Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Eight Doctors written by Terrance Dicks

Plot: Following on directly from the TV Movie the Eighth Doctor falls foul to one last trap left by the Master that leaves him amnesiac. To regain his memories he must pop through time and meet his previous selves and in doing so he gets involved in An Unearthly Child, The War Games, The Sea Devils, The Daemons, State of Decay, The Five Doctors and The Trial of a Timelord. All in a days work really.

Top Doc: Unfortunately the Doctor spends most of the book amnesiac or as a collection of certain memories and thus displays little character outside of the generic ‘Doctor’ image that Terrance knows so well. On the plus side, this book also contains nine other Doctors (there are two sixth Doctors and the Valeyard) which Uncle Terrance has been writing for for far too long now to get wrong. His bombastic sixth Doctor is a particular triumph and considering how hard he is to capture in print the season eighteen fourth Doctor is word perfect too.

Friend or foe: I cannot imagine what possessed whoever was editing the books at the time to introduce Sam Jones in this fashion? Having to live up to a legacy left by New Ace (who as much as I didn’t like her she certainly made an impact), Benny (rock on!), Chris (a total wet blanket but again memorable for his grief following Roz’s death) and Roz (wasted but a fine companion who deserved a longer run) would be intimidating enough but being shoehorned into one of vaguest books Doctor Who history like a spare part was not the way forward. Its no wonder everybody was against her if this was their first glimpse of the girl. She jogs every morning and hates drugs but is totally unfazed by the interior dimensions of the TARDIS. She’s totally faceless here and a complete irrelevance to the main plot. It would have made much more sense to have had her join in Vampire Science and give her Carolyn’s role in that story. Oh well.

Foreshadowing: It might have been unintentional but the mention of the Third Doctor’s death on Metabelis Three will be a vital plot point in Interference. Flavia is President of Gallifrey…what happened to Romana? Old town is referred to which will be followed up in The Infinity Doctors. And indeed the Master’s presence in the TARDIS will be forgotten from this book onwards right up until the very last Eighth Doctor book, The Gallifrey Chronicles. The Vampires of the State of Decay segment will be followed up in the very next book.

Twists: The entire book! Who could dare to conjure up such a book? One which would encompass so much Doctor Who history? That would have the third Doctor threaten to murder himself! That would allow the Eighth Doctor to give his fourth incarnation a blood transplant! To follow up on several Doctor Who stories with mini-adventures (State of Decay, The Daemons, The Sea Devils and The Five Doctors). The writer of this book is either very brave or inexplicably stupid.

Funny bits: I was roaring with laughter throughout, sorry. It’s such implausible twaddle! But the moment of absolute genius has to come when the Time Lord Ryoth beams a Drashig to the Eye of Orion to kill the Doctor only to have it beamed back and eat him. Hilarious stuff! You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried! Oh and the sixth Doctor’s insatiable hunger is also worth a chuckle.

Embarrassing bits: Oh gee I think I covered that in the last two columns. This is clearly the work of a deranged mind…only somebody who is very sure of their talent would even attempt to write a book that contains ten Doctors, four Masters, Susan, Ian, Barbara, Jaime, Zoe, Jo, the Brig, Romana, Tegan, Turlough, Mel, Flavia, Spandrell, Borusa, Engin, Rassilon, a Raston Warrior Robot, Sontarans, Giant Spiders, loads of TARDISes, Gallifrey, the Eye of Orion, the Trial ship, Metabelis Three, etc, etc…and try and write a coherent plot around it. Looking at it this way it’s rather more embarrassing for the writer and editor than us. I think I was most embarrassed whilst I was reading the first thirty pages which consists of Terrance attempting to wipe away what he considers to be the terrible mistakes of the TV Movie and get back to good old traditional Doctor Who. And a cringe-worthy lecture on crack cocaine…say no drugs kiddies!

Result: Well you’ve got two choices. Hurl the book at the nearest wall after fifty odd pages or accept that it is total madness and enjoy it on that level. As the book develops it ties itself up in knots, piles implausibility on top of embarrassment until I was at a loss at how much lower Terrance could sink. As an introduction to the eighth Doctor it sucks because we learn nothing new about him and instead churn up his previous selves for what feels like a particularly retarded anniversary party. For those initiated newcomers who watched the TV Movie this is a nightmare of continuity wrapped up in some astonishingly weak prose (which is so lacking in description or nuance that it could be arrested for being described as such by the trades description act). A garbled, incomprehensible mess but surprisingly fun if you’re in the mood (the same way Time and the Rani, Warmonger and Zagreus are fun if you’re in the right mood), nonetheless as a novel it has to rank as one of the least interesting and most desperate entries in the entire range. You’re not going to appeal to the fans of the New Adventures who are used to something a lot more sophisticated than this and you’re not going to appeal to anybody who is familiar with the English language and simply wants a good read either. The Eighth Doctor Adventures really couldn’t have gotten off on a worse footing: 2/10

1 comment:

  1. It isn't all bad, but as a first novel is definitely a false start. I liked some of the revisits to State of Decay and The Five Doctors (and didn't even know State properly yet, but still followed the basic story). It is an OK book for 6-10 year olds who may have started to branch away from tv to full length books. For teenagers and adults it is pretty thin. But I was proud to have this book on my shelves, especially as it became rare fairly quickly.