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Doctor Who - The Happiness Patrol: The Edwardian Cricketer Media Review

Doctor Who - The Happiness Patrol: The Edwardian Cricketer Media Review

This adventure features the 7th Doctor and Ace.

Author: EdwardianCricketer/Monday, June 3, 2019/Categories: Blog, Book Review

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Doctor Who – The Happiness Patrol, by Graeme Curry, Target 1990.

Number 146 in the Doctor Who Library. 140 pages, paperback. BBC, 1988. Cover art by Alister Pearson. Original script by Graeme Curry.

This adventure features the Seventh Doctor and Ace.

SPOILER WARNING

This review contains spoilers including revealing the ending of the book.

SUMMARY

Helen A, the ruler of Terra Alpha, is determined that everyone on the planet will be happy – or else. She uses the Happiness Patrol to enforce happiness and there is an ever-present “lift music” track playing over the loudspeakers throughout the city to give a sense of happiness.

The Doctor and Ace land on Terra Alpha and Ace senses something wrong so they decide to investigate and correct it. After walking around for a long time, they meet Trevor Sigma who is taking a census for the Galactic Centre but Ace wanders off to investigate the smells coming from the Kandy Kitchen. The Doctor realizes they are being watched.

Daisy K of the Happiness Patrol gives Earl Sigma a smile badge after he changes from playing the blues to playing something happy. Trevor Sigma goes to the Kandy Kitchen to meet Gilbert M and the Kandy Man but has to leave when he can’t get an interview.

The Doctor and Ace meet Daisy K and are arrested. They are sent to a waiting zone, guarded by Priscilla P, and meet Harold V, who is playing a slot machine. They learn there have disappearances of unhappy people and Harold suspects the Kandy Man is involved and knows Helen A prefers unique executions. Harold’s brother Andrew X has disappeared.   

Not far away, Andrew X is slated for execution. The firing squad is dismissed as Andrew is smothered in thousands of gallons of the Kandy Man’s fondant surprise. Then Harold is electrocuted by the slot machine. The Doctor and Ace escape the waiting zone in a go-kart. The go-kart stops working and Ace allows herself to be taken for audition for the Happiness Patrol by Susan Q.

While Daisy K is chasing the Doctor in the repaired go-kart, Susan Q and Ace become friendly. She allows Ace to escape. The Doctor is nearly captured by the Happiness Patrol when the go-kart quits again but gets away with the help of Earl Sigma. They find the Kandy Kitchen and go in and are captured by The Kandy Man and Gilbert M.

Daisy K catches Ace and, soon after her, Susan Q. The Doctor and Earl get free of the Kandy Man, leaving him stuck to the floor. They escape through the pipes where they meet the Pipe People, who are the original inhabitants on Terra Alpha, led by Wulfric.

The Happiness Patrol takes Susan away. Ace gets away from Daisy when Daisy shoots at Wences, one of the Pipe People. Ace bolts down a manhole where she and Wences wander the pipes, unaware that Helen A has set Fifi, her monstrous pet, out to hunt them down.

The Doctor and Earl part company with the Pipe People and the Doctor convinces Trevor Sigma to take him to Helen A. Earl goes about his business. The Doctor meets Helen A and confirms she is controlling the population of unhappy people through routine disappearances and executions. Helen activates an alarm as the Doctor escapes.

Ace and Wences find themselves running from Fifi. They are almost trapped but Ace uses a can of Nitro 9, burying Fifi.

The Doctor meets Earl again and learns there will be a demonstration by the sugar factory workers. They are striking over working conditions and murders committed by the Happiness Patrol. Two snipers pin them down but the Doctor talks the snipers out of killing anyone else then goes back to the Kandy Kitchen. The Doctor needs the Kandy Man to divert the flow of fondant surprise that is heading for where Susan Q is supposed to be executed and so that Ace isn’t caught in the pipes by the flow of the confectionery. He agrees to unstick the Kandy Man, who complies, but has to stick him to the floor again when he starts to chase the Doctor.

Ace falls from the pipe in the middle of Susan’s execution. Wences gets away but Daisy K escorts Ace and Susan to Helen. She wants them to perform at the Forum. Make her laugh, or else.

The Doctor escapes the Kandy Man to meet Earl again to go the Forum. The Doctor has Earl lead the demonstrators to the Forum. Daisy leads Ace and Susan to the Forum. Helen tends to Fifi, who has escaped with some injuries. She then releases Fifi back into the pipes to seek out the Pipe People.

The Doctor and Earl meet at the Forum as Daisy K leads Ace and Susan Q and the Happiness Patrol into the square. He confuses them all by being happy. The Happiness Patrol can’t fire at him. Then the Drones, the protesters, enter the square. Gilbert M arrives with more of the Happiness Patrol who also can’t fire. They are more miserable than the protesters. The Doctor and Ace steal a jeep.

Fifi is chasing the Pipe People as the Doctor and Ace enter the pipes. The Doctor finds a way out but uses his umbrella to start an avalanche, burying Fifi again. Earl and Susan go to the waiting zone to find Priscilla P while the Doctor and the rest go to the Kandy Kitchen. Susan takes Priscilla prisoner.

The Doctor and Ace confront the Kandy Man and use his own ovens against him. He escapes through the pipes. They meet Susan and Earl in the street. The Pipe People take over the Kandy Kitchen and start a flow of fondant surprise.

Seeing her world crumbling, Helen tries to flee in a shuttle. Gilbert M finds the metal frame that’s all that’s left of the Kandy Man. He and Joseph C beat Helen to the shuttle and run. Helen runs for the rocket port but encounters the Doctor and Ace. She spots Fifi, who is dying and runs for her, the only thing she ever really loved. The Doctor and Ace leave Helen A crying as she hold Fifi’s body.

The Doctor and Ace leave Terra Alpha for further adventures.

OPINION

I’m in the middle ground on this one. It isn’t a terrible story but it isn’t great. The concept is both fairly simple and a little complex – a ruler determined that her people would be happy or else. The factory workers striking and destroying the factories that supply the sugar for the Kandy Man. The disappearances and the auditions. The captive scientist and the monstrous creation. There’s a lot of plot going on here. It all gets wrapped up. It’s well constructed and well told, it's just not a story I enjoyed. I never really got a sense of peril and the pacing didn't work for me. It was slow with too much retreading the same ground. Curry does take time to give a good many background details to possibly explain character motivation that dialogue alone doesn’t. Read and judge for yourself.

SOURCES

The Doctor Who Reference Guide

 

 

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