An Unearthly Child
The War Games
The Sea Devils
State of Decay
The Five Doctors
Trial of a Time Lord
The Eight Doctors
|ISBN||0 563 40563 5|
Synopsis: A trap left by the Master causes the eighth Doctor to lose his
memory. A mysterious figure guides him through the past, where he meets
seven very familiar figures, and the present, where he meets teenager Sam
How many Doctors can we fit in a police box? by Andrew Feryok 21/12/13
"Trust the TARDIS. Let it take you back to the beginning."Where does one begin with this book? Its reputation long preceded it before I picked it up. It is, hands down, one of the single most hated and derided books in all of Doctor Who's long canon to date. It easily ranks up with such TV episodes as Warriors of the Deep, Time and the Rani and The Underwater Menace and was responsible for single-handedly destroying Terence Dicks' reputation as a writer after he delivered some of the best New Adventures books for the Seventh Doctor. And while Dicks' reputation has recovered with renewed exposure to the Target Books via audio books and his participation in the DVD extra features, as an author of new books, he never quite received the same respect ever again for the rest of the 1990s and 2000s. So going into this book, my expectations where extremely low.
- A voice speaks to the amnesiac Doctor in the TARDIS, The Eight Doctors, Page 4, Prologue
I will say coming out of it that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, but then again my expectations were pretty low to begin with. It is still underwhelming for a first book to a new series of adventures with a new Doctor. I could see this as a standalone book not unlike the large print books like The Coming of the Terraphiles, which are published today separate from the regular books. But as the introductory book to a new ongoing series of monthly adventures with a totally new Doctor, this is just terrible. We learn next to nothing about the new incarnation to come other than what we glean from his brief solo adventure meeting Samantha Jones in 1990s Coal Hill which actually had some tension to it. We then start going back into the Doctor's history and things become tedious.
For a Doctor Who fan, it's almost like sitting down and watching mom and dad's picture slideshows. We know all the favorite pictures they are going to put in and all the same stories they are going to recite and, for a fan of the show, this becomes rather tedious. It picks up a bit when Dicks engages in mini short stories such as the fantastic segment with the Fourth Doctor and vampires, or the Eighth Doctor's saving Gallifrey's ass from revolution during the fallout from The Ultimate Foe, which we only heard about as happening off-screen during that story. But other segments were just tedious such as the journey back through The War Games or the mini-adventure with the Master after the events of The Sea Devils. I did find it shocking though when the Third Doctor nearly killed the Eighth in order to steal his TARDIS, an event which has remained particularly controversial among fans. In some ways, this almost becomes a Short Trips book held together by the theme of a traitor on Gallifrey wanting the Doctor dead. Unfortunately, the traitor is dealt with so quickly and so easily by the Doctor that you wonder what all the fuss was about building him up through the book. The revolution on Gallifrey actually ends up dominating the end of the book and becomes the secret story that Terence Dicks (or Rassilon) was trying to put over on us in the first place.
If all this was tedious for fans, it must have been downright confusing to new fans fresh off of the TV Movie! This was the perfect opportunity to reboot the Doctor and make him mysterious to a new audience. But, by the book's end, new fans knew exactly everything that a fan of the classic series has come to know about the Doctor, thus destroying that chance. It also doesn't help that the Doctor's new companion is completely unimpressed by the TARDIS and the two are immediately bickering, with no real rapport between them. It's not a good sign when you want to punch the new companion rather than looking forward to new adventures with them!
In the end, this book's greatest failing was that it failed to entice readers into wanting to read more about the Doctor, and it failed to establish an effective companion. The revisit down memory lane was nice for old-school fans, but then again that is what the Past Doctor Book series is for. The Eighth Doctor Adventures are supposed to be forging ahead with a new vision for the series. In the end, this feels more like a pause and reflection rather than an exciting new direction. A bit disappointing. Let's hope Vampire Science is better. 4/10