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  1. #1
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    Default On Target: Season 4


    We cover the beginnings of the Target range and the very end with this season, with books coming slowly from 1975 through to 1993. Which are your favourites? What are your memories of this season's Target books?

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  2. #2
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    Wow - there's a real mix here. None of these however would have stood out for me paticularly apart from 'The Cybermen'. Sadly, even that was disappointing as a Target Audio.

    I remember The Smugglers being a superb adaptation. One of those novels towards the end of the range that wasn't too 'adult' but not too much of a straightforward adaptation either. A fun adventure.

    Of the others, I think I've read 'The Faceless Ones', which again was good but probably over-condensed. It's still scuppered through Ben and Polly vanishing and not really turning up again satisfactorily.

    Power and Evil I would have lapped up, but I think my interest in Doctor Who was failing at the time.

    And the other thing that occurs to me is that all of these were incredibly rare! The Underwater Menace and The Highlanders I remember as being notoriously hard to find.
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  3. #3
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    The first of these I read was Doctor Who and the Cybermen. I had the second cover copy, with the Cybermen walking in space looking all beige. Always loved the prologue with the history of the Cybermen... great stuff.

    Then it was The Tenth Planet, which I borrowed from my cousin for a year or so and read a couple of times.

    The Highlanders turned up unexpectedly at the library and I devoured the book very quickly after that. That may have been the only time I read it.

    Next up The Macra terror and The Faceless Ones bought together with my Christmas money 1987 in WHSmiths in Wokingham. I was delighted to find they ran consecutively! I read them in order and really loved The Macra Terror.

    The Underwater Menace was a present for my birthday in 1988 (I was 13) from my Sister and Brother. Lovely of them to buy me on that would turn out to be very rare!

    The Smugglers I bought when it came out at the end of 88, and the same with Power and Evil in 1993.

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  4. #4
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    The Cybermen always had a strange power over me when I was a kid, and I must have reread it umpteen times. It was just so spooky! Sadly the two surviving episodes were probably the biggest disappointment ever between Target-fuelled expectations and the real thing.

    I own and have read all of these (same goes for the entire collection), but the other one that most sticks out from this selection is The Smugglers, which I thoroughly enjoyed, in spite of low expectations with the name Terrance Dicks being on the cover (I was old enough by this time to equate Dicks with the "he said"/"she said" school of adaptation).

    For some reason, even though I was young when I first read it, The Tenth Planet has never really caught my imagination - and the same is true of the television version as well.

  5. #5
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    Actually these are all ones I'd like to re-read! And I hope someone does a talking-book version of Evil and Power before too long.
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  6. #6
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    Well, I started out on reading 'The Smugglers' last week.

    The word 'perfunctory' springs to mind. There's as little character development as possible and everything feels very rushed. The screen story version was already fairly slight; this reduces the whole thing down to the most basic level. This was Ben and Polly's first time travel adventure, but we don't get many insights about what it's like to suddenly be whisked back to the 17th Century.

    That said, it's still fairly enjoyable! The Pirate dialogue is all faithfully unrealistic: 'When ye hear me pike whistle, it'll be the end of ye!' and so on. Most people could tear through the story quickly, so despite the lack of monsters it's one that would be great for the younger reader.

    I've just started on The Tenth Planet. Apparently the Cybermen came from Telos, but moved to Mondas at some point in their development. Oh dear!
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  7. #7
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    "The Cybermen" stands out as being one of the very first Targets I read - the version my brother had (and which I've now got) has the pre-diamond logo, just as in the picture at the top of the thread - I have a feeling there's one really long chapter in it somewhere, as I seem to recall having to take several run-ups before I actually finished the book!

    The Tenth Planet was another favourite, as a kid in the long Cyber-free years between Revenge (for which I'd been too young) and Earthshock, I especially loved the Cybermen books, and this one was even then legendary as the last first Doctor story.

    The others I've all read - I think the DWM reviews slated Power but praised Evil, whereas I found them to be the other way around, loving Power but taking forever to finish Evil. And The Highlanders is a particular favourite as I saved up enough to buy it on release in hardback. It was part of that big renaissance of the mid-80s, when all those lovely old historicals were being adapted, and I'm inordinately fond of it.

  8. #8
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    the only iones i've got are

    The Smugglers
    Tenth Planet
    Macra Terror
    The Cybermen.

  9. #9
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    Chocked through The Tenth Planet, another one that's a breeze to read. The adaptation is streets ahead of The Smugglers, though still quite simple. Some of the changes are surprisingly noticeable, such as Polly getting the 'Love, pride, hate... fear' line and the regeneration which seems to occur in a sleeping booth, out of sight of Ben and Polly. The changes are a bit weird, but understandable. For many years this would have been the only version people knew.

    The problem with the Tenth Planet is that the story is so awful! Boring bloody General Cutler and his son - who goes into space for no good reason.

    What the book does get right is the description of the crumbling Doctor. There's lots of references to his skin looking milky and translucent. He spends a lot of time staring into space and only occasionally galvanizes into action.

    Overall it's a fun little book and a great showing for Ben, who gets to be an action hero. Meanwhile, Polly makes everyone a nice cup of coffee, screams and gets kidnapped by the Cybermen. We luvs Polly.
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  10. #10
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    The Macra Terror was a good book. A straightforward retelling of the story with no fuss and few additions, but nonetheless enjoyable.

    I've moved on to The Underwater Menace now. This one is really well written. Good old Nigel Robinson!

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  11. #11
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    Oh aye that... The Highlanders!

    What a jolly little Target novel this was. The story licks along nicely and it's very straightforward.

    The TARDIS crew are in huge trouble right from the start, threatened with being either hung or deported with no friends or allies to dig them out of trouble. The Scots distrust them and the English despise them. It's only by a whisker that they get out of their predicament.

    What stops the story being too bleak though are Polly and The Doctor. They have a whale of a time in historic Scotland, Polly being remarkably resourceful. The Doctor is very impish at this stage and quite different from his familiar persona in his second and third seasons. In this story he dresses as a washerwoman, bangs a man's head against a desk repeatedly and rescues his companions by giving a wheelbarrow full of weapons to the captured Highlanders! It's hoots of fun.

    It's a perfect Target novel, brief without being perfunctory and an easy read. I'm starting to think that The Highlanders is a very under-rated story!
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  12. #12
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    I've been plodding on with these, though I'm a little disappointed by the next two that I've read, which have been The Underwater Menace and The Macra Terror. I skipped Doctor Who And The Cybermen because we had the talking book of that recently. I didn't enjoy The Cybermen over-much, though I should imagine reading an old edition with the lovely illustrations would help bring out the story tremendously!

    Both of the other two are very, very flimsy adaptations. They really bring out the weaknesses of the original stories - which is odd, because from the audios I've been very fond of both Underwater Menace and Macra Terror!

    The worst thing about these two books is the lack of tension, leading to resolutions that are over in a paragraph. The final defeat of The Macra is about as perfunctory as a line saying 'The Macra were finally defeated.'

    The characters were all barely described. The only stand-out was Professor Zaroff, but I got the feeling that they could have gone much further into his - not madness, but zaniness.

    So a batch of rather weak adaptations that don't do their stories justice at all.

    Just the Faceless Ones and Evil of the Daleks to go!
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  13. #13
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    I enjoyed both of them, but then I didn't read any of the others, so maybe they're just poor in comparison with the high standards set by the other novelisations?

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    The Highlanders didn't set that high a standard to be honest! But it did seem to have a little more meat to it. I don't know, maybe I'm suffering Target Fatigue. On the other hand, I may have eeked them out for too long. I'll try polishing off The Faceless Ones a bit quicker and see if that makes a difference.
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    I finished 'The Faceless Ones' (actually ages ago) and it was a fair bit better than the previous two novels. The busy airport drama and the audacity (stupidity?) of the Chameleons' plans give this one a real pace and atmosphere, which is actually helped by being condensed and crow-barred into a Target novel.

    As I roughly know the story from the remaining episode and the audio version, it's interesting to see which episodes are given room to breathe and which are rushed along. The earlier half of the story is expanded a little, whereas things zip along a lot quicker for parts 4,5 and 6. At the half-way point I was thinking 'They've still got a lot to cram in!'

    Starting The Evil of The Daleks immediately afterwards was quite jarring. John Peel does a good job of broadening out his novels, so suddenly we get Ben and Polly departing again, only this time we get to know what everyone is thinking and what everything looks like!

    I'm about halfway through the book now and it's quite enjoyable. However, I think the Evil of The Daleks works a hundred times better when you experience it for the first time. Knowing the story well means that everything feels like a delaying tactic. There's a lot of faffing about with matches and clocks before the Doctor and Jamie get sent back in time; then it takes simply ages before Jamie starts his rescue attempt. All of this is very well written and entertaining in itself, but because I know what it's all leading up to it seems like stalling.

    I'm really hoping that I remember to pay attention when Arthur Terrall's character is explained. I've just found out that he's Ruth Maxtible's husband (I never noticed that before!) but it's always baffled me as to why he keeps having brain waves and is chock full of static electricity. It feels like it should be important!
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    And so it all comes to an end. Hopefully not The Final End though!

    Evil of The Daleks was a cracking read. It was a long way from perfect, but I think John Peel paced the story pretty well, from the slow build-up in modern day London accelerating through to the final showdown on Skaro.

    The original story seems to be as padded as one of Victoria's skirts, but it's entertaining nonetheless. I think it works far better the first time you experience it, especially if you have no idea what's going to happen.

    On the plus side, I do now understand what's going on with Arthur Terrall! Although as Si pointed out, it doesn't explain why his wife was called Ruth Maxtible.

    Overall the Season 6 Target books were an entertaining, easy read. None of them were particularly poor, although both The Macra Terror and the Underwater Menace felt very flimsy.
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

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