on 28 January 2012
Much of the delicious atmosphere of the television original is to be found in this well produced reading, Ian Hogg being a splendid choice. The book adds some detail, although its version of the Doctor as an intolerant character sneering at Victorian society, is some way removed from the TV version, and somewhat dislikeable. The story has dated as much of the 'science' of evolution on which it was based is now largely discredited. Its version of the Neaderthals, synonymous with brutishness and at one time considered to be ignorant, ape-like, stooped and knuckle-dragging, is now very dated, as evidence now suggests that Neanderthals were just as human as us, and the stooped appearance was because of arthritis and rickets. Neanderthals are now recognized as skilled hunters, believers in an after-life, and even skilled surgeons, as seen in one skeleton whose withered right arm had been amputated above the elbow. The problem with taking any prevailing theory as fact is the passing years leave a story in which the Doctor is inhabiting a world that takes failed science as fact, and here it is writer Marc Platt, and his version of the Doctor, not the Victorian society as which the book sneers, that has been found to be wrong.
This is review of the novelisation of the second story of Season 26 of Doctor Who. Season 26 has a number of dark stories in it, where the Doctor develops a darker tone, and it seems evident that he is manipulating events in some way for some purpose. What that purpose is, and how Ace fits into it, is largely a mystery to us. But it makes for stories that are deep and thought-provoking, more so than in Season 25.
When Ace was 14 years old, her friend Manisha’s house was firebombed. Angry, desperate, Ace found herself in an old abandoned house. The Doctor, for his own reasons, takes Ace for a ‘surprise’ visit – where they are going, he doesn’t tell her. But it’s clear to us, even if it isn’t to Ace for a while, that the Doctor has brought her to this old Victorian house to find out what’s going on, and he wants Ace’s input into her experiences there. What they find is beyond Ace’s wildest dreams, or nightmares. And even the Doctor begins to wonder if he can stop the madness at Gabriel Chase.
This is a really good story, right up until the time when Josiah Smith declares his intention to assassinate Queen Victoria. This bit seemed to me to be quite unnecessary in the context of the story. What Smith was doing was quite barmy enough that it didn’t need this bit of apparent Victorian plotting to bring it home. The idea of Control and Light, and their mission, is well portrayed when we find out what’s going on, and the connecting figure of Nimrod is a wonderful character. The concept of the Victorian house, with one set of figures inhabiting it during the day and another set at night is a good background for the Doctor’s interference, and there is a sufficient element of horror as well as gothic mystery and Victorian evolutionism to round off a really good Doctor Who story.
on 26 July 2011
This hugely-underrated serial from the tail-end of the original series' run is a creepy mystery set in a Victorian mansion full of zombie maids, primitive creatures and extremely dark secrets. The Seventh Doctor and Ace were never so well-drawn as they are here, whilst Ian Hogg's subtle narration gives the audio adventure the gravitas and atmosphere it needs. Writer Marc Platt adds a decent stretch of detail to the opening in the form of an extended prologue, explaining exactly how Ace came to be involved with Gabriel Chase (the house) in the first place, and we get a little more background on the enigmatic Josiah Smith as well.
Great tale, superb reading, effective sound effects and that iconic Target cover; sweet.