Lots of planets have unicorns!
I’d pay cash money if there is a unicorn, but it’s the pantomime horse from Rentaghost with a horn on its head.
Rentaghost really jumped the shark when they brought in the pantomime horse.
Rentaghost jumping a shark would have been one hell of a budget increase.
It’s ok, it was a pantomime shark.
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor
I’ve never been into extended-universe stuff for Doctor Who. I’ve read a few of the comics here and there, and maybe one or two short stories, but I’ve never dived into the wealth of extra material that’s out there in any serious way. As a result, I’ve never read any of the many novelisations that were released in the show’s classic era - which have inspired a new range of four novelisations covering some of the key stories of the nu-Who run (as well as an extra fifth adaptation of a classic story to fill a gap in the old range).
Along with RTD’s novelisation of his own Rose - and takes on The Christmas Invasion by Jenny T Colgan, Twice Upon A Time by Paul Cornell, and Fourth Doctor story City of Death by James Goss - Steven Moffat has adapted his own Day of the Doctor. And having heard very good things about it, I decided to check it out for myself.
And it’s good. Very good. In fact, if you’re a fan of his run on the show and his style of writing, I’d say it’s an essential read.
It does far more than just retell the story of Day of the Doctor (although it does do that too). It plays with structure in all the ways you’d expect from a Moffat story, presenting chapters out of sequence and experimenting with different forms of prose; it has fun with guessing-games revolving around the identity of each chapter’s narrator (many of whom are different incarnations of the Doctor - but it isn’t always immediately clear which); and it adds details around the edges of the story that not only tie it more closely to other ideas explored in Doctor Who stories past, present and future, but also twist moments from the TV version in amusing and unexpected ways, so that even those who have watched the 50th anniversary special umpteen times will find lots that’s fresh and new here.
Revealing many of these details would spoil the surprise, but we get lots of extra fleshing-out of scenes like the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration from Night of the Doctor, the prison cell scene with the three Doctors stuck in the past, the involvement of Elizabeth I and the machinations of UNIT (in fact, there are a couple of decent chapters where we get to see what’s going on in the minds of Kate Stewart and Petronella Osgood. Well, kind of.) The scenes where we get inside the Doctor’s head(s) are particularly revealing, helping to expand on the motivations of the War Doctor and also showing how the fallout from his use of The Moment ripples out through time and informs specific moments involving subsequent Doctors from later episodes.
There are also some interesting alternate takes on scenes from the TV version, including some surprising omissions. The Doctor’s dream at the end of the TV episode is entirely absent, and (even more surprisingly), there’s no big “all Thirteen” moment here - which I was initially a little disappointed by, until I realised that Moffat had come up with a slightly more subtle way for the Twelfth Doctor to be involved in the story’s climax, opening up a brand new montage that’s set during the concealment of Gallifrey and which is one of the most thrilling sequences in the novel. There’s also some fun to be had touching on characters like River Song and the Thirteenth Doctor, who both show up in some capacity but don’t distract from the core story.
And being Moffat, it’s funny throughout. From silly throwaway gags that develop naturally from the situation (and which you can imagine fitting into the TV version) to far geekier in-jokes about stuff like the Peter Cushing Doctor Who movies or the fact that the first and second Doctors could only see in black-and-white, the book is filled with jokes and light moments.
It all makes for a book that constantly keeps you guessing, keeps you wondering what the next twist is and where things might be headed.
Which is not bad for a story you’ve already seen.
Damn it, Dave. I’ve been trying to divest myself of spin-off media, but I might have to check this out based on your review.