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Reviews for The Romans

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Amusing, but we were still cheated!

By:Michael Baxter, Coalville, Leicestershire, UK
Date:Thursday 10 October 2002
Rating:   5

Yes, I read this, and laughed, and enjoyed it, but it wasn't Doctor Who as I know and love it. I have a particular fondness for William Hartnell's Doctor, and for his historical adventures. I know the original scripts for this story were slanted towards humour, but this was not to the extent generally believed, and was no excuse to toss most of Dennis Spooner's material out of the window and plunge head-first into send-up. As a result, we lost some good moments and, it must be said, the very coherency of the tale. I almost wished Terrance Dicks had written it instead: there wouldn't have been much expansion on the television serial, but at least we'd now have a book of the story as it actually was. I think it was a mistake to let Donald Cotton loose on this. He novelised his own two stories very well, and I liked them, but it was rather reprehensible of him to devise the ludicrous business of the letters for 'The Romans', and make admittedly amusing nonsense of someone else's story, yet novelise his own far more straighforwardly, if equally tongue-in-cheek. Now, I suppose, we'll never have a proper novelisation of this adventure, which has to be a shame. There should have been more control exercised over the writers! Send-ups, however side-splitting, were not really what readers wanted - and I'm unanimous in that!


By:Michael Grey, New Zealand
Date:Wednesday 13 November 2002
Rating:   1

Another bad novelisation from Donald Cotton. The fact that he uses letters to convey the story is awful and does not do the actual story credit at all. It would of been better had Donald Cotton not novalised any Doctor who's Then we would of actually got a better book.

A Funny Thing Happened...

By:Tim Neal, Leeds, UK
Date:Monday 2 May 2005
Rating:   10

Donald Cotton restored originality and flair to the Target series with his three novelisations published in the mid-80s. And in this age of CD, DVD and MP3 photo-novels, his and David Whitaker's books alone stand worthy of repeat visits because of their twisted takes on what was shown on TV. Where Cotton scores over the boys-own-adventure style of Whitaker is the humour. They really are funny - and clever! What is fantastic is that Cotton enjoyed himself so much on his own adaptations that Nigel Robinson (series editor) was able to tempt him to do The Romans (written for TV by Dennis Spooner). Fandom in the 80s was not welcoming to these (to use a 21st century phrase) 're-imaginings' but when looking at the perfect balance of humour and character focus reached by Russell T in the new series, I do wonder if Cotton wasn't simply ahead of his time...

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