12.29–Doctor Who: Shada

12.29–Doctor Who: Shada

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Alright. I’m finally getting around to the Doctor Who book, which was very disappointing, I am sad to say.  Based on the screenplay written by Douglas Adams decades ago, the story was fleshed out by one Gareth Roberts.  A more detailed history of the unaired TV version can be found here.  For my fellow Whovians, I would say you may read it if you wish, but it certainly isn’t the same experience as watching the Doctor on TV.

The Doctor and his traveling companion, Romana (a Time Lady, actually), respond to a distress signal from Earth. They arrive at the office of Professor Chronitis, who is, in fact, another Time Lord living out his retirement on Earth.  Chaos ensues as an evil alien named Skagra (there are a lot of S names in this book) is trying to basically become a god and put everyone under the control of his mind.

Now, I can see how this would make a good two-part episode for Doctor Who. Maybe three parts.  But a 350-page novel was pushing it. Quite a bit.  The witty quips are not the same written out. Where the characters are quirky and adorable when acted on-screen, they just seem like buffoons on the page.  Even the Doctor was not nearly as enjoyable as I’d expected him to be.  There were definitely instances in which I saw his character very clearly as the one we all know and love, but most of the time I was just shaking my head.  No matter what he’s doing in the show, he never seems like an idiot. He’s always got it together and seems majestic, even in the midst of his confusion or silliness.  In the book he just seems like a dummy, and it’s completely unbelievable that he can find his way out of any mess or help someone else out of theirs.

The plot dragged.  That’s why it took me so long to read it. I just could not muster enough interest in what was happening to really devour the book. A lot of the time I felt like I was forcing myself to read it, and it drove me crazy.  As a screenplay I’m sure it’s great, but fleshed-out into a full-length novel–it was boring. I’m sorry! It was boring boring boring. Even the bits that were supposed to be exciting just weren’t exciting.  The twists didn’t take me by surprise, the danger didn’t seem believable, and the characters weren’t enjoyable enough to really care about anyway, so the plot was a little irrelevant.

Ultimately, I felt the book was a complete flop.  I was so incredibly disappointed, especially because the book was not cheap.  I wanted so badly to like it, because I LOVE Doctor Who.  I feel guilty even saying I don’t like it. But I felt that it didn’t do honor to the Doctor at all.  I could have lived happily without reading this book.

Has anyone else read it? What did you think? Am I way off?


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