Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

May Books 29-32) The first four Sarah Jane novelisations

My apologies to those of you who are not all that interested in Who; I have three posts brewing on different aspects of the canon (of which this is the first) which I plan to write this weekend. There are a couple of non-Who posts brewing as well, and I'll try to leaven the mixture.

29) Doctor Who and the Time Warrior, by Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes

Somehow despite the apparently favourable conjunction of DW's most prolific TV script writer (Holmes) and the most prolific novelisation writer (Dicks), it rarely seems to gel, and this is a typical example: an unexceptional Dicks novelisation of a decent Holmes script, supposedly in this case with Holmesian participation. The Sontaran commander Linx (rather than Lynx) and the myopic Professor Rubeish both get a little more characterisation, but it's otherwise standard stuff.

It is interesting that both this and the next story are about the bad guys shunting people between the present and the past.

30) Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion, by Malcolm Hulke

I am not sure if this is the best of this run of novels (and I'm certain it's not the best of the Season 11 novels, as Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders clearly takes that trophy) but it is certainly the most interesting. As commenters to my last entry noted, it starts with a lovely vignette of a Scot in London for the football who becomes a victim of the dinosaurs; there are other little bits of depth added as well, Professor Whitaker becoming very camp, and a couple of odd extra details - the Doctor is described as having "a mop of curly hair" (shurely shome mishtake?) and he talks about the Mary Celeste again as he did in Doctor Who and the Sea Devils. Also, of course, the book loses the appalling visual effects of the original programme - these dinosaurs are flesh and blood, not rubber!

Yet at the same time it is a bit too over-earnest, not quite as mature as Hulke's better novels (Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters and Doctor Who and the Green Death), so it doesn't quite get its fourth star from me.

It is interesting that both this and the previous story are about the bad guys shunting people (and in this case dinosaurs) between the present and the past.

31) Doctor Who - Death to the Daleks, by Terrance Dicks

A fairly routine treatment of a fairly routine Dalek story. As often happened in this period, the wobbly special effects of the original are much better on the printed page.

It is interesting that this and the next story are both about external aliens (here, the Daleks) forcing the natives to mine the planet's indigenous mineral resources. Though in this case the humans are among the good guys.

32) Doctor Who and the Monster of Peladon, by Terrance Dicks

This really isn't particularly good. Hayles' original story was over complex anyway, including activist miners, imperialist exploitation, and feminism in a confusing tangle of plot strands which Dicks' novelisation rather fails to untangle and clarify. Definitely for completists only.

It is interesting that this and the previous story are both about external aliens (here, the Ice Warriors) forcing the natives to mine the planet's indigenous mineral resources. Though in this case the human character is one of the bad guys. No wonder people thought the show was running out of ideas.

So, since I read Doctor Who and the Planet if the Spiders a while back, that is the end of the Third Doctor novels. The general level of quality is better than for the first two Doctors, with some excellent reads - Barry Letts' Doctor Who and the Dæmons and Malcolm Hulke's Doctor Who and the Green Death - and some of Terrance Dicks' best efforts - Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons, Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, Doctor Who - The Three Doctors and Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders. And even if Malcolm Hulke didn't always match his own ambitions, his books were always interesting, and Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters and Doctor Who and the Space War are pretty good.
Tags: bookblog 2008, doctor who, doctor who: 03, doctor who: novelisations, doctor who: sarah jane, writer: malcolm hulke, writer: robert holmes, writer: terrance dicks
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