Friday, August 29, 2014

Or is it Doctor Whom?

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror

By Mike Tucker


Publisher:  Broadway Books 

Pub. Date: Sept. 9, 2014

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


I was first introduced to Doctor Who in the 70s. At that time we Americans were getting the episodes of Tom Baker as the fourth doctor. Tom Baker was pretty much responsible for taking Doctor Who from an obscure BBC import on PBS to an legitimate cult phenomena in the states. To most of my generation, Tom Baker will always be The Doctor. But the fans still keep up and now thanks to BBC America, we are now enjoying the 12th doctor (or is it 13th? That turn with John Hurt has me confused).

I even went to the first U.S. Doctor Who convention (1978?) in Los Angeles. While I was there, I loaded up on the the novelizations of the TV episodes that were only available as British imporst. Terrence Dick wrote most of them and he was the primary script editor of the show. All in all, they were very disappointing, aping the dialog and action in a rather pedestrian way. They also seemed rather childish which makes sense since Tom Baker's episode were in many ways the bridge from thinking of Doctor Who as a children show to a cult show loved by adults. It basically led me to believe that the original script writers were not very talented when it came to writing books. But of course there is always an exception as in Douglas Adams who fooled everyone and wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Now it is 40 years later. The Doctor Who franchise is stronger than ever. The series can not in any way be called children TV and the plots and themes are complex and they are not even afraid to throw in a few innuendos now and then. So here I am, holding another novelization, this time about the 12th doctor and his sidekick, Clara titled The Crawling Terror. I am holding it with both excitement and dread.

I have to say. Not all good but not bad. Douglas Adams should be proud if not overjoyed. The dialogue is true to the show. I have not seen the episode The Crawling Terror so I can't say for sure but i would not be surprised if the dialog is pretty accurate. Friends who have seen the new doctor tell me this book catches his personality well. More importantly, the author Mike Tucker is a galaxy better than the older novelization and he moves both the action and interplay between characters well. The novel reads fast and will entertain you for a couple of hours max.

The plot? This is where I am a little fascinated with it. Doctor Who and Clara land in a village in Wiltshire where there are giant insects and zombiefied villagers. There is a stone ring involved, mad scientists and even Nazi collaborator. (The TARDIS is a time machine, remember?) The fascinating thing is that, for my first pick at a recent novelization, I seem to pick an episode that feels like a throwback to the old doctors: Buggy monsters, military allies, those nazi scientists, and a misquided earthling. But I still enjoyed it.

The bottom line is, if you are already a Who fan you will enjoy this. But no way it is essential. If you do not know The Doctor, this little novelization may be a good introduction since you do not need to know much back story to be entertained by it. But the TV show is really where to start. First read up on the Doctor's background (Wikipedia may do the trick) so you can understand some of the complexities and intricacies, then flip on the show and munch on some popcorn.

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