July 31st, 2008

doctor who

July Books 26-34) The other Sixth Doctor novelisations

My vague ambition to read all the novelisations of Doctor Who stories before my vacation did not come off, but I did at least finish the Sixth Doctor novels on Eurostar on Tuesday.

Collapse )
Collapse )
Collapse )
Collapse )
Collapse )
Collapse )
Collapse )
Collapse )
Collapse )

The biggest surprise for me in reading these was that the Peri/Doctor relationship actually works rather well on paper, even if the books themselves are generally not particularly great. I've noted before how the printed page tends to flatter the screamy rather than the brainy companions, and Peri, though nominally brainy, is in fact screamy. On screen, one sometimes wondered what she was doing travelling with the Doctor at all; the friction often seems nasty rather than affectionate. On paper, it somehow works better. I still think that the original ending to Mindwarp rather than the "happy" ending is a better close to her story, though.

As for the Sixth Doctor as a whole: fannish collective opinion does not rate the era highly (all but one of the stories are in the lower half of the dynamic rankings table, with The Twin Dilemma and Timelash in the bottom two slots). On TV, it's pretty clear that the good stories are Revelation of the Daleks and Mindwarp. The best of the books, as noted above, is Robert Holmes adaptation of his own The Two Doctors, though I am struck by how often I felt the novelisation was better than the TV original; the problem was really the production values in general rather than the scripts per se.

The only other Sixth Doctor book I have read is Simon Forward's Telos novella Shell Shock, which I rather enjoyed (though wondered about the characterisation of the Doctor). I have the three "missing season" novels on the reading pile.

On audio, Colin Baker has shown what he is capable of with decent material to work from, not only with Nicola Bryant and Bonnie Langford, but also with the brilliant Maggie Stables as older companion Evelyn Smythe. I particularly recommend The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, Bloodtide and The Wormery, though the Evelyn/Doctor relationship is always fun. (I am not a fan of Frobisher though.) Indeed, Baker has turned his hand to writing himself.

To the McCoy era now!