How you doing, folks? Welcome back to the ongoing Doctor Who audio drama review series, Big Finishing Move. You work hard for your money and it is my job to take a look at the many releases from audio juggernaut Big Finish and make sure you don’t end up wasting your money on something crappy. Today we’re once again palling around with the Fourth Doctor in the latest installment in his range for the year, The Evil One. Let’s not keep Mr. Teeth and Curls waiting, let’s dive right in!
TARDIS Team: Fourth Doctor and Leela
I’m going to say this right off the bat, you aren’t going to be able to fully appreciate this one unless you are familiar with the classic Who story that introduced Leela, The Face Of Evil. Lacking the background provided by that story doesn’t break the listening experience, but the full weight and impact of some of the names and ideas will be lost on you. All you really need to know is that there was a “god” on her planet by the name of Xoanon, the Doctor was known as the Evil One, and that Leela’s father died trying to protect his daughter. If you want any more than that you’ll have to look the story up yourself, or even better actually sit and watch it. It’s a good’un.
Our story begins with Leela dreaming of the events that led to her father’s death, although the details are not quite as she remembers them. Soon after waking, the Doctor comes to get her as the TARDIS is about to land. Our intrepid explorers find themselves in the belly of the cargo hold of the Moray Rose, a ship that should be loaded to the brim with people and riches, yet is conspicuously lacking in both of these departments. Never ones to leave a good mystery unsolved, the Doctor and Leela set out to find out what happened. However, Leela is soon captured by someone calling himself Xoanon who brainwashes her into thinking she must kill the Doctor. Little does the Doctor know that while the he is hunting down Leela’s kidnappers, he is being hunted by Leela.
While everyone is in fine form on this one, I have to take my hat off to our two leads. Tom Baker really makes us feel the Doctor’s need to find Leela and we get a true sense of his love and respect for his companion as he battles for her soul. Louise Jameson does such an excellent job making each of the Leela’s personae so distinct that you can tell which side of her is speaking with every word she utters. On top of all this, we have the story’s final scene between the two, a moment so incredibly well-written and performed that it easily is the standout of the entire piece. If you have any love for your parents at all and Leela’s final words don’t hit home with you, I hate to break it to you me friend, but you might just be a robot.
The overall story does have issues, the least of which is that the mystery of who is behind everything is lost the first time you hear the individual speak. Of course, a clever person could simply go and read the cast for this and know who the big bad of the piece is before they even listen to it, but where is the fun in that? Thankfully, the writer, Nick Briggs understands that this story isn’t even really about the plot, the heart of this sucker is the Doctor and Leela’s friendship, Leela’s bottled up emotions about her father, and his death. Briggs pours his focus into making the impact of these elements as powerful as possible.
What I like about this series so far is that it has gone out of its way to test the bounds of the Doctor and Leela’s relationship with each other. It not only allows for each character to have more depth in the stories, but it also allows for a deeper exploration of the unique bond they share. Big Finish has not been content to rely solely on the established teacher/student relationship between them. Instead, the company seeks to further explain who these characters are and why they choose to continue being around each other despite being so different. I commend Big Finish for faithfully expanding the canon in this manner. I have been supremely impressed with this third series so far and I only hope they can keep up this level of quality as we slide into the back half of this year’s run.
Purchase Doctor Who: The Evil One Here:
Do note gentle readers that Big Finish aren’t the only people who do audio dramas, One Of Us happens to have its own show by the name of Infinite Variations! As for me, I’ll be back in a week or so with:
See ya soon!
Check out my previous reviews: