Doom’s Day: 24 Doctor Who stories in different media, of which less than half feature the Doctor

For the 60th anniversary, we have been given a slightly weird thing: a 24-part story featuring a time-travelling assassin called Doom, in which the Doctor figures only occasionally, told across various media with, frankly, varying degrees of success. The two big problems are that murder isn’t actually all that funny a topic, so it’s awkward to find the tone for a set of funny stories about assassination; and that Doom actually isn’t a very good assassin, in that all of her missions seem to end in failure.

Hour One, by James Goss (online story) – third paragraph:

“I’m dying.”

As my regular reader knows, I’m normally a huge fan of James Goss’s writing, but I’m afraid that this first chapter made very little sense to me. You can read it here for free.

Four Hours of Doom’s Day, by Jacqueline Rayner, art by Russ Leach, Mike Summers and Roger Langridge (comic strip supplement to DWM #592) – second frame of third story:

Again, I normally enjoy Jacqueline Rayner’s prose, and again, I felt that this was far too rushed; the four stories have only 16 pages between them, and the first has only two. We get an appearance from the Sixth Doctor, and separately we also get Jo Grant, River Song, Cybermen and Nestenes. But there’s really not much there.

A Doctor in the House? by Jody Houser, art by Roberta Ingranata, Warnia K. Sahadewa, Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Titan comics) – second frame of third story:

Given a bit more space to breathe in – 64 pages across the four stories – I enjoyed this much more; also there’s a nice consistency in that Missy appears in each of the four, creating a fun dynamic with our heroine, and the Twelfth Doctor turns up in the last of them. It’s not yet out as a single volume but you can get the two issues here and here.

AI am the Doctor, by Mario M. Mentasti (video game)

I downloaded the Lost in Time videogame purely so that I could get to this installment of the Doom’s Day story. It is an exceptionally dull game, where you don’t have to do much except poke at the screen to score points, interrupted by occasional bits of plot. If you play the game for long enough, you get to the two Doom-related bits. I poked my way through to the first of these, realised that I had not absorbed any of the plot, closed the game down and have not started it up again.

Extraction Point, by M.G. Harris (novel) – second paragraph of third section:

Huh, cave art. Didn’t expect that.

Four more stories in which the Ninth Doctor appears briefly in the first and the Second Doctor plays a larger role in the last. (There is a confusing misprint on page 220: “The Doctor was already lowering herself into the elevator” which from context should clearly be “himself”.) It’s Harris’s first contribution to Who, and as with some of the other Doom’s Day components I found it a bit rushed. Still, interesting use of shape-changing aliens – the Kraals and Slitheen do have that in common. You can get it here.

Wrong Place at the Right Time, by Garner Haines (video game)

As mentioned above, I lost patience with the Lost in Time game, which this is part of, and did not get to this bit.

Four from Doom’s Day, by Darren Jones (audiobooks)

Four more stories, of which my favourite was the first, read by Sooz Kempener (who also reads the last of the four) and involving Ian and Barbara on a Mediterranean cruise. The Twelfth Doctor shows up in the last of them. You can get them here.

Dying Hours, by Jacqueline Rayner, Robert Valentine, Simon Clark and Lizzie Hopley (Big Finish audio plays)

These are the only parts of Doom’s Day that actually feature actor Sooz Kempener in the title role, along with Becky Wright as her controller Terri. Probably each of the audio plays took more combined creative effort from all the the professionals involved than any of the other segments, and it certainly pays off; you can’t rush an hour-long story with real actors into two pages of text. Even so, the four plays have various levels of success; the one that worked best for me was the last, The Crowd by Lizzie Hopley, which brings Doom into contact with the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard (a welcome return from India Fisher) at the scene of the murder of Thomas Becket. You can get it here.

Out of Time, by James Goss (online story – third paragraph:

The Doctor.

Actually this is short, funny and to the point; the First Doctor shows up and sorts everything out, though in such a way that, once you pause for thought, you slightly wonder if it all really mattered that much in the first place. You can read it for free here.

And finally, there’s a game called Doom’s Minute on the BBC website. It took me a while to work out how to play it, and it’s not all that exciting, but you can play it here.

I can see why the BBC decided to try and do a multiplatform story – it’s a good idea to try and draw those who may not have been into all of the available varieties of media together. Sooz Kempener is a great performer and it’s a shame that we only actually get her in the audio plays towards the end. But this honestly felt rather rushed in places; the bits that worked best for me – the Big Finish audios and the Titan comics – were probably the ones that took the most energy and creativity, and it shows.

I am the Master, by Peter Anghelides et al

Second paragraph of third story (“Missy’s Magical Mystery Mission”, by Jacqueline Rayner):

And so Daphne (‘Mrs N’ to her clients, although she wasn’t married), scrubbed Tivone of Enfis’s bathroom, steam-cleaned his oubliette and de-crumbed his toaster, hoping all the while her cheerful chat, homemade oat and raisin cookies and occasional casual mentions of how every person was worthy of rights and respect would make his heart shine, just a little bit. In return, Tivone of Enfis gave Mrs N a Festival of Snowtide bonus and a personalised bolo-card, included her in Team Tivone awaydays, and had refrained from having any of her relatives killed (although admittedly she didn’t have many relatives and if they’d shown any signs of seditious behaviour they’d have been for the chop, however well their sister / aunt / second-cousin-once-removed dusted his ornaments).

Six short stories about different incarnations of the Master, by Peter Anghelides (Delgado!Master), Mark Wright (Pratt/Beevors!Master), Jac Rayner (Missy), Mike Tucker (Ainley!Master), Beverley Sanford (Simm!Master) and Matthew Sweet (Dhawan!Master). I thought they were all pretty good; I expect that Matthew Sweet’s Soviet-era riff on a well-known novel, “The Master and Margarita”, will sail over some people’s heads but I enjoyed it too. Recommended. You can get it here.

Legends of Camelot, by Jacqueline Rayner

Second paragraph of third chapter:

It was a relic of growing up with Sylvia. Donna’s mother had never been particularly understanding over incidents such as spilled drinks or broken plates, and Donna found it a lot easier to deflect blame than to deal with several weeks of passive-aggressive comments. That instinct still kicked in sometimes.

As usual from Jacqueline Rayner, a very solid Doctor Who novel, this time taking the Tenth Doctor and Donna – who I think are a New Who writer’s dream team – to what appears to be the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round table, with resonances of Malory, White, Bradley and the stage musical Camelot. There is of course an explanation for it all involving vast non-human intelligences from beyond time (this becomes clear fairly early), but it’s all nicely done and supplies a couple of good twists and challenges to the Doctor’s own authority. Recommended. You can get it here.

Legends of Camelot