’m really looking forward to the release of Fury from the Deep later this year. 8/10

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Michael Craze (Ben Jackson), Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Pauline Collins (Samantha Briggs), James Appleby (Policeman), Colin Gordon (Commandant), George Selway (Meadows), Wanda Ventham (Jean Rock), Victor Winding (Spencer), Peter Whitaker (Inspector Gascoigne), Donald Pickering (Blade), Christopher Tranchell (Jenkins), Madalena Nicol (Nurse Pinto), Bernard Kay (Crossland), Gilly Fraser (Ann Davidson), Brigit Paul (Announcer), Barry Wilsher (Heslington), Michael Ladkin (RAF Pilot) & Leonard Trolley (Supt. Reynolds).

Writers: David Ellis & Malcolm Hulke

Director: Gerry Mill (original production) & AnneMarie Walsh (animation)

Parts: 6

Behind the Scenes

  • This story sees the departure of Ben and Polly as played by Michael Craze and Anneke Wills respectively. They are notable for being the first characters to act as companions to two incarnations of the Doctor, having first appeared in The War Machines.
  • This is the final appearance of Michael Craze as Ben Jackson in any medium. Craze passed away on 7 December 1998, however, the part has been played by Elliot Chapman for Big Finish and by Jared Garfield in Twice Upon A Time.
  • Only Episode 1 and 3 exist in their original form in the BBC Archives.
  • The story was originally written for William Hartnell’s Doctor by Malcolm Hulke and David Kerkham (whose pen name was David Ellis) and set in a department store. Script editor Gerry Davis liked the Chameleons but decided to change the location.
  • At the time of broadcast, this was only the second story set in the modern day, with the first being The War Machines. Coincidentally, the two stories are set on the same day.

Cast Notes

  • Pauline Collins was offered the opportunity to become the new companion to the Doctor, an opportunity which she declined. Collins would go on to play Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw.
  • Bernard Kay previously appeared in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Crusade.
  • Donald Pickering was in The Keys of Marinus and would go on to appear in Time and the Rani, along with Wanda Ventham, who previously appeared in Image of the Fendahl.
  • Christopher Tranchell was in The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Eve and The Invasion of Time.

Best Moment

The passengers disappearing on the plane at the end of Episode 3.

Best Quote

We could eliminate a whole squadron of their toy planes, and they’d never get on to us. Their minds can’t cope with an operation like this. Remember the teachings of our Director – the intelligence of Earth people is comparable only to that of animals on our planet.

Blade

The Evil of the Daleks

Evil of the Daleks - Dalek Emperor

Synopsis

The Daleks capture the Doctor to try to distill the human factor, believing that this will mean that it will make them invincible.  The Doctor appears to be co-operating with them, making Jamie question his faith in the Time Lord.

The Story

The Evil of the Daleks is another Patrick Troughton story which is mostly missing from the BBC Archives, having been wiped in the early 1970s, with only episode two having been recovered.  Ironically, The Evil of the Daleks was the first story to be repeated on British television, being re-broadcast in the gap between Seasons 5 and 6, with some new framing narration performed by Patrick Troughton and Wendy Padbury (the new companion as played by Wendy Padbury) at the start of the first episode.

Evil of the Daleks - Dalek Jamie Victoria

This story actually serves as an introduction for another new companion, Victoria Waterfield, played by Deborah Watling, who leaves with the Doctor and Jamie at the end of the story.  With the story starting with Victoria’s father Edward stealing the TARDIS in Victorian times, this means that the Doctor is travelling with two humans from different eras of humanity’s past.  Edward’s eventual sacrifice at the end of this story leaves Victoria as an orphan, something that will lead to one of my personal favourite Doctor speeches in the next story, The Tomb of the Cybermen.  Victoria would stay with the Doctor and Jamie until Fury from the Deep, which continues a tradition of only having companions (apart from Jamie) travel with the Doctor for a single season.

The Evil of the Daleks was at the time intended to be the final appearance of the Daleks on Doctor Who.  Their creator, Terry Nation, intended to sell them to American television and so the decision was made to give them a final send-off from their parent show, as there was some talk of this Dalek spin-off being broadcast in Britain on ITV.  David Whittaker’s story did kill off the Daleks in the final scenes of the story, however, producer Innes Lloyd was told at the last moment not to make this a final end.  This was achieved by putting a glowing light inside one of the wrecked cases of the Daleks, suggesting that something had survived.  Of course, the Daleks would return, however, this would be their last appearance for five years, reappearing in Day of the Daleks opposite Troughton’s successor, Jon Pertwee.

The Evil of the Daleks - Destruction of the Daleks

This makes this story the first season finale to feature a recurring adversary of the Doctor’s and marks the end of Troughton’s first season as the Doctor, marking a successful transition of lead actors and securing the future of the show.

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), John Bailey (Edward Waterfield), Marius Goring (Theodore Maxtible), Alec Ross (Bob Hall), Griffith Davies (Kennedy), Geoffrey Colville (Perry), Jo Rowbottom (Mollie Dawson), Brigit Forsyth (Ruth Maxtible), Gary Watson (Arthur Terrall), Windsor Davies (Toby), Sonny Caldinez (Kemel), Robert Jewell, Gerald Taylor, John Scott Martin, Murphy Grumbar & Ken Tyllsen (Daleks), Roy Skelton and Peter Hawkins (Voices of the Daleks).

Writer: David Whitaker

Director: Derek Martinus

Behind the Scenes

  • John Bailey, who plays Edward Waterfield here, had previously appeared in The Sensorites and would go on to appear in The Horns of Nimon.
  • The Evil of the Daleks was voted as the best Doctor Who serial ever by readers of Dreamwatch Bulletin in a 1993 poll celebrating the show’s 30th Anniversary.

Marco Polo

the khan and the doctor

Marco Polo was the fourth serial of Doctor Who, initially broadcast from 22nd February to 4th April 1964.  Sadly, this story is the first which is completely lost from the BBC’s Archive, although telesnap reconstructions do exist, with a condensed thirty-minute version being released on the DVD release of The Edge of Destruction.  Rather ironically, this story was one of the most distributed stories of Doctor Who in this era, which means that it is the story that has probably been wiped the most of all the missing episodes.  However, it does also mean that there is a higher probability of its return to the BBC Archive.

Marco Polo does contain some notable firsts, though.  It marks the first and only time that a broadcast story of Doctor Who linking narration and maps to allow the viewer to follow the narration more closely.  This was provided by guest star, Mark Eden, although originally it was supposed to be split between the Doctor, Ian and Barbara.  It is also the first story to feature a historical figure in the shape of Marco Polo, and rather intriguingly, the first story considered for treatment for the move to the big screen by the Walt Disney Corporation, of all people!  This fell through, however, and the Doctor’s adventures with the Daleks were adapted instead.  Finally, the story features the TARDIS being used as a plot point for the very first time, rather than as simply a means of transport.

In terms of the story, it does seem to marginalise the companions a little bit more than what came before.  William Russell in particular was annoyed by the reduced role played by Ian in this story, however, Carol Ann Ford lists it amongst her favourite serials.  The Doctor seems a bit softer here following the events of The Edge of Destruction and he certainly seems more recognisable as the Doctor in this story.  Also, rather remarkably for the time, the story does depict a multi-ethnic group, which is a positive for this story.

Synopsis

The TARDIS lands in Central Asia in 1289, with the Doctor and his companions joining the travelling caravan of Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer.  Travelling from the Pamir Plateau, through the Gobi Desert and into Imperial Cathay, they encounter many dangers, before meeting the aged Kublai Khan in Shang-Tu.  Travelling to Peking, the TARDIS team save Khan from an assassination team before travelling off in the TARDIS.

marco polo doctor susan ian ping-cho

Cast: William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carol Ann Ford (Susan Foreman), Mark Eden (Marco Polo), Derren Nesbitt (Tegana), Zienia Merten (Ping-Cho), Martin Millar (Kublai Khan), Jimmy Gardener (Chenchu), Leslie Bates (Man at Lop), Michael Guest (Mongol Bandit), Charles Wade (Malik), Philip Voss (Acomat), Paul Carson (Ling-Tau), Gabo Baraker (Wang-Lo), Tutte Lemkow (Kuiju), Claire Davenport (Empress), Peter Lawrence (Vizier), Basil Tang (Office Foreman), O. Ikeda (Yeng)

Writer: John Lucarotti

Director: Waris Hussein and John Crockett (Part 4: The Wall of Lies only)

Parts: 7 (The Roof of the World, The Singing Sands, Five Hundred Eyes, The Wall of Lies, Rider from Shang-Tu, Mighty Kublai Khan, Assassin at Peking)

Ping-Cho and Susan