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Deep Blue

By Mark Morris

Book review by Brad Schmidt

It's a pleasant seaside community, with cafés, pubs, hotels, troubled public relations, blossoming romance and frequent death. No, it's not Home and Away that I'm reviewing, despite the fact all these attributes are applicable as much to that as they are the latest Missing Adventure, Deep Blue. The author of the enjoyable but unimaginative The Bodysnatchers, Mark Morris, has returned to Who, with an adventure that places the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough alongside UNIT, but rather more oddly, in the 1970s, with a Mike Yates that has yet to assist in the floating papier-mâché invasion of London.

Not only is having a pre-Invasion of the Dinosaurs Mike Yates surprising, but having a pre-Mawdryn Undead Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart meet Tegan and Turlough is stretching credulity. Thankfully, the climax rather-too-conveniently amends this potential gaffe. Deep Blue also neglects to mention any set dates, despite the fact that several Davison stories before, the UNIT story dating was set once and for all.

Deep Blue is a nostalgic adventure, helped by the atmospheric prose, which makes the story feel more like a Pertwee adventure featuring the Davison crew. Similarly to The Curse of Fenric, monsters are emerging from the sea to terrorise a coastal town. Thankfully, it's not quite so angst-ridden as that (but it's just as horrific). Tegan, normally a favourite character of mine, is reduced to a bickering stereotype for much of the novel, seemingly only there to foreshadow her upcoming departure. Strangely, this doesn't seem too out of place; I'd venture to say Janet Fielding imbued an otherwise formulaic character with far more quality than I had perhaps given her credit for. Turlough is - well, Turlough, sly and as - er - fishy as ever.

Excessive continuity irritates me, for fear of alienating the general public, and Deep Blue was a definite candidate - until I realised that it was appropriate for this era. It seems to take precedence over plot too - Resurrection of the Daleks springs to mind - as the story seems to consist of a single plot thread, which primarily seemed dull and surprisingly amateur. The climax soon quelled my suspicions, as the truth at the end is quite confusing and benefits from the sparsely-layered plot.

Deep Blue isn't at all spectacular, but for memory's sake alone it was satisfying. [4/5]

This item appeared in TSV 57 (July 1999).

Index nodes: Deep Blue