BBC Digital, out now
The Fourth Doctor arrives at a golf course where there’s something very nasty indeed lurking near the 13th hole…
You might well be excused in thinking that this new series of ebooks is simply continuing the line which Puffin ran through the 50th anniversary year, with celebrated writers invited to contribute their interpretations of the Doctor. In fact this is an entirely separate range, which seems to be aimed at a rather older audience, judging by the graphic nature of some of the descriptions in this story (and the thematic elements of Jenny Colgan’s 11th Doctor tale).
Where it is very similar is in the editorial stance of allowing the authors to present a rather different take on the Doctor than might have been seen on screen. This is set in 1978, for some the height of Tom Baker’s reign, but with the use of things like psychic paper, it feels more like a new series tale slightly reworked for Baker’s interpretation. It doesn’t help that it features a character whose name is one of the most annoying speedbumps in a Who story for many years – there are times when homages can go too far!
Kennedy presents the Fourth Doctor through the eyes of a young receptionist who has the attributes that the Doctor needs in a companion – he’s travelling alone here, with the tale specifically set between The Deadly Assassin and The Face of Evil – and also shows us the maelstrom that is his mind. There are times when the Virgin rule of not making us privy to the Doctor’s thoughts seems like an eminently sensible one: it’s very difficult to give us the insight without it seeming false, and while there are one or two marvellous moments here, overall it doesn’t really come off.
Add in an unrequited lover, and some very unusual twins and their grandmother, whose relevance to the story is muddled, and you get a tale that doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its constituent parts.
Verdict: A rather muddled tale that doesn’t live up to its potential. 5/10