Stone, Dave


2 out of 5

(1 book)

Doctor Who: Heart Of TARDIS

Part of the Past Doctor Adventures series featuring the Second (Patrick Troughton) and Fourth (Tom Baker) Doctors.  The Second Doctor and his companions Jamie and Victoria find themselves in the American town of Lychburg, where a sinister and murderous force is at large.  Meanwhile the Fourth Doctor and Romana discover that a temporal anomaly that the Time Lords warned them of is somehow linked to the disappearance of the Doctor's old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

Okay, first off we'll deal with the elephant in the room.  This book is sometimes classed as a multi-Doctor adventure, but it's important to note that the stories of the two Doctors are almost entirely separate and they never actually interact with one another.  There is a brief scene where they're in the same room at the same time, but the Second Doctor isn't even aware of it.  So if you're looking for a story where different incarnations of the Doctor team up, then look elsewhere (personally, I'd recommend 'The Day of the Doctor' by Steven Moffat).

Unfortunately, the fact that the two storylines only intersect very briefly is this book's biggest problem, quite aside from the missed potential of a multi-Doctor team-up.  Each chapter alternates between the two Doctors and this means that you'll just be getting into the story of one of them only to have the other Doctor's storyline suddenly cut in.  You never actually get chance to become invested in what either of them are up to before the book grinds to a halt and jarringly throws you into the other Doctor's adventure.  It would've been much better if Stone had told much larger sections of each Doctor's tale before cutting across to the other, thereby allowing you to actually get into what's going on and giving the plot chance to build up some pace and momentum.  Unfortunately, the way the author has chosen to structure the book actually makes it incredibly hard to get into at all.

The other major problem I had with this book was Stone's odd and not-entirely-appropriate humour.  Some of it is just too silly or, worse, too smugly self-aware to sit properly in an otherwise serious Doctor Who story.  The worst offenders are where the author, inexplicably, parodies characters and situations from well-known TV series.  For example there are parody versions of The Professionals in the form of the Provisionals, a bar clearly based on Cheers and, weirdest of all, a whole host of characters in Lychburg who are obviously lifted from The Simpsons ("Hello everybody!" "Hi, Doctor Rick!").  It's bizarre, ill-fitting and serves no relevant purpose.

Where Stone does do very well, however, is in his characterisations of the Doctor.  The puckish charm of the Second Doctor comes across brilliantly, as does how much he can frustrate his companions, and the gleefully chaotic nature of the Fourth Doctor is also done great justice.  Both of them come into their own brilliantly in the last third of the book and this does slightly offset what otherwise would've just been a bad book.

2 out of 5


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