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parrot_knight [userpic]

Based on the BBC television serial by Douglas Adams...

March 22nd, 2011 (05:51 pm)

These are strange times for those of us of a certain age, for whom a Doctor Who serial was not expected to live forever on DVD, but was instead to pass into the Elysian Fields of the novelization. Not only are BBC Books republishing six of the early novelizations in July, but in March next year they are publishing a new novelization, Doctor Who - Shada by Gareth Roberts, based on Douglas Adams's unfinished serial. This will be priced at £16.99, over three times as much as the reprints, and published in hardback, indicating that it's aimed at the same audience as those who bought (or were envisaged as buying) Michael Moorcock's The Coming of the Terraphiles last year.

What next? Doctor Who and the City of Death, for completists? (I'm sure Gareth could deliver a commercial product there.) Major surgery to make Resurrection of the Daleks make sense, and function as a novel? Anyone up to the challenge?

ETA: Added a fifth Doctor tag as we end up discussing Resurrection of the Daleks in the comments.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Worcester College

I thought the novelization of Shada was called Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)

Sssshhh! Do not profane the Immortal Memory!

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
cyberleader

I find myself reaching for the facebook-style 'like' button that isn't there.

Posted by: thanatos_kalos (thanatos_kalos)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)

I'm starting to think I'm the only one who really likes Resurrection of the Daleks... (and yes, I'd be up for novelising it, not that anyone would ask me! ;P)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

Given that not even Eric Saward likes Resurrection of the Daleks... yes, you're probably right.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
dalek

Not so - I like it!

Dirty Den, Daleks and Davros - what's not to like?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)

I'm sure you could come up with some clever financial device to satisfy the claims of Eric Saward and the Terry Nation estate should you wish to write the book...

Posted by: thanatos_kalos (thanatos_kalos)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)

I like it mostly because of the moral stuff; Five does rather cross a line in deciding to murder Davros, even though he doesn't end up doing so. That confrontation, and some of the lead up...that'd be some great stuff to write... *wistful sigh*

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

I did at the time, or at least wanted to, but it's not aged well.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
dalek

I haven't seen it in a while, but I do have the DVD. I think I'll go and watch it now!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

I hope you are avoiding the commentary track with Matthew Robinson being smug and boasting how he invented the wheel.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC)
dalek

I rarely listen to commentary tracks.

Turns out it was pretty good (although bunn wasn't impressed). Dodgy directing (not rare for this era of Who). Particularly bad death scenes, which is very noticeable as there are so many of them. Terry Molloy does a good job as Davros. The future guns are terrible (and I note that it has the cliche shorthand for 'this is in the very near future' of having a Steyr AUG in the hands of one of the soldiers).

Of the guest stars, Maurice Colborne is fab, Rula Lenska (I'd forgotten she was in it) is good, Rodney Bewes is inconsistent and Chloe Ashcroft is decent. Leslie Grantham wasn't a star then, but he's decent too.

So overall, I think it's a pretty decent story. And it sets the scene for the Davros versus Daleks plot that ties the next few Dalek stories together (the 'R of the Daleks' series.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
Eccleston

I think your expectations are lower than mine.

There are too many plotlines which don't hang together; Turlough in particular has nothing to do, and Tegan is marginalised uninterestingly because the threat to her doesn't really pay off. Rula Lenska's team's role is largely futile, and not interestingly so. I agree that Leslie Grantham is good in a limited role; and as Rodney Bewes's character is written inconsistently, he does rather well. The Doctor is defeated on too many levels, both morally (in his confrontation with Davros) and tactically (the Daleks succeed in placing duplicates in key positions on Earth in 1984), but the programme is not in a position to advance on either front.

I say more in a post I made a few years ago, on which there has been some recent discussion after I referred altariel to it.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
Me

I liked Resurrection as a child (the video, my first Doctor Who video, was a tenth birthday present), but as an adult it seems a distinctly uneven affair, for the reasons others have stated here.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
Confessions

I think I voted it above Caves in the 1984 DWM and DWAS season surveys...

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Confessions
Me

Don't worry, the young me couldn't get in to The Caves of Androzani on its 1993 repeat broadcast either.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Confessions

I liked Caves, which I think I put second, but the revival of the Daleks in a manner which reminded me of how Genesis felt won. (The Awakening was third, I think, and Frontios fourth.)

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: March 22nd, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC)
cyberleader

AKICOLJ:

In the companions flashback sequence, unless I missed her, Leela is a conspicuous absentee. Any idea why?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)

I suspect it's because Ian Levine edited the sequence, and he declared in Doctor Who - The Unfolding Text that Leela 'never worked' for him as a companion - too assertive, sexual etc. I've no evidence for him having made the decision to omit her, though, so I could be wrong, and it could just be a mistake.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
dalek

Interesting. The companions get difficult to see by the time the screen gets back to the Hartnell era, but I definitely spotted Sara Kingdom. Seems a bit off to include really obscure companions but omit one that contemporary fans would have remembered.

Also missing is Kamelion, who is also obscure, but whom you thought they might have included if only to say "Remember this thing? I bet you've forgotten it haven't you? Well tune in next week..."

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
Hartnell words

The authoritative text on who was a companion and who wasn't at that time was The Companion Volume, written by J. Jeremy Bentham, and published by the fledgling DWAS in 1976. This categorised Katarina and Sara as companions, which is not something one would have picked up from The Making of Doctor Who (at least the second edition) or the Radio Times Tenth Anniversary Special. I think that this was based upon the idea that to be a companion one had to have travelled in the TARDIS across stories - Katarina does, from The Myth Makers to The Daleks' Master Plan, but Sara is more arguable given that all her travelling is done within the latter story. It's all a matter of perception, really, given that The Daleks' Master Plan was broadcast under individual episode titles which meant it was presented as a sequence of connected stories to the viewer - there's the Egyptian segment, for example, and of course The Feast of Steven which is arguably not even part of the main narrative.

Kamelion was deliberate production amnesia, I suspect - I gather his cut scene from The Awakening is to appear on the DVD release.

Posted by: A Meticulous Catalogue of Wrongs To Be Avenged (splendorsine)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 04:59 am (UTC)

Just to buck the current trend, I'd like to say that I loathe Resurrection of the Daleks in no uncertain terms. One of the very worst scripts by the worst ever Doctor Who writer and script editor of all time; and even if it had had anything to offer in the arena of stylish nihilism and brutality, The Caves of Androzani came along a few weeks later and did all that stuff with ten times more competence and flair. To the cosmic dustbin with it!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 08:18 am (UTC)
ArgueMainly

I fear that Eric Saward was offered the job of script editor because he was less likely than either Christopher Bidmead or Antony Root, both of whom had other fish to fry, to cross John Nathan-Turner openly or walk out. Bidmead took a year to go back to computer journalism, and Root took three months before getting a transfer to another series.

Doctor Who should have a profound strand of optimism even amidst the futilty and brutality of much of what the Doctor comes across in his travels; too much of this was forgotten under Eric Saward. It's telling that the great survivor of Resurrection (as is often pointed out) is the mercenary Lytton. Doctor Who was being undermined from within, but most of its fans were too drunk on the twentieth anniversary celebrations of 1983 to notice, and those in BBC management who should have been interested in protecting the programme as an asset instead only saw it as a pawn as they recced the likely combat zones for a new age of bloodier competition with ITV.

Hm. I seem to have strayed away from the point and into a world of savage metaphor of which Eric Saward might have approved. A sign that it's long past my bedtime - about eight hours, in fact...

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
I'vegotasportscar

"Doctor Who should have a profound strand of optimism even amidst the futilty and brutality of much of what the Doctor comes across in his travels..."

An interesting point, but I'm not sure I agree with it. I'd argue that every now and again (and I do mean only say once or twice per series), you need to do something really bad like killing an Adric, just to make the point that the Doctor doesn't always win as completely as he'd like. Only if you do that does the Doctor's joy at his victory in say 'The Doctor Dances' make sense.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)

I'd agree with you, but think Resurrection of the Daleks goes beyond the killing of Adric. Earthshock succeeded in frustrating the Cybermen's plan, and several of the human characters survived. In Resurrection duplication and duplicity have a triumph, however qualified.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
Me

In Resurrection duplication and duplicity have a triumph, however qualified

Playing Saward's advocate, couldn't you argue that the same thing happens in the highly praised Androzani? The Doctor dies (effectively) and while Jek and Morgus also perish, Krau Timmin inherits Morgus' empire, despite the fact that she is hardly whiter than white, having held back information about Morgus' crimes until a time when she could take over, rather than running to the police as soon as he killed the President (for example).

I think the difference is that Androzani functions better as a tragedy: the deaths have meaning, both in terms of killing characters who were rounded enough for us to care about and in terms of saying something about our own world. Resurrection however comes across as a lot of macho posturing and it's hard to care about any of the characters, even the supposedly likeable ones. The attempt at making a wider point (the Doctor going to kill Davros) is bungled (he never does it, but he does not actively choose not to do it either, he just gets locked out the room).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 23rd, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)

In Androzani too, the Doctor does save Peri against the odds; he provides an example of selflessness which weighs heavily against the selfishness displayed by other characters; and he lives, though transformed.