Saturday, 12 March 2011

Review: Doctor Who And The Cave Of Monsters

For todays review we hand you back over to Chris Newman and his classic audiobook series.

Here is the blurb from the back of the box...

All is not well at the Wenley Moor underground atomic research station: there are unaccountable losses of power-output; nervous breakdowns amongst the staff; and then - a death! UNIT is called in, and the Brigadier is soon joined by Doctor Who and Liz Shaw in a tense and exciting adventure with subterranean reptile men - Silurians - and a 40 ft. high Tyrannosaurus rex, the biggest, most savage mammal which ever trod the Earth! Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw in the original TV serial "Doctor Who and the Silurians", reads Malcolm Hulke's complete and unabridged novelisation, first published by Target Books in 1974.

Those of us who are familiar with the Target Novelisations generally encountered two distinct styles of interpretation. First, there was the carbon copies of the TV show which, although providing a faithful reproduction, it was my experience that these generally fell a little flat. When I got really excited was when we got something a little different, a novel that diverged from the story sufficiently to add something what was already on the screen. This wonderful novelisation of 'The Silurians' manages to deliver just that. Right from the start, the grittier tone is evident and there is a wonderful prologue which provides a wonderfully detailed description of how the Silurians went into hibernation. The result of that introduction seeps throughtout the story providing a much more sympathetic, rounded and character-driven portrayal of the Silurians. There is, however, light and shade in all of the characterisations throughout and the motivations of all the protagonists become more readily understandable.

The author, Malcolm Hulke was friend and mentor to script editor Terrance Dicks and their styles are not dissimilar. However, the grittier tone of the writing betrays Hulke's communist sympathies. The mistrust of authority comes through and the Doctor is positioned squarely as an agitator, challenging the staid military instincts of UNIT and the security personnel within the complex. Perhaps as this chimes with my own ideas, I instinctively warmed to the writing and found a new affection for the story (I thought the TV series went on an episode too long; a view shared by Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts).

The actual presentation of the Audiobook is worthy of mention. The internal illustrations of the original edition are reprinted on the CD sleeve, together with mini biographies of both the author (Malcolm Hulke) and the narrator (Caroline John).

This is an excellent audiobook, stemming from a beautifully written novel. If you are a fan of The Silurians then I would heartily recommend purchasing this as an excellent example of a novel which compliments and augments the Classic Serial.

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