What’s it about: Dr. Verryman has devoted his life to the advancement of knowledge. When his experiments on a remote planet threaten the entire human race only the Doctor can help - if he puts his mind to it.
The Real McCoy: Oh dear, here is a chance for Sylvester McCoy to go dolally again and show us all how badly he plays nutters. ‘I have become infected!’ he screams hysterically and then he starts rambling and ranting in a way that reminded me of Unregenerate in all the worst ways. The Doctor has never met Dr Verryman, he has only read his books.
Oh Wicked: I don’t mean to be cruel but I’m not sure what Ace and Hex are bringing to this anthology. Rather than using the time to explore the characters they just sort of hang around and Ace is especially redundant because we have heard her spitting out insults so many times now she is practically a parody of herself. The most significant thing Ace does is make another fatuous remark about Hex and another woman. She needs to ge that under control.
Sexy Scouse: Hex seems to be frightened of his own shadow in this environment which seems to be quite a sensible reaction considering the scrapes they usually get up to.
Standout Performance: Jon Glover’s Verryman is played in such an extreme fashion he is impossible to take to seriously. After a minute or two I began to get annoyed by the performances because if had been brought out of the stratosphere it might have been quite a sinister character.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Progress and intelligence are part of the natural order!’
Great Ideas: An intergalactic Oxbridge, a planet that is entirely devoted to expanding knowledge. Ferryman seeks to restructure the human brain, suppressing primitive desires and enhancing the intellect but performing it on a massive, universe wide scale. Brain surgery by radio, enhancing the brain power of the entire human race. When Verryman tested the procedure on himself the doors of perception were flung wide open, he had transcended genius and he was the cleverest man who ever lived! Within hours though his senses clouded, it became harder to reason or to perform the most basic autonomic functions. He has unleashed a pernicious virus of the intellect which results in the regression of any infected human brain to level of a savage with an IQ of forty five. The virus uses technology which is the carrier and the solution to the equation isn’t the cure.
Audio Landscape: Big squeaky door, rain storm, footsteps, ticking clock, a buzzing, beeping inductor, whistling kettle, pouring tea, groaning failed experiments locked away, clanking chains, smashing open the door.
Isn’t it Odd: The Order of Simplicity? Really? Apparently their creed is to destroy the corruption that technology and those who champion it propagate! Natural order choked! Its Greenpeace in the future! I’ve heard of some hair brained schemes in my time but turning everybody back to the level of cavemen so that nobody is able to build or use technology is insanity. It belongs up there with Operation Golden Age. Besides which if we evolved and found a way before I’m sure we will again. When hearing that Ferryman’s machine would push the human race forward into enlightenment they decided to use the virus to create the reverse effect – but how did they know that what he was trying to achieve wouldn’t have ultimately had the same goal as theirs? That a super clever human race wouldn’t need to rely on technology? The gag is that the Doctor has to do something stupid rather than something clever otherwise the world would become stupid rather than clever. Hilarious.
Result: The weakest anthology instalment yet? It’s a close call between this, the opening episode of Demons Lodge and 100 Days of the Doctor. I do feel that if they are going to release these anthologies they need to think up a good reason to tell each story but where Order of Simplicity is concerned the motive baffles me. Its stuffed full of clichés (technophobes, zombies), lacks any memorable dialogue, fails to generate remotely interesting characters and has a really lousy idea at its heart. Ace and Hex are once again simply present rather than doing anything engaging and the Doctor does little buy get hysterical and we all know how good Sylvester McCoy is at pulling insanity off. It fails as both science fiction and horror and should be listened to only if you are in the mood for formulaic nonsense that will send you to sleep: 3/10