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Better as a Novel

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 9 September 2018
Rating:   6

Peter Grimwade's novelizations of his own scripts are always better than the televised version. Perhaps it is that the original scripts were drastically changed in production. Perhaps it is that novelizing the scripts allowed Grimwade to rethink what he had written. Or, perhaps Grimwade was just a better novelist than script writer. Whatever the reason, the novelized "Planet of Fire" gives us insights into the characters, especially Turlough and Peri, that we did not get on TV. There are also some additional scenes early, which add background and supply some rationality to some of the plot elements. The plot itself is a bit overly complicated in ways it need not be. There are some unanswered questions, such as how a Trion beacon ended up in the bottom of the Mediterranean. Also, in the novel, Grimwade makes Turlough a bit more snobbish, with some worrying opinions about the lower classes. He never does fully explain to the Doctor why he acts as he does. It is also a very small universe in which The Master just happens to need something on a planet used as a kind of prison by Turlough's people, and just happens to have the means to get Turlough there without trying to, and that Turlough's family just happened to crash their spaceship on that planet. Too many "just happened tos" for my taste.

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