‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE KRIKKITMEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Anyone For Krikkitmen?
Shouldn’t this be a Fifth Doctor adventure instead of a Fourth Doctor adventure?
You may have picked up that I’m very fond of the Douglas Adams stories of ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve enjoyed ‘The Pirate Planet’, ‘City of Death’ and both versions of ‘Shada’ and even enjoyed reading/listening to the novelizations/audiobooks of those stories. I’ve also enjoyed the stories featured in Season 17.
Over the years, I’ve been inspired by Douglas Adams’ style of writing in ‘Doctor Who’, especially for my own fan-fiction including ‘The Space Hotel’, ‘The Austen Code’ and ‘The Stockbridge Terror’. I’ve even take cues from other ‘Doctor Who’ stories that have the Douglas Adams-styled writing in them.
These include writers like Jonathan Morris and Gareth Roberts who have penned Fourth Doctor adventures set during the Season 17 period of ‘Doctor Who’. I’m always on the lookout for highly recommended ‘Doctor Who’ tales that have Douglas Adams-styled writing including humour and wit.
I may not always agree with the viewpoints addressed in some of the Douglas Adams stories in ‘Doctor Who’ as well as in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘Dirk Gently’, but I’m always fascinated by them. The prospect of a new ‘Doctor Who’ book by Douglas Adams is always welcome.
So it was quite a delight and a surprise when I heard the news that a new ‘Doctor Who’ book published by BBC Books would be another ‘lost adventure’ by Douglas Adams. This was to be another mammoth book of a Douglas Adams story in the same style of the novelizations of his tales.
‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ is ‘the lost adventure by Douglas Adams’ penned by James Goss. James Goss had previously novelized ‘The Pirate Planet’ and ‘City of Death’ by Douglas Adams for BBC Books. He didn’t novelize ‘Shada’ since that was done by Gareth Roberts long ago back in 2012.
I’m very happy with James Goss’ novelizations of Douglas Adams’ ‘Doctor Who’ stories, especially when applying the same humour and wit that Douglas would have applied for his books in the ‘Hitchhiker’ and ‘Dirk Gently’ series. So I was pleased James Goss was writing this ‘Krikkitmen’ novel.
I knew that Douglas Adams had contributed ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ as a story idea before when he was pitching stories to the ‘Doctor Who’ production office in the 1970s. I found out about it whilst I was reading ‘The Fact of Fiction’ article of ‘The Pirate Planet’ within ‘Doctor Who Magazine’.
Unfortunately, ‘The Krikkitmen’ was rejected at the time but thankfully it didn’t stop Douglas Adams with contributing ‘The Pirate Planet’ next. Over the years, ‘The Krikkitmen’ has been shelved despite attempts by Douglas Adams and other parties to turn his initial tale into a ‘Doctor Who’ feature film.
Now like everyone else, I assumed Douglas Adams had already used his story for ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ in his third ‘Hitchhiker’s’ book, ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’. I’ve not read that book, though I got to hear it when it was later adapted into the third series of ‘Hitchhiker’s’ for radio.
But apparently, when James Goss visited St. Cedd’s College in Cambridge to do work on ‘The Pirate Planet’ novelization, he was given a ‘treat’ of unused material at the college that included the original ‘Krikkitmen’ story. It turned out the initial ‘Krikkitmen’ tale was something entirely different.
It was not like the ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ book for the ‘Hitchhiker’s’ series. So therefore, James Goss felt it worthy to novelize the unused TV story by Douglas Adams for ‘Doctor Who’ fans to enjoy. Well I say ‘novelization’, but quite frankly as it was never shown on TV; it’s really a new story.
At least that’s how I read and listened to ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ compared to reading/listening to the novelizations of ‘The Pirate Planet’ and ‘City of Death’. With those, I knew what the stories were about after I watched them on DVD. With ‘Krikkitmen’, it was a different case.
Now that’s not to say ‘The Krikkitmen’ wasn’t as enjoyable compared to ‘The Pirate Planet’ and ‘City of Death’ novelizations. On the contrary, James Goss does a pretty good job fleshing out the story from Douglas Adams’ original treatment. I did find myself enjoying the wit and humour in this book.
But the issue I have with ‘The Krikkitmen’ is that you have to be really invested with the story and you need to keep track of what you’re reading if you’re reading the book a chapter per day. That’s what I did since I like to read books at a leisurely pace. And it took me two months to read it overall.
‘The Krikkitmen’, as a book, is divided into 42 chapters. It’s also divided into two episodes if this was shown on TV. By two episodes though, I assume that James Goss made this look like a 2 x 50 minute episode story. The book also has an introduction; three appendices and an acknowledgements page.
Like I said, I read the book at a leisurely pace. I read ‘Part One’ from late April to early May and took a break to go off to the ‘Folkestone Film, TV and Comic Con’ before reading ‘Part Two’ from late May to early June. I did enjoy the reading/listening experience of the book, especially as it is chunky.
I purchased the audiobook of ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ as a download from Audible. I enjoy purchasing ‘Doctor Who’ audiobooks as downloads from Audible these days. The audiobook is read by Dan Starkey, who played Strax and the Sontarans in new series ‘Doctor Who’ as well as Big Finish.
Now I must admit, I’m rather surprised that Dan Starkey was chosen as the reader for ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’. What was the reason behind his appointment to read the audiobook? Wouldn’t it make sense in having Lalla Ward, Tom Baker or John Leeson to read the audiobook instead of Dan?
Not to say Dan Starkey is a bad choice for reading the audiobook. On the contrary, he does a fine voice for Tom Baker’s Doctor and provides some interesting voices for various supporting characters in the book. But it seems odd considering Dan Starkey is of new series generation and not the classic.
Saying that, I wish John Leeson came in to provide the voice for K-9 in this audiobook. Dan Starkey’s voice for K-9 is okay, but it doesn’t have the recognisable charm and reassuring quality that John Leeson had for K-9. Dan Starkey’s voice for Romana’s decent. I like how he lightens his voice for her.
To summarise, ‘The Krikkitmen’ has the Doctor and Romana attending a cricket match sometime in England. Whilst watching the cricket match, they get interrupted when an army of androids called the Krikkitmen attack. The Krikkitmen are dressed up as cricket players along with their cricket bats.
It seems that the Krikkitmen are hunting for something called the Wicket Gate that has been spread out across the galaxy. The Doctor and Romana have to find the various parts of the Wicket Gate to stop and defeat the Krikkitmen. They have to do that to stop the Krikkitmen destroying the universe.
‘The Krikkitmen’ was originally going to feature the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith when Douglas Adams submitted his pitch to the ‘Doctor Who’ production office in the 1970s. It would’ve been for the production team of the producer Philip Hinchcliffe and his script-editor Robert Holmes.
Thankfully, James Goss changed this to suit the story for the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9. In a sense, it suits well for the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9. Douglas Adams’ style of writing would’ve suited his Season 17 era. It wouldn’t have suited well to the era of the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane.
Had James Goss wrote this ‘Doctor Who’ story for the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane, he would have had to incorporate the elements of gothic horror from the first three years of Tom Baker’s era under the Hinchliffe/Holmes era. I wouldn’t have been happy, as it would’ve taken the Douglas Adams charm away.
James Goss did have an option to write this story featuring Sarah Jane Smith but after her travels with the Fourth Doctor were over. Appendix 3 of the book has the original first two chapters of ‘The Krikkitmen’ with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane. I’m glad James Goss didn’t go with his approach.
It just would’ve complicated things had Sarah Jane met the Fourth Doctor after her travels with him were over. This is keeping in mind that Sarah Jane would later meet the Tenth Doctor in ‘School Reunion’ as well as in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. So the story featuring Romana and K-9 is better.
An issue I need to raise about this book is that it features android monsters who are called Krikkitmen. And from their name, you know immediately what they’re about. They’re killer robots with cricket motifs including the killer cricket bats, the cricket pads and the killer cricket ball bombs.
Again these are ridiculous absurd ideas that are so wonderfully invented by Douglas Adams for this story. But the point I’m trying to make here is that the Krikkitmen are monsters unsuited for the Fourth Doctor. Wouldn’t it make sense to have these Krikkitmen suited for the Fifth Doctor instead?
In fact, why wasn’t this a Fifth Doctor story instead of a Fourth Doctor story? The Fifth Doctor is more into cricket than the Fourth Doctor is. I mean yes, the Fourth Doctor mentions ‘cricket ball’ and cricket in ‘The Horns of Nimon’, but I don’t recollect anything else that’s cricket-related in his tenure.
Having ‘The Krikkitmen’ as a Fifth Doctor story would have been great for me. It would’ve suited his sporting tendencies in the game considering he played cricket in ‘Black Orchid’ as well as ‘Circular Time: Autumn’. I know this was originally written for Tom Baker in mind by Douglas Adams, but still.
I would’ve liked it if ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ was written for the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan instead of the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9 here. Heck, give me a chance to rewrite this story and I would’ve written ‘The Krikkitmen’ for the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy in my own series.
Despite this grudge, I found how much I enjoyed reading/listening to ‘The Krikkitmen’ in the two months I spent on the book/audio. For one thing, I did find myself laughing at some of the humorous and witty dialogue and description written by James Goss in the Douglas Adams style I’d recognized.
The story itself is pretty inventive and it does borrow a lot of ideas featured in other Douglas Adams work both ‘Doctor Who’ and non-‘Doctor Who’ related. For example, the super computer called Hactar put me in mind of the giant computer featured in ‘Hitchhiker’s’ predicting ’42’ as the ‘answer’.
There were also plenty of supporting characters that you can enjoy reading and caring for the book. This includes Sir Robot and his Krikkita rebel wife Jal who had a baby in the story. There’s also characters you want to loathe like racist, prejudiced people including Elder Narase on the planet Krikkit.
Surprisingly, Borusa makes an appearance in this book. This is when the Fourth Doctor and Romana are visiting Gallifrey to find out more information about the Krikkitmen. I’m not sure at what point Borusa is in his life. I assume this is the Angus Mackay version on his way to be President of Gallifrey.
There’s even an appearance of Professor Chronotis and Shada in ‘The Krikkitmen’. I was surprised Chronotis was in the book and was even pleased that the book confirmed when this story was set after ‘Shada’. The Doctor needs ‘The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey’ book from Chronotis.
The book also features…Margaret Thatcher. Yeah, I was surprised that the Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990 made her appearance in the book. I enjoyed her interactions with Romana when she came to see her. Thatcher remains indomitable in this novel, whether you like her or not.
There are lots of worlds that the Doctor and Romana visit in the book including Bethselamin, Devalin and Mareeve II as well as Earth and Gallifrey. These worlds are in the Doctor and Romana’s search for the pieces of the Wicket Gate. You can consider them as mini adventures within the book overall.
The concepts behind the planet Krikkit kept in Slow Time by the Time Lords are intriguing in themselves. There’s a lot of history and background fleshed out in the book involved the planet Krikkit, the Krikkitas and the Krikkitmen. You would need to read the book more than once to enjoy it.
I’ve said plenty about this book so now is the best place to stop. Overall, ‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ has been a worthy and enjoyable book to read. I would like Big Finish to adapt this book into an audio drama someday. Whether that’ll happen is another matter. I hope it will happen though.
To hear Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson voice their characters from the TV series in ‘The Krikkitmen’ story would be a joy to hear. I hope that I will get to re-read/re-listen to ‘The Krikkitmen’ someday, so that I can write another Douglas Adams style of adventure in my own fan-fiction series.
Another Douglas Adams styled ‘Doctor Who’ adventure featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy? I hope I’ll get onto it someday. I have in mind to set it in Swansea, South Wales during the 1920s. Another ‘Black Orchid’ perhaps? Who knows? Perhaps I should call my new story ‘The Prime Factor’. 😀
‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ is a terrific Douglas Adams ‘Doctor Who’ story. Start reading/listening to it!!!
‘Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen’ rating – 9/10
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