Friday, December 31, 2010

Target - Logopolis

Not one of my favourite novelisations I'm afraid. All the bits I least like from the screen version are retained, and justified at some length, while the elements that I do like are messed about with.

We get some background on the policeman who's killed in the opening scene; also there is only one copper accompanying the inspector when he meets the Doctor later, not two.

Aunty Vanessa is retconned into a timid old lady who wears sensible shoes, whereas on screen she's rather nonchalant and laidback, and wears high heeled boots. Tegan's accent is mentioned but her aunt's is not, the implication being that the latter isn't Australian.

Indeed Bidmead is worried that we might forget that Tegan has an Australian accent, so he mentions it several more times - 'her loud Aussie accent', 'her outback Aussie voice was easily the loudest present'. It seems like Australia must be the noisiest place in the world with everyone yakking away in their loud Australian accents, I'd hate to have a hangover there.

(Incidentally, Teeg really does come from the outback in the book. On screen Aunty Vanessa demolishes her pretentions of ruggedness. Oh yes, and Tegan's dad had a small plane which he taught his daughter to fly, hence her interest in aviation.)

Adric's point of view is much used: we see his interpretation of a dual carriageway, and also his impressions of Paradise Lost which the Doctor gives him to read. (But the volume smells of 'ancient classrooms': a good description, but not one that Adric would have thought of). Adric sees the Master as being Lucifer - a subtle parallel there. When he gets to Logopolis, the number muttering reminds him of the rhythmn of the poem.

Various minor elements of the layby scenes are rearranged - people are standing in different places, they get further away from the Master's TARDIS before being killed, the bicycle diversion is slightly different.

When the Master's TARDIS materialises in the cloisters, Tegan stares at it 'in broad-minded Australian disbelief'. Bidmead could be accused of seeing Australians in stereotypical terms, I think. Also, I wonder how broad-minded disbelief differs from narrow-minded disbelief?

Bidmead brazens out the whole 'materialising the TARDIS under water' sequence, presumably because it would look like an admission of failure to change it. This means he has to try and make it sound more reasonable - no easy task - by having Adric listen to the Doctor's 'careful explanation' of how they'll swim out of the doors using handholds. It doesn't matter how carefully he explains it, it's still a deranged, suicidal idea. But Adric's only quibble is with hovering the TARDIS over the water rather than materialising under it: that makes it easier to target accurately, apparently.

The jetty it lands on is crumbling and derelict, not neat and tidy.

The similar hovering of the TARDIS over Logopolis is explained as politeness - the Doctor showing the inhabitants that he's arrived. The ironic exchange about the purpose of the Pharos Project goes on longer, but isn't improved.

The 'sweatshop' exchange goes on a bit longer - the Monitor reminds Tegan that she enjoys her job, just like the Logopolitans. She came top of her training course, it seems.

If you share Bidmead's fascination with microcomputer technology circa 1980, you'll love this adaptation, because it has even more tiresome references than the screen version. Even the Pharos technician is trying to debug range errors in global variables when we meet him. (His compiler hasn't picked them up. If that surprises him then he should look for another job, since range errors are a classic example of a run-time error, which compilers specifically don't and can't catch.)

The 'ignorant old Doctor' line is thought, not said.

Nyssa hears the Master's voice when her skirt gets caught on a thorny plant, and she stops to disentangle it.

When the Doctor tells Nyssa that the Master killed her father, she charges at him, stopped only by the bracelet device. Adric is 'astonished to see this small, aristocratic girl so brimming with icy anger.'

Adric, Nyssa and Tegan see the Doctor/Master handshake, because they don't get in the TARDIS till afterwards. There's no 'The man's a murderer' line.

The Monitor doesn't just fade away, he's up on the roof trying to get to the dish, and falls through a hole, crumbling to dust when he hits the ground.

The lines in the 'they should be pleased to see us' scene are slightly differently distributed between Nyssa and Adric. And on the subject: 'Alien intelligences!' says the Master before he records the universe-blackmail message. 'I'll show them the quality of alien intelligence.' Now that is a good line, worthy of Delgado in his prime. He kills the technician when he nicks the tape player, too (with the TCE). So perish all rubbish programmers.

After the regeneration, the Fifth Doctor sits up and says 'Well, that's the end of that. But it's probably the beginning of something completely different.' The sort of line Douglas Adams would have rejected as being too wordy and self-indulgent. What a start to the new era.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Target - The Keeper of Traken

We open with the Doctor reflecting on his latest escape: from E-Space. I've just noticed that 'escape' is an anagram of 'E-Space' - is that the point of this bit? He also thinks about Romana: she'd never been really happy as a wanderer through time and space, apparently.

This the first TD novelisation to include Adric, so meet his Homeric epithet: 'a smallish, round-faced, snub-nosed lad with an expression of cheerful impudence.'

The region of Mettula Orionsis intrigues me: its name is very close to Mentula Orionis or 'Orion's Cock'. Just saying.

The Fosters in the Grove are carrying out 'all the many activities that go to the maintenance of a successful garden'. Later in the Keeper's presentation, the Doctor reflects that 'a wedding was a wedding, anywhere in the galaxy' - rather like his thoughts about the lift in Sun Makers. I wonder if TD feels a general need to apologise for things in the stories that are too much like their contemporary equivalents.

This reading is the first time that I've picked up the significance of Tremas being named as Keeper-Designate: it makes him and Kassia unhappy because it means their marriage is effectively over as soon as it's begun. I wonder how I managed to miss this before?

We see the demise of the Foster whose body is found in the Grove. He'd slipped away from the wedding party early as the noise was too much for him.

Neman suggests that the Fosters should be armed again, and Luvic responds that they haven't been armed for generations.

The Doctor adds a mention of Capability Brown to his line about gardening when he and Adric see the Grove on the scanner. When we see them next, we're told that there's been an argument about whether Adric should accompany him out of the TARDIS, which resulted in an agreement that Adric should come along for the first part of the exploration. When they reach the gates, the Doctor tries to get Adric to go back in accordance with this agreement.

When the Doctor says 'Well, I hate name-dropping...' (itself a slight change from the screen line), actually he's 'obviously enjoying the whole thing tremendously'.

Tremas' interest in science is regarded as an eccentricity on Traken, where everything is done through the Source. His atmosphere safe is initially referred to as such, but then as a vacuum safe.

Nyssa and Adric get on well because she's starved of younger company, being constantly surrounded by old people. Adric himself thinks that 'from the Keeper downwards, practically everyone on Traken was old, eminent, and bearded.'

The scene where Nyssa bribes Neman to move the crowds on is preceded by one where she hints to Adric what she's going to do, using 'A weapon that opens most doors — even on Traken.'

This is the same in both versions - but poor Foster Neman gets knocked out three times in this story, before being killed. Surely a record.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Target - Warriors' Gate

Now this is an interesting Target, much more adult in tone than any of the contemporary or previous ones. And I mean 'adult' as in trying to give the characters realistic thoughts and motivations, not as in Ace having her cherry popped by Glitz. If only the NAs had gone the way of this one. It's by 'John Lydecker' which apparently is Stephen Gallagher's pen name.

There's a prologue describing how the privateer (the freighter is always so called) comes to be at the gateway in the first place: its engines get damaged by missile fire just before it goes into warp. The attack is the work of the 'Antonine Killers', who are or form part of an anti-slavery alliance. It's implied, but not explicitly stated, that they're Tharils.

The stuff on the ship about the time rift, and the coin-tossing, is entirely absent. Instead we get the thoughts of different crew members, and of Biroc as he sees E-Space with his time sense. There's a running device with the readouts from Packard's console, showing how damaged the ship is. (And including 'special circumstances quotes', something I've always longed to add to one of my own applications).

All the ship scenes have less broad comedy (Lane doesn't ineffectually try to put out the electrical fire, for example) and more unsettling images and matter-of-fact descriptions of cruelty. We follow the thoughts of several of the crew members, but it only shows us how amoral they are. There's a sort of 'banality of evil' thing going on here.

When we join the TARDIS, Romana suggests that they need help from Gallifrey. The Doctor won't hear of it.

Adric's coin was given to him by a Decider when he was seven. He thinks about the I Ching in a convincing mathematical way - this is the only time that I ever believed in Adric as someone who could have won a badge for mathematical excellence.

'Romana, meanwhile, was plainly irritated. It showed in the way that she stirred the boxed components about, as if she'd lost track of what she was looking for.' Do you see what I mean about the more adult tone?

Biroc wears a swashbuckler's shirt, and, excellently, 'he might have been on the run from a fairy-tale.' Romana asks 'What are you?' and the Doctor tells her off for her poor contact etiquette.

Adric is upset when Romana suggests she and the Doctor might go different ways: he doesn't like the idea of his new 'family' breaking up. K9's quote from the King's Regulations (Army) is not included in this scene.

Aldo and Royce (the comedy proletarians) came with the ship: Rorvik can't get rid of them because only they know where the main fuses are.

Rorvik has a directorial concern for image: he makes sure he looks like a captain before the TARDIS door opens, and he's constantly disappointed by his crew, who won't cheer or understand his crisp hatchway commands. And when he's threatening the Doctor at the mirror, he looks towards the crew, hoping they're looking trigger-happy, but they're more interested in their lunch.

Romana describes Biroc as an ectomorph, not a mesomorph. When she and Rorvik arrive at the ship, Aldo and Royce are busy trying to arrange a tarpaulin over the navigation seat to conceal it. The power level Romana gets subjected to hasn't been used since they punished Biroc's predecessor for trying to dive the ship into a sun. (It killed him).

During the Gundan's recital, the Doctor does not draw a distinction between the worlds the masters plundered, and N-Space.

Romana's out-of-phase trip with Lazlo is nicely described in terms of her temporary ability to share his time-sense. They have quite a long conversation in the gateway.

The gardens beyond the gateway contain the same areas - fountains, lawns, groves - repeated endlessly at different stages of deterioration. The Doctor isn't led from there to the banquet, he finds his own way. And during the table talk, he doesn't spill his wine.

Rorvik and his men try to dig round one of the mirrors, and discover that it continues underneath the stones. In the subsequent exchange with the Doctor, pickles aren't mentioned specifically, just food. 'The only substance dense enough to pin down a dream,' he thinks as he holds the dwarf-star alloy manacle.

Rorvik calls Adric a 'poisonous child' when he appears on the MZ. Back in the TARDIS, there's no suggestion that the collapse of the void could flip them back into N-Space. Romana's tongue-twisting line about the backlash is made easier.

After the return to the privateer, Rorvik strides along the bridge 'just as he'd seen the captain do in a 3V about pirates.' He says that the backblast could 'blow us into scrambled Thark's eggs' - an unusual misstep this, in my opinion; the privateer crew are menacing because they closely resemble contemporary people, and having them refer to fantastic stuff runs against this.

Rorvik doesn't stand on the Doctor's fingers - he tries to stamp on Romana's, but she dodges.

It's suggested that the Tharils come from a planet with an atmosphere containing nerve gas - I find it surprising then that they can breathe ordinary air. They leave the ship before the explosion, not after.

Adric actually dematerialises the TARDIS as instructed, agonising about abandoning the Doctor and Romana. They make it inside because the doors open in flight, just like in episode 1. The destruction of the gateway is seen at this point, and is very impressive, with the huge doors flying off like burning rafts, and the only thing left in the void being the circle of mirrors.

There's a moment of suspense when Biroc is approaching the mirror - a Gundan comes back through it, and he wonders if all the other Tharils have been massacred. But, the narrator tells us, it has been waiting to fulfil its command: 'kill the brutes who rule'. No longer able to decide whether that means the Tharils or the humans, it passes by and ignores him.

There's no 'noblest Romana' line: instead the Doctor says regretfully that it's not likely they'll meet again

The departure of the TARDIS takes place after all this is over, and is done at greater length: the Doctor now knows that the gateway was formed from the CVE, he can easily work out a course to N-Space, back on the other side of the mirrors. Except that it was established earlier, when the memory wafers were repaired by passing through the mirrors, that it's E-Space on the other side of the mirrors. That's why K9 has to go through them.

Perhaps he's puzzling over that too, because he doesn't say anything in the final scene. Lazlo and Romana do the talking: yes, she has regrets, but nothing will hold her back. The fountains in the gardens are running again.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Target - State of Decay

We see the opening scenes (and several others later) from Habris' point of view, which makes him a slightly more sympathetic character than he is on screen. Ivo's son Karl is positively keen to join the Selection.

The Doctor refers to the TARDIS as if it's alive, which always infuriates Romana (possibly because of the misunderstanding at the end of Horns of Nimon?) The green tinge of E-Space on the TARDIS scanner is 'slightly sinister'. It takes some time to travel to the unnamed planet once they've spotted it.

Once there, it's a pleasant spring day with a 'reassuring atmosphere of rural peace'. That's probably because in the book, we can't recognise Burnham Beeches as a location for horror films and awkward sex scenes in early George Orwell novels. It's the apparently hand-cultivated nature of the fields that prompts the Doctor to make the remark about opting for a semi-rural culture. The 'Astronomer Royal' is carrying a billhook, not a shovel.

Ivo says that the Lords protect them from 'the evil that stalks the night', not the Wasting.

Arriving at the rebel camp, the Doctor thinks for a moment that it's the ruins of a technological civilisation, before realising that it must be a dump. He says that he thinks 'technacothaka' means a museum of technology, but that he might have made it up. The outlaws have a different air from the peasants - alert and wolfish. There's no mention of the Wasting.

Marta (Mrs Ivo) ruffles Adric's hair when he puts the big jacket on.

The food the rebels found at the dump was preserved (I think we could have worked that out for ourselves). The Selection is for recruiting guards as well as those who 'serve the Lords'. Tarak refers to Zargo and Camilla by name, not as 'King' and 'Queen'. He gives the Doctor directions to the Tower.

During the bat attack, one gets tangled in Romana's hair. I was expecting a narratorial aside about this being a myth, but there isn't one - yet... The Doctor suspects that the purpose of the attack is to herd them towards the Tower.

Zargo and Camilla remind the Doctor of the King and Queen in a pack of cards. Excellent. We're told later that they move with an uncanny unison.

The cold meat on the buffet is undercooked - almost raw... Zargo explicitly says that he and Camilla came from Earth.

It is suggested that Aukon takes control of Adric at the selection by putting him into a trance - but the narrator doesn't quite commit himself.

When Camilla tells Zargo to be silent, it's 'suddenly clear that she was by far the strongest of the two.' The names are cited in the opposite order in the consonantal shift discussion. The Doctor says that the instrument banks and control panels from the Hydrax have been ripped out and dumped (presumably over at the technacothaka).

There are various minor changes to the conversation in the scout ship 'turret', notably that the Doctor adds 'Perhaps they thought they'd need it one day' to his explanation for why the instruments are still there. As he and Romana work their way down the ship, there are extra lines about what the various parts are: rocket vents, ignition chambers etc.

Aukon, encountered in the resting place, has a 'kind of holy exaltation' about him.

Ivo found out his son was dead when the body was dumped outside his door. Charming.

When the Doctor prepares to leave Tarak and Romana in the Tower, there's a lot of chat about how he can't ask Tarak to take that kind of risk. Tarak nobly insists. On his way back to the TARDIS, he hides from a bat, but it isn't necessary as it isn't interested. He speculates that, when Aukon isn't directing them, they're harmless; this gives the narrator the chance to tell us about real vampire bats being dangerous only to cattle.

K9 mentions that Earth is the Doctor's favourite planet before starting to list vampire legends. His line about fractional TARDIS displacements being easier in a smaller universe is the same in both versions, but isn't it great? One of my favourite bits of plausible DW science blah.

When the Doctor sees how well his Henry V speech is going down, he makes a mental note to 'pop back to Elizabethan London and tell young Will how well his speech had gone down.' The map is a sketch map drawn by the Doctor on one of Kalmar's manuals, not an illuminated manuscript.

It's not so much Adric's line about vampires not dying, but Romana's horrified reaction (to the implications, not the acting) that convince Aukon he's on side.

Habris expands on his speech about trying to help Karl - he got him taken on as a guard, but Karl was too rebellious, and Zargo had him killed. It still doesn't convince Ivo though.

The narrator carefully explains that two rebels helped K9 down off the throne when they evacuated the Tower.

The cuts between the Doctor on the ladder, the sacrifice and the escaping rebels are summed up as 'By now a number of things were happening more or less at once.' A very children's book touch, not something TD usually feels it necessary to do.

The villagers are all hiding inside their huts, which as the narrator remarks is a shame, because they miss seeing the flight of the scoutship.

K9 records Ivo's apologies, as well as his thanks. He has a very forgiving nature for an automaton.

It's well into the next day before the time travellers leave. Romana notes that Ivo and Kalmar have become joint leaders. K9 is using extra info from the Hydrax data banks to try and compute a way back into N-Space.

The Doctor follows his remark about a technological society by saying that there's a lot to be said for the simple life. Kalmar drily answers that they've had enough of that over the last thousand years. The Doctor doesn't raise his hopes re escaping E-Space: 'My advice is to make the best of it here. It's not such a bad planet, now you have it to yourselves.'

Adric cheekily says that it could take the Doctor a long time to get him back home. There's an extra TARDIS interior scene here, where Romana asks where they're going now, and the Doctor says he'll think of somewhere.

Kalmar's final thought as the TARDIS departs is that the Doctor, pleasant fellow as he is, is a little too erratic for a real scientist.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Target - Full Circle

This is one of my least favourite Targets - it's an author's recasting of his story, which can often be a problem, as we'll see in the Hartnell era, and it also reveals an unpleasant political subtext which I think the production team did well to exclude from the screen version. So, for what a comparison's worth in this situation, here goes:

We open with the Starliner crashing on Alzarius, with Marteresque description of burning corpses being dragged out into space. (Should be 'blown out' of course - vacuum doesn't suck, pressure blows). Alzarius is already a place of terror to the Terradonians; no-one who's been sent there has returned. They know all about Mistfall in advance, by the way. The damage to the Starliner is severe - we later find out it had to be welded back together.

In the TARDIS, we get Romana's unhappy thoughts about returning to Gallifrey.

Adric and Varsh are very close because their parents were killed in a forest fire when Adric was a baby.

We're told that the Deciders are controlling information, and hiding the contents of the System Files, as soon as we meet them. The ship's computer is more impressive, with a secret shaft down which Nefred descends to consult the files. In the book, by the way, Nefred (and the other names) are surnames.

The mists are made much more of - they don't just hang round the lake, they're in every scene, cutting visibility to a few yards.

Two extra Outlers are seen being killed by the Marshmen. Two more get offed when the Marshmen invade the Starliner later.

Romana makes Adric very welcome in the TARDIS with smiles and 'cooing'. This cannot be said to be visible in Lalla Ward's interpretation of the same scenes. Sadly she's repaid only with 'the foul stench of untended teeth' when Varsh takes over the ship.

Nefred and Garif's conversation about the System Files takes place in the engine room, not the book room.

We see the Doctor finding only a square of flattened grass where the TARDIS was. We also get an extended description of the Starliner's exterior from his perspective, which gives Andrew Smith the chance to have the Doctor effectively congratulating him on his own cleverness.

The citizens who encounter the small Marshman in the corridor aren't scared of it - they're all ready to kill it, which gives Smith the chance to write a Marter-style scene where the Doctor charges in to save it, knocking the citizens about and giving a self-righteous speech. This bit replaces the appearance of the netted creature in the book room - instead we have the Doctor being kept waiting there by the Deciders, and deconstructing their theatrical business with the spotlights.

The TARDIS still weighs 5 million kilos - 5000 tons - so it's still unclear how the Marshmen are able to move it. I know Smith is terribly impressed by them, but can they really be that strong? There's more Marteresque action when Adric is so enraged by Varsh closing the doors with Romana outside that he attacks him.

The joke about 'here's hopping' works, because the Doctor says 'short hops' and not 'short trips'. Obviously Andrew Smith thinks that's funnier than the fingers-crossed business, because he leaves the latter out. The scene where they recover Romana and K9 from the cave is done at much greater length, with various creepy touches like a spider crawling out of K9's neck hole and onto the Doctor's hand. The subsequent conversation about the psychochemical, and K9's head, is replaced by the Doctor's thoughts on the same subjects.

After the Marshman has killed Dexeter, and has paused in smashing up the lab, the Doctor tells the Deciders that it is fighting its animal urges. Login's information about another planet drawing Alzarius away from its sun prompts him to say that that explains the bubbles in the rivers - seismic activity releasing subterranean gas. Okay... We aren't shown any earth tremors though.

The Doctor associates the mess in Romana's room with the mess in the lab on the Starliner.

Later, when Romana collapses in the lab, the Doctor disappointingly doesn't say 'Quick, the serum!'

Once the Marshmen have left the Starliner, hundreds of them join in a conclave and, from the leader's POV, we're treated to the following chilling disease metaphor for racial impurity:

The non-people of the metal city had won this battle, but there would be others, and the people of the marshlands, the real people of Alzarius, would be triumphant and crush the arrogant ones for ever... They were the guardians of Alzarius, their lives dedicated to maintaining its purity from off-world corruption.
The non-people, they who had once been guardians themselves, had discarded this philosophy and had allowed the corruption of off-world to infect them. One day they would remove their corruption.

There's a lot more of this stuff, including an attempted justification on environmental grounds, but it's bad enough having to read it, never mind type it out.

On the plus side, we're told that the Decider oligarchy will be replaced by an elected leadership. Democracy for the Starliner, national socialism for Alzarius.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Target - Meglos

A very quick read this. TD makes the story rattle along, and this despite the many additions, such as the opening where we meet the Earthling (George Morris) on his way home from the bank where he's assistant manager. A sign of the times: the bank's in a small country town, so nowadays it probably wouldn't even exist, let alone have a manager and assistant manager, or even more than one staff member come to that. Morris asks the Gaztaks if kidnapping him is some sort of student rag.

The narrator points out the appropriateness of the Tigellan hydroponics bay as a place for Meglos to hide (reminding me of the occasion when Varan hides in the hydroponics room on Skybase in The Mutants).

George Morris' struggle to regain control of his body is described, with him growing stronger on each attempt.

Romana and Caris fight furiously over the laser cutter, while Meglos makes his escape from the city.

This is the same on the page and on screen, but why does the power failure cause the temperature to rise in the food store, but ice to form in the sub-corridors?

The scenes on Zolpha-Thura start with four pages of explanations: 'Meglos was in an expansive and talkative mood', and he exposits about the inhabitants' ability to take on other forms, and the war over the Dodecahedron that led to the leader of the peace party stealing it and crash-landing on Tigella. 'Why did you want us to bring you an Earthling?' asks Grugger pertinently. 'You couldn't have known the Doctor was coming when you sent us the message.' Apparently Earthlings are particularly malleable - George being an unfortunate exception - and Meglos intended to disguise himself as a Tigellan to steal the Dodecahedron.

Offered his choice of planets to destroy, Brotodac asks for Meglos' Doctor coat instead.

The Doctor and Romana explain things to George Morris as best they can. We lose his amusing double-take at the end of the book: instead, 'the Doctor's spatio/temporal navigation was spot on' and he gets home just slightly later than normal. Luckily Mrs Morris has a glass of sherry ready for him.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Target - The Leisure Hive

It's as if David Fisher is standing there on page 1 saying 'So, you didn't like my sub-Adams whimsy in Creature from the Pit, eh? Well, how about this - chapter 1, observational Adamsery about Earth beaches and household appliances. THOKK! And now this - chapter 2, the humorous Hitcheresque history of the Argolins. POW!'

Suffice it to say that the Argolin tradition is of chivalry, whereas the Foamasi one is of stealth and assassination. The wind blowing across the surface of Argolis is 'as cold as charity', which is a nice simile although I always thought of the planet as a hot place.

The Doctor and Romana watch the squash game on a screen when they arrive, rather than running through it later.

There's an extra bit showing Hardin and Mena leaving Earth, watched by a humorous pair of journalists. (And they really are very amusing fellows indeed).

We follow 'Brock's' thoughts several times during his negotiations on Argolis - I feel this to be cheating, as it is of course not actually Brock and his thoughts would really be Foamasi ones.

Pangol's demonstration of the Recreation Generator - detaching his own limbs etc - is better paced and funnier. So for example he's waving goodbye to the viewers and is disconcerted when his arm comes off. When Loman's arm comes off, there's blood everywhere, and it even sprays onto the inside of the display screen. Remarkable proposition.

The things that fall off the Argolins' heads when they age are actually ornamental jewels, not parts of themselves as it appears on screen.

Hardin's initial meeting and subsequent work with Stimson is recalled in a flashback.

The statue that the Doctor ties his scarf to is made of crystal, not plastic.

Stimson's purpose in entering Brock's room is to persuade him to let him have one of his flight bookings. He then searches the room in search of documentation that he might be able to use to get off Argolis.

Instead of zonking Vargos with warp mechanics equations written on the TARDIS, the Doctor renders an anonymous security guide unconscious by showing him the computer language they use on Hermes-4a. I remember my first encounter with APL had much the same effect.

The 'alien witness' and 'So that's why you're telling me all this' lines are not present, though the scene itself serves the same purpose.

The Foamasi agent is the only Foamasi to enter the boardroom with the Doctor and Romana: on screen, although one Foamasi leaves the lab with them, two arrive at the boardroom. On the page, the other one is seen carrying out an arrest in the service area. Interestingly, the Argolins don't recognise the agent for what he is, since none of them has actually ever seen a Foamasi before.

The Argolins who survived the war were almost all crewmembers of Morix's ship. The Foamasi on the other hand were all either prisoners (Black) or prison officers (White). We don't get the bit about the Foamasi government and private capitalism, by the way.

When Romana is mentally preparing herself for the possibility of being aged 500 years, she fingers her hair and wonders whether it will turn white, or leave her bald. Which is odd, as she'd only be about 700 and hence younger than the Doctor is normally.

At the end we see a TARDIS interior with K9 still in a pool of seawater. I particularly like Targets that give us extra interior shots.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Target - The Horns of Nimon

Now this is rather better. A Prologue tells of the arrival of the Nimon, and explains how Soldeed came by his position, and relates the sad fate of General Sato.

The Co-Pilot's name is Sardor. Some of his 'Weakling scum!' lines are replaced with glares.

The sacrifices wear short golden robes, not pyjamas. We're shown Teka's admiring thoughts about Seth. Seth's supposed plan to defeat the Nimon is specifically stated to involve painting the ship white for the return journey.

The Doctor still twists K9's head the right way up, but he doesn't give him mouth-to-mouth.

We learn from Soldeed's thoughts that doesn't really know much about science, he just fiddles with all that junk in his laboratory to make himself look important.

The concept of the Nimon's maze constantly changing is introduced earlier on - it's experienced by the Co-Pilot when he's thrown in there. He's pleased that the guards forgot to take his blaster off him: he doesn't realise that they didn't need to bother.

When the Doctor gives his impromptu speech to the generals, he doesn't then huddle together with them to ask the way out, he pushes through them.

Romana's scenes on Crinoth with Sezom take place in a room very much like the Nimon's nuclear kitchen on Skonnos. If that is in the screen version then I missed it under all the rubble and cobwebs. Sezom was 'something of a scientist' before the Nimons came to Crinoth.

Sorak's purpose in fiddling with K9 is to use his power for himself - he's decided that the time to overthrow Soldeed is close at hand.

Soldeed's actions in between being surprised by the three Nimons, and calling Romana a meddlesome hussy, are explained: the Nimons ordered him to keep out of the way until summoned, so he hid in an empty compartment.

When the Doctor emerges from the Complex and tells everyone to take cover, Sorak orders his men to the cellars. The Doctor and Romana take shelter in the TARDIS. As explained in the subsequent flashback, the explosion was a confined one which destroyed only the Complex, and it was relatively clean too, meaning that only the palace itself had to be evacuated. (I'm glad these points are addressed, because they always bother me, but it's a pity that so much narration is required to do so). The flashback concludes by telling us that the Doctor then had a word with Sorak to set him and Skonnos on the right path.

In the final TARDIS scene, the Doctor is more optimistic about the future of Skonnos than Romana. He says he hopes they've learnt to mend their ways, she isn't convinced and gets the 'nasty race of people' line.

Romana reminds us what Crinoth is before we see it explode. It's in the same solar system as Skonnos - which makes it seem odd that the Nimons had to use two black holes to travel between the two planets. Romana implies that Crinoth explodes because the Nimons carried out their backup plan to reach another (third, unnamed) planet - a plan she couldn't have known of because she was inside the capsule, pressing the call button when they were talking about it.

There's an extra final scene after Romana flounces out of the console room, where the Doctor repeats the 'Other places, other times' line to K9.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Target - Nightmare of Eden

I'm rather lukewarm about this Target, it's a workmanlike adaptation with nothing particularly special about it.

The TARDIS arrives in response to Rigg's mayday call.

K9 does not give a chemical name for Vraxoin, he just calls it Vraxoin. Later on he says something 'dogmatically', a turn of phrase which I enjoyed.

When we first meet Fisk and Costa they're accompanied by several (silent) colleagues.

In response to the massacre Rigg says 'They're only tourist passengers after all,' which is somehow a lot less funny than 'They're only economy class!' TD realises that there's a glitch in the screen version: Rigg is marched off by Costa after this scene, only to reappear in the lounge and hassle Romana. So he has him say 'I soon dealt with their stupid guard, never knew what hit him. I'm still Captain of this ship.'

The Doctor refers to the laser on the Hecate as an encoder laser. He might be saying 'encoder' on screen but it doesn't sound quite like the same word. He doesn't do the Oates impression before leading the Mandrels into the projection, and he doesn't say 'My fingers, my arms...!' etc either. TD is right to leave it out as it really undoes the scariness of the Mandrels.

The Doctor tells Stott he must quarantine Eden to prevent anyone else finding out about where Vraxoin comes from. In the final gag, the 'zoo' is referred to as electronic, not electric.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Target - Creature From The Pit

This is an example of a type of Target we'll be seeing more often from this point onwards - not so much an adaptation as a chance to rewrite the story so that either the plot, or the atmosphere, or both, are closer to some original intention.

I'm not really keen on David Fisher's style with its footnotes, and facetious Doctor, so it was a bit of a trial having to re-read this. Even the additional opening scene has Karela wondering why they bother throwing people into the Pit when they could just kill them. I can think of that sort of thing for myself, thank you very much.

There's no Theseus/Ariadne reference in the TARDIS scene.

The Doctor doesn't read the two books while he's hanging in the shaft - he just tries to recall what Tensing told him about climbing. When he falls, he lands on Doran, but he's already dead so it doesn't matter. The Creature is preceded by a metallic smell 'like old batteries'.

The narrator says that Terran and Chlorian astrology can't be compared because the zodiac of the latter has 17 houses. Zodiacs are divided into signs not houses - houses are a division of the heavens as seen from one particular place and time. 'I sir have studied the subject, you have not.'

The Creature weighs 385 tons, and comes from an exotic planet with beaches of powdered carbon and sweet sulphuric acid rain.

Chloris has four moons, and to see them all at once is lucky.

Sometimes Adrasta lies awake worrying that Karela is going to assassinate her. By the way, she has candles burning all night in her bedroom, and two Wolfweeds to guard her.

Erato is much more long-winded once he starts talking. Indeed the narrator compares his style to Macaulay at his worst. There's a fairly complete explanation of exactly how Adrasta got Erato into the pit in the first place.

K9 is able to destroy the bandits' metal because it consists mostly of copper ingots produced by Erato (and then stolen from the palace vaults) and Erato deliberately introduced a structural instability into the metal.

There's no final scene with the trade treaty - the book finishes on the 'lucky number' joke.

Target: Destiny of the Daleks

When Romana first enters the control room, she's carrying (with some difficulty) a mirror. When challenged about copying Astra's body, she breezily admits it might be 'a bit embarrassing if she and I both turned up at the same party wearing identical bodies.' The flighty female references continue with the Doctor thinking that she's changing bodies as casually as she might have changed her dress. On the plus side, he does reflect interestingly that the effect is of Romana's personality in an Astra-like body - not something that came across on screen for me.

Skaro is a much more atmospheric place - not a claustrophobic quarry, but 'an endless bare plain with a scattering of rocks, stretching away into fast-gathering darkness'. All the initial scenes, including the ship landing, take place at night.

Deja vu is a common sensation for time travellers, the narrator tells us.

The funeral procession have flaming torches, and there's a digression about the ceremony being similar all over the universe. Romana is particularly startled by the Doctor's return because he's got white dust on his hand, which she connects to his earlier talk about zombies.

There's a reason why he mentioned them, by the way:

Perhaps it had been unfair to make Romana's flesh creep like that, but her icy Time Lady composure sometimes got on his nerves. He hadn’t been able to resist the chance of shaking it just a little.

Up to now I've been with TD's changes to the story - they're giving it an atmosphere which it lacks on screen - but that's a bit mean. And I find the idea of Romana 2 being the same person as Romana 1 jarring - yes, I know that they are supposed to be the same. But just look how odd it is in Creature from the Pit where 2 is doing lines written for 1.

The Doctor's book concerns the Tenth Galaxy, not the whole universe. The author is not named, but is a Time Lord historian whose errors of fact the Doctor enjoys contradicting.

The Movellans are not stated to be dark-skinned, just tall and handsome. Though Sharrel's voice is described as deep and mellow, which could be a hint. I don't know whether TD imagines them actually looking different, or whether he's showing us that the Doctor doesn't necessarily expect humanoids to be light-skinned. (Though that wouldn't explain why he mentions the Swampies' green skin so many times).

The anti-radiation pills are not basically forgotten about as on screen; they are referred to several times. The Daleks even supply them to their unhealthy coughing slave workers.

TD repeats the idea (from Death to the Daleks) that the Dalek 'sucker' is actually a sensitive scanning device.

The Daleks use anti-gravity discs to get down to Level Four, TD clearly having in mind the Doctor's taunt about them being unable to climb. (By the way, he doesn't say 'Back off' or any variant thereof).

When the Doctor tells Romana and Tyssan to leave him with Davros, he makes a strange joke about hating people who 'use age and rank to enforce their will - so don't make me do it!'

Tyssan's 'prophecy' that he'll die on Skaro recurs in his thoughts later.

TD works hard to create the impression that there are lots of Daleks on the mission to Skaro, not just 3 or 4.

Davros is only 'possibly' mutant according to the Movellan computer display.

There's a retcon re Genesis: Davros 'had suspected the possibility of treachery' by the Daleks, and deployed a shielding device. During this conversation, the Doctor wishes the Movellans would arrive 'like the US Cavalry', and mentally compares himself to Custer - who he once met. Custer never listened to his warnings...

Romana doesn't just run into the Movellan ship. She has to slip past the sentry first.

Just before the Doctor detonates the bomb on Davros' chair, he has a moment of doubt where he recalls the wires scene in Genesis. 'Who knows what horrors he had unleashed upon the Universe?' So it seems he did have the right after all...

The Doctor speaks kindly to the Kaled mutant, which has crawled onto his shoulder, before dropping it gently into a crevice. (Rather than splatting it aggressively onto the ground).

It's a male Movellan whose chest the Doctor opens to discover that he's a robot.

Romana knows how to play paper, stone, knife because the Doctor taught her (an unspecified time ago).

Tyssan has considerable engineering and robotics experience. That's why he can reprogramme Lan ad hoc.

Having despatched the kamikaze Daleks, Davros settles down to dream of never-ending Dalek victories.

When Romana and the Doctor get back to the TARDIS, they're carrying spades, with which they dig it out.
Another excellent astro session from 8-10pm last night. While the scope cooled, I learnt my way round Eridanus, which was visible down to tau 5 at about 21 deg S.

Then failed to locate M34 or split gamma 1/2 Andromedae with the 25mm. I did however work out how to use the star diagonal: the reason I was getting such a good view of the central obstruction, and the floaters in my eye, was that I needed to refocus to take account of the fact that the eyepiece was now further away from the image. I was surprised how clear the view was once it was properly focused.

Then on to Orion to split delta (Mintaka - location of Who Watches The Watchers) with the 25mm (thought the companion was a ghost at first) and get my first look at M42 and the Trapezium.

Finally I swung round to look at Jupiter with the 9mm but dew was a serious problem by then and I could just make out the disc, three moons and belt.
Interesting letter in the Christmas Viz, in the voice of a train driver taking the piss out of his passengers for trying to 'magically' open train doors when he's got them locked. Viz readers who drive trains must be far outnumbered by Viz readers who've missed trains for this reason, so I presume this is a trolling setup for next month.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some months ago I built a DIY tripod adaptor for my 10x50 binoculars, and using this I was able to see Jupiter as a disc, and several of its moons, for the first time. (In fact it was this that made me want to buy a telescope).

Since then I have several times been able to see the moons with unsupported binoculars, which I could never do before. I thought at first I was imagining it, but the positions of my moons always corresponded with the actual ones when I checked afterwards.

Further evidence that astronomy is about 'learning to see.'
A really good astro session last night, learning to find my way around with the telescope. Very clear, dark sky, one of the best I can remember.

I let the scope cool while I took advantage of the good seeing to learn the whole shape of Pisces - up to now I'd only been able to make out the head (under the square of Pegasus) but this time I could make out both fish.

The joined tails of the fish pointed neatly to the tail of Cetus, which I'd never grasped the outline of before. It does look just like a whale, with the body in the west and the raised tail in the east just next to Taurus. Gamma (where the fluke joins the tail) was a beautiful golden yellow in binoculars.

I wanted an easy start with the scope so I turned it on the Pleiades, to get a feel for how much sky the 25mm eyepiece shows me (80x magnification). Not enough for the whole asterism, is the answer.

Then I trained it on the bottom bar of Lyra to scan for the Ring Nebula, which I found without needing the setting circles. It's easy to find, being almost exactly on the line from beta to gamma. If anything it looked better in the 25mm, the 9mm eyepiece (225x) made it too dim to appreciate.

From there it was a short traverse to Albireo, my first attempt at separating a double. At first I mistook alpha Vulpeculae for it because I underestimated how bright Albireo would look in the finder. Once that was cleared up I had a fine view of the yellow and blue components, which again were more impressive in the 25mm.

As I was freezing cold by now I decided to finish with a look at Jupiter, where I was rewarded with Europa and Io very close either side of the planet. I also kept almost seeing a dark dot on the trailing side of Jupiter, which I later realised from the Jupiter's Moons applet was Ganymede's shadow.

I was pleased with this session, I got a lot of practice with the finder and the fine controls, and got a proper feel for the 25mm EP. It showed me that use of the setting circles is not needed for objects which you'd trust yourself to find with binoculars.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happened to catch a fine view of Saturn in the morning sky just before 6am, and gamma Vir which happened to be just above it. I don't expect I'd normally have been able to see the latter in such bright twilight, but Saturn's nearby presence drew my attention to it.

Lower down (4 deg altitude) was what I thought was a plane, but Your Sky suggests it might have been Venus.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Target: The Armageddon Factor

The initial TARDIS and Atrios scenes are far less intercut on the page. The propaganda film is no longer the opening scene, though TD still lets us believe at first that it's straight action. We also lose the sweeping view of the War Room (with Astra's symbolic placement behind the Marshal).

The Doctor reassures K9 that there are (as well as no water and no swamps) no monsters, a nice Kroll reference. K9 states that the radiation levels are within Time Lord tolerances.

The narrator explains that 'of course' the Marshal knows that Merak and Astra aren't traitors really, he's just trying to get them out of the way.

Shapp immediately understands the Marshal's motivation for having K9 recycled: he's annoyed about having been made a fool of when K9 shot out the lighting control box.

The Doctor's own suggestion about the ventriloquist's dummy makes him stop and think:

For all his loudness and flamboyance there was something odd, off-key about the Marshal. Was he a dummy, a puppet of some mysterious force?

Reminds me a bit of his realisation about Uvanov in Robots of Death.

It's been pointed out to me that the Marshal introduces himself as 'The Marshal of Zeos' - such a blatant mistake that I missed it.

There are a dozen ships left in the Atrian fleet, not six. Romana doesn't ask who Columbus is. (Similarly, later on Merak doesn't ask what bees are.)

TD does his best to make the Shadow more impressive, radiating both authority and darkness so that the light seems to dim when he moves. His asteroid resembles 'some fantastic castle in space.'

Astra's smile when the Shadow tells her she'll meet her lover soon is 'like a grimace on the face of a corpse.'

We don't see Mentalis until the Doctor and Romana do. The Doctor works out that there are no Zeons on this part of Zeos, rather than no Zeons at all. They're probably all on the other side of the planet, he says. I realise TD is trying to make the plot a bit more sensible here, but I'm not sure whether this isn't actually sillier than the screen version. It certainly calls irresistibly to mind the image of Lord Percy going 'Perhaps - they're not hiding - at all...'. (The Zeons are mentioned as well as the people of Atrios when the Doctot talks to the shadow later).

The 'banana skin' remark and the discussion about affecting the entire universe are absent, TD perhaps feeling that they anticipate the similar bit when the genuine Key is assembled. Having set up the time loop, the Doctor gets an oak pedestal out of a locker and puts the Key on it. The Marshal's ship is frozen just after launching the missiles - we see them streaking towards Zeos over and over again.

The tunnels in the Shadow's asteroid give it an 'organic' feel, 'like a rotten apple bored through by innumerable worms.' They're carved with gargoyle heads, and it's one of these that the Doctor addresses when he talks to the Shadow. He politely says 'Excuse me' when he walks past himself.

His remark about 'amusement arcade rubbish' is excellently expanded thus:

'All this penny arcade, ghost train rubbish is pretty crude too. Romana can look after herself you know. You won't scare her with spooks.' A giant spider dropped onto the Doctor's shoulder and he flicked it casually away.

(Notice the parallel of the flicking gesture with the way he points over his shoulder on screen when talking about the innocents).

The dungeon he wakes up in 'was a very old-fashioned dungeon; stone-block walls, studded iron door, high barred windows... Clearly the Shadow had traditional tastes in such matters.' It sounds like TD is trying to explain away an ill-chosen set design - but the 'dungeon' on screen is just a cave, it doesn't look anything like that.

The Doctor reflects that Thete (Theta Sigma) isn't really his name, just a 'coding'. Drax is initially a bit offended when the Doctor insists on his title, but the latter placates him by saying 'It's just that I'm used to it.'

Chapter 13, where the Doctor and Drax are miniaturised, is called 'Small World'.

When the Doctor and Drax split up to make their separate ways from the Planet of Evil to Zeos, Drax reminds the Doctor that he built Mentalis and accordingly knows how to turn it off.

When the Planet of Evil has been blown up, and Drax has said goodbye, there's a 'considerable' interval while the Doctor replaces the fake chronodyne 6th segment with the real one. He then places the Key on the pedestal mentioned earlier before having a quick gloat over it and then launching into the megalomaniac bit. It's hinted that he really is falling under the lure of absolute power, rather than just pretending in order to make a point - he 'controls himself with a mighty effort' before saying he's all right.

The reconstituted Astra actually kisses Merak rather than just holding his hand.
New version of End of the Line - Pyramids/Android Invasion ordering error corrected.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Target: The Power of Kroll

A Prologue explains how the People of the Lakes came to Delta Three, and how Kroll slept for many centuries before being woken by the noise from the Refinery. And then:

'It was a world of water,' begins Terrance, instantly fascinating young Shallow. The main body of water in the story, by the way, is always referred to as the lagoon, and not the 'baygule', the Holmesism used in the screen version.

Thawn isn't a businessman, the owner or a representative of a company, here, he's a member of the Government Scientific Service like the others (hence the blue and white uniforms). But the Refinery is his pet project: he did the preliminary survey, he was the driving force behind it, his career as a scientist depends on it. I approve of the nationalisation of the Refinery but Thawn is an unlikely scientist.

The air on Delta Three is warm and moist, with a hint of rotting vegetation.

We're introduced to the crew through Thawn's return to the Refinery:

Fenner, dark, round-faced with a look of irritable gloom, as though he had some perpetual grudge against life. Dugeen, young and eager, yet with an air of nervous tension. Harg, amiable enough, but often quiet and withdrawn. Thawn himself tended to be silent and uncommunicative, so they weren’t exactly a happy band of brothers.

Sounds just like the department I work in. Except we don't get drinks on trays. The drinks served at the Refinery are a fiery local brandy. I'm not quite sure how the Swampies distil spirits but there you go.

The narrator uses the word 'hence' in an explanation about overpopulation on Delta Magna - an unusual Target vocabulary item. The first mention of the Sons of Earth prompts a long explanation about their aims, and an explicit comparison of the Swampies' situation with that of the 'Red Indians on Earth', the Swampies having been promised that the moon should be theirs and theirs alone, until the Refinery came along. 'It was not a point which greatly concerned most of those in the control centre,' comments the narrator.

The name of the spaceport is Port Elevedor, not Elviden Port. Rohm Dutt does not have a hyphen in his name.

Dugeen's objection to the idea of the Sons of Earth arming the Swampies is put as a rhetorical question, not an assertion, which helps set up a certain assumption which we see more of later.

Fenner calls Thawn 'sir' at least once on the page. (Doubtless Mr Madoc had other ideas.) However, it's Fenner who wants to go and look for Rohm Dutt - Thawn is very laid-back about the whole thing but allows himself to be persuaded. (Dugeen thinks this is very odd, since usually any threat to the Refinery sends him into a rage). Thawn's on-screen plan to shoot him and pretend that he drowned in the swamps is, necessarily, entirely absent.

The TARDIS materialises on a hillock, not in a patch of reeds. The sky on Delta Three is grey (rather than the nice sunny day on screen).

Rohm Dutt says 'technicians' with 'the same contempt Varlik gave to "dryfoot"'. The conversation between Thawn and Fenner about what he looks like takes place in the hovercraft, not on the Refinery platform. When they do get to the hovercraft, Thawn operates it with 'big hands resting confidently on the guiding-wheel' - so not only do we get a further bit of characterisation, but we're shown this is a slightly futuristic hovercraft with a guiding-wheel instead of a steering-wheel. (The term 'swamp-glider' is not used at any point in the book).

The guns - as often in TD novelisations - seem to fire bullets on screen, but are laser powered on the page.

Thawn tells Fenner that the Doctor isn't Rohm Dutt - he knows because he's seen him on Delta Magna 'plenty of times'. (Shouldn't a gun-runner be more discreet?) The Doctor picks up Fenner's name and uses it when he reproaches him for shooting his hat - very Doctorish I always thought. Thawn also introduces himself, and Fenner as his 'assistant'.

The scene with Romana and Rohm Dutt starts with Romana having her blindfold taken off, and seeing him pushing through a crowd of Swampies. He says 'maybe you've heard of me?' and accuses her of being a Government spy.

The huge pipe in the pump room is drawn to our attention immediately. Thawn asks the Doctor if he claims to come from outside this 'star system', not 'constellation'. TD presumably knows that constellations are purely a geocentric illusion (though they might, I suppose, be used to designate conical sectors of space in an Earth-centred system). It's Binaca-Ananda that has a catalysing protein refinery in every town. After the Doctor identifies the air vent, he adds 'Very useful too, sometimes.'

Ranquin is the tribal chief - not the High Priest as I'd always assumed. That's Skart's job (the one who asks what a signature is). Varlik is the war chief. Ranquin has an elaborate head-dress.

When Ranquin suggests the Sign (not Mark) of Kroll for a signature, he means the carved head of his staff, which he's fingering. On screen he just makes his 'Kroll' gesture, although we do see Skart pressing the foot of a staff onto the receipt (on the page he produces a pot of thick black ink). The Sign itself is a squiggly octopus design.

The Refinery crew are so forthcoming with the explanations of how the place works because they're flattered by the genuine interest displayed by the Doctor. The latter, by the way, counts five workers (not six) and is corrected by Thawn to four (not five). I wonder where the error in the broadcast version came from?

Fenner's response to the tray-carrying suggestion, and the 'semi-savages' line, are both given to Thawn.

The Doctor doesn't ask why Mensch's friends are attacking the Refinery; instead he suggests that their non-countable status is part of the motivation. When he doubts the protein capacity of the lake, he's looking at a map of it on the wall.

The sacrifice scene starts with Romana being tied up - Skart then impressively ignites jets of swamp gas with a torch. Rohm Dutt, who's standing, not lying around, mentions her 'friends in Government Security.' And the only chanting is in the invocation done by Ranquin.

It's the Doctor who finishes the conversation in the pump room, by saying he wants to get some sleep. So Mensch isn't told 'Not you' by Thawn, he's just left there on his own to start signalling, which he does with a primitive lantern. The Doctor doesn't know about the lantern until he sees Mensch using it; he then uses the location of the answering light to navigate the canoe. (There's no business about opening the door with the sonic screwdriver, by the way).

The fake Kroll emerges from a pit, and rather than a costume with a hat and sleeves, it's more of a theatrical property, a bundle of skins with a snapping claw worked by tongs. The Doctor deals with it by hitting Skart with the gong-beater.

TD then creates a nice Doctor/Romana moment: 'It all looked incredibly crude, and primitive: Romana was disgusted with herself for being so terrified by such a simple device. The Doctor smiled, guessing what she was feeling.' Incidentally, the Doctor's smug because he detected the fake by a line of footprints leading out of the pit.

The scene where Rohm Dutt is told about the imminent attack is given much more atmosphere: he's asleep in the guest hut, having 'a nightmare in which he was being chased by hordes of green warriors, straight into the tentacles of a giant squid.' Varlik shakes him awake. When Varlik and Ranquin leave, Rohm Dutt lies back 'dreading the dawn'. But he's angered by Varlik's sarcastic use of the word 'brother' and the imputation of cowardice, because he's been in battles up and down the system (just not such one-sided ones).

Dugeen's initial conversation with Thawn about the lake bed disturbance is collapsed into the main scene so it doesn't break in on the Settlement action. So Thawn isn't in bed, he's standing next to him the whole time. When Fenner reports that the Doctor's missing, Thawn refers to 'the sleeping quarters' not 'his quarters'. That might seem an unimportant difference, but it always seemed odd to me that they'd assigned special quarters to the Doctor so quickly. There's no reference to their failure to find Rohm Dutt's ship in the swamp.

There's no Doctor/Romana bit about underground passages, the Doctor just suspects there's stuff down the pit, goes down and returns with the book, which he found in a secret room. The picture of Kroll doesn't show an 'aquarium'.

When the over-eager warrior fires his faulty rifle, the explosion blows away most of his head. Did Ian Marter write that bit? All the warriors join in praying to Kroll, except Varlik.

There seems to be a glitch in the screen version re the hovercraft occupants: there are clearly seen to be three of them, Mensch, Thawn and what looks like Fenner. But when Thawn gets back to the Refinery, it's clear from the questions Fenner asks that he wasn't there - Thawn says later that Fenner hasn't seen Kroll - and neither were Harg and Dugeen. Could this have anything to do with the Doctor referring to six personnel earlier on - maybe there was originally another, non-speaking Refinery worker?

The book, by the way, says that only Thawn and Mensch are in the hovercraft. Thawn 'roars off over the horizon' when Kroll appears - I was going to make a point about this, but it now occurs to me that the horizon would be closer on a small moon and in a flat swamp. Kroll is satisfyingly described in contrast to the landscape.

Harg suggests a Government Security Unit be brought in, not a police unit. Fenner explicitly tells Thawn that he won't agree to mass murder of the Swampies as a solution.

When Romana tells the Doctor that Kroll must be the source of the protein, he's already worked it out, and he's disappointed that she's come to the same conclusion.

Thawn doesn't make the remark about torsional stresses on the Refinery. It's Fenner, not Dugeen, who says that using depth charges will get them all killed.

When the Doctor and Romana are captured by the Swampies, Rohm Dutt isn't dragged past them - they encounter him back at the village. Varlik is more dignified in his conversation with Rohm Dutt, saying 'we are simple people - savages if you like - but we are not fools' and using the term People of the Lakes from the Prologue.

The Doctor's rude remarks about 'the insignificant one' are directed at Skart - out of scorn for his poor Kroll impression at the sacrifice - rather than Kroll himself.

Fenner is once again more the subordinate in the 'tentacle in the pipe' scene, urging Thawn to abandon the Refinery rather than saying 'we're abandoning'. (I've noticed that in both versions Thawn does a Cardinal Fang at this point: 'There's only one thing to do — find that creature and kill it!')

On the rack, the Doctor doesn't mention Romana's age. Skart arrives when Ranquin does: Varlik does all the explaining, and looks at the Doctor and Romana 'with a certain sympathy.' Ranquin is difficult (impossible) to hypnotise because 'He's got a bigoted mind and narrow little eyes.' A roll of thunder makes the Doctor look up hopefully.

Thawn, not Fenner, answers Dugeen's question about what Kroll looks like out of the water. (How does Fenner know - we established earlier that he hasn't seen it, unless he's extrapolating from what he saw in the pump room.) The words 'megaheads' and 'daddy' aren't used: Dugeen refers instead to 'a hell of a big storm' (strong words for a TD Target). The storm measurement scale doesn't have a name.

The shot of Thawn looking glumly out of a window is greatly expanded into an atmospheric paragraph with him standing in the observation dome watching the storm, hunched 'as if he could hold the storm off' - a good metaphorical link into his thoughts about the various threats to his Refinery.

The scene where Varlik argues for the Doctor and Romana's release takes place in the Chief's hut. The reference to Kroll killing Mensch has its point underlined: Mensch was a faithful servant of Kroll who took risks to act as a spy. Varlik refers to the Doctor as 'the tall one', Leela-style.

Thawn's voice rises 'to a hysterical shout' when he does the speech about lily-livered sentimentalists. He goes on to say that whichever of the Swampies and the monster survives, he'll exterminate the one that's left.

The Doctor and Romana's escape in the canoe is hindered by a warrior who swims after them and grabs the boat - the Doctor makes him let go by clouting him round the head with the paddle. (It's this warrior that gets eaten by Kroll).

Thawn calls Kroll an overgrown octopus, not a jellyfish, and refers to the rocket's payload (compressed protein) rather than its fuel. He chuckles when he refers to killing two birds with one stone, and calls the Sons of Earth fanatics rather than cranks. In response Dugeen shouts 'We are not fanatics.' So in this version he actually is a member, perhaps even a spy.

The Doctor and Romana both witness the attack - TD conveys this with a back-reference. (In one of his later books he'd have explained in parentheses).

Dugeen is slammed against the wall by Thawn's gun (which fires a laser-blast not a bullet, as mentioned earlier) and stares disbelievingly at him before dying.

The Doctor hits the control panel with the sonic screwdriver, instead of a ball-pein hammer for god's sake. They might at least have wrapped some foil round it to make it look like a futuristic hammer.

Thawn and Fenner's argument is much more convincing. Instead of saying 'I'm reporting you for murder' as if he's caught him throwing rubbish into his garden, Fenner says with cold anger 'That was murder, Controller.' (Though he does then say he'll report him as soon as they get back).

We don't join the Swampies again until the rocket action is all over. There are only a few survivors - many Swampies have been killed, not just Nual. On the other hand, Ranquin isn't stated to be injured (Skart's holding him up on screen). Varlik says all the rebellious lines rather than sharing them with Skart. 'Ranquin was fighting for his survival, and for his beliefs,' comments the narrator: Ranquin's fanaticism is undimmed, whereas on screen he looks decidedly shaken.

The 'putting two and two together' joke flows more freely, and the Doctor uses a severe tone when he says that the blast door was open, rather than a placatory one.

The Swampie invasion of the Refinery starts with a 'shot' of a green hand opening the pump-room window. That's Varlik, and the others don't come in until he gives the all-clear. There are other surviving warriors, but they're all hiding in the swamps in case Kroll comes back. The 'metal boxes' line is introduced by the observation that 'Varlik knew more about technology and had less fear of it'.

In the control room, Fenner is dragging Dugeen's body into a storeroom, rather than dumping it in a corner. He refers to sending an SOS to Delta Magna for a shuttle craft - they don't, it seems, have one at the Refinery itself. Romana's 'circumstantial evidence' remark is delivered feebly rather than with her on-screen confidence, perhaps because Thawn is really cross: his blaster hand is shaking with rage, and when the Doctor makes the pudding remark his flippancy (the first time young Shallow came across this word) sends him over the edge:

As he looked at the gaping muzzle of the blaster and at the mad eyes above it, the Doctor realised that at last he’d made one joke too many.

Ranquin makes 'a long rambling speech' of accusation against the Doctor. When Kroll lurches into the Refinery, Ranquin has just grabbed a spear with the apparent intent of dispatching the Doctor. We get some of Kroll's POV during the attack. When it's over, Ranquin is explicitly trying to retrieve his dignity with the 'Kroll has heard my prayer' remark, and Varlik's response about the machinery is delivered scornfully.

When Ranquin prays to the tentacle in the pump room, he's still asking Kroll to take the Doctor and Romana as his sacrifice. He won't take a hint will he? When he's dragged into the pipe by Kroll, the others don't try and rescue him, they just run off. 'The worship of Kroll was ended.'

There are some 'establishing shots' of the Doctor on his way to test his theory - climbing up ladders etc. The final combat with Kroll is enhanced by the sound of the Tracer at maximum volume. The cover picture of the Doctor, by the way, is clearly taken from the shot of him admiring the Segment: it's an uncharacteristic view of TB but it is a faithful rendition of the shot. (In the background, though, Kroll is attacking the Refinery, which makes it look like the Doctor is laughing carelessly at the destruction, not even bothering to look in that direction).

The 'You killed Kroll?'/'With that stick?' two-hander is all given to Varlik, and it's the Doctor who gets the 'special sort of stick' line. Fenner tells Varlik 'You can have Delta Three back now—and as far as I'm concerned you’re welcome to it.' 'Those of us who still live,' he replies sombrely, and leads the warriors away.

The final scene begins with the Doctor and Romana getting out of a boat. There's an extra item in the list of clues that Kroll was the Segment: the blurred Tracer reading at the start of the story, while Kroll was under the swamp. There's no silly 'Hello?' joke, and we hear 'delighted electronic barking' from K9.

As with The Time Warrior, there's an excellent sort of pre-epilogue which would have made a nice final scene: left on his own, Fenner sends off an SOS message and then thinks about the Doctor's suggestion that he help the Swampies out:

'Me! Some kind of Swampie missionary!' he grumbled. Then he began checking through the supplies of food and medicine. It would be something to do, till they came and took him home.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Target: The Androids of Tara

The view of Tara on the scanner sounds like a wide panorama - rolling hills, neatly-fenced fields - rather than the tighter shot seen on screen.

Among the junk in the console room cupboard is a partially-dismantled Martian sonic cannon.

There's an odd passage when Romana is being stalked through the woods:

She ran faster, and faster forcing her way through obstructing branches and bushes, her fear growing at each second then.

Is it poetry, or is the full stop a mistake?

The Count says that the woods are part of what's left of the Estate of Gracht after his father's debts were paid.

Having seen the Count's electro-sword, Romana wonders if the horse is a real animal or actually a robot. Either way, the situation reminds her of the romantic videonovels she used to watch when she was very young. As they gallop off, she has the decency to regret telling the Doctor off for getting involved in local complications.

Madame Lamia is beautiful in an 'intense almost angry way.' Nicely put sir. Romana can tell that she and the Count are 'more to each other than master and servant.'

The initial encounter between the Doctor and the swordsmen is enlivened by a bit where the Doctor expects to be fined for poaching, and demonstrates that he hasn't caught anything. When he examines his smouldering hat he makes a comment about 'incendiary moths'.

There's no reverse bargaining about the android repair fee, which is 500gp from the start, but we do get the Doctor thinking that he refused the money, they'd just offer more, and if that didn't work, they'd just go back to threatening him - simpler to take the money.

It's Farrah who bars the way when the Doctor thinks he's free to go, not a mugging extra. Prince Reynart's comment about wishing he'd been allowed to learn peasant skills leads to more Docthink, this time about the nature of Taran society and parallels therewith in Earth history (Engineers in the Victorian navy...).

When he hears the need for the Prince to be punctual at the ceremony, the Doctor says 'I thought Kings were allowed to be late?' Not on Tara, he's told.

How did 'George' come to be damaged in the first place? The android took the Prince's place in a hunting party, which was attacked in the forest by an assassin.

When Zadek says that he and Farrah will take on Grendel's men, he adds that the Prince has an additional 'handful' of followers (his House is impoverished and he can't afford to hire mercenaries like Grendel).

Romana can't help feeling sorry for Madame Lamia after the 'certain courtesy' speech.

We actually see the reverse shot of the Palace of Tara that the Doctor and Farrah are looking at while they wait for Zadek to find the tunnel entrance.

the enormous white building below them, its innumerable towers and turrets crowded inside an encircling wall. Flags were flying, guards patrolled the ramparts and an endless line of people on horseback and on foot, wound its way through the main gates.

(and the BBC couldn't even afford a model).

The 'peasant's weapon' crossbow is brought to the Doctor's attention by its owner firing it as he dies, and blowing up a tree.

K9 takes care to stay out of sight on the way to Castle Gracht - fortunately, everyone's gone to the Palace of Tara for the coronation, so the countryside's deserted.

The Doctor thinks that the great plague accounts for the the 'curiously deserted feeling of Tara.' Farrah tells him that androids work in the fields, mines and factories (I suppose Tara must have factories if it has technology) though there's still a lot of prejudice against them. The noble families won't even have them as servants - Prince Reynart is presumably happy to put any such feelings aside in the interests of being crowned.

When Count Grendel's men arrive at the tunnel mouth, they note the guard by his absence, and find his body in a bush. Meanwhile, in the tunnel 'George' does not bang his head on the ceiling.

The complex chronometer seen in the Throne Room is the Great Clock of Tara, hundreds of years old, but still accurate to a micro-second. The Archimandrite of Tara is head of the Church of Tara, and is the leading religious figure on the planet, as well as a 'tough and wily old politician, with a strongly developed sense of survival'.

At the ceremony, the person about to step forward in response to the call for the first lady of Tara is a 'plump and matronly Grand Duchess', but she's pre-empted by the android Strella (presumably the Duchess had been promoted to no.1 after Strella's disappearance).

Grendel recognises the Doctor from the hunting lodge - he'd assumed he was 'some mountebank friend of Prince Reynart' - and is annoyed that he didn't kill him when he had the chance.

Kurster (the Count's sidekick) is a 'giant' (actually appears shorter than him on screen).

Lamia's feeling that the Segment is part of a very important whole is made more of. It's nice to see this interesting character being given the distinction of being the only person in season 16, other than Cessair of Diplos, to get an inkling of what's going on.

When K9 arrives at the Palace (having located Romana) Zadek brings the news of his arrival to the Doctor, saying that K9 caused quite a stir at the palace gates.

The punt in which the Doctor and K9 cross the moat of Castle Gracht was brought overland from the river by some of Reynart's men.

The chair in which Grendel is sitting when he throws the wine at Till is a throne, which he's had made a while back: 'it would come in handy when Castle Gracht was a Royal Residence.'

The gown Romana wears at the abortive wedding is one of Princess Strella's, taken taken from the baggage captured with her.

When Kurster comes to kill Strella, she isn't working on the tapestry frame, but is embroidering a handkerchief, because she thinks she won't live long enough to finish the tapestry.

Grendel does not do the 'lenient' line, instead saying 'Nothing like a midnight swim. I'll finish giving you that fencing lesson, Doctor - one day.' It's suitably suave and villainous, but I much prefer the original. The Doctor doesn't throw him the hat, either, instead raising his blade in a salute of reluctant admiration for Grendel's consistency. 'All in all, he'd seldom met a more thoroughgoing villain in all his lives.'

While Reynart and Strella are kissing in the cell, Romana goes next door to change her clothes, while the Doctor waits in the corridor.

There's an extra final scene where the Doctor fetches a rope and grappling hook from the castle gatehouse, and, after several tries, pulls K9 in to the bank of the moat. Romana then jokes that he managed to catch a fish on Tara after all. I mean, really.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Target: The Stones of Blood

There's no special Key to Time room in the TARDIS - the opening scene takes place in the control room, and the segments are kept in a special wall locker.

No mention is made of a view of the sea, either on the scanner or outside.

Romana correctly (if a bit archaically) refers to the specific gravity of the ground, not the meaningless 'specific density'.

The Doctor knows whereof he speaks when he mentions Caesar's account of the Druids - he knew 'Julius' personally, even going to the lengths of dressing up as a soothsayer and croaking 'Beware the Ides of March' at him. Caesar didn't take any notice though. (He was probably annoyed at the Doctor calling him 'Julius' not 'Gaius', which is like calling James T. Kirk 'T' instead of 'James'.)

De Vries' house has crows perched on the chimneys. The man himself has a 'Continental' appearance. He isn't pleased by the Doctor's linking of the Druids to John Aubrey, because he considers the latter to be merely a deplorable old scandal monger.

Martha is a teacher by day - she joined De Vries' group to bring 'some colour into a very dull life'. She's 'no criminal' though.

When the Doctor is rescued from the stone of sacrifice by Amelia, she's riding the bike rather than wheeling it. The Doctor's explanation that K9 was made in Trenton, New Jersey convinces her because 'she could accept anything, however unusual, if it came from America.'

Romana swaps her sandals for 'sensible shoes', not the stylish burgundy boots we know and love.

At the cottage, Amelia doesn't refer to the Welsh triad form of poetry. Her tea and sausage sandwiches aren't the sort of food Romana had been used to on Gallifrey. (Got to say this is making me want some tea and sausage sandwiches).

An aside: Romana is remarkably familiar with Earth - and specifically English - historical, economic and domestic assumptions, for someone from a distant planet who didn't know what tennis was forty pages ago.

Wondering how Martha's and De Vries' bodies got to the stone circle so that their blood could be poured onto the Ogri? They were 'spirited there by the power of the Cailleach'.

Romana's remark that K9 is on his last legs is followed by a narratorial comment that 'K9 didn't actually have any legs'. I wonder if TD often had in mind a reader who had never seen the story even once?

The Ogri that the Doctor decoys over the cliff doesn't fall into the sea - I think it isn't supposed to be the same cliff that Romana dangles off.

On at least two occasions, the mention of hyperspace prompts extra explanations that it's different from the space/time that the TARDIS moves through.

Amelia privately entertains the possibility that she'll be killed by the Ogri while waiting to operate the hyperspace projector.

The two doomed campers are 'not very experienced campers', and they're newlyweds to boot. They don't suspect people from the pub of putting the stones next to their tent as a joke. When the woman gets killed, the bloke tries to run off, but the other Ogri intercepts him.

Megara One (the defence counsel) is very slightly larger than Megara Two. The Doctor does not put a wig on during the trial. Once Cessair has outmanoevred him by agreeing to the Truth Assessor, his next few lines are just summarised as 'He went on arguing valiantly, but it was no use.' See how TD isn't afraid, occasionally, to cut stuff out in the interests of getting to the point? Certain authoring couples would have included every word, oblivious of the fact that without Tom Baker's sparkle the lines aren't such fun.

K9 tells Amelia that she is 'a reasonably intelligent humanoid' suitable to work under his direction on repairing the projector.

Cessair gets an extra sentence from the Megara - 1,000 years for illegal detention of their vessel in hyperspace.

And then the Doctor, K9 and Romana are on their way to find the fourth, fifth and sixth segments...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Target: The Ribos Operation

This is an Ian Marter novelisation so there are many changes, too many for me to list without losing the will to live. As a sampler, in the first few pages the Doctor summons K9 into the console room with a dog whistle, the console room is full of shadows, the exterior windows of the TARDIS are visible from inside (cf Ark in Space), K9's nose blaster is referred to as a 'radiaprobe', the Tracer is the 'Locatormutor core'. I really don't like the names IM comes up with for equipment, they seem inappropriately Hartnellesque.

Interestingly, the Guardian doesn't make the 'Nothing will happen - ever' threat, rather he just tells the Doctor menacingly that he will undertake the task.

The accent assumed by Garron is Bermondsey, not Somerset. And later he does a 'Knightsbridge' one, whatever that might be. The Doctor has the strange diction from the Season 12 Marter novels, where he rarely uses contractions and sounds very little like the Fourth Doctor in general.

There are four or five scenes where Garron, Unstoffe or the Doctor are manhandled by bulky, brawny soldiers. Similarly the Graff Vynda Ka (not K here) is a young, sleek, fit man rather than the slightly fussy type we see on screen.

After the Graf has discovered the bug, and is waiting for Sholakh to come back with the money, he amuses himself by trying to make two scorpions fight inside a circle of hot ash on the hearth. They won't, so he shovels the hot ash over them and crushes them. Unusually for a Marter change I found this very effective as characterisation (did the Graf bring the creatures with him, or are they native to Ribos, I wonder?)

There are various other touches: the sunlight of Ribos is green, the use of the catacombs as a mausoleum is very much played up and there are the usual violent Marter sound effects - scrabbling Shrivenzale claws striking showers of sparks and the charging whine of the laser spears (the latter constantly referred to). I don't entirely hate this - it's the same energetic description that keeps his Dominators novel going - but ultimately I would have preferred a Terrance Dicks adaptation with less noise and a Doctor that I recognised.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Target: The Invasion of Time

I remembered this as a dull read but I think I was confabulating that memory from my experience of watching it.

At the beginning, while we wait with Leela and K9 in the TARDIS, we're told that the Doctor has been behaving oddly recently.

Leela repeats 'Order K9 to tell me to shut up,' incredulously, and K9 takes it as an instruction. On screen it comes across as her saying it sincerely, and saying it to K9 - ie she doesn't realise what she's said until she says it.

Kelner's high position is due to having the right family and political contacts. He succeeded Spandrell, and moved out of the modest chambers used by the former Castellan into flashy new offices.

Andred takes an interest in Leela because she's unlike the 'cool, remote Time Ladies' he usually meets.

Nesbin (the chief outlaw) was expelled from the Capitol for attacking another Time Lord - a crime which is virtually unheard of. When he argues with Leela, he realises that not only is she ready to kill him, she's 'positively looking forward to it.'

The 'exiled Time Lords ineffectually practice with weapons' scene is done in slightly more detail, and with more types of weapon.

The Vardans compliment the Doctor by saying he'd make a good dictator - their philosophy is entirely based around the seizure and application of power.

Sontarans, we're told, have no sense of humour, though they 'occasionally smile at the death-throes of an enemy.' Nor do they appreciate beauty: 'beauty is of no interest to Sontarans, since it has no function in war. Indeed, to a Sontaran war is beauty.' Very Sun Tzu.

Stor's pronunciation of 'Doctor' is always rendered 'Dok-tor'. I don't mind 'Doc-tor' in this context (we see it with the Daleks sometimes) but I think the 'k' is unnecessary, it's a cheap shot at Stor.

We're filled in on what Borusa is doing between being shot and setting the chimes off: it's not very interesting (just recovering and eavesdropping) but at least we don't suspect so strongly that the scriptwriter has forgotten about him.

Rodan asks the Doctor to pass her 'something that sounded like "inkle grooner"' - not the 'finklegruber' that we hear in the broadcast story.

The anti-weapons effect in the TARDIS only applies to the control room (the Doctor reflects) and even there it wouldn't prevent Stor attacking him hand-to-hand.

It's implied that the 'K9 Mark II' box contains the parts for a new K9, which the Doctor is about to assemble. He's been collecting them for some time, keeping them out of sight so as not to offend the original.

Most gay pr0n-like paragraph when selectively edited:

Reverently, Andred took the sacred Rod.... Astonished and overawed, Andred stood holding Gallifrey's equivalent of the Crown Jewels, while the Doctor grabbed K9 round the middle and with a grunt of effort...thrust the Rod between them. Andred tried to protest, but the Doctor said soothingly. 'Just trust me.'

I do like the blurb on this book by the way - not only is the plot summary unusually accurate, there's a good review quote: 'Terrance Dicks is a skilful professional storyteller... He has deftly recaptured the programme's popular blend of hectic menace and humourous self-mockery.'

Sentiments which I wholly agree with. 'Hectic menace'. Nice.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Target: The Underworld

(note title Doctor Who and the Underworld). There's an explanatory prologue giving the Time Lord/Minyan back-story, and giving the Time Lords credit at least for not retaliating when they were driven out.

Herrick and Orfe argue so fiercely about whether or not to ask the 'gods' for help because their positions are those of two former political factions on Minyos - Herrick's party blamed the Time Lords for everything, Orfe's held the Minyans equally responsible because they lacked self-control.

The softer side of Leela's nature was repressed at a very early age in her warrior training, but the Pacifier brings it back again. The Pacifier, Jackson tells the Doctor, takes so much power that it can only be used in the ship.

When Jackson tells the Doctor that he and his crew have regenerated thousands of times, the Doctor has a reverie in the 'every moment is weariness' style of Gandalf's warning about what happens to Ring-bearers. Tala's weariness at finding herself young again is conveyed thus: 'Once again, she had been sentenced to life.'

TD doesn't waste any effort trying to embellish episodes 2-4, though he does give us the enjoyable 'Chapter Six: The Trogs'. And he does convey effectively Herrick's joy at finding some action, and the Minyans' feelings at the moment when they finally get their hands on the cylinders.

The narrator seems concerned that we might think that all the Trogs couldn't fit on the patrol ship flight deck, so he tells us that most of them were out of sight in the holds.

A quick epilogue, and then he, like us, is free to walk away from this story.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Target: The Sunmakers

(Note the spacing in the title). I remember the first time I read this - I had a hangover, and hadn't seen the screen version for 20 years, and I hadn't liked it then. But my low expectations were confounded - it may not be a classic Target, but it kept me turning the pages that Sunday morning.

Terrance Dicks is particularly good at neat opening sentences: 'In a drab and featureless corridor, a drab and featureless man stood waiting before a shuttered hatch.'

When Leela and the Doctor leave the TARDIS, they find themselves on a flat roof - 'rather disappointingly'. What's he getting at I wonder?

When Leela first hears Cordo's story, she pictures the 'Gatherer' as a Xoanon-like monster.

Marn doesn't have the knowing manner she does on screen. She's no Krau Timmins - she's terribly impressed by the Gatherer and how hard he works, and when she hears about Kandor, she's 'shocked to her conformist core.'

In the lift, the Doctor thinks that a lift is a lift, anywhere in the galaxy.

He gets the Gatherer's measure:

A senior bureaucrat, he guessed, cunning and experienced, status-conscious, but without the strength to wield real power. There would be someone behind Gatherer Hade, someone far tougher, and far more intelligent.

Offering the Doctor a raspberry leaf is Marn's idea, though she looks at Hade for permission first. This whole scene has various rearrangements of the lines and actions seen on screen, most of which don't matter, though there's a glaring exception: the Doctor just says 'Humbug' when he leaves (as if an insult), without actually offering Hade one of the sweets so named. It's almost as if TD hadn't watched this scene!

On the way to the Correction Centre, Leela and Cordo encounter three citizens queuing up to be erased. Cordo takes it matter-of-factly, but Leela is appalled:

Life was cheap enough as far as she was concerned, and death in battle an everyday hazard, but this casual acceptance of planned extermination made her skin crawl.

Veet's efforts at cooking for the Others 'seldom met with much appreciation'.

For the corridor ambush, K9 hides behind an overhanging pipe, not round the corner of an intersection.

The Doctor wonders at first whether the revolution is worthwhile, if Leela's dead. But then he decides that 'A society that had driven someone like Cordo to climb on to that parapet deserved to be overthrown.'

The Collector's computer makes the same clever guess about the Sevateem, but refers to a 'degenerated, unsupported Earth colony' not a 'degenerate, unsupported Tellurian colony'. 'Degenerate' was better, I thought. Incidentally, 'zero zero five' corresponds to the Dewey Decimal code 005 for computer software and programming languages.

The background information on the Doctor is fuller: 'He appears to have a long history of anarchic violence and the causing of economic disruption. He is not commercially orientated'.

Leela in the steamer is like 'an orchid under glass'. An unusual simile for the unflowerlike Leelster.

Hade promises sexaphonic sound from the steaming, not duodecaphonic.

Marn accompanies the two guards who are sent to the PCM plant - she beats a retreat when she sees them get captured.

The Doctor explains to Leela that the Collector's safe is an old-fashioned bank manager's safe brought from Earth. I'd be surprised if Leela knew what a bank was, or a bank manager; I suspect the Doctor is explaining an apparent anachronism to us. I prefer it to be done a bit more subtly. When Leela gets knocked out, he says 'Why don't these girls ever listen to me?'

When Bisham and Mandrell leave the plant after accomplishing their mission, the technician Synge makes a remark to his mate Hakit about their surprising day. Hakit just nods, but then after all, he's always been 'a work-unit of few words'.

After the crowd throw the Gatherer off the roof, they're suddenly filled with remorse. Most of them are disgusted by Veet's encouragement to give the Collector the same treatment, and they shuffle off shamefacedly - all this in entire contrast to their happy yelling on screen. 'There was a general feeling things had got out of hand, gone a bit too far.' This really spoils the moment in my opinion. It's followed by a peculiar remark: 'there wasn't very much that they could do about it now. From the top of a thousand-metre building, it's a very long way down.'

In the final confrontation with the Collector, the Doctor declares that commercial imperialism is just as bad as military conquest, rather than posing a question. (Although the scene is much the same on the page and screen, I can't help mentioning here how much I like it: the Collector trying to recruit the Doctor, and the subversive line about having tried warfare but finding the exercise of economic power more effective. The recruitment bit suggests one of those 'Eps 1-2: Wtf is the Doctor up to' stories.)

4 Terrances for this adaptation - it successfully rescued the story from my unfairly low opinion of it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Target: Image of the Fendahl

This is a slim volume (even for a Target) and that isn't usually a good sign. Fortunately, Chris Boucher's script gives Terrance Dicks just enough extra encouragement to create an acceptable adaptation.

The hiker's initial perception of the nameless threat brings the 'frightful fiend doth tread' lines from Ancient Mariner to his mind. He thinks longingly of beer and cheese rolls in the next pub (causing me to be slightly wary of cheese rolls from an early age). In his next scene, he whistles 'some ragtime tune', not The Entertainer specifically.

TD veers into stereotype by comparing Stael's manner to that of a 'Prussian Officer', and he then brilliantly continues 'His stiff Germanic good looks reflected his stiff Germanic character,' a line which made me laugh out loud (and suggested a three-card trick based on a further possible attribute).

Colby's dog is named Leakey after the anthropologist - and because it isn't properly Priory-trained.

The narrator tells us early on that Fetchborough has a local witch, who's also the evening cook at the Priory. When we actually meet Mrs Tyler, we're told that she's succeeded in scaring Mitchell (the security chief), even though he's 'shrugged off threats from the toughest villains in London'.

Thea's look of absorption as she gazes at the skull is compared to that of a high priestess conducting a ritual.

Ted Moss has a 'look of peasant cunning'. He's riding a bike when Leela captures him ('He came silently on this machine.') We follow him into the cottage when Leela is trailing him later on, and see him load and fire the shotgun.

The Doctor manages to break his Fendahleen-induced paralysis by forcing his body to relax and be freed of fear.

Jack Tyler's hat is described as looking like an upside-down flowerpot. He and Leela have the following pleasing exchange -

'She were brought up in the Old Ways, see?'
For once Leela did see. Magic was still a familiar part of her mental world — despite all the Doctor’s efforts. 'You mean the ancient magic of your tribe?'

I know the dialogue is much the same but I like the characterisation of the Leelster there, and a rare chance for her to actually understand an explanation.

The door of the cupboard where the Doctor's imprisoned opens because he kicks it angrily, and snaps 'some vital part of the lock'. I always assumed that one of the Priory people, disagreeing with Fendleman, came and opened it, though it would have to be Colby I suppose, and he doesn't seem the type to unlock a door and then sneak off.

Leela realises all by herself that she mustn't touch the skull-trapped Doctor - he doesn't make any warning gesture.

There's a good half-page of back-story for Max, all about his isolated childhood and his desire to rule, which he failed to achieve through politics, business or science, and so he turned to the occult. I like the idea of him contacting Mrs Tyler when he first came to Fetchborough - how I wish I could read about that first meeting. Also, in the novel he doesn't have to hear the line 'Relax, Max' (TD spreads the rhyming words a bit further apart).

Colby and Fendleman are tied up on the cellar floor, not tied to pillars, and Max doesn't suggestively menace Colby with the pistol.

The Doctor still somehow knows about the dead hiker (how?), but he doesn't know Mitchell's name, referring to him as 'the security guard'.

The part 3 cliffhanger includes a literal, parenthetical treatment of the cut to the shot of the Fendahleen's tail sliding along the floor. I personally consider that a weakness, there are better ways to create suspense in literature and usually TD uses them.

The narrator confirms that the Priestess can create Fendahleen ad lib, but they need to take human life in order to grow.

After the implosion, Colby reflects that he's the only one of the Priory staff left alive. And the TARDIS speeds on its way to new adventures.