Story: The Doctor and Ace, still following the temporal trail of the Timewyrm, track it down to World War II-era London, but somehow the timeline has been significantly altered – Britain has been overrun by Hitler and the Nazi regime, and the Doctor and Ace find themselves trying to ply both the Britischer Freikorps (a cell of resistance fighters) and the local Nazis, led by the fanatical Lieutenant Hemmings, for information on what has happened. To Ace’s horror, the Doctor tries to infiltrate the Nazi ranks, endearing himself to none other than Adolf Hitler…only to discover that the Furher has the Timewyrm on his side.
Review: Good old Terrance Dicks. Nobody can lay out a good old-fashioned Doctor Who storyline like this man can, and perhaps he should’ve been given the opportunity to launch the New Adventures. “Timewyrm: Exodus” is ultimately the strongest of the foor-book cycle that led off the series, and shows that Dicks, a traditionalist though he may be, understood the demands that the new novels be more complex than the average Target novelization. (In case you’ve never touched a Who book in your life, Dicks wrote something like 80% of those novelizations, so if anyone knew what the parameters were, it’d be him.
The one disappointment here is that Dicks leans on an old rival from the Patrick Troughton era of the TV series. This quietly pleased the raging fanboy that lurks deep inside of me, thrilling at arcane continuity references, but in a way it diminishes the power of the book, turning Hitler from a demented megalomaniac into a mere pawn. Last I checked, Hitler was a demented megalomaniac, and to have him ensnare the Timewyrm with his mind unaided would have been far more terrifying. “Ah gee, Hitler was just a fanatical sod who happened to nearly take over half the world with the help of a psychic alien influence” lessens the power of the story and its use of such an important historical figure – and it almost makes him a sympathetic character in a couple of places, which I doubt anyone’s ready to swallow.
A much more worthy opponent is Hemmings, who launches his own inquisition to find out what the TARDIS is. This concept – Nazis learning how to use the TARDIS – has since become something of a staple of post-TV-series Doctor Who storytelling (also see the Big Finish audio Colditz).
For those of us who, at first, just wanted nothing more than for the television series to still be on the air, “Timewyrm: Exodus” was a nice, warm, placating old pair of comfortable shoes. It felt and tasted like Doctor Who, and despite the fact that it didn’t break any molds, back in late 1991, that was just fine.
Author: Terrance Dicks