Doctor Who Review: The Talons of Weng Chiang Review

The words; Doctor Who and polarising often come hand in hand, especially when talking about the infamous Tom Baker story: The Talons of Weng Chiang which has been critically slated for its insensitive portrayals of different races and somewhat unfortunate special effects which are still lambasted by the production crew to this day. But the Target novelisations are often known for correcting some of the issues brought up in stories whether this be production issues of creative decisions made by the writer or directors. So did Terrance Dicks correct the errors that Bob Holmes implemented into this classic story or were they unworkable and eternally imprinted into this otherwise excellent story? 

Well while there are certainly flaws in the story that make their way into the novel and some others that the novel develops on its own, the first thing it gets absolutely right is that it reworks the offensive nature of this story to make a much more comfortable experience. There are some elements of the story that are racially insensitive that unfortunately couldn’t be removed such as every Asian character in the story being a villain who are disturbing the innocent white Londoners. There still aren’t any innocent Asian characters to keep a nice balance. However the majority are changed such as the magician explaining his accent change as a way to make his audience believe he is a stereotype so they will enjoy him more. 

But I would be doing a great disservice to the legendary Terrance Dicks if I didn’t note his exceptional additions to the story. A strength of Dicks was that he was always able to describe an excellently vivid atmosphere and in this story the mesmerising gothic, Victoriana foggy streets make me feel as if I am in the story. The only issue I have with Dicks’ additions to the story is that when the Doctor and Leela have fully explored the location the book becomes more of a script to page adaption that more or less describes everything I am seeing on screen to me with the only difference being he said or she said at the end of the dialogue.  

Speaking of the dialogue the actual story is still an utter delight. Bob Holmes’ humour and characters still jump to life without the need of the Bafta worthy performances. My favourite line of dialogue in the entire story which makes its way into the novel is: Eureka is just Greek for the bath is too hot. 

Overall this is one of the better Target novelisations as it improves and fixes the flaws present in the original production. However other than that there aren’t many new additions or changes to this story and it doesn’t fall victim to some of the issues that lost Target novelisations have. 

Written by: James Fraser

It took me a while to finally get this review out as there wasn’t much for me to talk about in terms of changes to the story but I’m still glad I wrote it and my next review will most likely be Ravenous 4 or the lost stories box set. 

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