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on 16 August 1999
From dashing young officer to eco-terrorist to wannabe Buddhist in the space of three stories, Captain Mike Yates enjoyed a remarkable character development for a Doctor Who companion. Deep Blue is an attempt to fill in the blanks between the Boy's Own-style Mike Yates who appeared as the man from the ministry in The Green Death and the 'traitor' who pulled a gun on the Doctor in The Invasion of the Dinosaurs.
It also neatly pairs him up with a Doctor not dissimilar to himself in terms of manner, appearance and outward age - number five, to be precise. This calls for a little creative jiggery-pokery - what are the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough doing in a Pertwee-era UNIT adventure? - but Morris handles it well. There's a touch of Robert Holmes about his style: the premise might not be the most startling or original (this is that old chestnut about little green men) but the pacing, insight and, above all, characterisation lift it to another level. Personally, I haven't watched a Fifth Doctor adventure since The Caves of Androzani was broadcast so I was stunned by the way he, Tegan and Turlough, and the UNIT regulars for that matter, sprang to life before my eyes. I know, I know - every reviewer seems to say that about these new BBC novels. But that's what puts them above other TV/movie tie-in novels: the original TV characters were so memorably written and acted that, unless the author makes a complete hash of it, the reader finds them coming to life again with very little mental effort on his or her part.
As for the set-up, well it's those damned alien invaders again, this time plaguing an English seaside resort. Why do aliens keep trying to invade Earth in the late twentieth century? Surely it's becoming a bit passe, like an intergalactic Majorca. I mean, everyone goes there. Why not try somewhere a little off the tourist trail, like Mondas or Skaro? Anyway, Morris tells the story well - suspenseful build-up in the first part, all-out action in the second - and brings a neat twist at the end. His division of the book into four large chapters, following the classic four-episode format of the series, is a nice touch too.
Deep Blue is a corking read and I suspect, like those late night Pertwee/Baker video sessions some of us indulge in, an excuse to wallow in a little seventies nostalgia. It also raises the galling thought that somewhere, in a parallel universe, Doctor Who is still on the air in that magical tea-time slot and, thanks to digital effects and a new generation of script writers like Morris, McIntee, Perry and Tucker, enjoying another long-overdue golden age.
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on 10 August 2000
Firstly I must say, the characterisations in this book are excellent. From the 5th Doctor right through the Tegan, Turlough and onwards they're all top notch, ditto for the guest cast. When faced with the horrifying situation that they all end up in, this only adds to to drama and the excitement. The writer has added little flairs and touches to all the regular characeters we're already familiar with, making them seem exactly as we remember them - especially Tegan and Turlough, and in particular the 5th Doctor. As the book gets grimmer and even more bleak and -dare I say it- actually scarier as it goes on, you just have to turn the page to see what's going to happen next because the plot is so compelling (if slightly familiar to many sci-fi buffs). After finishing it, I let out a huge sigh of relief and then contemplated what had happened - it's exhaustingly thrilling to read. It definitely ISNT typical Doctor Who and I can see why people say it isnt, but whether you like it or not will depend on your own personal taste. We'd never have seen an episode like this onscreen because it is much too sinister for the tea-time audience... but my, what a rush. A must-read for 5th Doctor fans.
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on 1 June 2001
At first this seemed an odd choice for a fifth Doctor story, especially with the inclusion of UNIT but Mark Morris carries it off convincingly without too many problems, and it has to be said that his characterisations of the Doctor and companions are very good. The story started out brilliantly, with a truly sinister and horrifying air pervading the seaside town of Tayborough Sands, but the final half seemed to drag somewhat and was not as effective as the earlier scenes. Frequently the violence and horror got in the way of simple decent storytelling and the ending was disappointing and seemed a bit of a desperate cop-out. I felt the whole thing needed more background and explanation, I would have loved to learn more about the Xaranti and their ship and and their whole plan...sadly, just not enough. In the end, too much gore and just not enough juicy plot to maintain interest. Great ideas, but ultimately unsatisfying.
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on 18 January 2017
A strange light off the coast of a seaside town attracts the attention of UNIT. Recovering from his ordeal at the hands of BOSS during the events at Llanfairfach, Mike Yates is sent to investigate only to discover that Tayborough Sands is at the forefront of an alien incursion. Fortunately, the Doctor arrives to assist, only it is not the Doctor UNIT were expecting.

In many ways this novel has all the hallmarks of a typical UNIT story; albeit one with an over emphasis on gore and an extremely high body count. As such, it raises the question of why this story features the Fifth Doctor. There’s no real reason why the Third Doctor and Jo couldn’t replace the Fifth and Tegan, particularly with Tegan teaming up with Yates in the latter stages. Turlough also features in the story, however, but, although he is reasonably well characterised, he doesn’t really have that much to do and the novel could do without his role.

Although, there does seem to be the vague semblance of subplot that might have arose from common ground between Tegan (as there are a couple of references to Tegan’s possession by the Mara) and Mike, whose mindset is clearly somewhere between his possession during ‘The Green Death’ and his decision to later join Operation Golden Age. The novel certainly hints at this, and there is a commonality between them, but it doesn’t seem to really materialise though in any substantial way.

The characterisation of the regulars is quite strong and this is a particularly good role for Tegan. Even the Fifth Doctor (who often seems to me to be the incarnation of the Doctor that rarely feels quite right in most novels, usually coming over a little bland) is grasped pretty well.

Although the novel generally has a lot of strong characters all-round, the villains of the piece, the Xaranti, aren’t particularly inspiring. They feel a little like a copy of the Wirrn in that mutate other lifeforms into themselves, exercising a kind of possession by the hive mind during the process and assimilate their victims’ knowledge. The suggestions in the book that they plan to take on the Daleks, Cybermen, Zygons and numerous others is a bit laughable. Their queen entity seems like quite an interesting concept but it appears very briefly and thus does not have long to interact with the Doctor. Its modus operandi is also a bit dubious and allows the Doctor a fairly easy resolution/victory.
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on 5 December 2013
5th Doctor PDA's are usually fairly dull, mainly due to Peter Davison's mild mannered version of the Doctor. In order for the novel to be any good, it needs to have an interesting or powerful story to drive it (The Ultimate Treasure), otherwise it becomes boring (Zeta Major). As the author of Deep Blue, Mark Morris, gave us the brilliance that was The Bodysnatchers and I was hopeful for a decent story, I sort of got it.

The plot of Deep Blue revolves around an alien race landing in the sea and contaminating animals and human to spawn more of their race. People's bodies erupt when the alien emerges, and the resulting aliens like ripping limbs off and killing in brutal ways. It is safe to say that Deep Blue is a horror, which isn't to everyone's taste, myself included usually. As the story goes on it transpires that the vast majority of the humans in the book are slowly turning into the aliens, which is a nice touch, especially when you see the struggle to stay in control. Sadly the plot does stall a little at around the halfway mark, and it becomes a zombie novel, with the cast running away through deserted streets. I thought the ending was actually really well done. Yes it is all wrapped up a little too cleanly, but the big reveal as to the contaminations source was a good concept.

As previously mentioned the 5th Doctor is just dull in whatever guise he appears, that said Mark Morris does a good job of recreating his TV persona but he didn't really have much to recreate. Companion wise we have the mouthy Tegan and the slimy Turlough, as well as Mike Yates from UNIT who is actually a fairly decent companion for once. However once the rest of UNIT shows up he fades into obscurity as usual.

The alien race, the Xaranti, are a joke however.. They are also a group minded race, a plot point far overused in both the PDA's and the EDA's, and a race which seems to like gory killings for no real reason. The "infection" plot point is interesting, but the aliens themselves are not which is a shame. Likewise an alien which is a cross between a scorpion and a bull really isn't a sign of originality.

Deep Blue is an interesting horror story which is a lot better than it sounds on the cover blurb. It has some major strengths in its setting and characterization but parts of the plot and narrative do feel slow at times. It's not a must read by any stretch but it's entertaining nonetheless.
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on 26 March 1999
Deep Blue presents an intriguing scenario of germ warfare with an alien twist. People turning into creepy critters after being exposed to a virus is not an original concept but the author handles it pretty well. The characters are somewhat tepid, the main focus seems to lean more towards the transformation of the populus than charcter development. Also, Turlough (the most underused assistant IMHO) is not involved nearly enough. The author misses out on some really witty one-liners by keeping him in the background.
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on 1 June 2014
This a great Doctor Who Book that certainly doesn't shy away from Horror. One thing a don't like is the way Turlough is written. He seems to be a well written character on screen but not in written form, he isn't very good in The King Of Terror. The 5th Doctor and Tegan will always be my favourite Doctor and Companion and they are well used in this book. It is entertaining and rattles along at a great pace.
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on 14 April 2003
Inspired by the magnificent Bodysnatchers (another Dr Who title from Mark Morris), I thought I'd read this, his second contribution to the series. As in Bodysnatchers, here he revels in the ability to concoct the most stomach churningly disgusting scenarios, happy in the knowledge that it never has to be made. The joys of writing over filming, perhaps.
And there's PLENTY of blood and guts to worry about. Limbs fly, huge spider things (Xaranti I think they're called) clamber around ripping people apart... the book STARTS with somebody dying messily on a boat. Natured the Doctor and chums turn up, get involved (with ex UNIT guy Mike, before or after his transition to becoming a Monk, I'm not sure...) and Tegan meets a guy. This guy dies... messily of course... along with a huge portion of the population of the town they're in. It gets to quite chaotically messy levels, and yet ends in a limp, painfully half-arsed way.
Yes, the Doctor asks the alien leader to leave. And the aliens leave, presto. Memories are erased, and everything's peachy. Er, did I miss something? Hundreds are dead, blood's everywhere, and he just ASKS them to go away? It's such a huge cop-out after a moderately impressive gore-fest. Still, the book is enjoyable for the most part: "There's a monster on the beach, sir!" This would have been an impressively adult TV episode, were it not rounded off with such a lame resolution.
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on 24 February 2000
I didn't enjoy this book. In my humble opinion it is too like a horror movie than Dr Who and also relies on past Dr Who for a lot of the intrest (UNIT etc.). My advice: avoid.
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