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Doctor Who: The Romans by Donald Cotton
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Donald Cotton was chosen to novelise this story on the basis of the original author being dead, and his novelisations of his own comically inclined Hartnell stories. Cotton chooses to tell the story in an epistolary format, including delightfully ridiculous conceits such as Ian writing letters home. He plays up the absurd at every opportunity, from the Doctor’s delusions of his musical prowess to the farcical moments where characters just miss each other. Like the best comedies it has the benefit of brevity, giving us a short but sweet routine before getting off the stage. ( )
  JonArnold | Mar 4, 2014 |
http://nhw.livejournal.com/1021250.html

I had been looking forward to this one, famed as one of the best Doctor Who novelisations, and I was not disappointed. Cotton has recast the narrative of Dennis Spooner's TV script into epistolary/diary form: letters from Ian Chesterton to his headmaster, the Doctor's own diary, letters from Ascalis the assassin and Locusta the poisoner, and contributions also from Barbara, the Emperor Nero, and Nero's wife Poppæa (but not Vicki); the whole thing framed in a covering note by Tacitus (obviously written several decades later). Eye of Heaven, the best of the spinoff novels featuring Leela, also featured multiple first-person viewpoints, and I've read first-person narratives in other First Doctor stories (here, here, and partly here), but this is the only case of the whole thing being ostensibly done from written records (the Doctor having compiled everything and then left it behind in the villa for the archivists to discover).

Admittedly, as an actual story it's no great shakes, and purists will be disappointed that we lose a lot of the funny lines and one of the major comic elements from the TV story (the two pairs of time travellers not actually meeting each other in their wanderings). But the whole thing is done for language and laughs; it's meant to be fun, and it is fun, and that's all you can really ask. ( )
  nwhyte | Apr 2, 2008 |
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