THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN "THE
NIGHTMARE FAIR" AND
"MISSION TO MAGNUS."
WALLY K. DALY
OFFICIAL TARGET BOOKS
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-426
-20338-0) RELEASED IN
With the TARDIS
working perfectly the
Doctor and Peri find
something of a loose
end. A holiday in
Tranquela, a peace-
loving country where
there has been no
war for over fifty
years, seems the
visit coincides with
that of an
dealer – the
The Ultimate Evil
I take it all back! After reading Graham Williams’ wonderfully witty novelisation of his unproduced script, “The Nightmare Fair”, I said that this 1986 ‘missing season’ “held a hell
of a lot more promise than the mostly-awful saga “The Trial of a Time Lord” that we had to endure through the winter of 1986”. Regrettably I went on to then pick up a copy of Wally K
Daly’s novelisation of his unproduced script, “The Ultimate Evil”, and decided that just
maybe “The Trial of a Time Lord” was not so bad after all…
Penned by Daly and to have been directed by Fiona Cumming, the second story of this aborted season would have told of a scheme to provoke a war between two neighbouring races - the Tranquelans and the Amelierons - masterminded by an unscrupulous arms dealer, the machiavellian Dwarf Mordant. Four years after the serial had been scrapped, Target books released the novelisation as the second book in their ‘Missing Episodes’ range. The lame, generic title and uninspiring cover illustration were not quite enough to put me off, but the dull and predictable tale contained within made 144 pages seem like a trial without end.
“The Ultimate Evil” is a definite casualty of the turbulent times that Doctor Who was going through during this period. Originally written as a two-parter, the story suffers very much from the pitfalls of the forty-five minute format. It takes a long time here for the Doctor and Peri to become involved in the story; there are a lot of unnecessary TARDIS scenes in the first half of the novel that do nothing for the story’s pace. Moreover, the 1985 season was heavily criticised in the media for being too violent – in fact, complaints about the violent content in both “Attack of the Cybermen” and “Vengeance on Varos” in particular were instrumental in the BBC’s decision to shelve the series. “The Ultimate Evil” continues this trend, having the Doctor himself, albeit under the influence of Mordant’s emotion gun, rampaging about the place trying to kill people! Not very shrewd, Wally. At the same time though, Daly’s novel manages to be possibly the most dumbed-down, childish Doctor Who book that I have ever had the misfortune to read. Whether it was aimed at adults or children, either way this book simply does not work.
To be fair though, there are some good things to be found amongst the pages of “The Ultimate Evil”, though you have to look bloody hard. And with a magnifying glass.
Peri has a brief, understated romance with Locas, the outcast son of the Tranquelan leader; there is some nice imagery conjured up of the Tranquelans having to ‘chain themselves’ down to protect themselves from the effects of Mordant’s emotion gun; and I also like the basic premise of a story being told about a planet other than Earth that has more than one country. Even the Kaleds and the Thals seemed to inhabit the same small part of Skaro!
For me though, the ultimate failure of “The Ultimate Evil” is the awful ending. The Doctor has a quiet word with Mordant, and he backs down. It really is a simple as that; a basic fear of
retribution from the Time Lords is enough to send the Salakan arms dealer running for the stars. And on top of that, there is the cheesiest happy ending ever that grates so, so very badly.
If this is the kind of rubbish that John Nathan-Turner was commissioning for the 1986 run, then there is little wonder that the BBC pulled the plug. This book reads like a novelisation of a particularly poor children’s show.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Had this story been produced, it would have likely been broadcast between The Nightmare Fair and Mission
to Magnus. We have therefore placed its novelisation within the same gap.
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