The Target Zone
003 Doctor Who and the Androids of Tara
Written by Terrance Dicks
Release date: 24th April 1980
Reviewed by Simon Mallinson @mallyman72
On a peaceful rural planet, where the colourful pageantry of old Ruritania mingles with the ultra-modern android technology, the Doctor becomes a King-maker in spite of himself.
In his search for another segment of the Key of Time, the Doctor matches wits and swords with the evil Count Grendel - aided by Romana and the invaluable K9.
I have very fond memories of this story, as I watched it first handed when it was aired, oh so long ago it hurts to think of it. This story is a blatant rip off of the Prisoner of Zenda, without any major plot and character changes. But in spite of this the story works, maybe that is a great tribute to the original writer of Prisoner of Zenda.
Terrance Dicks takes up the mantle of writing the novelization of this story, and does a great job of describing the scenes with more gusto than the programme makers could ever hope to portray on the screen.
If you can get over shouting Zenda every five minutes, this book is a very enjoyable read. You will feel respect for the Count, disgust for the Prince and visualize the magical electro-blades, so much cooler than normal rapiers.
The attack of the Taran Wood Beast, yes that cuddly thing which makes you want to scratch its head in the show, will have you thinking oh hell Romana is in trouble now. The interplay of the intrigue with so many people and androids that look the same will start to make sense, when read in this version.
This is a jolly romp in the style of the old black and white Saturday afternoon films that people of a certain age will remember. The booming voice of Tom Baker will start to creep into your mind, and the late Mary Tamm (my favourite Romana) will ever be immortalized.
I fondly recommend this book to drive away boredom, of a train or long car journey, and challenge you newer readers of Who to, come away to the planet Tara and enjoy this swashbuckling romp. You maybe even have a smile on your face afterwards.