Friday, February 15, 2013
IN the less-enlightened ‘eighties, popular writer Peter Haining succeeded in convincing Doctor Who fandom that 1966 Western adventure The Gunfighters was not only the least-watched story in the series’ history, but was also universally derided as terrible. His comments passed into myth, and it wasn’t until the story was eventually released on video, and later DVD, that fans were given an opportunity for reassessment, the result of which is that both of Haining’s claims have since been rejected.
But before anyone had a chance to watch The Gunfighters on television for the first time in decades, original writer Donald Cotton began its renaissance with a fantastic novelisation of his script, presenting the events seen on screen with a witty and satirical take that draws on every cliché ever associated with the Old West.
The TARDIS crew arrive in the town of Tombstone in search of a dentist to fix the Doctor’s sore tooth, and after a case of mistaken identity involving none other than “Doc” Holiday, realise they have landed on the eve of the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral.
Playing it fast and loose with historical accuracy, and concentrating instead of capturing the mood of the period through the lens of Hollywood, Cotton enhances and enlivens his original story and plays up on the comedy aspects to tell the adventure in a whole new light.
Canadian Shane Rimmer, who played Seth Harper in the original story, reads the audiobook version in authentically American tones, but his advancing years are obviously taking their toll, leaving him struggling at times.
That said, there’s still so much here to recommend, especially for anyone who still might have reservations about watching The Gunfighters on DVD, and this novelisation hammers a final nail into the coffin of Haining’s misjudged claims.