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.

I’m not exactly a huge convention-goer, but I’ve gone to Doctor Who cons on and off since July 1985, when I went to my first convention in Manhattan, at the age of 11.  That was a fun afternoon; I spent a lot of time in the dealer’s room, convincing my father to buy me several novelizations that I’d never seen in the bookstore (to that point, six months into my novelization-collecting  phase), and walked away with the books for The Keys of Marinus, The Tenth Planet, and The Three Doctors (if not more – those are the only ones I remember from that day).  I also saw The Dalek Invasion of Earth, my first Hartnell story, that  day — this was a good two months before one of my local PBS stations started airing the full package of then-extant Hartnell episodes.  And it was at the Visions convention in Chicago in November 1996 that I completed my run of novelizations of televised stories, picking up copies of Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock and Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll which had, up until that point, eluded my clutches.

However, even though I’ve had just about the full run of novelizations for over 20 years now, there is still something overwhelming in the sight of acres and acres of novelizations laid out before me.  And that is exactly what you get in the Gallifrey One dealer’s room, which is the size of basically a small airplane hangar and in which you can find usually at least three dealers offering multiple copies of the whole run of Targets.  And some interesting extras.

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Including this copy of the Finland publication of Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters.

It is tempting, when one is faced with so many Target books, to want to grab and buy multiple copies even of books that you already own.  This holds doubly true for the tables and tables’ worth of mid-1990s New Adventures, which, mostly priced at five dollars per book, are actually cheaper now in 2017 than what I purchased them for originally as a starving undergraduate a quarter-century ago.

So, what I did do this time, was fill in gaps in my collection.  I picked up the second edition of The Making of Doctor Who (the 1976 version which details the making of Robot), and Elisabeth Sladen’s 2011 autobiography (released posthumously).  I also picked up the original version of Doctor Who and the Nightmare Fair — previously, I only owned the 1990s’ Virgin “blue-spine” reprint, and which I misplaced years ago.  Also up for sale, and now sitting next to me, are two of the three Companions of Doctor Who series (a short-lived and ill-fated extension of the Target brand, put out in the late 1980s when the books were still selling like hotcakes in the UK and North America), and same-era Target novelizations of a late 1980s radio play and a late 1970s original record album, of all things.

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And that’s another short-lived Choose Your Own Adventure-type series in the upper left.  I think six of those were released, the depicted one by William Emms, the author of Galaxy 4, who returned to literary prominence (or a pale facsimile thereof) in the mid-’80s.

Another highlight of the weekend was the Target novelizations panel, which featured a heavy-hitter lineup of speakers, including John Peel (who wrote several of the books), David J. Howe (who literally wrote the book on the history of the novelizations), Gary Russell (who’s written more Doctor Who books than nearly anyone else not named Terrance Dicks), Nicholas Pegg (a writer, a Dalek operator, and prolific contributor to the DVD range — including the writer of one of my favorite special features, the documentary about episode collecting in the pre-VHS and DVD days, appearing on the Revenge of the Cybermen DVD), and several other knowledgeable and entertaining British and American fans (including yours truly).  Talking about the Target books is a passion for many people, and that panel easily overran its allotted time.

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Be still, my beating heart.

Not only that, but the convention featured an almost comically diverse array of actors and contributors to the classic series, including enough to stage a whole panel dedicated to the making of The Talons of Weng-Chiang.  Companion-wise the con featured Steven Taylor, Polly, and Jo Grant (who long-time readers of this blog will know to be three of my absolute favorites), and the first K9 and second Romana (more favorites, though I haven’t yet had the chance to talk about too many of their stories here).  Plus Philip Hinchcliffe, one of the best producers the show ever had, whose era we’re just about to get to here, with the novelization of Terror of the Zygons fast coming up on my schedule.

And of course there’s so much more to Gallifrey One than just the books or the classic series — also present were the Eighth Doctor, a ton of other Classic Series and New Series actors and designers and costumers, and other authors and comic book artists, etc.  The array of Classic Series cosplayers was also breathtaking; people arrived as Davros, the Robots of Death, Alpha Centauri from the two Peladon stories, Sutekh and two mummies from Pyramids of Mars, a Gell Guard from The Three Doctors, and several classic series companions (including Barbara, Dodo, Polly, Jamie, Zoe, and the second Romana).  I’m sure I’ve forgotten many others.  There was hardly a dull moment the whole weekend, basically.

More importantly, though, thanks to my book haul, I’ll be continuing to enjoy this past weekend for several more weeks to come…

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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.

However, in reading the book, it’s impossible to tell that this isn’t based on a Hulke script.  It’s an intensely personal story told direct from Hulke’s own heart. What this is, is such a politically minded, labor-versus-management, good-versus-evil story that, for the first five or six chapters, it’s not even a science fiction story at all.

The Minister cut in again: “Then let me put it to you another way, Brigadier. I have just consulted with the Prime Minister who is by my side. This country cannot afford to have an argument, or even the hint of a dispute, with Panorama or with any other multi-national company that’s good enough to have its plants here.”

If you’re familiar with the TV serial, bear in mind that Hulke is novelizing the pre-production scripts.  So TV’s Global Chemicals is still called Panorama Chemicals in the book.  And the two accidental casting changes which occurred during the course of taping the story (with the actress who played Nancy absent from Episode One, and the character of Elgin disappearing after Episode Four to be replaced someone else named James) don’t happen in this book, so Nancy appears in the Episode One material, and James’ sad TV fate is reassigned to Elgin where it belongs.

But never mind the production details.  The basic story (one of the few things the TV serial and its novelization have in common) is about what happens when a petroleum manufacturer sets up a non-Union refinery in Llanfairfach, small Welsh village with a disused coal mine. The miners are bereft about having lost their dangerous and underpaid jobs, especially when the coal mine wasn’t nearly empty yet.  Enter Professor Clifford Jones, a Nobel-prize winning chemist who’s got his own little commune in Llanfairfach, researching green alternatives to petroleum.  He’s horrified by the prospect of the toxic byproduct that he expects to be the inevitable outcome of Panorama’s new oil-refinery methods.  Panorama’s toxic sludge, which is pumped into the coal mine, is nearly instantly fatal to the touch, and kills three Welsh miners over the first half of the story.

And,in a nod to Doctor Who‘s sci-fi roots, the green sludge eventually mutates the local insect population of the mine, and creates enormous maggots which later hatch into enormous, venom-spitting flies. But that’s not important right now.

*****

There are many sides to the Panorama controversy. (or, if Terrance Dicks were to describe this book, he’d call it “a many-sided controversy”).   Remember from our looks at Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters and Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon that Hulke is fascinated by the motivations of different layers of right-wing political theory – rapacious capitalists, evil industrialists, nationalist soldiers, dispossessed laborers, and amoral scientists.

Most of the first half of the book is a paean to the laborer, the common man, the noble victim of capitalist oppression.  Hulke lays it on quite thick in the book, in a manner just about entirely absent from the TV serial as broadcast.

Llanfairfach Colliery, in a mountainous part of Wales, had been closed for some time. No one in the village saw the sense of this – particularly the miners who had spent their lives hewing coal from the pit. There was still ample coal down there, enough for another hundred years of mining. But government economists in London had “proved” it was better business to buy oil overseas than to mine coal here in Britain. So, Llanfairfach’s coal mine had been closed and its miners put out of work.

The disused coal mine is an active character in this story, as much so as the displaced miners (three of whom die in the coal mine over the first half of the story).  There are literally paragraphs and paragraphs from the POV of these miners (one relayed through thoughts, the other two through dialogue), which turns the book into a Woody Guthrie or Phil Ochs protest song, much more so than the novelization of a Barry Letts script.

As he poured himself some tea the old sadness came over him. He looked up and down the section of gallery where he was sitting, thinking back on the old times when the mine had been worked and was full of his friends. There was no one to talk to now. Economists in London had made a calculation, and the friendly world of Ted Hughes had been brought to an end.

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Welsh miner Ted Hughes (not that Ted Hughes), as played by John Scott Martin, is the first victim of the Green Death.

The miners are, under Hulke’s pen, good honest folk, and they don’t take kindly to outsiders: “To be accepted you had to have three generations of dead behind you in the village graveyard; above all, both you and they had to be miners”. And there’s lots of mention of labor action:

The memory of the General Strike in 1926 was still with many of them. For seven bitter months the coal miners had remained on strike until finally they were defeated because they had no food.

*****

The real key to this first half of the story is not the Doctor, or Jo, or the Brigadier, or anyone else you read about in the earlier novelizations.  No, the real heroes are two of the ex-miners: Bert Pritchard and Dave Williams (although, in an editing blunder that nobody caught, Hulke refers to Bert as both Pritchard and Williams in the book). On TV, Bert and Dave were characterized primarily by being Welsh.  Bert on TV refers to Jo as “Blodwyn” (and “love” and “girl”), and, although he doesn’t say “boyo” a lot, four other characters in the script did. And in the book, Hulke does remind us that Welshmen tend to be short.

But the books adds so much more depth to the miners.  In print, Dave “shook his head at the simplicity” of the visiting Englishmen, and points that that “We’ve got telephones, just like you English”. He also gets in a dig about coal mine owners being in the business only for profit, and that it’s “uneconomic” for the mine to have more than one lift shaft.

Bert is the bigger part, on screen and in print. On TV, Bert is a memorable role, but he’s still basically Jo’s exotic Welsh pet, as evidenced by the way she eulogizes him after he dies:

He was such a perky little man. He called me Blodwyn. Cliff, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m crying. A funny little Welshman that I hardly knew.”

Now, tertiary characters who die only partway through Doctor Who serials don’t typically get eulogies, so Bert is a bit unique in that respect. But his TV dialogue was mostly functional; he was there only to share exposure to danger (here, the green death) with the regulars, and dying so that they don’t have to (or so that, when a more important character gets infected by the same green death later in the story, they can be cured using information learned from Bert’s death).

But in the book, Hulke adds several other dimensions to Bert, and provides him with almost entirely new, sharper, more poignant dialogue. He begins by patronizing Jo, a little bit, man-splaining to her how the lift shaft in a coal mine is slightly different from the lift at Woolworth’s, but quickly reveals that to be just bluster.

“This isn’t a lift like you’ll find in a shop,” said Bert. “We don’t go down slowly and gradually, with someone to tell you what you can buy on the different floors. Once we start moving, we drop like a ruddy stone, and you can see everything go by.”
“I’m not frightened,” Jo fibbed.
“I was the first time,” said Bert. “Fourteen years old I was, and scared out of my wits, but I tried not to show it.”

On TV, Bert does allude to having survived a mine collapse, but in the book he gets to describe it in detail, and in words that could easily pass for Woody Guthrie lyrics (“Six of us never saw daylight again”). And he gives voice to the laborers and common man – on TV he’s Jo’s pet, but in the book he gives voice to real people, and helps move Jo along her journey of self-discovery, the one that will result in her leaving UNIT and joining Professor Jones’ crusade to find meat-substitute food supplies.

“Why do people become miners?”
“You don’t get much choice,” he said simply. “There’s some people get born in Buckingham Palace, and they becomes kings and queens, because that’s the family occupation. Us, we get born in a place like Llanfairfach, where our fathers and uncles all go down the pit. When you’re old enough, you go down too, to show the world you’re a man. Daft, isn’t it?”

But Bert is never bitter about his upbringing or lot in life. He finds the value in it, too, and we know from this that he’s the moral center of the book, in this version of the story that Malcolm Hulke wanted to tell. Of course, this isn’t the version of the story that got made for TV. But we have the book, and that’s the more important version.

“When you’re a miner you are part of one big family, and that’s a wonderful feeling. Every man in the pits knows is life depends on the other men. We live together, we die together, and” – he grinned broadly – “by goodness if the people up top don’t treat us right, we go on strike together!”
“It’s really like being a member of another nation,” she said.
Bert got to his feet. “That’s exactly how it is, miss. There’s us down here, and there’s them up there.”

As Bert dies, a victim of the green death brought on by Panorama’s toxic sludge, his mind drifts back to childhood, and he thinks he hears the voices of “his uncle Dafydd and his father, both long dead”. Jo doesn’t get to eulogize him in this book, and Cliff Jones doesn’t remind Jo of the uniqueness of Bert – those are some poignant lines, added for TV. But, because in the book Bert is his own fully-rounded character, those extra bits of eulogy just aren’t necessary. In the book, Bert got to speak for himself.

Next Time: Well, those were the good characters.  Now we’ll talk about all the evil ones.  And I do mean “all”.

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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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The Master Storyteller

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Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons.  Original Target edition.

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: One through Three

Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons is almost a perfect synthesis of the Target book line to date; it’s the 14th novelization overall, and the 11th one by Target, but it combines the best of all that’s gone before.  This one is by Dicks, novelizing a Robert Holmes story, but is written very close to the style of Malcolm Hulke, the other mainstay of the early Target going. Continue reading

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Robot Monster

robot-2

Doctor Who and the Giant Robot.  1980s Target reprint, the edition I own.

Title: Doctor Who and the Giant Robot
Televised as: Robot
Written by: Terrance Dicks
Teleplay by: Terrance Dicks
Televised in: December 1974/January 1975
Published in: March 1975
Chapters: Five through Twelve

I realized a bit of the way through that, in publication order, this is the first novelization to lack internal illustrations.  I knew this wasn’t the end of the line for illustrations, because I clearly remember them from books published shortly after this one (Doctor Who and the Green Death, I’m looking at you – or rather, I will be in a week’s time, because you’re two books down the road).  Thus, Giant Robot is lacking the now-familiar “Illustrations by Alan Willow” credit on the copyrights page.  My thinking is that because Giant Robot follows so closely on from the airing of its parent story – barely two months between the broadcast of Part Four and the release date of the first edition – there just wasn’t time for Willow to work his usual magic.  None of the books released after 1975 will carry interior illustrations, so we’ve nearly reached the end of the line for this phase of the novelizations.  A big loss.

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