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4) Doctor Who and the Face of Evil, by Terrance Dicks
5) Doctor Who and the Robots of Death, by Terrance Dicks
6) Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang, by Terrance Dicks
7) Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock, by Terrance Dicks
8) Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy, by Terrance Dicks
9) Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl, by Terrance Dicks
10) Doctor Who and the Sunmakers, by Terrance Dicks
11) Doctor Who and the Underworld, by Terrance Dicks
12) Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time, by Terrance Dicks

Feeding my newly reacquired Leela fixation, I zoomed through the novelisations of all nine of the TV stories in which she features over the last few days. All nine are by Terrance Dicks, and there's not a lot more to say than that; they stick pretty closely to the TV scripts.

Doctor Who and the Face of Evil has a couple of interesting differences: Leela is actually portrayed as young, vulnerable and, well, girly in a way that is inconsistent both with the TV story as shown and with the other books. Also, of course, we have the explanation of how the Doctor's face became the Face of Evil, as the result of a solo adventure shortly after his regeneration.

Doctor Who and the Robots of Death loses in the transition to the written page; the TV version just looks so memorable, and I think hints better at the background setting of Kaldor City.

Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang also loses out in the visual stakes, but gains a bit with occasional tight-third narrative from Leela's point of view, which accentuates one of the successful aspects of the story, the confrontation between her primitive experience and the Victorian era.

Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock is a case of Terrance Dicks adapting one of his own TV scripts, which gives him even more than his usual degree of confidence with the material, and he uses the opportunity to fill out the Edwardian background of the story rather satisfactorily.

Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy is a case where the novel is basically written as if watching the TV story and writing down what happens on screen. Actually that's not quite fair; the fact that we cannot see the embarrassingly awful monster in the last episode makes it easier to concentrate on the plot, which makes more sense and is a better sf story than I had realised.

Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl is again a stick-closely-to-the-script effort, which makes the holes in the story a bit less easy to ignore.

Doctor Who and the Sunmakers is probably the best of these nine books; Dicks clearly appreciated Robert Holmes' script and seems to have really got into the spirit of it. There is an interesting scene in the book but not in the TV series where Leela encounters some elderly workers waiting for euthanasia. Various other minor details are tweaked and basically improved in Dicks' telling of the story.

Doctor Who and the Underworld is a bit less embarrassing than the TV original, but this is not saying much. The fact that we are not distracted by the disastrous special effects means that we can see the inadequacies of the plot rather better.

Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time is standard stuff, neither particularly good nor particularly bad.

So, in summary, none of these very special apart from Doctor Who and the Sunmakers which is rather good.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 5th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
I think that this makes Leela the only companion who appeared in a succession of stories (therefore excluding cases like Sara Kingdom and Grace Holloway) whose novelisations all come from the same writer. Not a particularly useful observation, but offered all the same.

Doctor Who and the Sunmakers was published some time after the others, ISTR because its themes were thought too 'adult' for a children's book range in 1978-80, but could be accommodated by 1982 when the tag 'Children's fiction' had been replaced by 'TV tie-in' in the publishing data on the back cover. Whether this had any impact on its quality, I'm not sure.
Mar. 5th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Since you've just read Fang Rock I must ask something I remember from childhood but may have been wrong about - was the revelation that (highlight to read spoiler) Reuben has been killed and replaced by the Rutan a big shock in the novelisation at the point that the Doctor works it out, as opposed to the TV story where it's obvious to the viewer when it happens? Or was I just imperceptive as I read the book?
Mar. 5th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
ah that explains some of the disgusting book count statistics this month. Terence Dicks does flow along at a nice fast clip.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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