The first (of many) books I purchased from the Target line of adaptations still holds a special little nostalgic place in my heart. Curious about the history of the series, I figured “The Five Doctors” would be a good point to get an overview and catch-up course on the twenty plus years of history surrounding Doctor Who. Picking up the shiny silver cover, I quickly took it home and consumed it. It more than satisfied my itch and was the seed from which a huge collection of Target novels grew.
The sheer fact that the story crams in as many continuity references and callbacks as it does and isn’t a complete shambles is a credit to Terrance Dicks. It’s interesting that given a laundry list of things that the production team wanted included that the person many people consider to be the greatest writer in the history of Doctor Who (classic or new) couldn’t find a way to crack it. When Robert Holmes passed on writing the anniversary story, the production team called on former script-editor and Target adaptation leader Terrance Dicks to give it a try. And somehow, Dicks managed to find a way to do what Holmes couldn’t, serving as a testament to his skills as a writer.* Continue reading
For some reason, I missed reading Gerry Davis’ adaptation of his and Kit Pedler’s script for “The Tenth Planet” during the height of my reading and collecting the Target novels. It could be due either to that fact that I didn’t appreciate the William Hartnell serials as I do now during my initial viewing of Doctor Who or it could be that this one just didn’t show up at my local bookseller.
A pivotal story in the history of Doctor Who, “The Tenth Planet” features two huge firsts — the debut of the Cybermen and the first time the Doctor regenerated.
You’d think that for a story this pivotal to the long-running history of the show, the Target novelization would be more to write home about. Continue reading
In the argument over which story could be considered the best example of the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who, it’s interesting to note that some of the most popular choices (“Inferno,” “The Daemons”) only check off a couple of the boxes of elements most associated with that era of show. It’s probably because the stores in question feature an iconic moment or two or at least enough of the iconic elements that (before the age of VHS, DVD or streaming video) that fans could easily remember elements from one story carrying over to the next. (Indeed, there was an entire column in my days of reading Doctor Who Magazine in which fans wrote in with pieces of memories of stories and tried to have the columnist identify which story it might have come from. Not realizing how spoiled I was by my PBS station at the time airing the entire run of complete Doctor Who serials, I often wondered how the fans could mix up details from stories that were in the BBC archives).
One such example of this is the popular third Doctor era story, “The Sea Devils.” Continue reading
I’m not really sure why I skipped Nigel Robinson’s adaptation of “The Time Meddler” during my Target novel collecting days. Whether it’s that the relatively recent release date came with a higher price tag or that I didn’t really appreciate the serial during my teenage years, I don’t quite recall.
But this gap in my collection allowed me to come to Peter Purvis’s reason of the story without my memory cheating on the relative merit of the original novelization.
Coming at the end of the classic series’ second season, “The Time Meddler” is a pivotal point in Doctor Who history. Continue reading
There are a lot of things about “Revenge of the Cybermen” that don’t make sense.
But the biggest thing comes not from anything that takes place on-screen but the serial’s place in Doctor Who history.
Back in the 80’s as VCRs became more and more common in homes, the BBC decided to test the waters with a commercially released classic Doctor Who serial. And for this honor, they decided to pick something from what many fans considered the pinnacle of Doctor Who – the Tom Baker starring, Robert Holmes script-editing, Phillip Hinchcliffe producing years.
Somehow classics like “The Ark in Space,” “The Pyramids of Mars” or “The Robots of Death” were passed by and instead the world got “Revenge of the Cybermen.”
Who-lore from the era tells us that the BBC polled fans at a convention and a mix-up between “Revenge of the Cybermen” and the then missing “Tomb of the Cybermen” occurred. Seems fans wanted “Tomb.” Instead we got “Revenge.” Continue reading
If there has been one glaring omission from the classic Doctor Who Target novels audiobooks line, it’s “The Day of the Daleks.” One of the first serials adapted by Terrance Dicks, “Day of the Daleks” was one of the first Target novels I read (though it was under the U.S. Pinnacle reprint, including the fantastically, ranting introduction by Harlan Ellison) and it’s easily one of the strongest adaptations the line ever produced.
And while I was delighted that the story was finally getting the audio treatment, part of me was still a bit nervous about visiting this old friend from my Target-obsessed days. Could it live up to the greatness associated with it in my memory?
The good news is that it not only lived up to my fond memories of it, it may have even exceeded them. Continue reading
It only took three decades for John Nathan-Turner’s prediction that we’d have a female Doctor to come true.
In the weeks since it was announced that Jodie Whittaker will be my favorite Time Lord’s next incarnation, I’ve been excited by what this news means for my favorite television show. With a co-production deal with China ensuring we’ll have new Doctor Who for at least four more seasons, I’m excited and intrigued to see where the changes in creative staff both in front of and behind the cameras will take the series in the next several years. Doctor Who is a series that’s been defined as much by the person crafting the scripts behind the camera as it has by the person who brings those scripts to life in front of the camera. Find the right combination and you’ve got a winner on your hands. Find the wrong combination and you’ve got, well, a mess on your hands where the behind-the-scenes drama is almost more interesting than the finished product on our screens (I’m looking at you, the Colin Baker era, where you had a great actor with a tired script editor and the quality of the stories declined).
No slight at Chris Chibnell intended, but I couldn’t help but think that with the casting of a female Doctor how utterly exciting and compelling a female show runner might be. Continue reading