Deadly Reunion seems to be divided clearly into two halves by author.
The first half deals with a young Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart encountering Greek deities (or near deities – this seems to be a prequel to The Daemons). Without the Doctor this drags terribly, a slow moving a muddled start.
The second half (presumably written by Dicks) on the other hand is a joy. Yes, it’s derivative nonsense, but unlike earlier novels Dicks seems to be aware of this, and uses Letts plot as an excuse to run through some comedy routines with the clichés of the Pertwee years.
By any conventional sense this is an appalling novel, but for any fans of the Pertwee era with a sense of humour this is an utterly insane, and very funny, tribute.
The producer and script editor from the third doctor's era reunite to tell us a story. First of a strange encounter that the brigadier had many years ago. And then how the doctor and UNIT get into one of their usual situations. Which ties in with the story of the brigadier's past.
The first part of the book, the brigadier's story, is written by barry letts, who was the producer of the pertwee time. Not having done as many books as terrance dicks, his style is a little less familiar. It's readable stuff that tells a reasonably interesting story, although it has little resolution as a result of needing to tie into what follows.
In the next part, terrance dicks, script editor of the time and author of many novelisations of doctor who stories, brings us a typical UNIT tale. After his last book [warmonger] turned out to be very disappointing, this is a bit of a return to form. It's not the best thing he's ever written, but it's a readable if predictable third doctor story.
And that's what I expected this book to be. If that's what you want from it, you won't be disappointed
on 11 August 2004
One of the staples of "trad" (traditional) Who fiction is Terrance Dicks. He first joined the show in 1968, was the script editor for the entire Third Doctor era (1970-73), and has written many of the classic Who episodes. He's even written some of the new Dr. Who fiction since the television series ended. Barry Letts was the producer for the entire Third Doctor era. So you'd think that, writing a Third Doctor book, they could do no wrong. Right? Well, sort of.
Deadly Reunion is a 40th anniversary Who special, and in doing that Dicks and Letts have written a wonderful homage to the TV show. Unfortunately, what they forgot to do is make an interesting book. Sure, there's a lot of Who nostalgia in it, especially Third Doctor nostalgia. However, considering that Third Doctor fans are only a small part of a rather small to begin with fan base, you have to wonder who they're trying to cater to? And why they couldn't write a good book on top of the nostalgia trip. It can be done. Not this time.
Deadly Reunion throws in bits of Dr. Who clichés all over the place. There's the companion, running from the bad guys, tripping and injuring her ankle. There's Sergeant Benton threatening to "thump" somebody. There's the Third Doctor's Venusian Aikido. There's the Doctor's penchant for name dropping (he talks about running with the bulls with Ernest Hemingway, or "Ernie" as he calls him). An old friend stopping by (though he's really inconsequential and obviously just in there for the anniversary). Sedate English village where trouble is brewing. It's all there, in point form. Unfortunately, Dicks has also acquired some new, somewhat distasteful clichés as well. There's the numerous references to the possibilities of rape (first Sephie and then Jo), which just gave me the willies. It's like your elderly uncle sitting down and telling you sexual stories. Ick.
Then there are the structural problems. In fact, there's one huge internal continuity problem that I don't know how it was missed. When Jo and the Doctor are going down to Hob's Haven to get tickets for the festival, it's supposed to take place "next week." Then, events happen, but they're all confined to one day. All of a sudden, they're talking about the festival beginning "tomorrow night." Huh? There's no mention of it being moved up. In fact, the timeline is a bit suspect no matter how you think about it. All of the sequences involving Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates seem like they would have to take place over a matter of a couple of days, but given the text of the book, it's impossible for them to have done so. It all has to happen the same day. It was enough to tax my mind as I was trying to figure out just what was happening when.
I also had a problem with Lethbridge-Stewart falling in love that quickly. He sees Persephone and he's immediately in love. This is not like him at all. However, there is no indication there was any kind of mind-control, even unconsciously, on Persephone's part. She talks like she's instantly in love with him too. It was just too unbelievable, even more so if you know Lethbridge-Stewart's character like most Who fans do.
There are some good parts to the book, though. With the exception of Lethbridge-Stewart falling in love so quickly, all of the main characters are tremendous. These two authors know their Third Doctor and friends, and it's like old home week. The Doctor is wonderfully arrogant but also kind-hearted. He's offended when he's mistaken for one of the pop stars that are coming to the festival. He's witty and I can almost hear Jon Pertwee's voice when he's thundering at the policeman who can't seem to realize that somebody cannot cut their own head off cleanly with a scythe. Deadly Reunion was a wonderfully cozy book on this front.
Unfortunately, as the book was drawing to a close, I couldn't see any way out of it but the obvious deus ex machina. Granted, this was what the Doctor was trying to do in the first place, so I guess it doesn't totally fit that expression. I was hoping, though, that he would fail and figure out some other way to defeat the menace. I was wrong. The ending is trite, and more importantly, doesn't even use the "love" that's between Persephone and the Brigadier. When you think about it, there's no point for the love story between them, as it's only responsible for setting the brigadier off on a macho military plan that he ultimately would have decided to do anyway, even without the love story. Why was this in there? There's no "Aha!! Lethbridge-Stewart! So we meet again!" confrontation between the Brigadier and Hades. They never even interact again! I was left shaking my head.
I've gone on longer than this book probably deserves. It's a bit of nostalgic fluff, and it won't amount to any more than that. Thankfully, it doesn't try to. It won't be of interest to anybody but a Who fan, as it's not well-written enough to attract anybody else. Even a Who fan will see all its flaws. The question will be: are you so much a fan of Dicks and the Third Doctor that you will overlook it? I'm glad I read it, but I won't be racing to read it again.