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Surprisingly Good

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Thursday 12 December 2019
Rating:   7

This is a novelization of the sole Doctor Who script independently written by controversial former Doctor Who producer Graham Williams. Often criticized for an overly jokey style with too many "let's send up Doctor Who" moments, Williams' story is a welcome relief from these excesses. The script was scheduled to be part of the second season for Doctor Six, which was scrapped. Then producer John Nathan-Turner decided to go a different, and equally controversial, route once the show started up again with the ill-fated "Trial of a Timelord." Williams' "The Nightmare Fair" is evidence that Nathan-Turner should probably have stuck with his original commissions. "The Nightmare Fair" features the return of The Celestial Toymaker, who would have been played by Michael Gough reprising his 1966 role. This time, the Toymaker is making mischief at the fair grounds in Blackpool. It seems small consequences for the Toymaker, but Williams has supplied fairly good reasons for this. This novelization is very readable. Williams writes it as if it were intended to be a novel, and not as a reformatted script. He still uses a humorous approach to much of the writing, but not with too many jokes that stop the flow of the story, and with no out of place poking fun at the show. His writing for Peri is especially good compared to how she had been written in the TV series up to that point. Here, she is more active in the plot, and generally more intelligent, not merely the young woman who gets captured and rescued. There are a few places where the story could be tightened, especially at the beginning with the police, who get one scene and then appear no more, and with a few too many loose ends at the close. In total, however, this is a very entertaining read.

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