A few months ago, I decided to test my willpower and walked into my local book store. I saw all of the books I wanted, but managed to spare only a few whimpers and lingering, longing gazes at those glossy covers. But then I wandered into the Television section. And what should I see but this little gem?
Some of my favourite authors combined with Doctor Who. How could I possibly walk past this one?
Easy: I didn’t.
I decided to break this post up into a a couple of parts, just because there are so many wonderful stories and I want to talk about each of them in turn. But I have to try and be succinct for your sake. So, here we go:
The best thing about this collection is that I get a crash course in Classic Who canon. I am a New Whovian. My first Doctor was Chris Eccleston and my favourite is David Tennant. Although, thanks to Syfy, I have managed to catch a few Tom Baker episodes. Let me just say that I can totally see the resemblance between Four and Sherlock Holmes now.
Anyway, my only other experience with the very first Doctor, William Hartnell, was in the TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time.
He seemed a grumpy old sort. But, in Eoin Colfer’s story I saw a side to him that I might have seen had I watched Hartnell’s episodes: his love for his granddaughter. The way One acts around Susan is beautiful, considering he seems to barely tolerate everyone else.
I saw so many Peter Pan references in this story, I felt I could make a drinking game out of them. The Doctor was facing off against The Soul Pirates, some truly terrible brutes. They gave children wonderful dreams, snatched them up in an anti-grab beam, and then proceeded to butcher them for spare parts. And on the side of the ship where they performed these terrible deeds was the phrase We Never Land.
A few paragraphs later, we get this gem:
The second star on the left winked and crackled suddenly as its cloaking shield was powered down, and where sky had been now hovered the hulking pirate factory ship.
Second star on the left, eh?
I honestly thought Eoin Colfer was making a thematic connection. There were so many references that I thought that, possibly, this was just a running metaphor. But in the final page or so, Colfer gives us this:
What he thought he saw was this:
Children surrounded by stardust flying into the night.
Two people fighting on a rooftop.
One was perhaps a pirate and the other seemed to have a hook for a hand.
And there we have it. The Doctor and his exploits gave J.M. Barrie the idea for Peter Pan. I love it when that happens! Like with Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, and probably a bunch of others I’m forgetting to mention.
There was even a mention of Eleven. There’s something that can’t happen in the show (well, except for Capaldi), because no one knows who the newer Doctors will be. So when I read about the “tall one with the dicky bow”, I had a bit of a fangirl moment.
My one problem with this story was that, at one point, The Doctor swore. But not in the way you think:
Oh, Mr. Colfer, I miss Artemis too, but you can’t do that!
I really don’t know anything about the Second Doctor. Except for, of course, his recorder. No idea why he carried a recorder, but it made an appearance in the story, which I thought was lovely.
The companion in this story was Jamie McCrimmon. Now, I don’t know much about his story arc, but I loved the fact that the companion was a guy. We’ve had Rory and Jack (and Mickey, I suppose), but Rory had Amy and Jack had Rose. We didn’t get just a man and the Doctor (oh, could you imagine the mischief Jack would have gotten up to?). It is an interesting dynamic. Jamie thought of the Doctor as his “laird” – a term I only knew because of another beautiful Scotsman: Jamie Fraser of Outlander – which made a whole lot of sense. Jamie respected the Doctor and was loyal to him because he thought of him as a clansman. Not only that, but the two went back and forth saving each others’ lives.
In this particular adventure, the TARDIS has broken down and Two tells Jamie that in order for the TARDIS to work again, they need to find gold, mercury, and Zeiton-7. So when the TARDIS gets hijacked and taken to a planet, what should be lying around but gold, mercury, and Zeiton-7? It all gets explained, very well I might add, but it felt too easy. Like, how often does the villain have exactly what you need just lying around and then willingly fix what you need fixed? The evil glass monsters of the Nameless City, the Archons, were trying to steal the TARDIS, but really? It was that easy? Come on Scott, you have to try better than that.
There was another reference to modern canon! The swimming pool, buried somewhere deep in the TARDIS. Reading that, I had images of River falling ever-so-gracefully into the pool in that stunning dress during The Day of the Moon.
This was also my very first experience with the original Master. We don’t know for sure that Professor Thascalos was the Master, but it was the book, which Thascalos gave to Jamie, that landed Jamie and Two in trouble in the first place. It then comes out that the Master was orbiting the Archon planet and told the Archons that, if they made a deal, the Archons would get a TARDIS of their own. Of course that TARDIS would be the Doctor’s.
I wish we got more of the Master in New Who. He sounds like a deliciously evil nemesis. Basically, the Doctor’s Moriarty: brilliant, but absolutely insane.
The Third Doctor: The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick
What I loved most about this story was that it gave me some incredible tidbits of Doctor Who canon. Like, I didn’t know the Doctor had been exiled to Earth by the Time Lords! Whoa! And that’s why he had a job with UNIT back in the day. Amazing! I thought his ties with UNIT were kind of like the arrangement he had with Martha: if they called, he came running. But no, the Doctor was an employee at some point. That would have been a fun place to work for a while, don’t you think? I even got a glimpse of the Brigadier! I’ve heard so much about the Brigadier but have never actually met him. I’m glad that I can’t say that anymore.
I really need to watch more Classic stuff.
One of my favourite things about Doctor Who overall is that we get some alternate history. In this case, we learnt a little about Norse mythology, in particular Odin and Thor. We learn a little about the legendary Norse weaponry and vessels and see what actually started the mythic war between Odin and his opposition:
I always liked the Master. It was interesting to see what could happens when Time Lords went bad. It was a nice contrast to the force-of-good that is the Doctor. I mean, Rassilon in The End of Time and his lot showed what happened to Time Lords during The Time War (which we see again with the War Doctor). But the Master was evil from the get go. Driven to it by the never-ending sound of drums, but still. Evil.
The idea of Bessie, that little yellow car, amused me. I mean, the Doctor can drive? Really? He can barely drive the TARDIS! I don’t think I’d get into a car with him.
Nah, who am I kidding? Of course I would.