Davis, Gerry

About the Author

Gerry Davis was born in 1930 and became a television writer and script editor.  In 1966 he became Script Editor for Doctor Who and collaborated with Dr. Kit Pedler to create the Cybermen.  He continued to work with Pedler after leaving Doctor Who on TV projects and on novels.  Davis spent most of the 1980s working in the USA and died in 1991.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

3.3 out of 5

(3 books)

Doctor Who And The Cybermen

Based on the TV serial 'The Moonbase', this book sees the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions Ben, Polly and Jamie facing off against the Doctor's second-most iconic enemy (if you don't know who holds the No. 1 slot, then what are you doing even reading a review of a Doctor Who book?).  Arriving on the Moon in 2070, the Doctor and his friends find themselves trapped in a science station, from where Earth's weather is controlled, at the same time that it comes under siege from the Cybermen.

This book begins well, with a slow-burn build up of mysterious goings-on around the moonbase and some tense scenes of characters being picked off alone in the dark (one of which was the only thing to leave a lasting impression from when I read this book originally as a ten year old).  The characterisation of the Second Doctor is spot on, alternating between buffoon and keen detective, and reminded me why Troughton's version has become one of my favourites of late.

Unfortunately the book does start to drag a bit once the Cybermen make their full and open appearance and my initial enjoyment of the book waned pretty badly.  However, the story picks up again in the last third as the Doctor, his companions and the scientists find themselves besieged and desperate to figure out a way to drive off the implacable Cybermen.

The only other real misstep for Davis here is a product of this book's marketing agenda, meaning that the Cybermen are it's top selling point but featuring them in the title robs the tense first third of the book of the actual mystery.  I can only imagine just how much more enjoyable this story would have been if the reveal that the Cybermen are behind the happenings at the base had come as a total surprise.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who And The Tenth Planet

A novelisation of a TV story, originally co-written by Davis, featuring the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and his companions Ben and Polly.  Arriving at the South Pole in the year 2000 (the distant future, right?), the Doctor and his friends find themselves present at a space tracking station just as a momentous event occurs.  As a space mission begins to veer off course, a new planet is discovered approaching Earth and from that world, Mondas, arrive cybernetic warriors intent on ensuring their planet's survival over Earth's; the Cybermen.

This story represents an important moment in Who history for the double reasons of being the very first story to feature the Cybermen, second only to the Daleks in the Doctor's pantheon of enemies, and of being the final story to feature the First Doctor.  Sometimes novelisations try to get too flowery in their prose to compensate for being based on a script (see Ben Aaronovitch's 'Remembrance of the Daleks') but here Davis wisely keeps things moving at a good pace and spares us unnecessary sidetracking, building the tension of the space-mission-gone-awry perfectly.

There are only really two problems with this book, one of which is not Davis' fault really.  The first problem is that the author wrote this adaption of his own script nearly a decade after the episode was shown on TV and tries to update it.  This means that Ben and Polly now come from the 1970s and the Cybermen on offer, although described as they looked originally, have been changed to seem more in keeping with how the Cybermen were portrayed on screen in the 70s.  It's a somewhat clumsy retcon and, frankly, the book would've been better off without it.

The other, and sadly bigger, problem is that the Doctor himself is minimally involved in the plot.  This, of course, is because on the TV series William Hartnell was quite ill when they were making this and therefore couldn't take as active a part as he otherwise would.  This is covered in the text, with the Doctor being weak as his body 'wears thin' before his first regeneration, but the truth is that a Doctor Who story needs more of the Doctor getting involved than this one has.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who And The Tomb Of The Cybermen

The novelisation of a Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) adventure, originally co-written by Davis himself, in which the Doctor is accompanied by Jamie and Victoria.  Arriving on the planet Telos, the Doctor and his companions join a team of archaeologists intent on opening and exploring the tomb of the long-dead Cybermen.  But there are elements within the group with an ulterior motive and the Cybermen themselves turn out not to be as dead as everyone imagines.

There's a great deal of tension and mystery to this story as we explore the long-sealed tomb alongside the main characters and the Doctor is at his inscrutable best; knowing the dangers being faced and yet indulging his curiosity nonetheless.  The Cybermen themselves are brilliantly potrayed too, showing themselves to be beyond the range of human understanding and far too dangerous and implacable to be manipulated by the plots of the book's human villains.

The reason I didn't like this book more, however, can be laid at the feet of the Doctor's companions.  Whilst it's an interesting idea to have the Time Lord travel to the far future with a Scotsman from the 1700s and girl from the 1900s, the truth is that Jamie and Victoria make for fairly irritating companions.  Jamie's constant beligerance and intermittent "Och aye"s combined with Victoria's yo-yoing from Sufragette to prudish damsel make for some very frustrating scenes.  A real shame in what otherwise could've been a truly great Doctor Who story.

3 out of 5

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