Doctor Who - Kinda by Terrance Dicks
Published: March 1984
Edition read: Target first reprint, 1984
Coolest Cover: I’ll go with the photographic cover here rather than Alister Pearson’s monstrosity, which is definitely too green for me. Any cover which alludes to a Sherlock Holmes story is fine by me.
The TARDIS materialises and dematerialises...Not this time, it doesn’t.
Childhood Recollections: This may be another one where I’ve just read the book for the first time- didn’t particularly like the story on transmission and didn’t rate Terrance Dicks’s adaptations at the time, so I almost certainly left well alone.
Ramblings: This is another one of those adaptations which have crossed my path from time to time where the initial pemise didn’t seem particularly promising- in this case, Terrance Dicks, never particularly inspired when adapting stories which he wasn’t involved in bringing to the screen, taking on ‘Kinda’, which has a deserved reputation for complexity, allusion and unconventionality- and in a sense, for being the antithesis of everything that Dicks’s traditionalist approach stood for. Then again, the one charge that’s sometimes levelled against ‘Kinda’ is that in amongst all its sophisticated and multi-layered story, it sometimes forgets that it’s a Doctor Who story, so perhaps the Dicks nuts-and-bolts approach might help tidy that up at the same time.
I have a suspicion that after receiving the scripts in order to prepare his novelisation, Terrance Dicks read them through and rang Barry Letts to ask him what it was all about. It’s the little asides and explanations which show that Dicks isn’t totally insensitive to what Christopher Bailey was trying to do in ‘Kinda’. Admittedly Dicks is in his Basil Exposition mode here, filling in odd details (such as his speculation as to the fate of the three missing expedition members, or exactly what "the dreaming of an unshared mind" means), but what Dicks brings out is the conventional aspects of the story. ‘Kinda’ could, with a few nudges here and there, have sat quite comfortably in the Pertwee era- it is, after all, on one level a parable about colonialism and on another an assortment of Buddhist concepts- and I think that particular production style would have given a more even atmosphere to the Dome (cast Michael Hawkins and Prentis Hancock instead of Richard Todd and Simon Rouse and see where it gets you) and taken some of the less subtle caricature out. One area where Dicks is unfortunately up a gum tree without a paddle is that while the opening of the original story more or less follows on directly from ‘Four to Doomsday’, Dicks’s adaptation of the previous story missed off the final scene, and so Dicks either couldn’t insert a rationale for Nyssa’s illness or chose not to refer back to something which, in the context of the books, hadn’t happened.
In a strange kind of way, Terrance Dicks was probably a perfect choice to adapt ‘Kinda’ in the end. The story itself is such a patchwork of different ideas and allusions stitched together that in the hands of another writer it could simply have taken on a life of its own and rambled all over the place. Dicks’s level-headedness and fidelity to the script mean that, for all the posturing articles written over the last twenty-odd years, we can see that there’s still a Doctor Who story under there, and not that bizarre a one either- which, in a sense, is more than faithful to the story’s spirit of sophistication and simplicity being in the eye of the beholder.