Planet of the Buddhists

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Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders.  Original Target cover.

Title: Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders
Televised as: Planet of the Spiders
Written by: Terrance Dicks
Teleplay by: Robert Sloman  and Barry Letts
Screen Credit to: Robert Sloman
Televised in: May/June 1974
Published in: October 1975
Chapters: One through Five

Part One of Planet of the Spiders is one of those deceptively leisurely episodes, in which seemingly nothing happens.  The Doctor and Brigadier go to a dance hall to visit a series of cut-rate comedy, dance, and magic performances.  Sarah Jane chases down a story from the disgraced Captain Yates, whom she barely knows, at a Buddhist monastery/retreat about a hundred miles outside of London.  The story’s human villain, a tweed-clad unemployed salesman named Lupton, is seen dabbling in the darker Buddhist arts, but he’s a very low-key villain – much more low-key than the evil BOSS, whom Lupton actor John Dearth had voiced in the previous year’s season finale.  You wouldn’t expect this story to unfold in the dramatic way that it later does.

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One World, One People, One BOSS

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Title: Doctor Who and the Green Death
Televised as: The Green Death
Written by: Malcolm Hulke
Teleplay by: Robert Sloman  and Barry Letts
Screen Credit to: Robert Sloman
Televised in: May/June 1973
Published in: August 1975
Chapters: Ten and Eleven

“This machine kills fascists” – Woody Guthrie’s guitar

“A maggot is a perfectly ordinary creature, even if these are two feet long. They revolt you because they make you think of things that are rotten and decaying.”

Only one Welsh character appears in the back third of the novelization of The Green Death.  She’s  largely apolitical – she’s a cleaning  lady – but her name is Blodwen, and her husband is Rhys, in case you missed the Welsh thing.  But,  after most of the overt politics and the Welshmen have been dispensed with, Malcolm Hulke gets down to the business of giving you, the likely eight- to twelve-year-old reader, sitting there in 1975, exactly what you want to read.  Less Clifford Odets, and more carnivorous maggots.

Like any egg-born creature, the maggot inside  has started as an embryonic speck floating in the fluid that was to be its pre-birth food.  In a matter of days the embryo had absorbed the fluid, growing in the process.
Now all the fluid was gone, and if the maggot was not to die it had to escape.  Instinctively it arched its back, heaving against the walls of the egg.  And  then, suddenly, the egg cracked open.  The maggot lay exhausted from its  efforts.  Then it sniffed sharply.  It was experiencing a new source of energy – oxygen in the air around it.  It wriggled its little body, and realized it was quite strong.  It also realized it was very hungry, and that it now had to find its own food.

Hulke gets into that maggot’s head eerily well, right?  Later Target books would stretch the narrative format in all sorts of interesting ways, with Eric Saward in the novelization of The Visitation telling a scene from the viewpoint of a badger, and Ben Aaronovitch in the novelization of Remembrance of the Daleks telling scenes from the POV of Davros, a Dalek, a shuttlecraft, and a planet.  Well, they can all thank Hulke for pioneering that approach.  And, in his next book after this one, Hulke is going to write scenes from inside the pea-sized brains of dinosaurs (who, as it turns out, say things like KKLAK!  But that’s a story for another day).

Hulke then pivots to the POV of a mouse, which ends about as well as you’d expect.

It was, the mouse thought, something that could be eaten, for it too was hungry.  The mouse went up to the face of the maggot, and then the  maggot struck.  Its jaws opened and the mouse was killed instantly.
The maggot wriggled about the floor in happiness.  During all its existence inside the egg, it had lived on liquid.  Now, inside it, was flesh, and the sensation was wonderful.

*****

Professor Clifford Jones comes to life, too.  He’s the man who will serve as Jo Grant’s deliverance from Doctor Who, and he’s consciously set up as a younger version of the Doctor.  Jo falls in love with him merely from his newspaper clippings:

“There’s a man called Professor Clifford Jones who’s fighting against Panorama Chemicals. He  needs all the support he can get.  So I’m going to help him.”
“I’ve heard of that man,” said the Brigadier.  “He’s an impractical dreamer.”
Jo tucked the newspaper neatly under her arm, ready to go.  “So, sir, were Jesus of Nazareth, Christopher Columbus, and Marconi”.

Cliff is a bit of a Doctor surrogate, an off-putting know-it-all with a big heart.  He tells the Brigadier in the book that there’s no proof that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, as there’s nothing you can prove in a laboratory”.   The Llanfairfach locals view him as a limousine liberal, speaking textbook Welsh out of Cardiff when all of them have forgotten how to speak it.  But the miners’ subplot to the story ends, in the book, with Dave Williams “speaking in Welsh to show that he now accepted Professor Jones as one of the villagers”, so hard has Cliff worked to protect and defend them against the horrors of Panorama Chemicals and the Green Death.

It takes the Doctor time to realize that he’s losing Jo to Cliff.  Pertwee delivered a lovely line in Episode One on TV, about the fledgling flying the coop, bit that was evidently added late in production to give Pertwee one of his patented moments of charm.  In the book, the Doctor doesn’t figure it out until late in the Episode Four material, and Hulke handles the heartbreak so well that it’s a a shame he didn’t live long enough to write teen-angst dialogue for all those prime-time soaps on the CW Network thirty years later.

He drew from his pocket the beautiful blue sapphire.  “I got this from there.  Like to see it?”
She glanced at the precious stone.  “Great,” she said, and turned back to the book.  “Well, goodnight, Doctor.”
The Doctor  had never known Jo to be like this before.  In their many travels together they had always been very close.  No one had come between them.

Later in the same scene, he intentionally blocks Cliff from meeting up with Jo, and feels “an almost childish satisfaction at spoiling her date.  When Professor Jones came back the Doctor put his arm round the younger man’s shoulder and led him away.”

But this segues into Jo getting a ferocious voice of her own, in a way that Terrance Dicks usually didn’t allow her to have:

“He knows I’ve fallen in love,” she thought to herself.  She felt rather sorry for the Doctor, and wondered why he had never married.  Were there, she wondered, lady Time Lords?  Did Time Lords get married and have babies? How old was the Doctor? She realized there were many things she didn’t know about him.

Jo gets to use the word “topless” in  the book, too, which you have to assume is some sort of in-joke as to what sort of things Katy Manning got up to shortly after she left the program.  More relevant to the story, Jo and Cliff get their first kiss earlier in the book than on TV:

“There,” he said.  “I’ve been trying to get the courage to do that.  Are you terribly angry?”
She swallowed hard  “No, not at all”.  She was rocking on her heels with happiness.
“Good,” he said.  “I’m glad you didn’t mind.”

Another great book-only Jo moment sees the Doctor utterly failing to mansplain science to Jo:

“We think of the earth beneath our feet as being packed tight, but it isn’t, really. Apart from mines there are caves, even rivers running underground.  I don’t think this was man-made.”
“Human-made, if you don’t mind,” corrected Jo.
“What?”  The Doctor had gone on ahead and now turned back.
“People say “man-made” as though men are the only people who ever make anything. There are also women, and I’m one of them.”

But Hulke gives the Doctor triumphant bits, too (in addition to the usual capacious pockets):

“Do you normally break into private property, especially when you’d be more than welcome arriving at the front door?
“I do very little normally,” said the Doctor, “unless that is the quickest way to go about  things.  In this instance, an abnormal approach seemed more fitting”.

Hulke also carries off the rare feat of having the Doctor come up short in an argument with Dr. Stevens; the Doctor “realized he had lost on that score and quickly moved to another approach”.  But he mostly speaks in effective poetry; when Captain Yates ask why BOSS’ planned “ordered world society with everyone happy and well-fed” is a bad idea (a precursor to what Yates will do in his next TV story), the Doctor points out that “Their price of plenty is eternal slavery”.  When using the blue Metebelis crystal to un-brainwash Yates, the book’s  Doctor gets to rattle off an almost Sylvester McCoy-esque speech of intricately linked non-sequiturs:

“It is necessary for you to see something, Captain  Yates.”
“Necessary?” repeated Yates.
“For increased  efficiency,” said the Doctor.  “For improved-balance-of-payments, let-my-people-go, strength-through-joy, peace-in-our-time,” he went on, reeling off nonsense to confuse  Yates, “you must see what I have in my pocket.”

On TV, it takes the Doctor a while to use Professor Jones’ feverish utterance of the word “serendipity” to unravel the plot, but in the book the Doctor gives us the whole etymology of the word, “coined by a chap called Horace Walpole, after the fairy-tale called The Three Princes of Serendip”.

When the Doctor kills the first (and last) of the venomous green-death flies at the end of Episode Six, in the book he gets to expound more on the tragedy of what he’s done:

“It was trying to kill you,” said the Brigadier.
The Doctor, rather sadly, got back into Bessie.  “And we were trying to kill it, Brigadier.”  He looked up the slope at the mass of dead maggots.  “Whatever they were, they thought they had a right to live”.  He started Bessie’s engine, and slowly drove away from the scene of the carnage.
“You know,” said Sergeant Benton, “I’ll never understand the Doctor.  He’s always so sorry in the end for the horrible creatures we come across.  It isn’t human.”
“You’re forgetting,” said the Brigadier, “he isn’t”.

*****

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This fascist machine kills.

When BOSS arrives on the scene, we see Hulke do something we’re not used to him doing – being funny.  BOSS’ entry into the story is a bit tonally jarring, as we suddenly go from hard left-wing politics and environmental crusading, to a comedic computer that’s been programmed to think illogically, which is just minutes away from creating a world-wide web (sorry) of mind-control, only a few years after WOTAN tried to do the same thing in The War Machines.  On TV, the Doctor calls BOSS a megalomaniac, but, in the book, BOSS proudly describes himself that way, and also demonstrates “an excellent Welsh pronunciation” of Llanfairfach.

Hulke gives Boss more overt Nazi parallels; on TV, BOSS made several unsubtle allusions to Wagner and Nietschze, but in the book he actually quotes Adolf Hitler, which triggers in Stevens memories of being terrified by Hitler’s voice on the radio as a child.  However, BOSS does less singing in the book, which is one loss.

And what does BOSS want? As Captain Yates is being led off to total processing by BOSS in the Episode Six material, before he escapes, Dr. Stevens in the book has extra dialogue,  telling Yates exactly  what’s going to happen:

“You will become a slave,” said Dr. Stevens.  “you will have no mind or will of your own.  But, like any well-cared-for animal, you will be very happy.  For a number of hours each day you will work, and for the rest of the day you will eat, or sleep, or sing merry songs.  And you will have no worries about anything.”
“God gave Man the right of free will,” said Yates.
“True,” agreed the Director, “but it causes so much trouble.  Wars, people going on strike for higher wages, all sorts of social problems.  We shall create a new order in which everyone will be content.”

Hulke also uses the Wholewheal community (the Nut Hatch, in the book, or Nut Hutch, on TV, as you prefer) to have a few laughs, perhaps, at Professor Jones’ collection of environmentalists.  Hulke writes these characters in a similar way to his community of celebrities “escaping” Earth in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, although this crew is decidedly less homicidal:

The long haired ex-colonel in the kaftan and beads looked out from the living room. […] “And do you mind making less noise? I’m composing a poem for peace.”z
“Sorry, sir,” Benton leaped to attention.
“Just call me Jeremy,” said the ex-colonel, and went back into the living room.

*****

Of  course, it’s not a Hulke book with a lot of condensing, especially in the wafer-thin Episodes Five and Six material, with whole scenes of TV action condensed into a paragraph of recollections.  However, the fate of Hinks – the Panorama Chemicals thug attacked by a maggot in Jo’s place in the resolution to the Episode Three cliffhanger – is explicitly revealed in the book (he died), where it’s left more open-ended on TV.

At the conclusion, Hulke adds more explicit pathos to Dr. Stevens death; in the book, Stevens narrates his choice to sacrifice himself by blowing up BOSS, to whom he’s still connected.  This gives the Doctor the questionable moral choice which is glossed over on TV:

The Doctor looked on, wondering if he should lift Stevens bodily and carry him to safety.  But he thought better of it.  Perhaps it was kinder to leave Dr. Stevens to die with the computer, the only “friend” he had ever trusted.

The answer to that is, of course, “No, it isn’t”.

But you’re not getting out of the book without a moment of final heartbreak, as Jo leaves the Doctor (and the series) to marry Cliff.  The final scene in the book is staged slightly differently on TV; we’re missing the Doctor giving Jo the Metebelis crystal as a wedding present (even though it’s needed to bridge the gap with the next novelization, of Planet of the Spiders, which opens with Jo returning the crystal), and we’re missing Jo getting her influential uncle to fund Cliff’s community with UN money.  Without those distractions, all we get are the tears.

 The Doctor looked at Jo’s fair hair and pretty face.  They had traveled a great deal together, through Time and Space, and he had learned to love her very dearly.  He found it difficult to accept in his heart that he might never see her again.  There was a sudden stuffiness in his nose and he knew that his eyes were glistening.

As yours will be, too.  Thanks, Mac Hulke.  He’d write three more novelizations after this one, all for his own stories, but this one, even though it’s not his, is probably his masterpiece.

Next time: Tears?  You mustn’t cry.  Remember, while there’s life, there’s.

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For That Lean, Mean, Mean, Green

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Doctor Who and the Green Death, 1970s Target reprint.  The edition I own.

Title: Doctor Who and the Green Death
Televised as: The Green Death
Written by: Malcolm Hulke
Teleplay by: Robert Sloman  and Barry Letts
Screen Credit to: Robert Sloman
Televised in: May/June 1973
Published in: August 1975
Chapters: Six through Ten

Well, Gallifrey One is over for another year, and it’s back to the real world.  I’m already two books past Green Death, having read through most of Planet of the Spiders while out in Los Angeles, and now enjoying a gloomy New York City winter with the disappointing novelization of The Three Doctors.  But that’s a spoiler for a future post.  Right now, it’s time to resume the unashamed lovefest that is my look at the novelization of The Green Death.  This book is so far removed from its source material, and so much more quotable, that to call it a novelization is possibly an insult.  But last time we talked about the story’s heroes, so now let’s talk about the villains.

The world of Panorama Chemicals is told in much different, more cynical terms than the world of the dispossessed miners of Llanfairfach.  Now, the named characters from Panorama (or Global Chemicals, as they were renamed for TV) are not outright evil; of the four employees here, only Hinks, the sadistic security thug, is a one-dimensional goon. Hinks, Hulke tells us, “had a face like an ex-boxer who had lost too many fights”, and only has the brainpower to enjoy comics featuring violence and torture – probably more of an EC Comics guy than a Silver Age enthusiast.

The other three named characters – Director Stevens, Dr. Bell, and PR man Elgin, are portrayed to varying degrees of sympathy. However, it’s clear that we’re not meant to be on their side. Elgin, the early-chapters Elgin, refers to protestors as “the usual unemployed layabouts”, and Hulke reminds us that “Elgin came from a working-class background himself, but through being bright at examinations had gone to university, and now considered himself superior to others less fortunate”. Dr. Stevens is impressed to have Clifford Jones, Nobel laureate, as his enemy, “because he was a snob”; Stevens in fact keeps repeating Jones’ credentials, in the book, with “some pride, as though it reflected on him personally to have such a celebrated enemy”.

Stevens is the principal villain of the first four episodes (we’ll talk about the villain behind him in this series’ third and final post).  However, even though he’s a black-hat, Hulke does give us a few glimpses into Steven’s inner mind, and allows us to view him not just as an evil titan of industry, but also as a somewhat reluctant pawn of BOSS:

[H]e stood at the window and looked out towards the mountains. Years ago he had enjoyed climbing mountains. But now his family had all deserted him, leaving a gap in his life that could only be filled by work. He was delighted when he was invited to become director of the main British plant of Panorama Chemicals because he realized this was a job of such size and complexity he would be able to devote night and day to it. What he did not realize was that the job would provide him with the best and most faithful friend he had ever had.
[…]
Dr. Stevens had enjoyed studying history when he was a boy at school Sometimes he wished he was still there. But now he was a man and had the responsibilities of a man.

Stevens also has one fleeting moment of empathy for Professor Jones and the local protestors. Hulke attributes to Stevens the thought processes of a rapacious corporate baron, but offsets that with a faint touch of lingering humanity.

Those idiots, Dr. Stevens thought, banging drums and shouting, might have good intentions, but they were not realists. What the world wanted was more and more petrol and diesel, for industry, airplanes, and road vehicles. As for pollution caused through the continued use of oil, that was the price mankind had to pay. But in time, Dr. Stevens believed, even this problem could be solved. Professor Jones and his followers lived in a world of make-believe.
The clock of technological progress could not be turned back.

Naturally, not all of these sentiments are stale relics of the story’s 1973 TV production or 1975 novelization. Even as we read this today in 2017 (and particularly since January 20th, and the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the United States Environmental Protection Agency), these lines have an added weight and poignancy.

Our entry into the world of Panorama Chemicals is via the Brigadier, the Malcolm Hulke version of the Brigadier (as opposed to the warmer Nicholas Courtney version of the Brigadier), who’s been assigned to both investigate the strange deaths in the coal mine, and protect Panorama from the protestors. The Brigadier is… well, not made to look especially bright under the pen of Mac Hulke.

“Security is the main consideration,” Dr. Stevens was saying.
“Yes, of course,” agreed the Brigadier without thinking,  because it seemed the right thing to say.

There’s a conscious callback to Doctor Who and The Silurians, when the Brigadier here is forced to blow up the entrance to the coal mine in order to entomb the giant maggots. But mostly, the Brigadier is there to be made to look stupid, either by his own ignorance (he refers to “a small town with an extraordinarily long Welsh name”, not bothering to learn how to pronounce it), or by the Doctor, in dialogue that never made it to the TV broadcast.

“What if we made that other lift independent?”
“By Jove,” said the Brigadier. “You mean so that it could work on its own?”
“That,” said the Doctor, “is what “independent” means.”

And, as he was in Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters, the Brigadier retains a touch of hard-right nationalism, in a way that most of us who read this book while growing up thought would just be a quaint memory in 2017.

“I recall a time, Dr. Stevens, when Great Britain could regard itself as a sovereign state, answering to no one but its elected Parliament and its monarch,” the Brigadier said. “Now, it seems, we can be told what to do by international business companies.”
“Sad, isn’t it?” said Dr Stevens. “Sure you won’t have some sherry? Or there’s some very good Scotch whisky here made from recycled wood pulp.”

However, all that aside, Hulke took most of his worst shots at The Brigadier in The Cave-Monsters, and gives the character a few more redeeming touches here than fandom reputation has it. Here, the Brigadier learns just enough to eventually stand up to Dr. Stevens and Panorama Chemicals. But he’s still capable of losing some memorable punchy dialogue exchanges, which you’ll only find in the Hulke novelization and not on TV, especially when he’s trapped in the alien world that is Professor Jones’ Wholeweal Community.

The Brigadier politely turned to the young man beside him who had shoulder-length hair, a flowing beard, and wore a kaftan and chunky wooden beads. “Ever fancied life in the army?” the Brigadier asked brightly, as a joke.
“It was quite pleasant,” said the young man, sipping the home-made elderberry wine Nancy had produced for the occasion.
You were in the Army?” the Brigadier looked astounded. “What did you do?”
“I was a colonel.”

For his own part, Dr. Stevens is there to assure the Brigadier and the Doctor that Panorama is a good corporate citizen, in the way that all multinational energy corporations donate time and money to charitable causes, to persuade us that their goals are our goals.

“Panorama Chemicals always tries to be a good neighbor. Our plant in Ethiopia has distributed thousands of tons of grain to the starving. In Persia and Saudi Arabia all local employees have free classes to learn to read and write their own languages.”

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They also provide giant maggots.  Did I mention that this story has giant maggots?  With fangs?

Hulke is clearly on the side of the laborers and socialists. He’s also, to a slightly lesser extent, on the side of the scientists, but he places a clear bent toward morality, and scientists who work for Panorama do not receive Hulke’s best efforts at Woody Guthrie lyrcs. There are two “pure” scientists in the story – Professor Jones, and Dr. Arnold Bell (renamed Ralph Fell by the time the story got made for TV). Jones is a deeply moral man, and spends much time with the miners. Bell, the head Panorama researcher, is more amoral, and, while clearly a good man at heart, is soon put under the influence by Panorama’s true Boss (of whom much more in the next post).

Dr. Bell starts off as a conduit for Hulke to explain the actual science that, in this story only, renders oil refinery waste fatal to the touch, and turns maggots into three-foot-long creatures with fangs.

The report stated in analytical detail that Bateson’s polymerization method was definitely working. It meant that for every ton of crude oil imported from the Middle East, or mined in the North Sea, Panorama Chemicals would be able to produce 25% more petrol or diesel fuel. The additional profit of the company might run into millions and millions of pounds. However, Dr. Bell was not concerned with profits – that was Dr. Stevens’ affair. What fascinated Dr. Bell was the scientific achievement. The method resulted in tons of waste fluid, and this would have to be deposited somewhere. But Dr. Bell did not regard that as his problem.

Bell of course is doomed – tertiary villains in Hulke stories, even reluctant ones, do not have long life-spans. You know he’s doomed the second that Dr. Stevens observes: “Many’s the time I’ve had to tell him not to work all night – to go home to his wife and children”. But, as Bell experiences the mental breakdown that kills him, he delivers (in the book, and only in the book), one of the most fascinating duality-of-man monologues you’ll find in a Target book, and certainly one of the few that explicitly references an actual Earthly religion:

Dr. Bell spoke in short agonized gasps. “Murder… save lives… no unauthorized personnel… Thou shalt not kill… exterminate… Jesus saves.. final solution…”
[And, a few pages later]
“God is love,” mumbled Dr. Bell. “Today Europe, tomorrow the world.” […] “Every time I heard the word “culture” I reach for my gun,” Dr. Bell babbled. “The meek shall inherit the Earth.”

Bad guys in Doctor Who stories are so rarely described as actual fascists (apart from the improbable Silver Nemesis, in which the Cybermen freely discuss Nietzsche with a retired Nazi officer). Anyone inside Panorama who develops a conscience is going to suffer the same gruesome fate as Dr. Bell.

“Why are you helping us like this?” asked the Doctor.
“Because,” said Elgin, “I suspect that this Company is somehow doing wrong”.
“I thought you were supposed to be the public relations officer,” said Jo. “You’re meant to say that everything the Company does is right”.
“May we discuss this some other time, Miss Grant?”
[…]
“But you’re the public relations officer,” said Jo, “you should know everything about the Company!”
“Perhaps,” said Elgin, “they pay me such a big salary so that I won’t ask questions.”

Elgin is the book’s tragic figure – all right, one of many tragic figures. His story was muted on TV, with the actor falling ill and vanishing from the story halfway through, replaced by Roy Skelton as a generic Panorama employee who inherits Elgin’s death. Elgin isn’t a scientist, he’s the PR man – the well-paid PR man – who realizes that the company is up to no good when a brainwashed Dr. Bell tries to kill the Doctor and Jo at one of the cliffhangers.

“But I understand there are two people trapped down there,” Elgin exclaimed. “You might kill them!”
“In that eventuality,” said Dr Bell, “I suggest that you sit at your desk and write a press release to explain it was an accident. That, remember, is your job here. And don’t forget, it’s a very well paid job you have.”

After Elgin saves the Doctor and Jo, you know that he’s going to be doomed, because tertiary characters who suddenly develop consciences don’t tend to live much longer than tertiary villains, even reluctant ones.

While it’s not necessary to equate Panorama Chemicals with actual fascism in order to make this novelization work, Hulke adds for the book numerous references to the deadliness of nearly every product in the Panorama catalogue, and it’s hard to argue that his words are not relevant today, painfully so.

“Our sherry and whisky,” said Dr. Stevens, “is slow poison”.
The voice of Boss chuckled. “But it will make money for Panorama Chemicals. Sell it but don’t drink it.”

Next Time: We leave behind the miners and the fascists and the earnest politics, and get to discussing what The Green Death is really about: humorous computers, giant maggots, and a love triangle involving Jo and the Doctor.

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A Report From Gallifrey One

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Taking a short break from Doctor Who and the Green Death to talk about the fun I had at the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles this past weekend. Continue reading

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Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Malcolm Hulke

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Doctor Who and the Green Death.  Original Target novelization cover.

Title: Doctor Who and the Green Death
Televised as: The Green Death
Written by: Malcolm Hulke
Teleplay by: Robert Sloman  and Barry Letts
Screen Credit to: Robert Sloman
Televised in: May/June 1973
Published in: August 1975
Chapters: One through Five

“You ask about work and you ask about pay,
They’ll tell you they make less than a dollar a day.” – Woody Guthrie

Malcolm Hulke did not write The Green Death. The TV serial itself was the annual season-finale, co-written as always by Barry Letts and Robert Sloman.  Letts himself had already novelized the first Letts/Sloman script, The Daemons, and the final Letts/Sloman script, Planet of the Spiders, would be the next book novelized after this one.  I’m not privy to the chain of events that led to Hulke writing this book, but I do know that, of his seven Target novelizations, this was the only one not based on his one of his own TV serials. Continue reading

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The Episode Four Syndrome

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Terror of the Autons title card.

Title: Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons
Televised as: Terror of the Autons
Written by: Terrance Dicks
Teleplay by: Robert Holmes
Televised in: January 1971
Published in: May 1975
Chapters: Ten through Twelve

Something I’ve mentioned quite a bit over the past two months, particularly when it comes to a Malcolm Hulke story, is how the final episode of any given TV serial is usually given short shrift in the novelization.  Hulke especially was good at condensing the final episodes of serials such as Doctor Who and the Silurians, Colony in Space, or The Sea Devils, into just ten or twelve pages of text, even after lavishing chapters and chapters, often more than a full quarter or third of the book, just on Episode One alone.

Even with Terrance Dicks, in books such as The Auton Invasion or Day of the Daleks, the Episode Four page count tends to be much shorter than that of Episode One.

Which brings us to the closing chapters of Doctor Who and the Terror of the AutonsContinue reading

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The Deadly Daffodils

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Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons, 1970s Target reprint.  The edition I own.

Title: Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons
Televised as: Terror of the Autons
Written by: Terrance Dicks
Teleplay by: Robert Holmes
Televised in: January 1971
Published in: May 1975
Chapters: Four through Nine

The novelization of Terror of the Autons, coming out immediately after Doctor Who and the Giant Robot, is the first time we’ve gotten back-to-back Terrance Dicks on the schedule. It’s not quite the first of his soon-to-be standard 3/3/3/3 books – a four-part story novelized in twelve chapters, with the cliffhangers falling neatly every three chapters, at the end of Chapters 3, 6, 9, and 12. As with Giant Robot, there’s one stray non-conformist, the Episode Three cliffhanger which falls in the middle, rather than at the end, of Chapter 9. Fast-forward two to three years, when the release schedule is dominated by five or six straight 12-chapter Terrance Dicks books, and this might look like a glimpse into a less-than-dazzling future.

Continue reading

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