Deadly Reunion

by Terrance Dicks & Barry Letts

BBC Books Past Doctors series, 2003
"Deadly Reunion" comes in two parts, the first by Barry Letts features Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (not yet a Brigadier) and is set some years before the second, by Terrance Dicks, with the 3rd Doctor/UNIT team. It's like two novellas, one a sequel to the other. As it happens, the first has a passing similarity to Telos's "Fallen Gods", while the second has a passing similarity to "Wonderland". Yet, superficial similarities aside, “Deadly Reunion” is about as different from the Telos novellas as one could imagine.

"Deadly Reunion" is an amusing tale: it's fast-paced, but the problem lies with cliched ideas and the plotting is appalling. Events happen arbitrarily so as to produce repeated cliff-hangers. Contrivance after contrivance follows. Letts' half is enlivened by seemingly autobiographical elements about life in the Navy shortly after World War II, although the endless encomia to the Brigadier tire. Dicks' half is weaker, his usual continuity obsessions show through as does his poor prose style (for example, repeated use of reported 'speech' to illustrate thoughts). In particular, the real let-down is the ending, another contrivance and an anti-climactic one to boot, followed by a morally dubious epilogue. At least Dicks' depiction of the regulars shines, as one would expect.

I never quite imagined myself writing this, but... well, "Deadly Reunion" is not canon. I mean, I cannot take it seriously. I cannot for one moment imagine this as being real; I cannot imagine this to take place in the same universe as "Wonderland" and "Fallen Gods". I cannot imagine it taking place. "Deadly Reunion" is a story and its cliches and contrivances make it more obviously a story than the controversial ending to "The Blue Angel", the political allegory of "Fallen Gods" or the parody of "Verdigris". It's quite entertaining, better than I expected (but I expected abjectness), better than most of this year's PDAs (but worse than most of last year's). However, if it is meant to be an anniversary celebration, it has only reminded me how much of Doctor Who is just random nonsense.

Henry Potts, 25 Dec 03

Originally posted to the Jade Pagoda mailing list.

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