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Better Than the Radio Version

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 22 February 2020
Rating:   6

Eric Saward's novelization of his radio script for Doctor 6 and Peri corrects many of the problems in the radio version, but adds a few new ones. The original is almost universally regarded as awful, mainly because it seemed to be written entirely as a sendup without any regard for story sense. Here, Saward uses the opportunity of exposition inherent in the novel format to fill in many gaps. Saward's exposition style, as shown in his other novelizations, can best be described as imitation Douglas Adams. Sometimes it works. There are some genuinely funny passages. Sometimes it doesn't. On the whole, it makes the novel a more enjoyable read than the radio version is a listen. Still, there is not much here that makes sense in terms of unified plot. It has various characters, but their motivations and presence in the story do not match up with each other. For instance, the character of Shellingborne Grant, who would seemingly connect all the various pieces, being the only character to interact with all the other major characters, does not bring together the various plot elements. That he is an art thief serves only to justify the presence of the two policemen, who themselves do not interact with either the captain or the computer, and thus have no relationship to the central problem of the plot. Similarly, large plot holes are left unfilled. How does the computer know a) what a Time Lord is, b) where one can be found, and c) how to project its thoughts into the mind of Time Lord inside a TARDIS mid-flight? Not one of these questions is answered in either version. A problem unique to Saward's novel version is that the brief on the Target novelizations was to be brief. Therefore, Saward gets about 3/4 of the way through the plot of the radio version and realized that he has just about reached the word limit Target specified, and so in the last 15 pages he condenses large amounts of dialog and plot into clumsy 2-3 sentence exposition. In sum, the novel is more entertaining than the original, funny in places, but ultimately unsatisfying.

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