Doctor Who: ROSE Target Novelisation Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: ROSE Target Novelisation Review

Christopher Morley runs...

The Thirteenth Doctor's cameo in her own past is perhaps not as active as her one in Scratchman, where she appeared alongside the face that for many stands as the embodiment of classic Doctor Who - here she's glimpsed in one of Clive Finch's many photographs running away from a giant frog outside Buckingham Palace. That in itself is one of many subtle changes made by Russell T Davies in the process of revisiting the very Saturday when teatime telly got interesting again in 2005, with his novelisation of Rose, part of the relaunch of the Target novel range.

In light of which it's probably fitting that things in a way go back to the Seventies with shades of Jon Pertwee's first outing, which in turn itself became the first novelisation of a then current television story under the Target banner from the pen of the late Terrance Dicks, bearing the no-frills title Doctor Who And The Auton Invasion - none here either, but many an Auton as the Nestene Consciousness broods under the streets of London, its world like many others before it torn apart by the Time War.

And it's the people of those streets who benefit most from a chance for Davies to return to his maiden script for Christopher Eccleston's one & only series as keyholder for the sort of police box that used to be commonplace around the capital. Inevitably the old girl gets her own chapter here! Turn to page 97, the start of Chapter Ten, & you can venture Inside The Box for the first time all over again - which lets be honest never loses its wonder, does it? Also tick off the whole bigger on the inside thing. By page 105 it's back outside & into danger - but then that's an occupational hazard. Never more so than when you're learning how to be the Doctor again!

At least in a sense he's broken in gently, the running bit taken care of in his very introduction into proceedings.

What happens before the short sprint to freedom into the marathon of travels in time & space gets a substantial reworking in Russell T's reintroduction. Once more he returns to the theme of the ordinary amidst the extraordinary.

Remember Wilson, the first victim? In the original televised introduction we know only that Rose goes looking for him to hand over the money for the Henrik's Lottery syndicates, gets annoyed when he doesn't respond and leaves before he shuffles off this mortal coil - learning of his death only in passing through the Doctor's blunt confirmation that he's now an ex-Wilson.

In print, though, within the first few pages of the prologue we learn that the man who was originally chief electrician has now suffered a further demotion to caretaker, has an actual first name (Bernie) and is a rather dishonest sort. Not only has he been collecting the Lottery money, the swine's been keeping it for himself! Living beyond his means is one thing, but he's got one more little con planned of the sort that every disgruntled employee would love to get away with according to our esteemed former showrunner - burning down the shop.....

We know of course how that will end, Ms Tyler and several others out of a job. But the man who wrote that ending for her story here on Earth so she could fill her life with more than just work & sleep just can't resist the humdrum details of life as a workaday wage-slave.

Chapter One - Descent Into Terror - begins with her remembering her old routine, standing as she now does a literal world away from all that, the days of £6 an hour as a retail assistant having long passed her by. The man she parted from having left all that behind also gets an appearance telling her 2005 will be a great year before his own story ends. Here what she sees as a chance encounter with a New Year reveller who's had a few too many pints on the way home from work leads in a roundabout manner to her first meeting with the man he had been.

Home life gets its moment in the spotlight in Chapter 3, with our reintroduction to Rose's dear old mum. Three on from that we're introduced to her boyfriend, Mickey Smith, who also benefits from the broad stroke of Russell T's pen. Even here there are hints that suggest he's been the tin dog for far longer than he'd like to admit, but we do learn a little more about his past - which isn't all pretty in keeping with a degree of social realism. His mother lost to suicide, his father absent and the grandmother who had taken care of him dead after complications following a fall, he's had to make his own way in the world holding down a job in the local garage. At least his dear old gran helped him get on the council housing list, flat 90 on the Powell Estate playing host to him and his mates - who've all got their reasons for turning their backs on perhaps more conventional living arrangements.

Another misfit, Clive, perhaps serves as a surrogate for everyone who'd waited ages for the Doctor to come back, feeding the curiosity of the woman who'll eventually opt for the Northerner in the leather jacket over Mickey as a sideline from the whole wife, kids & office job thing. Where before Clive had only old photos of the then newest man to take over the Doctorly mantle, here he's even got snaps of the three he'll later become before the regenerative process throws him something of a curveball - as well as pictures of all those chaps he'd been before.

Perhaps symbolically Clive too perishes, a visual and now quite literal metaphor perhaps for Davies' own realisation that the audience needed to change as much as the programme itself, by going back to basics just as Doctor Who had the first time it was in glorious colour.

And now in turn it would appear that Chris Chibnall has tried to take notes from him - London may have been swapped for Sheffield, but it's not too hard to find subtle undercurrents of both Rose & Mickey in Yaz & Ryan, the Hallamshire Police officer & warehouse worker also taken about as far away from the 9-5 as it's possible to be!

Consider also the centrality & importance of family - Graham no doubt a constant reminder for his step-grandson even after his nan's death, while we also get a window into Ms Khan's home life through tea at hers in Arachnids In The UK. And while Graham's days of dragging himself up to drive a bus are long behind him, the senior of the newest companions is in effect also running - but from a far more profound force, that of grief.

All of which we saw straight off Russell T's bat back in Series One on the Powell Estate, and the start of an era which this novelisation may just leave you feeling quite nostalgic for.

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