Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

June Books 9) Damaged Goods, by Russell T. Davies

I think Russell T. Davies is the only Who showrunner to have written a novel set in the Whoniverse before he took over, and this is it: published in 1996, set in 1987, and a really important taproot text for New Who and particularly for Rose, its very first episode. The number of common elements is pretty remarkable:
  • The first character we encounter in the story is the daughter of Mrs Tyler, who is a single mother
  • She says to the Doctor at one point, "You think you're so funny", a line almost echoed by Rose Tyler a decade later
  • The Tylers live on a council estate where strange things are happening
  • The strange things include (but are not restricted to) a doppelganger of a black neighbour created by an evil alien intelligence
  • The Doctor's female companion is Roz
  • At the very end the Doctor goes back in time to meet the young Tyler girl before the adventure started in her time line
  • As the alien invasion fully manifests lots of people die horribly and swiftly
  • There are several pretty mosntrous middle-aged women characters for whom motherhood is a driving motivation
All of this is not to say that Rose, let alone New Who as a whole, is "just" a rewrite of Damaged Goods; there's a lot of bloke-on-bloke sex and cocaine in this novel, which I think even RTD might have been prevented from bringing to the small screen by the BBC higher-ups, and it's also tied rather more directly into the mythos of Gallifrey than any New Who until (and possibly including) The End of Time.

Having said all that, I thought this was a cracking good book of the New Adventures series, taking the Doctor Who framework and fitting it to an unexpected setting, a gritty council estate. It's a complex plot with lots of elements, and Davies keeps all the balls in the air, juggling furiously. Even his monstrous maternal characters are a bit more sympathetic than they somehow ever came across on screen. I'm surprised that this isn't better known among fans; a lot of the elements that brought the show back are here, and also we can see some ways in which it might have gone differently. I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in how New Who came to be the way it was in 2005.
Tags: bookblog 2014, doctor who, doctor who: 07, writer: russell t davies

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