Doctor Who: THE TARGET STORYBOOK The Dark River Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Doctor Who: THE TARGET STORYBOOK The Dark River Review

Christopher Morley emerges refreshed from the Zero Room.

Time now to stretch our legs and ponder going down The Dark River with Matthew Waterhouse, years after Adric first stowed away aboard the TARDIS in State Of Decay.

Having first made the acquaintance of the man he'd later see regenerate during Full Circle, the first contribution of a then eighteen year old Andrew Smith having taken the Fourth Doctor & Romana into E-Space as Tom Baker prepared to consign the long coat & scarf that were seeming to irritate him - among a great many other things - to the back of Sexy's wardrobe.

Entropy & death would soon give way to what was then the most radical renewal, to use the old money term for regeneration, yet! It would feel different this time, the Doctor merging with the pale ghostlike form of the Watcher to shape his next incarnation, who would pick a new outfit for himself from within the Type 40's bowels, having dismantled the most recognisable facet of his old one in the process of deciding whether or not his latest regeneration had worked out, while wandering the old girl's corridors. Adric helping him through his confusion as he adjusts to the insecurities of his newest personality.

Peter Davsion was the youngest Doctor yet - also coming across as the most recognisably human & vulnerable in doing so - and while another Matthew, Smith would later come along as an even younger if previously not as well known new man in his stead (and not entirely coincidentally take a whack to the head with a cricket bat during a fraught introduction to his own first companion), there's a twist coming.

Waterhouse's contribution to the recently released Target Storybook tells the tale of Adric & Nyssa's quest to escape a seemingly doomed old time paddle steamer & get back to their friends as the Great Fire of London threatens to lay waste to the land on which Heathrow will eventually be built, helped along by energy weapons which most certainly don't belong in that corner of time & space. The senior Matt gives himself chance to step into Jenna Coleman's shoes in a sense & become another kind of impossible companion!

For this is the first Doctor-light story, Una McCormack's Grounded for the Ninth putting Clive Finch in his shoes later on. Of course, Coleman's Clara Oswald gets a chance to try her hand at being the Doctor with his guidance from inside a tiddly TARDIS in Flatline, where Adric could often be found wanting to do similar inside the full size previous model as used by the elder Peter Doctor across the run of six stories shared with him.....

And it's during roughly the midway point of the fourth such story, The Visitation, that The Dark River is set. The death knell sounding loud & clear for the pure historical format as alien influence begins to creep into dealings with recorded history as Adric & Nyssa aim to take a certain blue friend, older even than the soon to be destroyed sonic screwdriver, to the Squire's house.

Aptly enough things there kick off with the Alzarian getting a talking to for his reckless actions in the final throes of Kinda, the first twirl of a Snakedance with the Mara.
“Next time you want to escape from somewhere, walk “
And he may well wish he had, having rather overshot by pressing the wrong button and at a stroke providing an explanation for his, & indeed Nyssa's, absence from the beginning of Part Four of The Visitation!

In fact their first exchange there allows Waterhouse his starting point......
ADRIC: You did it.
NYSSA: I did it.
ADRIC: You're all right? Not hurt?
NYSSA: I'm fine. Just a little sad. It was such a magnificent machine.
ADRIC: That machine tried to kill you.
NYSSA: It was a slave. It was only doing what it was told. I think we should check how much damage has been done to the TARDIS.
ADRIC: What about the Doctor and Tegan?
NYSSA: Where do we look?
ADRIC: Tegan will still be at the house. Now you've destroyed the android it's perfectly safe to go there.
Now for a slight deviation, in that while they do indeed land in woods as first recorded in Eric Saward's script, they're not the ones they were expecting,
ADRIC: We could go in the TARDIS.
NYSSA: No, Adric. You move this ship and we could finish up anywhere.
ADRIC: And if we don't, the Doctor and Tegan could finish up dead.
And Doc Ashberry, a chap they meet during their temporal stopover in the Old West, brings another surprise to the table. He's a Time Lord with a TARDIS of his own - a Type 29 containing a cabinet of bottles of decent whiskey who happens to be a former classmate of their Doctor's. They will share in something of the wonder James, a black slave, experiences upon stepping through its doors into the bargain. But Doc wants to trade it for the younger Type 40 model and won''t take no for an answer until a solution is devised & its time rotor is used to help charge that of its younger cousin.

Which allows Ashberry to make a new start out among the stars with James as a companion, going some way to earning a shot at redemption for what he got up to in the gambling joints of the time in this unexpected fresh take on the pseudo-historical the Davison years would bring with them.

Ironically enough Doctor Who And The Visitation was the first of Davison's stories to get the Target treatment in August of 1982, as well as doing away with an illustrated cover, the front of the first editions instead bearing a photo of Peter the Elder outside the TARDIS, trusty Panama hat underarm.

During the 2016 reprint selection, though, Chris Achilleos was asked to provide an alternative cover in his own unique style & came up with a headshot of the Doctor to the right of the android Grim Reaper, a Terileptil nestling in the bottom left hand corner.

A similar update treatment was not given to any of the other Fifth Doctor novelisations, beginning with Time-Flight before Davison's decision that three years was enough, killed an old friend and ushered in Colin Baker, whose attempt at writing for his take on the Time Lord takes him back to his trial by the BBC for Interstitial Insecurity. We will look at that entry into the Target Storybook tomorrow, in the meantime do feel free to help yourself to a carrot juice!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad