THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

Resurrection of the Daleks
TSV Books
Doctor Who - Resurrection of the Daleks

Author Jon Preddle Cover image
Published 1992
Cover Alistair Hughes

Back cover blurb: Caught in a time corridor, the TARDIS is drawn to an abandoned warehouse in London, 1984 where the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough encounter a bomb disposal squad investigating the discovery of mysterious alien objects. In the far future, the Daleks and their human mercenaries attack a space station prison to release Davros, who has been frozen for ninety years. The Daleks have lost their war with the Movellans and require a cure for the virus that is destroying their race. Davros, however, has other plans for his creations. As the Doctor fights to prevent the Daleks from carrying out their evil schemes, even the TARDIS crew cannot escape untouched by the tragic events unfolding around them...


Reviews

Journey's End (for Classic Series Novelisations) by Andrew Feryok 24/9/12

'My Aunt Vanessa said when I became an air stewardess, "if you stop enjoying it, give it up."'
At the mention of Tegan's late aunt, the Doctor recalled that fateful day on the Barnet bypass. It seemed so long ago, but somehow he still felt responsible for the incident. 'Tegan...' he began, trying to find the words to say.
She held up a silencing hand. 'It's stopped being fun, Doctor. Goodbye.' Tegan inverted her hand and extended it in a gesture of farewell.
- Tegan says goodbye to the Doctor, Chapter 12

This is yet another in the series of unofficial novelisations published by the fan group TSV after Target and Virgin failed to publish an official novelisation. By strange coincidence of scheduling, it ended up being the last novelisation of a classic episode (TV stories only and not spin-offs) to be novelized... in 2000! The book was actually written by Paul Scoones not long after the publishing of the first TSV book: Doctor Who and Shada. However, when Target announced that Eric Saward was planning to write novelisations for Resurrection and Revelation of the Daleks around the time John Peel was writing Power and Evil of the Daleks, plans for this book were halted. However, Eric Saward backed out once again and work resumed on this book, leading to its late publishing. With this book, the classic series novelisations were finally complete and fans could enjoy every episode of the TV show from An Unearthly Child to the TV Movie with Paul McGann in print. TSV had set a high standard of quality with their other novelisations, could their final entry hold up as well?

Well, the novelisation had an uphill battle with this particularly reader since Resurrection of the Daleks was one of my least favorite Peter Davison stories. I can still remember one Christmas when my parents bought me a VHS collection from a catalog of every Dalek story put out up to that point. Resurrection of the Daleks was one of those stories that had instantly captured my attention and was the first one I popped into the VCR. After all, Peter Davison was my third favorite Doctor after Troughton and Tom Baker, and I adored Earthshock which pitted him against the Cybermen. But after watching the story, I was sorely disappointed. It didn't make much sense, the plot was convoluted and focused too heavily on the bad guys (specifically Davros), and seemed to put the Doctor into an utterly useless subplot. Not to mention the violence was ratcheted up to such heights that it seemed pretty senseless. My hard-line view of the story has softened a bit of late since I can now appreciate the stylishness of the direction and appreciate Davison's subtle performance. But still, it remains an unlikable story for me so Scoones had a large job trying to convince me this was going to be a good story in print.

Once again, TSV blew my expectations out of the water. As with the Revelation of the Daleks novelisation, Scoones rearranges the pacing of the story so that the Doctor's contributions are more evenly spread out to make him feel more central to the story. The plot is still convoluted, especially the Supreme Dalek's inexplicable decision to suddenly kill off Davros and all of their agents simply because the writer demanded it since they were running out of time. But Scoones does a great job clumping scenes together so that they unfold in a much more organized manner than the jumping around manner of a TV story.

In the behind-the-scenes article Scoones wrote about the making of the novelisation, he cited Ben Aaronovitch as his model and inspiration for the adaptation. I can certainly see why since Aaronovitch's novelisation raised the bar for the novelisations and became the template for much of the Doctor Who book series that followed during the Wilderness Years. However, Scoones only really seems to take this inspiration in one segment: Chapter 5 when the Dalek hunts the Doctor and Colonel Archer's men in the warehouse after the resolution of the Part 1 cliffhanger. This sequence is told from the point of view of the Dalek as it hunts and kills the troops. It even identifies the Doctor as the Ka Faraq Gatri and opens the chapter with an excerpt from the Dalek history books. This is all marvelously written and perfectly in keeping with Aaronovitch's style. But sadly the rest of the book is nothing like this and he takes more after Terrance Dicks with a simple style that efficiently tells the story with only enough changes to fill in plot holes. Although, he does fill in one major plot hole: how does Davros escape for Revelation of the Daleks when he clearly dies from the Movellan virus at the end of the story. Scoones fixes this by having the Dalek Supreme detect the launching of an escape pod seconds before the space station explodes.

Scoones does a marvelous job with the characters in the story. There's a great moment where we see the awakening of Davros from Davros' point of view. Lytton comes across as a professional and cold killer, but also vulnerable as he tries to stay one step ahead of being exterminated. Mercer and Styles have a great rapport with each other and while Stein being a Dalek spy still doesn't make sense when given the evidence of the opening of the story, he still comes across as one of the most interesting characters in the second half of the story. Even the Dalek Supreme gets some characterization as power hungry and paranoid. I really hadn't appreciated until now just how much the Daleks are restored to their old scheming selves in this story since it is made clear just how many balls the Dalek Supreme is juggling as it tries to manipulate enemies and allies into positions favorable to its objectives.

Tegan comes across particularly strong in this story and Scoones does a better job of building up her departure. Every time Tegan witnesses a senseless death or a grisly alien blob, we see a piece of her chipping away. She becomes more and more disgusted as she goes on, particularly when she witnesses both the treasure hunter by the Thames and Professor Laird gunned down for no reason whatsoever in a short amount of time. Therefore, when Tegan finally announces that she's not going with the Doctor, her decision makes much more logical and emotional sense. Scoones plays Tegan's leaving scene beautifully and ties in the Doctor's guilt over the death of her Aunt Vanessa which is a burden we've never seen him carry before until now. And we also get the sense of weight that the Doctor takes on his shoulders as the departure of Tegan causes him to shoulder the full blame for all the violence, death, and deception that has occurred. Turlough rightly points out that the Doctor can't possibly be fully responsible since he was more of a pawn in proceedings than anything else and it was the Daleks and their troopers who did most of the killing. But the Doctor is not convinced and vows grimly to mend his ways thus setting up his imminent departure two stories from now.

On the whole, this is a marvelous novelisation that keeps up the standard of the TSV novelisations well. I was most nervous about this novelisation because, unlike the other Tom Baker and Colin Baker novels, this one was not a comedy and was the only one for which I did not like the original story. But Scoones crafts a marvelous novelisation bringing Eric Saward's epic Dalek story to print in style and brings the novelisation series for the classic TV stories to a close. The novelisations had come a long way and they ended on a high note. Now if only we could convince the BBC to adapt the new series stories.


Resurrection of the Novelization by Jason A. Miller 21/7/13

The TSV novelizations exist to adapt stories to which Target hadn't acquired rights in the early '90s. It's important to bear in mind, going in, that their novelization of Resurrection of the Daleks is a fan-authored work, now over 20 years old. Paul Scoones is a capable writer and did clever things with Saward's script. Page by page, it's not the smoothest read, but overall, the book improves the TV product, and that's the highest compliment you can pay any novelization.

In his foreword, Scoones tips his cap to Ben Aaronovitch's seminal novelization of Remembrance of the Daleks. He opens the book itself with epigraphs from Genesis of the Daleks and Destiny of the Daleks and follows by rewriting the final scene of the preceding story, Frontios - much as Aaronovitch opened his book with a scene from An Unearthly Child. There are several other Aaronovitchian touches: the use of the term ka faraq gatri; a sequence in Chapter 5 in which a lone Dalek hunts the Doctor from its own POV (although, oddly, when that Dalek is disabled, Scoones doesn't carry over the POV to the following scenes of the Kaled mutant trying to survive - a huge missed opportunity). We also read more from that fictitious 41st-century reference work "The Children of Davros, a Short History of the Dalek Race, Vol. XIX".

Apart from aping Aaronovitch, Scoones radically restructures the TV story, which, as much as I love it, is still jumpy and rushed. Resurrection on TV was produced as a four-part story but famously was converted into a double-length two parter to accommodate the 1984 Winter Olympics; a four-part version aired in the US and is also available in DVD, albeit with the cliffhangers cut in different places in each version. Scoones eliminates these discrepancies by telling his chapters by locale, rather than in the episode's scene order. Chapter 1 is limited to action in Shad Thames and Chapter 2 takes place in deep space. Scoones wisely defers the Daleks' first appearance to the end of Chapter 3, after the TARDIS has arrived; this vastly improves the Part One cliffhanger from the US and DVD releases. There is then a glorious match-cut to the Dalek invasion of the space prison, here delayed until Chapter 4. Davros' appearance, clumsily revealed on TV about 20 minutes into the story, becomes the kicker that ends Chapter 4. ("The progenitor of evil had been released.") One unintended effect of the reorganization, however, is that certain characters disappear from the book for what seems like years at a time, most notably Turlough, Mercer and Dr. Styles.

Unfortunately, the prose is a bit below Target standards. Scoones at times seems concerned with slavishly transcribing on-screen effects, for example, giving us a six-sentence description of a transmat effect; this is Doctor Who, we know how transmats work. Clunky run-on sentences abound: "Stien sat huddled against the railing of a rusty iron catwalk, high above the street, in the shadow of the building opposite the warehouse so that he could not be seen from the road." Or, even worse:

The plan had been carefully and meticulously worked out over the past ninety years from information provided by the computer sphere the Daleks had given him to study back on Skaro shortly before he was abducted and frozen into cryogenic suspension by that being known as the Doctor.
Not exactly crying out for a lush audiobook realization, is it? In another less-than-adept move, Sergeant Calder, the ill-fated bomb squad member, is referred to as "burly". I ask you... has there ever been a Sergeant who was not burly? Have we ever had a lean, or wiry, or slim Sergeant? Ever? I'd even settle for a zaftig Sergeant at this point.

Because this is a book marketed exclusively to fandom, Scoones was able to include numerous continuity references without fear of alienating the casual reader. The space prison is set near Cassius, the solar system's mythical tenth planet, previously referenced only obliquely in The Sun Makers. When the TARDIS first lands on Shad Thames, Scoones inserts a long string of continuity references to Doctor Who stories that took place nearby. In another neat touch, the Doctor's skin prickles upon arrival - a physical reaction to the Daleks' imminent presence that was mentioned only once before, in The War Machines way back in 1966. Scoones also does a little more with Turlough, giving POV shots to his off-screen disappearance in Part One and elaborating on his innate cowardice. Lastly, Scoones decides that the bomb squad is UNIT-affiliated and that Professor Laird is actually UNIT's scientific adviser. As if Laird's death wasn't upsetting enough, Scoones invests it with even more emotional weight.

In addition to the reorganization of the story and the continuity references, Scoones also creates scenes that add value. When Turlough stumbles across a room full of Dalek duplicates, here, they creepily begin to move. The space station's self-destruct mechanism is made more complex, which helps explain why it took forever to operate on TV. Dr. Laird' death is prolonged, with one added beat providing a little more suspense; on TV, she died the second that her plot utility ended, but here, the moment is a little more organic and atmospheric. Mercer also takes a moment to wish that he and Laird had been better friends -- until Tegan leaves, the one moment of genuine humanity in the book. Oh, and in case you were curious, Leela is added to the Doctor's memories of his prior companions, after being notoriously forgotten when Ian Levine assembled the on-screen montage. Less impressive is Scoones lending arbitrary first names (Roylan, Korin, Aliza, Phin) to characters who didn't have any. Colonel Archer is somewhat manipulatively given a first name (David) only in the moment of his death. However, there's still one bit that I'm surprised Scoones didn't fix. There's a famous plot hole in the TV episode where Davros has to be told about what happened in Destiny of the Daleks, his previous story, as if he were not there to begin with. Scoones for some reason doesn't fill this hole in, which is rather surprising given his inclusion of continuity references to Terror of the Zygons and The War Machines.

The book has to end with Tegan's departure; Tegan has been sickened by the slaughter and opts to remain on Earth. Scoones prolongs the moment, allowing Tegan a moment of self-doubt after the TARDIS takes off without her and, in an epilogue, has her wonder what she's going to do with the rest of her life, now that she's no longer an air hostess. This is an important question to ask. Almost 30 years later, many of us are still wondering whatever became of Tegan Jovanka.