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The New Adventures

(Or: You Actually Paid Money For This?)

By Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler

I have been a fan of Doctor Who for almost as long as I can remember, and I have always loved it. I adored Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, but lately when I think about their stories I get all wistful for cricket bats and corridors.

I have read all The New Adventures books so far, (note that I did not say 'bought'; I have read them - thanks to Paul R and Matthew E). As well as Doctor Who I have been obsessed with sci-fi and fantasy to the virtual exclusion of all other story books since the age of ten; therefore I think I can honestly say that whilst The New Adventures are wonderful sci-fi and fantasy books, they are not real Doctor Who. Or rather they are, but Doctor Who at an advanced age.

They are said to be stories 'too deep and meaningful' for TV. In this I think they are correct, but this same thing makes them bad Doctor Who books. In some cases you could substitute any two names for the Doctor and Ace. This does not make them bad, just bad Doctor Who.

They have given in to the 'gloom and doom' feeling which pervades everything these days. Doctor Who was always a note of hope in a confusing world, a very strange and weird man who was an anchor of comforting safe confusion in a world ruled by rules. You always knew that the Doctor was good and that he would win out in the end, but now in The New Adventures books, the distinction between good and bad is very blurred.

The Doctor is wracked by doubt, which may make him more human, but he isn't. All these veiled hints about his background - who cares? We all know who he is - he's the Doctor, that infuriating person who always does what's right, who always knows the answer, and who is always there when you need him. We don't need to know about his background to know who and what he is. He is a kind, good person, a sort of father figure who is always there.

But The New Adventures are more for adults than children. Yes, the show caters to both, but The New Adventures seem to concentrate more on character development and the functions of time and its inhabitants than on the good old rip-roaring adventure. The Doctor is becoming a jaded, disillusioned old man. The New Adventures are making him grow up, and as with many people when they grow up, he is losing the dreams and the lessons that he used to have. The hopes and beliefs that used to power him are fading. The Doctor mustn't become a cynic - there are too many of us already.

I find The New Adventures very depressing and introspective. They have lost the spark of silliness that the Doctor had. What happened to confusing people? The Doctor must stop dwelling on the past or on past mistakes. You have to look to the future. What I'm trying to say is that The New Adventures are trying to make Doctor Who grow up and fit into an adult-type world (no offense to any adults out there), and I for one am in mourning for the Doctor's lost childhood.

The New Adventures are good sci-fi, but they aren't good Doctor Who. They are not Doctor Who to me. For me, Doctor Who is a note of hope in a symphony of despair. It is cricket, crumpets, corridors, sonic screwdrivers, new friends and old magic - and a strange man who was both old and young at the same time, who always knew how to make you laugh, and who was always there when you needed him.

The New Adventures are novels; stories which could not be portrayed on 'the small screen'. During our last Wellington Chapter discussion on these books, someone pointed out that you could not make a novel of a TV Doctor Who adventure - just look at the Target novelisations. I agree with them, The New Adventures are good books, and they're new Doctor Who, but they can't match the series. A lot of people are giving up on the Beeb bringing the show back ever again, but we have to keep hoping and trying. After all, that's the way the Doctor would want it.

This item appeared in TSV 30 (September 1992).