Target's Missing Season 23
The Ultimate Evil
|Author||Wally K. Daly|
|ISBN||0 426 20347 X|
|First Edition Cover||Alister Pearson & Graeme Wey|
|Synopsis: The Doctor and Peri's holiday in a peace-loving land coincides with the arrival of an unscrupulous arms dealer.|
A Review by Stephen Mills 27/4/01
This is another story from Season 23 and would have been similar to Season 22's Vengeance on Varos because it has no continuity references from the past. I quite like Vengeance on Varos so would this prove to be successful. Let's find out.
Well to be honest the reason I don't like this is because it is the same as Vengeance on Varos. It is completely lacking in originality. The Doctor and Peri are again in similar roles to Vengeance on Varos, while the two continents of Amerolia and Tranquela are very similar to the two main groups in Vengeance. The dwarf Mordant is again a rip off of Sil with similar attributes and values.
There is some very poor descriptive writing and by the end of the book I had no clear idea what Mordant look like. Also what does Mordant actually want and what does he hope to gain from Amerolia and Tranquela fighting against each other. The story is very confusing. There is also the question what is Mordant exactly and never explains. Is he a Timelord who doesn't have a TARDIS?
Having said that though, it is not a bad story it's just lacking in a bit of originality. A better way of taking this story forward would have had Mordant bringing in an alien force to take over Tranquela and the Doctor inspired the two continents to fight against the alien force. As I said it's not a bad story and certainly an improvement on The Nightmare Fair. However there is too much to confuse the reader. If this story would have been in Season 22 it would be about the same standard as The Mark of the Rani. 6.5/10.
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 12/7/02
This story would never have been made in Season 23. I know it never did, and we got Trial of a Time Lord instead, but if TOTL had been forgotten - and the original stories were put back on the production schedule, this would have had a line right through and "NOT APPROPRIATE AFTER CONSULTATION WITH MICHAEL GRADE" next to it. The change of plan to TOTL actually saved the production team from a awful lot of explanations to higher powers of the BBC, because this is exactly what Mr Grade didn't want.
Maybe Wally Daly (that's just a great name isn't it!) had seen Season 22, and decided to up the violence quotient even further. Maybe he presumed to know where the 6th Doctor would inevitably go with his character. We will never know, because it wasn't made anyway. TOTL was, and we have these stories in TARGET book form anyway - the best/worst of all worlds really. These missing adventures can almost be seen as Novella-like these days, because of their length. It's a format that works especially well - but then I am particularly nostalgic about TARGET-like Books anyway. It is always tempting to see other stories as inspirations within these Missing Adventures. Inspired by that, ripping off this - but this really does plunder aspects of both Twin Dilemma and Vengeance on Varos. Nonetheless there are aspects worthy of merit in this book, of its own right.
The book actually starts diabolically. It is trying too hard to impress with its verbacious descriptions. When it settles down, and begins to tell its tale it's actually quite good. The continent Tranquela - the word just evokes perfectly the state the place is supposed to exist in - is being bombarded by a Madness Ray from the Evil Dwarf Mordant. It's wonderfully camp 50s sci-fi this. There is a picture of the evil cousin of Minime on the cover, but you can make up your own versions of him if you like. You can just imagine him stooped over the mass of controls of his spaceship, taking great pleasure in turning the peaceful residents of Tranquela into Monsters. Whether this could have been realized on screen is another matter - I suspect we were saved from a great deal of embarassment.
That's where the Violence comes from. The Madness Ray is trained on Tranquela, and Mordant takes sadistic delight in it's effects. We have detailed descriptions of Apprentices attacking Mentors, Wives and Husbands ready to rip each others heads off. You just know the Doctor and Peri are going to succumb upon their arrival - and they do. We actually know this Doctor though - he's the nutter from Twin Dilemma - and comparisons to that Doctor are ripe throughout.
The story is a trifle drawn out. I presume this would have been a 4-parter - it would have fitted better as a 2 or 3 parter. There is quite a bit of rehashing of the main plot points. There's similar things happening to different people, and the middle section seems quite padded. There's only so many times you can show everyone going violent, before it gets boring. Where the author does excel is in his 6th Doctor writing. This is firmly Colin Baker off TV. He bickers with Peri, yet is concerned too. He shouts at everybody, and insists on running the show and being the liaison between the 2 races on Tranquela.
The introduction of the Ameliorans (the other continent on the planet) adds diversity to the book. It felt like the author was running out of ideas with his madness ray - let's introduce another race. They haven't spoken for 50 years - let's have a build up of War. Oh, and we'll need a Weaponry on Tranquela to house the weapons too. It's standard 50s pulp Sci-Fi this, but that also has a place in DW.
The book attempts to build political intrigue between the rulers of Tranquela, and this turns out to be a classic good son/bad son family that rules. Abatan is the Dad, noble in his feelings for his people, even though they try to kill each other every now and then. Escoval is the bad son, he's the one who has the despicable alliance with the Dwarf Mordant. Locas is the good son, despite throwing his fiance off a cliff. This is a mixed up world - and the reason it is so is the Dwarf Mordant and Escoval.
With these missing adventures you always imagine what it would have been like on TV. I have to admit that it would fit rather well for this era of the programme. It wouldn't have been a season survey topper, but I enjoyed reading the book. It actually felt like a novelization of a TV show. Am I cheesed off it was never filmed? I'm not too bothered actually as we have the book anyway. It is an undemanding MA, quick to read, and enjoyable. I don't feel we missed out (like I did with Nightmare Fair for example) - this is an average DW story - a season filler, but not a bad book all the same. 6/10