March Books 4-12) The Leela novelisations

4) Doctor Who and the Face of Evil, by Terrance Dicks
5) Doctor Who and the Robots of Death, by Terrance Dicks
6) Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang, by Terrance Dicks
7) Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock, by Terrance Dicks
8) Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy, by Terrance Dicks
9) Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl, by Terrance Dicks
10) Doctor Who and the Sunmakers, by Terrance Dicks
11) Doctor Who and the Underworld, by Terrance Dicks
12) Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time, by Terrance Dicks

Feeding my newly reacquired Leela fixation, I zoomed through the novelisations of all nine of the TV stories in which she features over the last few days. All nine are by Terrance Dicks, and there’s not a lot more to say than that; they stick pretty closely to the TV scripts.

Doctor Who and the Face of Evil has a couple of interesting differences: Leela is actually portrayed as young, vulnerable and, well, girly in a way that is inconsistent both with the TV story as shown and with the other books. Also, of course, we have the explanation of how the Doctor’s face became the Face of Evil, as the result of a solo adventure shortly after his regeneration.

Doctor Who and the Robots of Death loses in the transition to the written page; the TV version just looks so memorable, and I think hints better at the background setting of Kaldor City.

Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang also loses out in the visual stakes, but gains a bit with occasional tight-third narrative from Leela’s point of view, which accentuates one of the successful aspects of the story, the confrontation between her primitive experience and the Victorian era.

Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock is a case of Terrance Dicks adapting one of his own TV scripts, which gives him even more than his usual degree of confidence with the material, and he uses the opportunity to fill out the Edwardian background of the story rather satisfactorily.

Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy is a case where the novel is basically written as if watching the TV story and writing down what happens on screen. Actually that’s not quite fair; the fact that we cannot see the embarrassingly awful monster in the last episode makes it easier to concentrate on the plot, which makes more sense and is a better sf story than I had realised.

Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl is again a stick-closely-to-the-script effort, which makes the holes in the story a bit less easy to ignore.

Doctor Who and the Sunmakers is probably the best of these nine books; Dicks clearly appreciated Robert Holmes’ script and seems to have really got into the spirit of it. There is an interesting scene in the book but not in the TV series where Leela encounters some elderly workers waiting for euthanasia. Various other minor details are tweaked and basically improved in Dicks’ telling of the story.

Doctor Who and the Underworld is a bit less embarrassing than the TV original, but this is not saying much. The fact that we are not distracted by the disastrous special effects means that we can see the inadequacies of the plot rather better.

Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time is standard stuff, neither particularly good nor particularly bad.

So, in summary, none of these very special apart from Doctor Who and the Sunmakers which is rather good.

1 thought on “March Books 4-12) The Leela novelisations

  1. Mid Antrim is such an unattractive creation. Ballymena and Carrickfergus don’t look to each other at all, neither do Ballymena and Larne. This is annoying for Ballymena. We would naturally go with Antrim or Ballymoney.

Comments are closed.