Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Target: Silver Nemesis

Another self-adaptation - pretty much the norm in the later era - by Kevin Clarke. There's a problem with this comparison - the screen version people are most likely to see is the 'extended' video edition, and comparing to that would be like comparing to the DVDs including deleted scenes, which I've resolutely not done in previous cases. The problem is that I'm not 100% sure which bits are deleted scenes. The Ministry of Truth were hard at work on the history of this story before the 'Restoration' Team were even thought of. So I may have missed some Target additions where those additions are also in the 'extended' version.

There's an opening pan across space to Earth, which appears 'as a backcloth to some small theatrical performance taking place on a limited budget', and the Nemesis meteor.

Then it's straight to the Doctor and Ace at the pub on Sunday afternoon. The weather seen on screen is not very November-like, and here it's definitely said to be summer. (November 23rd 1988 was a Wednesday, so this can't be the same day as the action in Windsor and at the crypt anyway).

If you like jazz and think the Doctor should like it too, there are lots of descriptions of his thoughts in this book that you're going to enjoy. If you preferred it when he liked Buddhism, you're not so lucky. The band aren't famous enough for Ace to want an autograph, she just buys one of their tapes instead.

Intercut with this is the archery scene with Lady Peinforte (aiming at a blackbird not a pigeon) and the scene with the mathematician. The imminent demise of the latter is signalled when Lady P asks Richard, with sinister politeness, to close the door.

(The transcriber points out that the mathematician's prediction doesn't allow for the adjustment of the calendar by omitting 11 days in 1752. I wish that had occurred to me. Perhaps the Doctor included that fact in the information on the card?)

There's an appalling Rocketman-style cheat when the semi-Cybes attack by the river: 'The force of the bullets threw the Doctor and Ace headlong into the water.' Are they wearing bulletproof vests or something?

The Nazi scenes begin here.

'I always liked the Eighties. They were a time of great certainty in England,' remarks the Doctor after his miraculous escape.

Lady P and Richard materialise in the Princess of Wales Burger Bar in Windsor, which is empty. Most of their scenes have extra bits: for example, she mentions not being married, and when she speaks of reckoning with the Doctor, there's a flash of lightning on cue.

The Doctor doesn't put glasses on to hypnotise the royal protection squad. The portrait of Ace bit from the extended edition is included.

Nemesis lands on a building site - this is important later on during Ace's fight with the Cybermen.

Richard's prayers and good resolutions during the Cyber-combat are given at greater length. Very funny dialogue even without Gerard Murphy. The Cyberleader does not know who Lady Peinforte is. At least one policeman survives this scene.

The extended scene where the Doctor and Ace return to 1638 to burn the card that gave the mathematician his start, and to move the chess pieces, is not used.

It's giraffes, not llamas, that terrify Richard in the safari park. The narrator says that neither he nor Lady P can read the warning sign: surely if she has some Latin, she can read English too?

De Flores and Karl are not seen looking at a map. They don't appear until the Ring of the Nibelungen bit. The line about Wagner needing to be rewritten is postponed until they're in the crypt.

The sight gag with the Doctor pouring marbles into Ace's hands in response to her 'Have you lost your marbles?' question is not used. There's an extra line in this scene about having to keep the Cybermen talking.

The extended edition bit with de Flores throwing gold dust at the Cybermen in the crypt is used.

The applause at the end of the jazz transmission stirs long-forgotten memories in the Cyberleader.

Ace and the Doctor's chess moves with the bow and the Cybermen are preceded by a bit where the Doctor taunts the Cybermen for talking in a dull way. 'Everything's always "Kill him," or "Excellent"', he says, doing an impression of the Cyberleader.

There's no further visit to 1638 to fiddle with the chessboard and pick up the gold coins. The ones the Doctor gives to Ace are just produced from his pocket.

The highly amusing American lady is called Mrs Hackensack (not Remington). Having given her a comedy American name, KC has written himself into a corner and has to call her ancestors' house Hackensack Grange. Hackensack, like most stock funny American names, isn't remotely English but Dutch, so that's a very unlikely name for an English country house.

Lady P and Richard are astonished to be going as fast as 30mph in the car, as they would be.

The fact that the statue's landing site is a building site, not just a warehouse, comes into play when the Cybermen pursue Ace through the half-built house, with much plaster dust and shattering brickwork. This does make the fight rather more exciting. She climbs down a drainpipe at one point, which reminds her of sneaking out of her parents' house back in Perivale. 'I've heard of metal fatigue, but you lot are pathetic,' she shouts at the Cybes.

Although Ace seems to place the Nitro-9 on screen, I can't see her actually trying to detonate it. In the book, the detonator is crushed by the Cyberlieutenant before she can use it.

During the Doctor's instructions to Nemesis, he's described as 'the most mysterious being in space and time.'

In the final Lady P/Doctor/Cyberleader confrontation, some of her lines are missed out and shortened. She doesn't mention Gallifrey, the old time, or the chaos. But she also has some extra lines about the statue being the Doctor's creation, and when Ace says that she knows he's a Time Lord, Lady P replies 'And you think that is all.' The Cyberleader, by the way, doesn't say anything about the secrets of the Time Lords meaning nothing to them. Finally, Lady P isn't just dismissed from the exchange, she joins Ace in her horror at the idea of giving the bow to the Cybermen.

Once Richard understands what 'giving him a lift' means, he says 'methinks I hear celestial music.' This leads into the final scene - a return visit to the jazz pub and his referring to the barman as the potman. I much prefer the finish with flute/lute ensemble back in 1638 myself - as I do the Doctor's original response to the 'Who are you?' question. On the page, instead of enigmatically putting a finger to his lips, he winks and smiles as if he's in the opening credits.

I'm not so keen on this Target - it seems to fiddle unnecessarily with the enjoyable bits of the screen version without improving the story. But the extra Richard/Lady Peinforte bits are worth having, if like me you think that the duo are the best thing in the story by miles.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Target: The Happiness Patrol

Graeme C adapting his own script here. He fills in plot holes and gets things that were realised differently back the way he wanted. When this means trying to make the story grittier, I don't think he's successful, because the story is basically an allegory, and like all allegories, analogies and metaphors, the more closely you look at it the more it comes apart.

Daphne S is looking sad because her son's just been disappeared. She thinks Silas P might be trustworthy because he's reading a copy of the secret underground killjoy paper, The Grief - this isn't seen on screen till the scene where he tries to entrap the Doctor.

After meeting Trevor Sigma, the Doctor and Ace visit the Kandy Kitchen, which has a handy, clearly marked, unlocked external door. Something, though we're not shown what, is clearly present under the manhole.

We don't see the Happiness Patrol painting the TARDIS pink until after they have encountered Earl, and given him his smiley sticker. Many scenes are shifted back and forth relative to the screen version like this, from here on I'm only reporting those changes that seem to have a significant effect on the story. On the other hand, there's a lot less intercutting, we rarely leave and return to the same scene once it's in progress.

The Pipe People are the original inhabitants of Terra Alpha. They used to live off the wild sugar-beet in which the planet abounds.

The Happiness Patrol jeeps play ice-cream van chimes (their vehicles just make beeping noises on screen). And the Patrol themselves wear paramilitary uniforms - I suppose their base clothing on screen could be described as such. They are not said to have pink hair: only Helen A is definitely said to have the distinctive screen coiffure.

Trevor Sigma visits the Kandy Kitchen and converses with Gilbert M, who he met on a previous visit to Terra Alpha. His purpose is to interview the Kandy Man, who is introduced at this point: he is not said to be anything other than human - a powerfully built man in a lab coat, with red glasses and a bow tie. However, his skin is coated with what we suspect to be sugar, and his feet make sucking sounds on the floor as he walks. (I wonder if this is the original concept, or a post-production redesign?) He dismisses Trevor Sigma immediately.

Fifi is the last Stigorax on Terra Alpha. Helen A hunted her down personally.

The man being gunged is Andrew X, a subversive killjoy writer and the brother who Harold V has just spoken of. Although he published anonymously, the Patrol tracked him down by putting together all the local references in his writings. A lesson for all bloggers and Target comparators there.

Distracted by the call to start the execution, the Kandy Man accidentally cuts off his thumb. This annoys him as he'll have to waste time reattaching it. These hints that, while he may look human, he actually isn't, are quite disturbing in their cumulative effect.

Ace takes the piss out of Susan Q after being arrested, asking if she's Valerie V - Zelda Z - Wendy W? The 'blues songs' reference is expanded into a back story about her collection of blues 78s and previous occupation as a singer and dancer.

Following her 'disappearing act', Ace is rearrested and taken before Helen A, to be menaced by Fifi. During this scene Susan Q is brought in and roughed up. The 'Up the killjoys!' demo scene is then inserted before Ace and Susan Q both end up in the Waiting Zone.

There's some extra chat between the snipers, David S and Alex S, which establishes that Alex is the evil one of the pair.

We're shown the outside of Helen A's residence, with its neglected rosebeds.

On his way back to the Kandy Kitchen, the Doctor has an extra establishing encounter with the stage doorman at the Forum, Ernest P. During their next scene together, Priscilla P is on the doors, checking the theatregoers for killjoy tendencies by testing out jokes on them.

Ace and Susan Q's journey to the Forum under Patrol guard is interrupted by an attack from a killjoy sniper.

Having seen Fifi apparently crushed under the crystallised sugar, the Doctor instructs Earl and Susan Q to deal with Priscilla P, which we duly see them do.

The only time that the sex of the newscaster is mentioned, he's a man (always female on screen).

The Kandy phone is made out of twisty blue and pink sweets.

Having told Ace that she mustn't join in the 'wanton destruction of public property', the Doctor winks and says 'But in this case, yes.' Tsk.

Asked by Joseph C about the origins of the Kandy Man, Gilbert has a long reverie about how he came to flee Vasilip with the mind of his friendly rival, Seivad, in a suitcase. Helen A made him create a monster out of Seivad (whose mind was twisted with anger and injustice, and probably from being put in a suitcase too I reckon). 'He couldn't face long explanations,' remarks the narrator, and has him give the same short reply as on screen.

In the shuttle, Joseph C realises he's still holding Fifi's lead when he tells Helen A that she must have slipped his mind.

The manhole covers leading from the pipes up into the palace sensibly all have combination locks, but this doesn't hold the Doctor up long. He enters Helen A's office by sliding down a pole from the Patrol guardroom above.

The fleeing Helen A still has some courage while the muzak is playing - and is correspondingly disheartened when it's replaced by the harmonica music. The Doctor's final words in this scene are 'It's done' not 'Tis done'.

Priscilla and Daisy's final exchange is only referred to in summary. Ace wants to go after Joseph and Gilbert, but Susan says to forget it, as it was the Kandy Man who was evil, not Gilbert.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Target: Remembrance of the Daleks

Shades of the NA treatment from Ben Aaronovitch here - but there's also a hard SF theme fighting for dominance. Together with the lighter tone of parts of the original story this is an uncomfortable mixture, but one which makes for an interesting read.

The events of the story are almost exactly the same. There's a prologue where the First Doctor returns to 76 Totters Lane only to hear the words 'It's Susan,' and realise that he's about to be considerably delayed. Coal Hill is in Shoreditch (rather than just being filmed there). The French Revolution book is not seen (they got the cover wrong on screen anyway). Ace watches Muffin The Mule on telly, not the Unearthly Child continuity announcement. The 'cane-cutter' scene takes place in a different cafe, down by the docks. The vapourisation of Skaro by the supernova is seen.

The real differences are in the expanded character back-stories, so I'll present them character by character:

The Doctor - is very much the omniscient Cartmel Masterplan Doctor. There are some flashbacks to conversations between Rassilon, Omega and an 'other', who we are at liberty to think is him. He also hypnotises Rachel into forgetting the deductions she makes about fibre optics and holograms from watching him at work.

Ace - three characterisations at war here. Ace of the NAs, all explosive recipes, weapons obsession and awareness of Mike looking at her breasts. 'White kids' Ace, struck by the monocultural Coal Hill School. And shouty Marmalade Atkins Ace with her baseball bat, explosive deodorant cans and attempts to cook plutonium in the TARDIS microwave. The three Aces do not sit easily together.

Rachel Jensen - constantly amazed by the Doctor's abilities and knowledge to the point that it becomes annoying. Romantically involved with Gilmore during the war when she was in the WAAF (and may get together with him again after the end of the book). Also worked with Turing. Is Jewish, and at one point has a dream of her childhood synagogue with the Doctor in the rabbi's place.

Allison - same as Rachel really. 'She's doing it again. I hate it when she does that,' she thinks when Ace makes another casual tech reference. Exactly what I began to feel about her and Rachel's POV bits.

Sgt Mike Smith - running wild as a kid in bombed-out post-war London, he met Ratcliffe and was given chocolate and a lot of warped ideas about Jews and communists. Also has memories of service in Malaya.

Not UNIT - in the Dragonfire comparison I complained about the absence of the tea-and-grumbling style of military characterisation. This makes a welcome return in this Target, so one up to BA there. But there's also some rhapsodic specification porn about the FN-FAL rifle. Get out of it, this is a DW adaptation not the Commando War Picture Library. One of the chapter epigraphs is from a History of UNIT, and states that Not UNIT were indeed the origin of that organisation.

Gp Capt Gilmore - is only referred to as Chunky once, by his men, out of his hearing. It's clearly not a nickname his friends use. Good thing too - if ever a sound DW character was weakened by a silly name, it was Gilmore on screen. He's the conscientious CO who recalls his men's biographical details when they're killed. And he's disturbed (in a serious, 'I know what war is really like' way) by Ace's enthusiasm for weaponry.

The Daleks - this is where the hard SF style I mentioned comes in. There's much Dalek POV with descriptions of their support systems and technology. They have lots of little servo robots on their ships - and the ships have names. That last point made me realise that the style in these passages is rather reminiscent of how Iain Banks would write about Daleks, if he chose to do so.
It's implied that they achieved the final extermination of the Thals (well, I reckon they escaped). They have a special name for the Doctor. None of them like the Special Weapons Dalek, or 'the Abomination' as they think of it.
Humans 'make dangerous slaves' - an astute observation, since every time we've seen the Daleks employing unhealthy coughing humanoids, it's ended in disaster.
The Time Controller is still a plasma globe.

Ratcliffe - has 'the bearing of a soldier', which is odd because he was interned throughout the war for being a fascist. He has glorious memories of Cable Street so was probably in the BUF itself. The Dalek controller just appeared one day in his office. And he impressed Mike the week before the story opened by having advance knowledge of the Kennedy assassination!

Davros - is obviously the Emperor much earlier on in the action, thanks to some fairly broad hints in the description of his thoughts.

John the cane-cutter's son - is comforted by the thought of his alternate African self.

The vicar - is named Parkinson (incorrectly referred to as Reverend Parkinson. Rev John Smith, Mr Smith but never Rev Smith). He was blinded at Verdun. Another explicit reference to the Seventh Doctor's Scottish accent in his scene.

The Hand of Omega - is semi-sentient and gets several POV scenes.

Considering this Target as an adaptation of the screen version, I don't like it at all, it's hardly DW and the Doctor, for all the hints about his cosmic importance, is seen almost entirely from other people's point of view. As an experiment in writing DW in a contemporary way, it isn't bad, it's certainly better than the actual NAs though it has enough of their faults to put me off it.

(Thanks to Zone posters for corrections/quibbling)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Target: Dragonfire

Really wasn't looking forward to this one, as I find the story extremely dull and I didn't fancy reading Ian Briggs' treatment of it. But will I have to eat my words and say that it helped make the story more interesting, again?

Mel is standing on her head when first seen. Her stroppy attitude when offered a jelly baby makes the Doctor reflect that he never had an older sister.

The little girl, Stellar, has a best friend back at home called Milli-mind. It's made clear that the people in the Freezer Centre have stopped there on space journeys to stock up with food. It doesn't make it that much more realistic, but it's better than the screen version where it just seems like there's a contemporary supermarket in space for no good reason.

The Iceworld cafe is run by a man named Eisenstein, not Anderson. Ian Briggs wants to give the place more the ambience of the Mos Eisley cantina than the Children's BBC atmosphere shown on screen. Amongst the extra lines given to Glitz is one where, having failed to get the Doctor to help him get the hundred crowns, he appeals to Mel: 'think of the adventures we had together...'

The Doctor is able to correct Mel's pronunciation of 'Loch Ness' because he has an 'authentic Scottish accent' in this incarnation. I know that might sound like stating the obvious but it was never explicitly referred to on screen.

The 'real McCoy' joke is not used.

Ace doesn't tip a second milkshake over Eisenstein. Amongst the mess observed by Mel in her bedroom are many discarded items of underwear. The story of the explosion in the school art room ends with the first years' pottery pigs all over the sports field.

At the Singing Trees, Glitz refers to crowns and not grotzits when he sees the valuable crystals. There's an extra scene where he gets pinned under a block of ice and the Doctor saves his life, causing him to comment that the Doctor is an 'odd fish'. IB describes the Doctor, by the way, as having a peculiar face.

Ace resists Kane's temptation because she suddenly sees him as telling her to do as she's told, just like her parents and teachers did.

Glitz finds the Ice Garden and realises it's functioning as a planetarium.

The Doctor's actions at the ice cliff are carefully explained: he wants to climb down because that's the only way forwards into the tunnels. He hangs off his umbrella because the cracks in the ice that he's using for holds are too far apart, and the umbrella extends his reach.

Ace and Mel's climb down the cliff is much expanded. They use climbing gear, and there's this bizarre conversation:

'I think you've got that harness on upside-down. I think those tight straps are supposed to go between your legs.'
Ace looked down, and giggled. 'It's a good job I'm not a boy!' she laughed. Mel smiled - and then she began to laugh as well. This wasn't going to be a bit like they always showed it on telly!

One of Ace's Nitro-9 canisters springs a leak on the way down, and Mel saves her. Much bonding results. This comes to mind later on, when Ace and Mel hide from the undead crewmembers in a crack in the ice (not under some stairs):

She held Mel tight in the darkness. Her cheek was pressed against Mel's. She could feel her gentle breathing.

Bazin and McLuhan (the ANT-hunting soldiers) think and are described in traditional NA style - all lock-and-load and weapon specifications. I never find this impressive when it crops up in the newer Targets, I prefer the tea-and-grumbling style of soldiering of the UNIT era. (Which, significantly, was written by people who had fought real wars).

During the argument between Glitz and Ace about who's going to the Nosferatu to get the explosive, we're told that 'he always had trouble with feminists - usually because they were right and he was wrong.' It sounds like Glitz is thinking that but that doesn't make sense. Anyway, there's an extra bit where Ace and Mel disobediently follow him and find him waiting round a corner looking cross, so they go back and play I-spy.

All the docked spaceships have people crowding onto them to escape Kane's mercenaries, and he blows all of them up.

Stellar's mother orders Glitz to start looking for her child.

At the point where Ace takes the short-cut to her quarters, there's graffiti on the wall saying ACE 4 WAYNE (the book has a picture, very unusual for a late Target). Wayne, she explains, is her soft toy dog. She actually reaches her quarters here, only to be dragged away by Kane.

Stellar encounters Kane getting out of his fridge. She has Teddy tells him that he's sorry for disturbing him. Kane ignores Teddy and Stellar. When she takes Teddy out of the fridge later, she drops him and he shatters into bits, making her cry. Poignantly, the tears turn into ice crystals before they hit the floor.

Glitz takes the Nitro-9 from Ace's room and uses it to wire up the cryogenics chamber. The Doctor and Mel meet him here. She hitches up her skirt to climb over the detonator wires - on screen she's wearing trousers. The remaining mercenaries attack: although the Nitro won't explode, Glitz desperately throws Ace's toy dog Wayne (which he finds in her holdall) at them, and being full of nitroglycerin, it explodes.

There's no tannoy announcement from 'Captain Glitz'.

This Target does make the story clearer, but this time that still wasn't enough to make me enjoy it. Glitz is the best thing in it in either version.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Target: Delta and the Bannermen

Malcolm Kohll adapting his own script. My edition has DELTA AND THE BANNERMAN on the spine, which I trust is a mistake.

There's a TARDIS scene to start with with the Doctor and Mel's tea being interrupted by the tollport message, and some business about getting money out of the kitty. This was scripted but not screened, I believe, and similarly unscreened bits are scattered throughout the book. Some of them are just half lines and won't be noted separately unless they're particularly interesting. This is a comparison, not a dual text with critical apparatus.

Mel uses 'her best Spaniel look' to persuade the Doctor to take the prize holiday.

Only when the prize has been offered do we cut to the action on Chumeria. The Bannermen aren't just a mercenary band, there's a whole race of them, trying to take over the Chimerons' planet (they polluted their own one). Both species appear to live for thousands of years.

Hawk and Weismuller have been posted to Wales, England as a form of demotion. If they do well, they'll get re-promoted. They get their instructions to call the White House from a message hidden in a film canister inside a hollow tree.

Murals at the tollport depict various species of alien travellers: Mel recognises three of them, none of which have been involved in televised adventures.

Navarino is a 'tri-polar' moon.

Weismuller bemoans the lack of doo-wop on his radio (rather than of rock'n'roll). There are extra remarks from the unscreened bits of script in all these scenes with the agents.

It's not stated that the Doctor uses his umbrella to activate the TARDIS vortex drive.

Two Navarinos question Billy about his motorbike. They're impressed once they realise it's a form of transport.

After the unsuccessful navipod repair, the Doctor mentions that he used to have a sonic screwdriver. There's also an exchange with Billy here which makes clear that he didn't fancy Ray even before Delta came along.

At dinner the Doctor tells Mel to persuade Delta to come to the dance, as it might encourage her to relax and confide in them.

Billy turns up at the chalet with a bouquet in time for the Chimeron egg cliffhanger, instead of after the egg has opened.

Vinny, the camp announcer - er, the announcer at the holiday camp - is described as wrinkled, rather than the smooth young man seen on screen.

The 'special place' to which Billy takes Delta is a beach, not a riverbank.

Neither Ray nor Burton says anything in Welsh in the 'space buns' scene. (On screen she says 'Mae'n wir' (it's true) and he says something which I can't catch.) He doesn't ask to go for a spin in the TARDIS, but he wants to get one for the camp next year, and plans to write an article about it for Campers Weekly.

Vinny was Burton's batman in the army, which accounts for his wish not to retreat from the camp, and also of course for his greater age in the novel. Once Burton's got rid of the staff, he eats a bar of chocolate, something he always does in a crisis. From this point on he's given a lot of military thoughts about the Doctor's strategy and the importance of following orders.

Murray makes a rather ponderous response to Mel's remark about the Navarinos not needing to do much packing: Navarinos travel light because in their natural form they don't need clothing. She joins him in directing mental energy at the crystal.

Burton does not say anything about having been a major rather than a captain.

The American agents don't actually see the Bannermen ship coming in to land (perhaps the effect was too expensive for the Target!) Gavrok announces his presence with a piercing whistle rather than a horn call.

Mel feels guilty about the destruction of the Navarinos, because Murray delayed their departure trying to persuade her to come with them. The subsequent Bannermen attack on the motorbike convoy is very impressive, leaving the field cratered and burning.

Mel thanks Burton for his 'hostage' idea: he says that he's dealt with scoundrels like this before, and that it's all a matter of psychology.

Burton is very impressed by the Doctor's calm rescuing of him and Mel from the Bannermen: but he can't tell whether it's a clever ploy or just very valourous behaviour. Either way, it's good material for the work on the human condition he's apparently writing (hence the 'psychology' line earlier).

While the Doctor is busy off-screen (and off-page) with Mel's ribbon and the goat, Weismuller does some empty boasting about how he saw off the Bannermen who shackled him and Hawk.

The flight from Goronwy's farm in the cramped car comes with bonus humour along the lines of 'that's why they call it a Morris Minor'.

It's Bannerman Arrex who Delta shoots, and Callon who survives report to Gavrok. The script I've got has them the other way round.

Gavrok shoots Goronwy's radio halfway through Blue Moon, not the song heard on screen (Lollipop.) Attacked by the bees, the Bannermen take refuge in the reservoir next to the farm, getting stung every time they bob up for air.

'He must really love me,' thinks Delta when she finds out that Billy has been eating the royal jelly.

Hawk reacts badly to being zapped by the sonic cone - he starts staring into space and failing to help with the fire precautions, which causes tension with Weismuller.

'Those Bannermen will be sorry they ever left - er - wherever it was they came from,' Billy tells Delta stoutly.

The signal for the 'singing' to start is conveyed by tugging the speaker wire, the other end of which Delta is holding. Only then do the Doctor and Ray leave the roof.

Ray consoles herself for the loss of Billy, and the impending departure of her new friends Mel and the Doctor, with the thought that 'Wales wasn't that bad...'

Hawk recovers his courage once the Bannermen are tied up. 'That will teach you to mess with us earthlings,' he keeps saying.

Goronwy's symbolic explanation about the new young queen is omitted. In its place there's a scene where Billy and the Doctor collect a box of bits for the Vincent - this makes his gift of the bike to Ray seem better considered.

The Doctor's comment about how the Vincent might be improved is moved to just before Ray's departure, so that she gets to go out on a note of self-assertion with her 'best there is' comment.

The final scene (of the screen version) is slightly rearranged, the principal difference being that Goronwy invites the agents to come to tea one day. Weismuller seems pleased by this.

Unfortunately... there's an Epilogue with some really weak humour about the Bannermen captives planning to set up a rug-weaving collective, and an account of Billy's impressions of the brood planet and the galactic palace of justice. Delta and the Bannermen is only just serious enough a story to work as DW at all - this sub-sub-Adams whimsy tacked on the end just makes the whole story seem silly.

There are then final sights of the agents, Goronwy, and Ray, and a TARDIS closing scene. Goronwy's bit works best. My task as a comparator is done if I just point out that the Epilogue is all new material.

Apart from that Epilogue this is quite an enjoyable Target. DATB itself has grown on me over the years, and the novel recaptures the blend of fun and poignancy that makes it work.

(Thanks to Ohica for correcting my cheating memory re Lollipop/My Boy Lollipop)

Target: Paradise Towers

Stephen Wyatt adapts his own script for this Target. One of my favourites too, I get the impression he himself at one time was faced with winning the respect of a group of 'Kangs'.

The initial TARDIS scene is placed first, before our first sight of the last Yellow Kang. 'Leave her for the cleaners' as shouted at her is merely a symbolic threat, by the way; it doesn't suggest that her pursuers expect her to be made unalive. The poor girl's life in the empty Yellow Kang Brainquarters is described with some pathos.

The saddest thing in Fountain of Happiness Square is the fountain itself, dry and full of rubbish. Shallowtown had just such a fountain.

The doomed Caretaker's thoughts inform us that the Cleaners have only recently been fitted with huge claws, they aren't standard equipment. His walkie-talkie is actually a Long Distance Communication Expediter.

The Red Kangs fire not one arrow but two at the Doctor and Mel - pinning them neatly to the wall through their clothing. Mel finds that their style reminds her of samurai; also, the pat-a-cake greeting ritual is both risible and menacing.

The Doctor's impression of the Kangs is of an odd mixture of toughness and vulnerability. The Caretakers, on the other hand, have something solid and comforting about them, even if their uniforms seem to him like tatty cinema commissionaires' outfits.

Pex is closer to the original conception of the character - he actually does have big pecs and an imposing physical presence.

The Chief Caretaker can't quite remember how he acquired his basement 'pet'.

The Kangs get into the Caretaker HQ to rescue the Doctor by using a keycard.

Investigating Maddy's report of the disappearance of Tilda and Tabby, the Chief Caretaker asks Maddy whether she has eaten them.

The Red Kangs refer to their video, on which the Doctor shows them the Illustrated Prospectus, as the Picturespout. They ask him a lot of questions about other worlds, and are amazed to hear that there are no Kangs thereon. This 'gave them much to think about and discuss in the days to come.'

Only Bin Liner and Fire Escape accompany the Doctor to the basement, Air Duct is not selected or named.

The Blue Kang leader is called Drinking Fountain.

The possessed Chief Caretaker has a voice of 'soft steely power', rather than a pissed-up slurred drawl. And his uniform has turned glistening white.

Pex and Mel enter the Pool in the Sky via a carpeted corridor decorated with murals and potted plants.

The reason that the Great Architect (conveniently) forbade surveillance of the Pool in the Sky is so that it would never be overlooked by prying human flesh.

Kroagnon asks Pex why the latter wants to help him get rid of the 'mobile rubbish'. Pex says it's because he doesn't belong.

All the remaining Caretakers are present at Pex's funeral, not just the Deputy and principals.

The Doctor's hat-raise to the piece of scrap metal and Mel's 'No, Doctor' are left out, wisely I think because we have a better ending here. It is from behind the dematerialising TARDIS that the famous wall-scrawled words are revealed: PEX LIVES.

Oddly, that was how I remembered the actual episode ending in 1987, a good couple of decades before I got hold of the book. The memory may cheat, but then that's a good director's job.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Target: Time and the Rani

Another Pip & Jane Baker adaptation to begin the Seventh Doctor era. It's the Sixth Doctor who's centre stage as we open: his last action is to try and set the TARDIS Hostile Action Displacement System, which he forgot to switch on earlier. The energy attack on the TARDIS is played up a bit to make it seem a more convincing reason for regeneration, or as P&JB choose to put it, 'Regeneration had been triggered by the tumultuous buffeting.'

Ikona is revolted by the feel of Mel's hair and unscaly skin.

We're given a description of the Rani's laboratory, complete with 'megabyte computers', but then told 'The Doctor was aware of none of this.' The Bakers don't feel the need to write from the perspective of any particular character, they write as if they're controlling a camera. (Or indeed cutting and pasting from a script.)

There's a reason for the Doctor's pratfall down the stairs: he thinks he's still 6ft tall, so his umbrella hand isn't quite where he expected.

When Urak goes to look for Mel at the TARDIS, he soon picks up her 'spores' - is she turning into a mushroom?

Style standouts:
'The real Mel's head was poked into something too - a halter!'
'Flight, the fugitive Doctor decided, should not be a rash skedaddle.'
'A paradox. By temperament poles apart from Beyus, the abrasive Ikona was about to experience the same foreboding.'

The Tetrap lair is repeatedly described as an eyrie, which kept making me think of it as high on a mountainside rather than underground.

The Rani is still in her first incarnation. The explanation about the tyrannosaurus in her TARDIS snapping its neck, used in The Ultimate Foe, is given again.

Mel comes from Pease Cottage, but that might be just over-zealous proof-reading.

The Tetraps speak Tetrapyriarban, which is English written backwards (like the Master's invocation of Azal in the Target of The Daemons). P&JB acknowledge this unusual relationship between the two languages but don't explain it.

The scene with the hologram of Mel has an explanation from the narrator beginning 'A hologram is...' Some of the other Target authors do use this children's book device - like Malcolm Hulke with the D-notices in Green Death - but they usually channel it through one of the characters. ('Sarah had once researched an article on holograms - weren't they some kind of projection...')

The Doctor and Mel's escape from the lab, while the Rani is calming the giant brain down, is enlivened by an extra scene where a Tetrap guard breaks a phial containing one of the Rani's deadly concoctions. It instantly coats his entire body in fungus and suffocates him. Very gruesome.

When the Doctor deduces that the Rani is trying to make Helium Two, there's an extra bit where she compliments him on his potential for brilliance. It reminds him of the debates they used to have at university, and he begins to think she isn't beyond redemption. It's just a ploy by her though.

The ornate flask of hornet antidote has a 'rocco' stopper. Rococo?

Another TARDIS dematerialisation sound simile for the list - the Rani's TARDIS departs with 'a bellow like a ruptured elephant.'

The scientists spend their journey back to their proper times in the comfortable lounge of the Doctor's TARDIS.

Once again I'm forced to admit that, despite the enduringly odd style, this Target did make me think better of the story. In general the Seventh Doctor's adventures do seem better once you've got a clearer idea of what's actually supposed to be happening.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Target: The Ultimate Foe

Pip'n'Jane Baker again. I won't be picking on their bizarre style so much in this Target: that isn't because it's not on display, but because it seems to fit this surreal story much better than it did Mark of the Rani.

The Time Lord space station is surrounded by a perpetual electric storm.

In the courtroom, the Doctor has worked out that the Inquisitor unconsciously displays uncertainty by adjusting her sash of office.

Glitz is shaking with fear on arrival because he thinks he might be dead. Mel pinches him to prove that he isn't.

The Doctor's cheeks are described as 'chubby'.

Glitz refers to 'grotzis' rather than 'grotzits' throughout.

Yrcanos is said to be the chief of a tribe on Ravolox - either that's a mistake or the Mindwarp novelisation establishes some startling new facts about him. Also, he apparently won Peri's affections 'by fair means or foul'. Intriguing.

Mel and the Master have an exchange via that's similar in tone, but not in content, to the one about compliments that was scripted but not used on screen. He taunts her with a question about whether red hair really denotes temper on Earth, and calls here a 'fiery vixen'.

When Glitz's harpoon-proof jacket is revealed, we're told that he sleeps in pyjamas made of Attack Repulsor Polycrenam pongee.

The infiltration of the Matrix was made possible because the Time Lords outsourced maintenance to the Elzevirs of Leptonica: the Master hypnotised their supervisor, Nilex. (He can't hypnotise Time Lords, apparently - doesn't the guard in Deadly Assassin count?)

Mel encounters a tyrannosaurus, not a dragon, in the Fantasy Factory waiting-room.

Have to mention one style issue: when P&JB are trying to say that the list of Time Lord names is definitely in the Doctor's handwriting, they say it bore 'the indelible curlicues of the Doctor's calligraphy.' Calligraphy is not a direct synonym for handwriting and indelible doesn't mean unmistakeable, even by extension.

The Master and Rani escaped from the tyrannosaurus in her TARDIS, because (as the Rani told him) it grew too large for the space and snapped its neck against the ceiling. He didn't believe her 'prosaic explanation' - and if ever there was a prosaic, anticlimactic explanation that is it - he prefers to think that he escaped because he's indestructible.

The sight of his TARDIS as a statue of Queen Victoria makes him reflect that even she is a lesser being compared to himself.

The Doctor's journey on the tumbril is accompanied by shouts of 'Madame Guillotine' and thrown tomatoes and cabbages.

The megabyte modem is still there, but it's spelt 'modum' throughout. We're led to believe though that it isn't really a modem, that's just Mel's interpretation. Working against this high-tech interpretation is the information that it contains vacuum tubes.

The insurrection on Gallifrey reported by the Keeper was sparked off by the Master spreading news of the High Council's machinations.

The final courtroom scene begins with a description of the room which seems to be from the Doctor's perspective. But then he walks into the courtroom. Very confusing.

There's an epilogue where the Doctor returns Mel to Oxyveguramosa, where she was before she was called as a witness. He has to do this as otherwise he can't go back to where he was at the start of the trial. Pleasingly, when she gets out of the TARDIS, there's another TARDIS next to it - the one from her own timeline. Inside she finds her own Doctor, who she's pleased to see has been following her carrot juice regime - he's slimmer. There's a suggestion that this Doctor has just met her, because he's looking forward to having her on board.