Munro, Rona


3 out of 5

(1 book)

Doctor Who: Survival

The novelisation of Munro's own script for the final televised story of the classic era of Doctor Who, featuring the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace.  Returning to Perivale, the Doctor and Ace discover that not only have people been disappearing but a strange plague of particularly vicious cats is troubling the area.  Their investigations will lead them to the planet of the Cheetah People and into a confrontation with one of the Doctor's oldest foes.

To say that the TV version of 'Survival' had a troubled history would be an understatement, as it ran into all sorts of problems largely based around the BBC's determination to run Doctor Who into the ground in order to justify cancelling the show.  It has to be said, however, that the story presented here by Munro is far from a strong one and definitely not a fitting end for the Doctor (thankfully, good sense would prevail and the Doctor would return, albeit after a long break).

The problem is primarily that the scenes on the planet of the Cheetah People are pretty dull.  Also, the hamfisted concepts involved mean that I have to use phrases like 'the planet of the Cheetah People' when reviewing it and those concepts are every bit as silly as they sound.  The ending also proves to be a rushed anticlimax.

It's not all bad and there are two elements which elevate the story ever so slightly.  The first is simply having Ace return to Perivale where "Nothing ever happens", which serves to highlight how much she's grown as a character through her travels with the Doctor.  You really get a sense that her world has grown far too large for her to ever return to 'normal' life (I love Ace as a character... and not just because I had a huge crush on her back in 1989...).  The other element that I liked here were the early interactions between the Doctor and the Master.  Sure, the later ones devolve into the pantomime villain tone of so many of Anthony Ainlee's performances, but those early ones are great.  There's a brilliant moment where the Doctor realises that it is the fact that he's just slightly better at everything than the Master that is the very source of the other Time Lord's emnity and he wonders how different things would be if he's just let the Master win the trophies at the academy that he himself didn't actually care about.  It's a great bit of insight and I loved how strained the Master is when he has to acknowledge that he needs the Doctor's help.

3 out of 5


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