Time For Adventures
Tripwire’s contributing writer Laurence Boyce casts his eye over BBC Books’ Doctor Who: Adventures In Lockdown…
Doctor Who: Adventures In Lockdown
published by BBC Books
For all its action adventure trappings, for all its fantastical sci-fi ideas, for all its complex continuity, one of the main reasons that that Doctor Who has endured is very simple. It’s a story about hope. No matter how dark things get, no matter how grim the outlook is, Doctor Who tells us that there is one person in the universe who will do what’s right. Who will never be cruel or cowardly. Who will show us that the ways of bravery, selflessness and honour will always triumph against evil. That everything is going to be OK.
Given that 2020 has been somewhat of a dumpster fire, it’s unsurprising that Doctor Who ‘watchalongs’ have proved a great comfort to those in lockdown. The chance to watch some episodes of Doctor Who, alongside some tweeted comments from those in the show, have not only provided entertainment but reminded us that even in isolation we are not as alone as we thought we were. Accompanying these watchalongs have been new snippets of material, written by some of the some of the leading lights of the modern incarnation of the Time Lord that add new depth to previous stories as well as provide some new adventures for the Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation of The Doctor (is she counted as Number 13 anymore? Only Chris Chibnall knows….). Doctor Who: Adventures in Lockdown collects these ancillary stories as well as promising to donate £2.25 from every sale of the book to BBC Children In Need.
Many of the stories are unsurprisingly continuity heavy. Rose: The Sequel by Russell T Davies sees a lone remnant of the Nestene Consciousness survive its encounter with the Ninth Doctor (PCN – Pre Chibnall Numbering) and find a new form, with a typical vein of political satire that RTD wove into his work. RTD also provides Doctor Who and the Time War, originally written for Doctor Who Monthly and then scrapped when Steven Moffat revealed his intentions to explore the event. Now an ‘Elseworlds’ type story, it’s full of RTDs invention and references to fateful events we have never been witness to. Mark Gatiss writes Fellow Traveller (one of the three stories written specially for the collection) in which a woman on an Earth ravaged by the Daleks meets a face that is both unfamiliar and comforting. With a whiff of gothic horror, Gatiss ties in both the past and present of the show in a subtle and affecting way. In another tale, Neil Gaiman recounts an adventure of The Corsair (the Time Lord memorably mentioned in his Doctor Who penned episode The Doctor’s Wife), a rip roaring adventure story which also ties into the past of the series.
But while the past of the show is reflected upon quite a bit in this collection – and it’s true to say that the continuity heavy stories are aimed more at the hardcore fan of the show to pick up the references – there are also plenty of adventures for the current era. Paul Cornell’s The Shadow Passes provides a metaphor for the lockdown situation and shows you what The Doctor what do if caught up in quarantine. It’s a fun little tale – and rather comforting as well – as it’s a paean to friendship and hope and provides a good showcase for Jodie Whittaker’s wide-eyed and positive incarnation of the Time Lord. Chibnall gives us Things She Thought While Falling, which does what it says on the tin as the Doctor’s thoughts post-regeneration and pre-crashing through a train roof in The Woman Who Fell To Earth.
Perhaps the best story in the collection is Steven Moffat’s The Terror of the Umpty Ums, which allows the former showrunner to write for The Thirteenth Doctor (PCN) – in a roundabout way. A futuristic deathbot hears the voice of The Doctor in his head. What is the Time Lord doing there and what will she do to him? To say too much about the story would be to ruin it, but it’s a constantly surprising and meta piece of work that morphs into something rather affecting.
This is a collection of brief and breezy stories some of which are very good indeed and there is a certain sense of comfort in some of the tales on offer here in light of the current world situation. Both by virtue of its origins and its altruistic aims it would seem churlish to criticise this collection – the worst you could perhaps say is that it’s a shame there are no outings for the Eleventh or Twelfth (PCN) Doctors – and it remains enormous fun. Even if the majority of the stories are available online, this would make a perfect stocking filler for any Doctor Who fan whilst also helping charity.
Doctor Who: Adventures of Lockdown published by BBC Books is available now priced at £8.99, with £2.25 from each sale going to Children In Need.