Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

May Books 19-27) Nine Jo Grant Novelisations

A run of novels from what will probably turn out to be the peak period in terms of consistency of quality in this entire project. None of these is awful; all are decent efforts, though none of them is outstanding. Both the best and the worst (in my humble opinion) are by Malcolm Hulke.

19) Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, by Terrance Dicks

This is the most owned Doctor Who novelisation on LibraryThing, and certainly one of the best ones. Ian has written of the sharp contrast between the tense novel, especially the excellent characterisation of the Controller, and the much less convincing TV original. Well worth it.

20) Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon, by Brian Hayles

Hayles adapted his own TV script again; and it is generally a good version of a good story, with the excellent point that Alpha Centauri is much less silly on the page than on the screen. I felt that Hepesh, the high priest, was a little more three-dimensional in the original but basically it is a good effort.

21) Doctor Who and the Sea Devils, by Malcolm Hulke

This was the only one of this run of nine that disappointed me. We start with quite a tedious aside on why the Doctor and the Brigadier intervened to prevent the Master from being executed (after his arrest in The Dæmons), and then we lose some of the more attractive bits of the original story - the quiet feminism of WRN Blythe, the excellent incidental music, and the Clangers. The plot holes, as so often, seem more apparent on the page than on screen.

22) Doctor Who and the Mutants, by Terrance Dicks

I retain an affection for this book, even though the TV original is quite possibly the worst Pertwee story. Somehow the anti-colonial politics comes through both more clearly and more subtly; and we are spared the dodgy special effects and atrocious acting. One where the page is way better than the screen.

23) Doctor Who - The Time Monster, by Terrance Dicks

A decent effort at conveying an over complex story; not spectacular, but OK. Tony has an interesting point about the Master's pseudonym.

24) Doctor Who - The Three Doctors, by Terrance Dicks

This is one of the novelisations that is so much better than the original that the TV version is a real disappointment - the stupid music, the lousy special effects, the clumsy resolution of the story all either absent or fixed on the printed page. It is not one of the great novelisations but it is nonetheless very enjoyable.

I have already re-read Doctor Who and the Carnival of Monsters, so next up is:

25) Doctor Who and the Space War, by Malcolm Hulke

I was getting a bit worried about Malcolm Hulke after the disappointments of Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon and Doctor Who and the Sea Devils, but this was a welcome return to form; the slightly odd politics of the human and Draconian governments seem a bit less improbable on the page, and everyone is given decently believable motivations. The one slightly odd thing is that the ending just has the Master tidying up his desk, rather than shooting the Doctor. I suppose this was a quiet tribute to Roger Delgado.

26) Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks, by Terrance Dicks

This is another book that solidly retells the TV story, without being diminished by wobbly special effects.

27) Doctor Who and the Green Death, by Malcolm Hulke

The Malcolm Hulke novelisations have been a bit hit and miss for me, so I am very glad to end on a high note. Where some of his other books are rather irritatingly written down for a younger readership, Doctor Who and the Green Death is written much more maturely - at one point Jo offers to pose topless for Professor Jones, which is rather prophetic in view of later developments in Katy Manning's career. (In fairness, their romance is one of the best constructed narratives of romantic companion departure in the whole of Who; perhaps the only serious rival is Vicki/Troilus in The Myth Makers.) For once, Hulke's political themes are well-judged and match the tone of the narrative, and although we lose the full mania of the screen version of the mad computer, BOSS, we also (as so often from this era) lose the dodgy special effects. A particularly good effort.

I've said it before (though not all agree with me) but I'll say it again: Jo Grant comes across much better on the printed page, perhaps because of the affection the writers of these books have for this era of the show in general. She often becomes a sympathetic viewpoint character rather than the whiny blonde side-kick she so often was on screen.

The same is true, indeed, for Pertwee's Doctor, who comes across as more affectionate and humorous, and less arrogant, on the page when written by the people who designed the character rather than portrayed by the actor who had his own ideas.

The other UNIT personnel don't fare so well. The Brigadier is on the whole a bit less cartoonish in the books than he became on screen; Yates and Benton don't get a lot to do in most stories (Yates has his moment in The Green Death, Benton in The Three Doctors).

Sarah Jane next!
Tags: bookblog 2008, doctor who, doctor who: 03, doctor who: novelisations, writer: brian hayles, writer: malcolm hulke, writer: terrance dicks
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