Synopsis: Tranquil Repose offers a full care package for the nearly departed, where the terminally ill can be put on ice until a possible cure for their ailment is found. It’s one of a number of companies founded by a figure called The Great Healer, whose financial interests require careful accounting. Which is why his business partner, Kara, has hired an assassin to terminate him. Meanwhile, a determined daughter has broken into the Great Healer’s complex in search of her missing father – to whom the Doctor and Peri have come to pay their respects…
Numbered One to Nine.
Background: Reprinting the text of the hardback from 2019, Eric Saward adapts his scripts from the 1985 serial, completing the stories for Season 22, the Sixth Doctor and the entire Target books range for the 20th-century series.
Notes: A scene inside the TARDIS shows Peri exploring the ‘cathedral-like’ wardrobe while the Doctor, newly convered to vegetarianism [see The Two Doctors], makes nut roast. The Doctor’s regeneration is still ‘recent’ and he’s decided to adopt a new ‘belt and braces’ approach – literally putting on a new belt and braces to reflect his sudden determination to be more cautious. Peri apparently has a ‘New York’ accent. The TARDIS lands with a ‘muffled scraping sound, not unlike a scrapyard being turned over by a massive earthmover’.
Necros is about the size of Mars but with an atmosphere like that of Earth. It has three moons and its ocean waters are not salty. Speelsnapes are native to Necros and they have a habit of hiding their heads under rocks in the belief they cannot be seen. It leaves them vulnerable to voltrox, creatures like large domestic Earth cats with the ability to fly [see Slipback for more on the lifecycle of the speelsnape].
Tranquil Repose – or ‘TR’ – has existed in some form or other for at least a thousand years. Its lower catacombs have been redesigned and built over many times, its architecture reflecting many different styles practiced across the ‘Twelve Galaxies’. The current complex on the surface was erected soon after the arrival of The Great Healer. The gates to Tranquil Repose are fashioned from Eradian steel. The planet’s other great industry is a food production plant called ‘Kara’s Kitchen’, owned by Kara Seddle, a 40-year-old businesswoman. She’s fond of eating chocolate-covered locusts while bathing in Lindosian’s milk. Like everyone else in the Saward universe, she and Vogel are partial to the alcoholic drink Voxnik.
Joshua Jobel is 51 years old. He was born in the star system Sifton 31, his parents were a ‘purveyor of meats’ and a stage make-up artist. Considering himself a great lover (to a degree that nobody else seems willing to support), he tends to target married women as they offer less risk of commitment. His newly qualified assistant is Tasembeker Brown. Head of security Lancelot Takis was a sergeant in the Peninsula Wars on plant JJ33, where he met August Lilt, then a corporal. Lilt was born on Earth in Ealing, London, in ‘the Democracy of England’. Stowing away on a space freighter, he served five years in the Tinclavic mines of Raaga [see The Visitation and The Awakening] for ‘minor larceny’. He’s a keen ornithologist. During the war, Takis and Lilt used to entertain the troops with impressions of Laurel and Hardy. One of the other living inhabitants of TR is a cat called Lord Plunkett.
The DJ’s name is Derek Johnson. He became a disc jockey while studying at the Lowwrie Institute of Technology in ‘the star system Sygma 18’ and by the age of 19, he was playing all the clubs in the Third Zone [see The Two Doctors on TV for a little more on the Third Zone]. He was later kidnapped by pirates and, because they didn’t like his musical tastes, they abandoned him on a small planetoid in the Delta JJ sector of the Sixth Zone of the galaxy. After a couple of years, he found his way onto a freighter heading for Kara’s Kitchen and thanks to Takis and an unnamed wealthy benefactor, he accepted a permanent residency at TR. The benefactor subsequently died of a heart attack and, now very much aware that the Great Healer is not a fan, the DJ feels that he’s living on borrowed time. Though he adopts various accents from around America, they all have a flavour of Liverpool in them (just like actor Alexei Sayle, who played the role on screen), even though he’s never been to Earth and all of his knowledge comes from old recordings.
The Great Healer’s attendants perform operations on his behalf in the hope of strengthening his body with transplants. Davros’s (decoy) head is suspended in a glass tank filled with clear liquid. The Daleks move around freely in TR, but nobody there knows the true identity of the Great Healer. He arrived at Tranquil Repose after months floating in space on the brink of death (so this story is set a year or two after the future timescale of Resurrection of the Daleks). His new ‘gold sphere’ Daleks are ‘supposedly more intuitive, better skilled at reading emotional situations and equipped with the potential to levitate’. Despite the modifications, they’re still in need of ‘further fine tuning’; Davros begins to accept that his new Daleks are not quite as superior as he had hoped. The Doctor later wryly observes that despite Davros’s extensive work on their intellectual capacity, the new Daleks behave ‘just the same as all his previous models’. They’re also no match for the firepower of the grey Daleks.
Natasha Stengos has a rose tattoo on her arm. Seeing the tattoo reminds Takis of the time he and his wife got matching rose tattoos; they were together for three years and had a young child but his family died in a tragic shuttle crash. His grief propelled him to join up for the army. The Garden of Fond Memories reminds the Doctor of the Roman town of Ephesus, which he once visited two thousand years in the past. Peri greatly enjoys the garden, which the Doctor attributes to ‘negative ions’ combined with the artful architecture and the garden’s natural beauty. Peri doesn’t recognise a Dalek on sight but thinks it looks ‘cute’. While listening to Tasambeker’s sales pitch for TR’s services, the Doctor steals her metal propelling pencil; he later uses this to escape from his chains in the prison cell and gain access to various security sections.
Orcini has a medallion made from Tinclavic and inscribed in Terileptil script. He met Bostock at the Battle of Vavetron. Kara has timed Orcini’s assassination attempt to coincide with President Varga’s arrival for his wife’s funeral; the President has been investigating Kara’s business affairs and she hopes to remove two obstacles at once. The Doctor knew the President’s ‘Principal wife’ Sontana (or ‘Sonnie’) before they were married. Orcini and Bostock find the corpse of the mutant who attacked the Doctor; Orcini has to dissuade Botsock from stealing a ‘trophy’ of the cadaver’s ear.
Arthur Stengos was reported to have contracted Waugh’s Disease (referencing Evelyn Waugh, author of The Loved Ones, which inspired this) and placed into Tranquil Repose moments before his death; this was a lie concocted by Davros to cover up Stengos’s conversion into a Dalek, with the additional aim of luring the Doctor to Necros. The Doctor and Stengos used to meet at agricultural conventions and Stengos spoke fondly of him to his daughter.
The corridors in the TR pyramid are constructed from Tinclavic. Inside the pyramid, the Doctor, Natasha and Grigory find a thousand Daleks in storage, awaiting activation. They meet an imprisoned and badly mutated clinical psychiatrist called Alex Sagovski. Sagovski is just one of many experts in their respective fields lured to Necros by the Great Healer’s promises – and then experimented on for the purpose of advancing the new strain of Daleks. While Natasha and Grigory sabotage the electrical systems, the Doctor and Alex break into the hydro-stabilization system of the Pyramid, where the Doctor uses his new belt to pull open a valve as part of the disruption to the pyramid structures. Alex takes up the DJ’s rock ‘n’ roll weapon and defends the studio from Daleks while issuing calls to arms for the new rebellion (he’s said to have a voice like an old-fashioned BBC radio announcer).
By the time Kara reaches Davros’s chamber, her dress is torn and one of her incisors is missing after a ‘consultation’ with Lilt. Natasha and Grigory are cornered by three Daleks. Grigory is killed outright and rather than face conversion into a Dalek, Natasha turns the last charge in her gun on herself. Reactivated too early, some of the Daleks tumble from their storage palettes with explosive and messy results.
The Doctor has a box of matches from the Match Girls’ strike of 1888. He recalls pushing a Dalek out of a warehouse window in 1985 and the explosion it made. He vows to return the Greek statues lining the entrance to Davros’s chamber to ‘his old friend Peracles’. Takis and Lilt await the arrival of the Dalek shuttle on the landing pad outside Tranquil Repose. The Dalek squad is led by Daleks Alpha and Beta [see Resurrection of the Daleks] and they are accompanied by a corp of humanoid troopers. The Doctor sticks his propelling pencil into Davros’s chariot, fusing it and preventing the Daleks’ creator from being able to move by his own volition. The Doctor hopes that Davros might face a trial in the High Courts of Gallifrey (somewhere we’d see in his very next TV adventure, but with someone else in the defendant role), yet he knows that his old enemy will only be tried for crimes against the Supreme Dalek. He offers to shelter the survivors of the tragedy inside the TARDIS with promises of food cooked by his robot chef [see Resurrection of the Daleks]. He agrees to stay around for a while to help tidy up and establish a new weed plant cultivation. As on TV, his next destination remains unresolved.
Cover: Anthony Dry’s composition shows the Doctor, Davros and two cream-and-gold Daleks.
Final Analysis: There’s a certain amount of closure reading the final novelisation of a 20th-century story that features a glass Dalek, just as the very first one did 57 years earlier. Saward clearly enjoys this adventure much more than his previous novel. He even makes amends for the production difficulties that forced him to sideline the Doctor back in 1985, by adding a new sub-plot that gives the Doctor something more heroic and action-packed than we saw on telly. A welcome shift in Saward’s writing comes in the way he introduces his usual random elements – the type of metal used to build the complex or the Doctor’s adoption of new braces – but then dovetails them into the plot to make their presence more than just decorative.
Like Tegan in the last novel, Peri is distressed by the sheer scale of death and destruction around her, but she’s not yet been overwhelmed by it all, remaining determined and optimistic. We also have a new character, Alex the mutant, who becomes a temporary companion to the Doctor and takes up the DJ’s role to lead a revolution. With so many supporting characters killed off by the end, his survival is unexpected and very welcome.
As in Resurrection of the Daleks, Saward brings a world-weary resignation to the violence, as if it’s merely the route to a rather bleak joke, but his irreverence also means we get to see Davros in a new light; he’s desperate to prove his worth after 90 years in suspended animation and months left abandoned in an escape shuttle, yet his new, ‘improved’ Daleks are a bit of a disappointment – and he knows it. For all his manipulation and betrayal, he’s a bit pathetic. Thanks to the Doctor’s immobilising of Davros’s chariot, the final indignity for the creator of the Daleks is having to be pushed along corridors by his Dalek captors. He rants and raves, but ‘no one was listening’.
I keep getting to a point where it looks like this project has reached its end, only for new stories to be adapted. This is the very last of the original run of TV stories to bear the Target branding, so – mission accomplished! However, tune in next time as we still have two more classic Targets to go. How??