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|Mr Baker, I love you Sir!|
|By:||Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom|
|Date:||Thursday 31 January 2019|
|Rating: || 10|
When I heard that Tom Baker's long lengendary story Scratchman was going to be coming out in prose, I was filled with a mixture of elation and joy and wonder. I had heard of this story for ages but had thought that anything to do with it would never come to be. I only knew that I would have loved to have seen or read how it would have gone! And now wonderfully the BBC have had some good sense and allowed Mr Baker (together with the talented Mr James Goss) to weave mr Baker's and the late Mr Marter's film script into a workable piece of fiction. When I say workable, I mean absolutely splendid in the extreme.
What immediately excites you is that this is a rare story indeed, in that it is the Doctor narrating. Tom's wonderful Doctor has seldom been as colourful as he is in this wonderful bonkers novel. There is such amazing prose in this book. I love how easy it is to read and delight in. And then there is the matter of the story content. I have heard lots of people say that this story was rubbish and we're relieved it never saw the light of day. Sorry, But I have to disagree in the most vehement way possible.
Not only is Tom's grasp of his Doctor incredible (no brainer really!) but also his grasp of Sarah and Harry. I really appreciate the banter this brilliant trio share within the book. Its totally true to the characters of all three and holds me totally captivated. Its a wonderful fannote to the memories of Lis Sladen and Ian Marter that Tom writes them so lovingly. And he actually gives them a thoroughly decent amount of stuff to do! And the other characters in the story too are all wonderfully diverse and inspired.
The Scratchman himself is a truly fiendish creation, and his scheme as mad as a box of frogs. But I absolutely adore how Tom brings him so alive on the page as well. And I hear the voice of Vincent Price as the Scratchman, as he is whom would have been asked to play him had the film of seen the light of day! The wonderful cameos by some Doctor Who greats too is very well handled by Tom. So that they may not be in it long, but you truly feel their presences! And Tom's writing of these returnees is flawless.
This story would have fitted so well into the Philip Hinchcliffe/ Bob Holmes years of the show. Im only lamenting that the Scratchman was never instead given to the BBC to make into a Tom Baker adventure. But I am so thrilled and chilled now to be able to see Tom's vivid and brilliant prose leap off the page at me. Tom has woven some superb horror and gothic elements into his story too. Its a hugely enjoyable romp and one I shall definitely be re-reading all the time. I would love it if Big Finish could do one more novel adaptation and have this story be on audio. That would be incredible.
The fact that it is the Doctor himself who wrote this story could have been little more than a novelty. But instead, Tom has cemented himself, for me, in the annals of the best Doctor Who writers. Why? Because his story is multilayered, rich in vivid imagery and some gruesome moments along the way. And the fact that he actually manages to write about his Doctor without tipping over into over indulgence has to be applauded. His Doctor gets some superb moments, and yet so do Harry and Sarah and every character. This is a hugely exciting and delightful story.
One heck of a novel. Tom Baker, you are the Fourth Doctor. Oh if only someone would have realised your imagination could be harnassed in more Dr Who novels and stories. Scratchman is utterly enthralling and I for one would recomment this to all lovers of Tom Baker and Doctor Who. This fan is so amazed to be able to lose himself in such a well thought out and gripping adventure with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah and Harry.
Even that the fact that I dont know where this story would tie in with TV adventures is irrelevant as the Novel is just totally flawless and I do hope Mr Baker does well from this story. He deserves to. Scratchman is no more and no less than a superb Doctor Who yarn indeed!
|By:||David Layton, Los Angeles, United States|
|Date:||Sunday 1 November 2020|
|Rating: || 7|
Plenty of people are simply going to react to the fact that Tom Bake wrote this novel, and thereby declare it brilliant. I am assessing the actual novel, irrespective of who wrote it. The novel splits into two parts. In part 1, we get a standard kind of Doctor 4 Philip Hinchcliffe period story set on a remote British Isle slowly being taken over by a body-snatching menace. In part 2, we get a trip to fantasyland for which there are almost no rules. There is also a frame tale of The Doctor once again on trial on Gallifrey. This novel is written in first-person point of view, The Doctor narrating. The idea is that the story is The Doctor giving his testimony in the trial, so the trial is there mostly to justify the use of first-person narration. Part 1 makes a very good setup. Part 2 drags down part 1. The haunted island story works pretty well, with an intriguing mystery, scary Gothic moments, and decent characterization. Part 2 does not work for me because I just do not like stories set where "anything" can happen. The writer, as in this case, spends too much time trying to make everything weird for the sake of being weird, throws incongruous elements together just to add to the weird, and spends quite a bit of time reminding the reader of how weird it all is. Redeeming features of the novel do exist. The characterizations of the main trio - The Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry - are well handled. Baker captures the strong friendship between the characters very well. The novel has quite a bit of humor in it, but not so much as to overwhelm the narrative.