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.

Recent Big Finish: Tenth Doctor, Fourth Doctor, Martha Jones

So, I’m rather far behind with writing up my recent Big Finish listening – last time I mentioned it was in July. Three boxed sets of audio plays to cover quickly in summary here.

My favourite of these is a set of three stories with the Tenth Doctor and Classic Companions. All three bring David Tennant together with John Leeson as K9. The first, Splinters by John Dorney, features Louise Jameson as Leela; the second, The Stuntman by Lizzie Hopley, has Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, and the third, Quantum of Axos by Roy Gill, has Sophie Aldred as Ace. All three stories have fantastic chemistry between Tennant and the others – the arrivals of Leela and K9 are the first changes to the regular cast he remembers as a young fan, and clearly everyone is thrilled to bits to be performing with each other. It was also interesting that all three stories play with themes of identity, memory and nostalgia, which always appeal to me too. Dorney, Hopley and Gill are among Big Finish’s more reliable writers, and they have delivered here. Strongly recommended. Here’s a trailer to whet your appetite.

Another New Who spinoff comes in the form of The Year of Martha Jones, set during the year that Martha travels the world while the aged-up Doctor is the Master’s prisoner. We’ve already had a print anthology set in this period; this however is better, getting off to an excellent start in The Last Diner by the always reliable James Goss, a more Western-y The Silver Medal by Tim Foley, and a well-executed climax in Deceived by Matt Fitton. Martha is joined by Adjoa Andoh playing her mother Francine, who has apparently escaped the Master, and Serin Ibrahim as old friend Holly. (Also Clare Louise Connolly plays the Toclafance in all three stories.) Guest stars include Marina Sirtis, best known as Deanna Troi in Star Trek, in the first episode.

The fifth set of Ninth Doctor adventures, Back to Earth, sees Christopher Ecclestone’s time as the Doctor on audio overtaking his record on TV. To be honest I was less wowed by this trilogy than by some of the others, but these are all decent enough stories. Station to Station by Robert Valentine has the Doctor helping a young woman (Indigo Griffiths) out of a strange predicament in a deserted railway station. The False Dimitry by Sarah Grochala brings a Whovian spin to a corner of Russian history, the title character playedby Alexander Arnold. And Auld Lang Syne, another one by Time Foley, has a spooky New Year’s Eve party where all is not what it seems; veteran Wendy Craig makes an appearance as the great-aunt. I got the sense that Big Finish is trying out younger writers and actors in this range, which is fine. Here, again is a trailer.

I’m also way behind on noting the Fourth Doctor box sets that I have been listening to, but I think I’ll save those for another post – the above three are all worth getting anyway.