The Target Zone
By Simon Mallinson
For this month's special of the First Doctor I have reviewed a particular favourite of mine.
017 - Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth
Written by Terence Dicks
ISBN 0426 11244X
The Tardis lands in a London of future times - a city of fear, devastation and holocaust ... A city ruled by Daleks.
The Doctor and his companions meet a team of underground resistance workers, among the few survivors, but after an unsuccessful attack on the Dalek spaceship, they are all forced to flee the capital.
A perilous journey through England finally brings them to the secret centre of Dalek operations... And the mysterious reason for the Dalek Invasion of Earth.
This book was one of the first I ever read featuring the First Doctor, that mysterious figure which at the time in the 70s and 80s was not readily available for the fans to watch. I remember being very transfixed to this book when young, Daleks, The Doctor and the mysterious Barbara and Ian, who were they and who was Susan the Doctor's Granddaughter.
After a while I saw the film with Peter Cushing, and loved this but the differences were just too much to consider proper Who. Although at the time anything on TV featuring the Doctor was a rare and welcomed sight.
A few years ago I finally caught the original TV story and realised that Terrance Dicks, the master of Target, wrote better than the original script writers. Added to this last year the audio version of this story voiced by the Legendary Mackem Actor William Russell (yes he is from just up the road from where I am from) added a new dimension to this wonderful story which has in my eyes never been bettered.
Okay the book, the story starts very well with a great description of a rundown London and an old battered police box landing sets the scene perfectly. The pace moves on faster than the visual representations and the characters start to come alive in ways that will make you think, can we have more from this team.
The Daleks are perfect, totally uncaring and very evil, just the way I like them. The resistance is portrayed much better organised than the visual ones, and you can almost believe given better weapons they would have a fighting chance. The science is also very believable when written, less cobbled together to look syfy. Doctor Who was never a great space opera, being more grounded in history and at a touch scientific.
This is a great starting point for the First Doctor, though with Susan's decision to leave, which to me was more hormones than love. Okay female readers a challenge, fall for me after a couple of days with Daleks then I believe. Ian as a character starts to look more credible and Barbara has more get up and go than previous stories suggested, except The Aztecs which we shall see later in this series.
So here is my tribute to the original dream team, The Doctor (William Hartnell), Ian (William Russell), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Susan (Carole Ann Ford). May you all carry on living in the memories of young people forever, as you lived in mine.