I’ve been watching Doctor Who for a couple of months now; I’ve gone through seasons one, two and three of the revival, and I have been well entertained. (If you ask me, Season One with Eccleston was brilliant. Season Two with Tennant was so-and-so with a terrible slump in the middle; and Season Three with Tennant was almost up to One. I’d hazard a guess that Davies or Moffat writing correlates strongly with not sucking.)
I don’t really have anything deep to say about Doctor Who — except that it is at its best when it gets as weird as it can be — but I just realized this autumn is not my first brush with the Doctor.
No, when I was thirteen or so, this would be 1995 maybe, I had a book out from the library bus that was a Doctor Who adventure.
This I know just because the name of the series has stuck in my mind. At the time, I didn’t who what Doctor Who was; indeed, I faintly recall being puzzled by the non-appearance of any Doctor called Who in the story. It felt like betrayal to a young, ignorant reader. There was some The Doctor, a character that just butted in into the story without bothering to explain just who he was and what he was doing there, much to the confusion of the plot characters and of the reader. It was all very confusing. Mostly because the old Who TV series had never been shown in Finland; the books weren’t published in any great numbers; and I had absolutely no idea what this thing was and which elements were supposed to be the recurring ones. With something like Transformers you knew it was big giant robots being destroyed by Megatron; with the Three Detectives it was, naturally, three detectives detecting; but Doctor Who? Not on the cultural radar of a Finnish boy circa 1995, and not a matter the original author had felt necessary to explain. (Then again, I was thirteen; not the age where you are interested in splicing a novel series into filling and staples.)
The story, now, I don’t remember anything about that. It had… maybe it was a near present-day Earth story, maybe it had monsters of some kind and a forest and er um.
Since as far as desultory googling can tell there have been just two Doctor Who book translations into Finnish before the new series, the book must have been either “Tohtori KUKA ja autonien hyökkäys” or “Tohtori KUKA ja luolahirviöt”, i.e. “Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion” (Terrance Dicks, 1974) or “Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters/Silurians” (Malcolm Hulke, 1974). Both were published by Weilin+Göös, a major-ish Finnish publisher, in 1976, as nice little hardbacks if I recall correctly.
Also, the Finnish titles are horrible. “Tohtori KUKA” is just “Doctor WHO”, but the dramatic capitalization is silly. And KUKA is, if possible, a word that sounds even more mundane and non-dramatic than WHO. You can yell “Who?” dramatically; I don’t really think a Finnish drama could do the same with “Kuka?” Especially since if you stretch the second consonant a touch too much you’re shouting “Kukka?”, that is, “A FLOWER?” (On the exchange, WHO couldn’t be capitalized in English. The UN would get mad.)
To finish with, here’s the cover of the Cave Monsters book. Can anyone tell me if Silurians are supposed to look like this?