Just who is ‘The Evil One’? That is the intriguing title from this next instalment in the adventures of the Fourth Doctor with his warrior companion, Leela. When the Doctor and Leela land the TARDIS inside a cargo hold of a luxury space-liner, they are surprised to find it completely empty with neither passengers nor crew. Meanwhile, an insurance investigator called Calvert (Michael Keating from ‘Blake’s 7’) has also arrived and is reporting back to his superior Arthley (Gareth Armstrong). When Calvert meets up with the adorable duo, they make a shocking discovery.
Alongside the mystery of the space-liner we learn Leela is suffering from bad dreams and waking hallucinations. Leela is confused as memories start to emerge that cannot possibly be true and this very much directs what happens next as she is increasingly unable to sort reality from fiction and to decide if the Doctor is friend or foe.
Meanwhile, Arthley is entertaining Inspector Efendi (Geoffrey Beevers) from the interplanetary police and its all tea and biscuits and chat as the Doctor, Leela and Calvert attempt to escape the deadly space-liner.
This is quite a convoluted plot. ‘You think you know what’s going on here,’ says Calvert but I really don’t. It seems there are two plots fighting against each other but it all has a point in the end.
There is an excellent moment in the story in which the Doctor suggests a solution and it may have you groaning in frustration or rolling on the floor with laughter. Sometimes it is amazing how long you get just before you are about to be annihilated to have a natter about potential escape. Needless to say, it’s all about the Fourth Doctor and obfuscation is the name of the game.
Once again Tom Baker has enormous fun with his role. Louise Jameson is central to this plot and enjoys her dual personality. I guess knowing who Geoffrey Beevers plays, this is not a spoiler to say he’s an old adversary of the Doctor but this is all part of the enjoyment and it’s always a pleasure to listen to his silky voice.
It’s good to have Leela drawn with more detail but, as ever, I remain in thrall to Tom Baker’s Doctor. I suspect he could recite the phone book and I would still listen. This series of adventures continue to cover ground that we may have trod in the 1970s but there is much more of a knowing glint in his eye. He could be like Mr. Capaldi staring directly into camera. If there was a camera, obviously. This is very much trapped in a confined space with no means of escape. Oh wait, yes, there is. Once it does move on from that it becomes a bit more cerebral and slightly predictable in terms of character continuity.
I think it might be past time to get Geoffrey Beevers a series of his own, possibly combined with Alex McQueen perhaps leading to Derek Jacobi if it could be done. This unknown history is at least as intriguing as the Doctor’s and there is plenty of scope for further adventures in this universe. Big Finish used the Time Meddler to great effect in the stories of the Eighth Doctor. I really want these characters to have teeth the way they did in the old days when humans are seen as something to be manipulated and eliminated with the wave of a hand and Geoffrey Beevers is the man to do it.
The adventures continue in ‘Last Of The Colophon’.
(pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: £10.99 (UK), Download: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-293-4)
cast: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Geoffrey Beevers, Michael Keating, Gareth Armstrong and Nicholas Briggs
check out website: www.bigfinish.com