Ghost Light - What the hell is going on?

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Mark_Nguyen, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    I'd rate Bannermen as the second best story of that season... but I'd still probably put it in my all time bottom five.
     
  2. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Paradise Towers is my fave S24 serial. An outstanding script let down by a pretty ropy production.
     
  3. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Heh, I've always liked Dragonfire and Paradise Towers, and Time and The Rani, I've learned to appreciate, despite it's cheezy Rani-ness, I enjoy the aliens and their story and subjugation, the most awful part about it is 2 Mels <Shudder>

    Just like The Twin Dilemma, if you strip "Wemus and Womulus" out of it, it'd be a pretty good story, IMHO.
     
  4. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I like The Twin Dilemma too. The worst stories for me are Voyage of the Damned, End of Time, The Doctor's Daughter and Planet of the Dead. Absolute lowest common denominator stuff.

    There's no classic serial I can think of that bugs me as much, or I find as obnoxiously anti-intellectual and stupid. Their worst crimes tend to be being boring (Hi, Galaxy 4!) or lazy (Bonjour, Timelash!). They never offend my moral sensibilities.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Time and the Rani" may not be particularly good, but trust me, the novelization is immeasurably worse. It was written on a very simplistic level, dumbed down for the kiddies in a way that most Doctor Who novelizations never were even though they were written for children. The most stupid thing I remember about it is that, one, it represented the Tetraps' alien language by just writing English words backward, and two, the narration actually explained to the reader that the alien language was just English words written backward!
     
  6. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    On the subject of terrible novelizations, I rank "The Twin Dilemma" as atrocious. Granted it seemed like the author was REALLY hard tasked to pad out the insanely thin plot, but he was adding in long and irrelevant sidebars about alcohol, teleportation, and regeneration (the only neat one in retrospect, about a time lord who forced himself to regenerate after passing on from a VERY good-looking body that had been getting him praise and power).

    I really did try to like "Ghost Light", or at least to understand it (and the previous summation did help a bit). I can get how some people can like it's extreme abstractness, but I think it's a little TOO far out, or experimental for my taste. I just have a hard time relating to it.

    Moving to an examination of McCoy's tenure in general, his three years show three pretty distinct portrayals of the character. The first was a (BBC-dictated, I believe), clownish impression of Patrick Troughton's incarnation. The second (and my favorite of the three) saw the Doctor as a more efficient and less goofy traveler, cleaning up a loose ends from his past (Renaissance, Nemesis) and more importantly laying the groundwork for his darker, manipulative side that we see in S26. Compared to most other Doctors, this one had a heck of a character development arc, and it was a pleasure to watch.

    Just have to get through "Survival" now and I'll have finished my tour of the Seventh Doctor's stories, 1996 movie nonwithstanding. I also noticed how this final season not only has little dependence on the TARDIS (one short scene in a hastily-cobbled together set is all we get), but it's completely bound to Earth. Probably the first year since Pertwee to have adventures as such, which was oddly carried forward into the first season of the new series...

    Mark
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, I liked Saward's digressions in the "Twin Dilemma" novelization. It was nice to see him fleshing out the universe with those little asides rather than just describing what happened onscreen. It reminded me of the similar approach David Gerrold used in his one original Star Trek novel, The Galactic Whirlpool, which has always been one of my favorites.

    And it wasn't that odd that the new series started out mostly Earthbound. It was done that way to ease new viewers into the series, let them get used to it before it headed out for more exotic realms. For some reason, there's a perception that the current generation of TV viewers isn't all that interested in space-based stories, which is part of why there are so few on US television anymore. Perhaps it's because it's been so long since humans attempted to travel beyond Earth orbit in real life.
     
  8. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    The Pip and Jane Baker novelisations always read to me as if they'd sat down with a video of the serial and a dictaphone and then transcribed up their 'writer's commentary' "Oh, that means Holy Grail int he Tetrap language. It's backwards, you see..." "Oh, it's the MAster, what evil plan has he got up his leeve, kiddies?"
     
  9. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Doctor Who easily has the best novel range of any sci-fi franchise. The novelizations are generally mediocre with a few classics (Ben Aaronovitch's Remembrance of the Daleks is top dollar!) but the VNAs and EDAs are outstanding ranges.

    If we're talking bad Doctor Who books, The Eight Doctors is utter jizz-covered shit. Terrance Dicks is a sacred cow that should be put down.
     
  10. Nagisa Furukawa

    Nagisa Furukawa Commander Red Shirt

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    Agreed. From the novelizations to PDAs to the outstanding Telos novellas, there's a seriously unfair amount of genuinely good literature published as Doctor Who stories. Okay, not on the level of, say, Dune or The Foundation series, but tie-ins that aren't just interested in filling in some gap of the show and bringing back some obscure character (mind you, there's a ton of those in DW lit too). The VNAs ARE the continuation of the show for me.

    The beginning and end of the novelization range were excellent. At the beginning, writers like Malcolm Hulke (whose novelization Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters is better than his TV story Doctor Who and the Silurians) and even Dicks were genuinely trying, and then towards the end, the actual writers of the Seventh Doctor stories were doing their own novelizations and were treated seriously again.

    It's only that lull in the middle years where every single novelization was written by Dicks and every single one was some 90 page leaflet summary of a TV ep that the range wanes interest.

    Indeed. To be honest, even though the VNAs were by no means perfect, I'd hesitate to call the EDAs an outstanding range due to the sheer amount of missteps, bad decisions, and useless, mediocre books, but you're right; any range that can produce Alien Bodies, The Blue Angel, Father Time, City of the Dead, and The Adventuress of Henrietta Street deserves to be called outstanding.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    On the other hand, Pip and Jane Baker did their own novelizations, and they sucked.

    And I have a certain fondness for Dicks's novelizations. They weren't great literature, but they were nice, straightforward, accessible adaptations, and they had a comforting familiarity to them. I mean, it was Dicks who gave us the archetypal description of the "peculiar wheezing, groaning sound" of the TARDIS. And then there was the Third Doctor's "young-old face," and other such recurring descriptive phrases.
     
  12. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I dislike Dicks' straightforward and cosy style. The two things Doctor Who should never be.

    Also, I can't believe Nagisa forgot to mention Faction Paradox in his post detailing Doctor Who literature.
     
  13. Atticus

    Atticus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Dicks's work falls into two periods. His earlier novelizations are pretty decent - DIoE memorably has the opening line "Through the ruin of a city stalked the ruin of a man" - but latterly he was effectively chained to a desk by Target and had to pump out volume after volume to fill the gaps of stories not yet covered. These books, the like of Planet of Giants and The Space Pirates, are very bare bones, mechanistic efforts. Nothing he wrote came close to having the literate qualities of a Hulke or an Aaronovitch, but there is a very tangible difference between his early and later work.

    I agree with DalekJim about Ghost Light incidentally. If it wasn't for The Curse of Fenric it would be the greatest McCoy story, and is a very, very close second.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Somehow I never much cared for Malcolm Hulke's novelizations.

    I quite liked Barry Letts's novelization of "The Daemons," though. Very literate and lovely prose. And I remember being quite impressed by the writing in Graham Williams's novelization of "The Nightmare Fair," particularly since I was not at all impressed with him as a producer.
     
  15. Nagisa Furukawa

    Nagisa Furukawa Commander Red Shirt

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    Nah, I just consider them mostly separate things.

    It's sorta like Cheers to Frasier. Yeah, they're both sitcoms, yeah, Fraiser came from Cheers and yeah, some Cheers people showed up every now and then, but they're really pretty different things.
     
  16. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Fenric made my Top 10 TV Who Stories in that thread I made a few weeks back. Both Fenric and Ghost Light are very complex, multi-faceted stories. I find them a real antidote to a lot of the modern sci-fi out there that is practically screaming with pride about how dumb, cookie cutter and simplistic it is (Hi, Jar Jar Abrams!).
     
  17. Cutter John

    Cutter John Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    The problem with McCoys era is that it stumbled pretty badly his first season, started to get back on its feet the next, and it wasn't until his last few stories that things started to improve. And by then it was too late to save.
     
  18. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Totally. I read The Cave Monsters before I saw The Silurians. The Cave Monsters was a really good, really cool book. Not to mention the backstory provided for the mine's security officer was pretty dark. That was material you certainly wouldn't see on the show back in the 70s, and I'd be surprised to see something like that even today. By comparison, when I watched The Silurians (yes, I just call it "The Silurians," deal with it) I was disappointed by what I felt was only a half-assed job compared to the novelization.
     
  19. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    As the various editors of the range explained in the Telos book about the history of the range, they were in a hole if the original author wanted to write the book, but delivered late, or delivered trash: normally you could cancel the contract or send it back for a rewrite, but in this case, if the script writer took that badly, they could simply withdraw permission to novelise the script at all, leaving the poor editor facing all the hate mail from fans who wanted every story novelised.
     
  20. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There is nothing "very complex" or "multi-faceted" about "The Curse of Fenric". It is, like "Star Trek", a straightforward, well-told story. And the only reason "Ghost Light" is "very complex" is because it's just not very good, and people mistake that for deliberate sophistication.