Holmes, Robert


4 out of 5

(1 book)

Doctor Who: The Two Doctors

The 100th book in the Target Doctor Who series, novelising Holmes' own original script.  The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companion Jamie are sent on a mission by the Time Lords to put a stop to some dangerous experiments into time travel aboard a research spacestation.  When they run into betrayal and peril, the Doctor's Sixth incarnation (Colin Baker), with his companion Peri, has to attempt to rescue his earlier self from the warlike Sontarans and the vicious Androgums.

Unlike the previous multi-Doctor stories 'The Three Doctors' and 'The Five Doctors' (both novelised by Terrance Dicks), 'The Two Doctors' was not an anniversary special and suffered somewhat from not being produced as a special event.  In fact, the televised version of this story was just awful; with a car-crash of a plot, notoriously wobbly sets, bad location shooting and terrible costume/creature design.  Its only redeeming features were great performances by the titular two Doctors.

The book, however, is a different story, ironically, despite being  the same story.  Here Holmes gets to expand on the internal motivations of the characters involved meaning that things that came across and inexplicable or contrived on screen actually feel justified here.  Similarly both the new aliens, the Androgums, and the iconic Sontarans are allowed to become a bit more impressive in your mind's eye here.  Instead of actors in bad costumes, you can genuinely picture the Sontaran warriors in their full armour or the vicious giant Shockeye lumbering about the place.  Just about every flaw that there was in the onscreen version of this story is addressed and fixed by Holmes in his adaption, giving us the enjoyable romp that he obviously originally envisoned the story as.

One flaw that isn't fixed is that, despite being a multi-Doctor story, the two Doctors actually spent very little time interacting with one another.  This is a real shame because it's seeing how the different incarnations of this same character react to one another (the snarky rivalry between the Second and Third remains the best) that otherwise make multi-Doctor stories so enjoyable.  However, mitigating that is the fact that the Sixth Doctor is on unusually fine form here and the much-loved Second Doctor is even better.  Watching the TV version you can't help but note that Troughton and Fraser Hines are obviously far older than they were in the Second Doctor's era of the show but here, without the visual clues to the real-world time gap since their last adventure, it genuinely feels like revisiting Troughton's Doctor in his prime.  And since the Second is one of my favourites, I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Overall, I found this book astonishingly enjoyable considering it shares all the same elements as the TV story, which I loathed.

4 out of 5


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