Doctor Who: The Ultimate Foe (Story #146)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

The end of Colin Baker

Sylvester McCoy isn't much better than Baker


Shock and awe…the Master…again. Couldn’t I have just suggested this at the beginning of the trial to cut to the chase?

The Doctor (Colin Baker) finds someone has tampered with the Matrix and trying to prove him guilty.  When the Master (Anthony Ainley) reveals a part in the conspiracy, the Doctor with Mel (Bonnie Langford) and Sabalom Glitz (Tony Selby) finds himself in a race to save himself and stop an attack that could shatter the Time Lords forever.

Doctor Who:  The Ultimate Foe was the final series of the twenty-third season of the popular BBC series and the fourth and final part of the Doctor Who:  The Trial of a Time Lord story.  The story aired in two parts on November 29, 1986 and December 6, 1986.  Following Doctor Who:  Terror of the Vervoids, Doctor Who:  The Ultimate Foe was collected as part of The Colin Baker Years as Story #147 (or Story #146 depending on how you count the unaired Tom Baker serial Doctor Who:  Shada).  The whole The Trial of a Time Lord was collected in one box set.


Wait…explain again to me who you are…

For all the lead up, Doctor Who:  The Ultimate Foe is kind of a letdown.  I enjoyed parts of The Trial of the Time Lord, but this two part wrap up was a bit messy and somewhat confusing.  The script wasn’t entirely fleshed out due the death of the writer Robert Holmes, and I wonder if that created some of the problems.

The idea that the Valeyard (played by Michael Jayston) is the dark side of the Doctor’s Twelfth regeneration word at the time, but now needs some re-exploring since he’s reached that regeneration.  It hasn’t been forgotten by the writers (it was mentioned in Doctor Who:  The Name of the Doctor), but I think with all the War Doctor stuff, that the Valeyard could be ripe for a return…or at least more of an explanation.


Colin Baker: Sinking in a sea of bad episodes

I don’t know how this serial should have been handled.  The trial was always the framework of the story, and how Doctor Who was crafted involved complete stories.  This doesn’t feel like its own story and it doesn’t feel like it really meshes with the tale as a whole.  If it had been possible, there should have been more mixing of trial and stories throughout the twenty-third season, and it would have felt a little less jarring.  It also is a bit of a red herring to have the Master show up every time in the final act to get the plot going…I think the Valeyard would have been fine by himself.

This is a big episode and unintentionally a bigger episode than planned.  This storyline marks the final appearance of Colin Baker as the Doctor.  Baker was fired from the role and unlike most actors who have portrayed the Doctor, Baker did not do a regeneration scene…which also caused problems with the fact he had already met Mel in his future.  Baker’s leaving makes way for Sylvester McCoy who takes up the role of the Seventh Doctor and the final Doctor before the series’ “hiatus”.  Doctor Who:  The Ultimate Foe is followed by Doctor Who:  Time and the Rani.

[easyazon-block align=”center” asin=”B001C71IGU” locale=”us”]

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  Terror of the Vervoids (Story #145)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  Time and the Rani (Story #147)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response