Rating: All Ages
Word Count: 1,012
Author's Summary: JOSEPH: "Close to the Kandyman, were you?" / GILBERT: "I made him." Gilbert M and the Kandyman.
Characters/Pairings: Other Character(s), The Kandy Man
Recced because: I can't shake the feeling that there have been few stories in Doctor Who history more unfairly maligned over the years than The Happiness Patrol. It started almost as soon as it first aired, and continued, with what is in reality a deceptively smart, subversive and brutal story about how oppressive regimes work and ways they can be resisted becoming instead Exhibit A whenever any discussion turns to Doctor Who being "too silly." And no aspect of the story came in for more of this sort of thing than its most iconic figure, the infamous Kandyman. It didn't help that the character visually resembled a famous British advertising mascot of the day, but it does irritate me intensely that one of the more compellingly unpleasant villains in 80s Who became a poster child for its supposed decline and fall on a decade or more of "I love the 80s" type television programmes. The irony being that most of those leading the mockery either hadn't seen the story itself, or hadn't understood it, instead judging it purely on its dayglow sugar-coated visual façade, one of the things the story itself was arguing against.
Enough ranting from me. Instead allow me to recommend this fic which goes a long way towards redressing the injustices I outline above. Starting from the television story, and riffing on the extra backstory for the characters described in the really rather good Target novelisation, the author paints a vivid picture of the monstrousness of the Kandyman himself, who is at once a tragic and horrifying figure, and the strange, abusive co-dependency he has with his creator/sidekick/prisoner/husband Gilbert M. The story itself is told from the point of view of Gilbert himself, and really gets inside the head of this weak, fearful, morally malleable character, the sort of person tyrannies like the one on Terra Alpha cannot function without, simultaneously a victim and an enabler of its terror and repression. And like all of this author's stories, it is very well-written indeed.
This author is no stranger to this comm, and for a very good reason. If you are at all appreciative of the Seventh Doctor and his era, go and read this story now. You won't be disappointed.
He’s made a living nightmare. He’s made Helen A an executioner. Gilbert feels, deep down where logic doesn’t count, that what’s left of Seivad’s mind and body hates him. He can’t blame him if he does.
It comes to seem normal surprisingly quickly — or perhaps it’s not surprising after what he’s already done. Fondant surprise, sweetest of deaths, delivered down pipes: pull this lever back, push that one forward. The Kandyman creates confections that are so good the human frame can’t hold them: he makes sweets that kill people. He kills with sugar and an overload of bliss.