August Books 26) The Happiness Patrol, by Graeme Curry
I wasn't overwhelmed by the original TV story, but Curry has produced a novelisation which is passionate and convinced - the rather odd plot holes remain, but liberated from cheap-looking special effects, it turns into rather a good yarn. Definitely one of those where the book is an improvement. Also an easy pass for the Bechdel test, with Helen A and her women warriors running around after Ace.
People had warned me that Silver Nemesis was pretty rubbish, and I'm afraid it is. One of my frequent complaints about bad Who, and indeed bad sf, is that all too often the means and motivation of the bad guys make no sense. In Silver Nemesis, the means and motivation of the hero make no sense: how and why did the Doctor launch the rocket into space in 1638??? The basic plot of three different sets of baddies (Cybermen, Nazis and Lady Peinforte) trying to get the McGuffin is comprehensible, but little else is. Am I unusual in finding Fiona Walker's performance as Lady Peinforte rather poor? She was way better in CLAVDIVS. And the bit with the Queen is pretty silly.
August Books 27) Doctor Who - Silver Nemesis, by Kevin Clarke
Clarke used the opportunity of adapting the script for novelisation to put back some of the material which apparently ended up on the cutting-room floor, but the result is if anything even more confusing. Where the TV series can just about get away with characters being darkly mysterious, the written word demands a bit more clarity (thinking especially of the portrait of Ace in Windsor Castle, never explained). Fails the Bechdel test, unless the cook who Mrs Hackensack's ancestor bribed away from Lady Peinforte was a woman. (Hackensack is a much less likely name than the TV series' Remington for a 17th century English aristocrat; but then, so is Peinforte.)
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is not a bad end to the season (and indeed to my watching all of Old Who). It looks generally good, and performances are all pretty convincing. I did once again find myself wondering about the means and motivation of the villains, in this case the Gods of Ragnarok; and I was left a bit confused by how the Psychic Circus fitted into the planetary society (and also a bit confused by the ending). But it was all fairly watchable. Now I can go back and do it all again.
August Books 28) Doctor Who - The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, by Stephen Wyatt
Wyatt's book is not really an improvement on the TV original. Shorn of (for once) decent production values and the compelling performances of the actors, the holes in the plot and clunky scene-setting are more apparent, and Wyatt, having written a TV script, is reduced to reporting what we saw on screen without being able to add much to it. Fails the Bechdel test - each female character is rigidly paired off with a male, and on the rare occasions that they converse it is always about one of the men (usually the Doctor).
I should have done a Mel retrospective with my last Whoblogging entry, but that can wait.