The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Book Review: Target Novelizations – An Unearthly Child by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and An Unearthly Child by Terrance Dicks
Target Novelizations #68 – First Doctor
Featuring the Doctor, Susan, Ian, & Barbara

Rating: B-

Having previously reviewed the associated serial for this very blog, I was intrigued by the idea of reading the novelization. I find it strange that the very first Doctor Who serial wasn’t novelized until #68 in the line. It strikes me as a bit odd, but the people associated with Doctor Who have never struck me as entirely logical.

As it is, the novelization follows the story on screen pretty much perfectly. I actually think that it works slightly better in written form than it does on screen, though. Most importantly, Dicks is able to give the cavemen a bit more development in the novel that leads to me as a reader having more sympathy for their characters in the book than I did watching the television serial.

It still suffers from the same problem that the show does: the first part is outstanding, and the rest is so-so. For many, the bad set design is part of the charm of the old show, but in the case of this one, I think it is nice that through the novel I am able to know that it is supposed to be a tiger that attacks one of the cavemen in the middle of the story. Based on what I saw on screen, I didn’t realize that was what it was supposed to be at all.

As it is, this is hardly an indispensable novelization, but I enjoyed it. The written word gives a lot more opportunity than a bad budget does, so in many ways it should be expected that the novelization is improvement. In this case, I think Terrance Dicks takes good advantage of the narrative and DOES make improvements on the televised story. Good read.

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