Synopsis: The Doctor has finally achieved his life’s work and fixed everything that was wrong with the TARDIS. Peri suggests a holiday and they find themselves in an idyllic land free from war. But peace is bad for business – and an arms dealer called The Dwarf Mordant has a plan to change everything.
Numbered One to Twenty-Nine.
Background: Wally K Daly adapts a storyline originally submitted for the aborted Season 22.
Notes: The ‘evil Dwarf’ Mordant (who needs to work on that title) comes from the planet Salakan, where he previously failed to draw the Doctor into one of his schemes. The Mordant has a mouth that is a ‘scaly toothless hole’. His hands are webbed with three fingers on each, he has two eyes on ‘stubby flexible stalks above his forehead, in the centre of which is another ‘cold yellow eye’. His laugh is a ‘high-pitched chuckle full of a wicked, childish glee’.
The TARDIS has a stowage cupboard that contains, among other items, a device that can pilot the TARDIS to the source of a transmission, a torch-like gadget that can be pointed at any object to calculate its weight and a crystal ball that helps its owner plan a holiday – an object that is one of a set presented to the Time Lords by Dwarf Mordant as a means of keeping an eye on them and avoiding their interference. The TARDIS has a ‘main thrust unit’, which makes it sound like a space rocket. The Doctor is so distressed that the TARDIS is now in perfect working order that he doesn’t notice that the chameleon circuit hasn’t worked and the TARDIS is still in the form of a police box. The Doctor threatens Mordant that he’ll inform the Time Lords that he has been spying on them and they will wipe him from history [not quite as seen in The War Games, as this involves manipulating genes to ensure his parents have a different child entirely].
Cover: In Alister Pearson’s cover, the Dwarf Mordant pulls tongues at a crystal ball containing the TARDIS console, while the TARDIS exterior materialises in a mist. The first edition featured a flash proclaiming ‘The Missing Episodes!’
Final Analysis: It’s a difficult thing for a fan to accept that the series they love is failing. We might instinctively defend Season 22, but we also know that there were a fair few issues that justified Michael Grade’s cancellation above and beyond his own personal prejudices. Thanks to this mini-series of novels based on the commissioned scripts for the abandoned Season 23, there’s a sense that we might have ended up with more of the same and that the cancellation of this run of stories was a blessing. Even within the framework of a show that stars a man flying through time and space in a phone box, there’s something that stretches credibility when the main villain seems to know that they’re the baddie. Far from being an ‘ultimate evil’, Dwarf Mordant is a diluted Sil, an exploitative capitalist who revels in the torture and misery of others. All very unfortunate, considering a rematch with the maniacal Mentor was also scheduled for the same season. Strangely though, I can easily imagine Colin Baker delivering lines such as this on TV:
Now I have nowhere I particularly want to go and no task to perform – and this is the time the TARDIS chooses to turn on me with this vicious display of goodness, and unwonted mechanical and electrical magnanimity. Now do you see why it is disasterous [sic]? I have nothing, at all, to do!’
… though that’s less about them being authentic than them being the kind of rubbish they were giving him to fight with on TV at the time. It might not be a fair comparison, but while Terrance Dicks is reliable and efficient, if rarely remarkable, this is giddy and over-written. Sorry, this one’s not for me. The best thing about it is the cover.