The Day of the Doctor (novelisation)

Doctor Who, which follows the adventures of the Time Lord who goes by the name of Doctor, is one of the most successful sci-fi shows in the world.

2013 marked the show’s 50th anniversary, and a special feature-length episode, The Day of the Doctor, was broadcast simultaneously around the world on 23rd November, the date the very first episode was broadcast in 1963. The script was written by Steven Moffat, who stepped down last year as the show’s lead writer and executive producer after eight years in the role.

This year, Moffat novelised The Day of the Doctor.

The-Day-of-the-Doctor-paperback-book
The Day of the Doctor
novelisation cover.

This is how the story goes: the War, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors (the John Hurt, David Tennant, and Matt Smith incarnations, respectively) join up and save Earth from an alien invasion, with the Tenth Doctor marrying Queen Elizabeth I in the process. They then unite with their other incarnations to save their home planet Gallifrey from destruction at the end of the Last Great Time War by putting it into a pocket universe. Gallifrey was previously considered destroyed by the entire universe, including the Doctor himself.

The novel is told from various points of view, mostly the War, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors. The chapters are presented out of order, with Chapter 9 not being included (a nod to Christopher Eccleston, who declined to return as the Ninth Doctor in the episode). Each chapter is introduced by the Curator, who was played by Tom Baker in the episode.

It includes great interactions between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, and presents excellent narration about the inner conflict of the War Doctor, who contemplated destroying the Time Lords (along with Gallifrey) and the Daleks to end the Time War. He was close to doing so until the Eleventh Doctor suggested saving the Time Lords and Gallifrey, but still destroying the Daleks.

The novel also includes several differences from the episode. The wedding between the Tenth Doctor and Elizabeth I wasn’t included in the novel, only mentioned in passing. The desktop of the TARDIS console room didn’t ‘glitch’ when three Doctors, each from a different time zone, were inside. None of the Doctors, except for the First, War, Tenth, and Eleventh, showed up via holograms in the War Room on Gallifrey; the Twelfth Doctor physically appeared in the Room.

It includes new scenes as well, including one between the Tenth Doctor and River Song before the main events of The Day of the Doctor but after Forest of the Dead. There are new scenes with the Tenth Doctor and Elizabeth I leading up to their picnic date, which was their first scene in the episode. And new scenes were included explaining what happened while all the Doctors were putting Gallifrey into the pocket universe. More excitingly, the last chapter is a completely new scene told from the point-of-view of the new Thirteenth Doctor (played by Jodie Whittaker), who made her debut in last year’s Christmas episode.

Various things are expanded on in the novel, as well. For example, in the episode, the Eleventh Doctor tells the War and Tenth Doctors they won’t remember the events of The Day of the Doctor because three of them together put their timeline out of sync. He doesn’t elaborate further in the episode. (For those who aren’t Doctor Who fans, all incarnations of the Doctor are the same person, just at different points in time). In the novel, a little more information is provided:

‘However hard the Doctor concentrated, two of them standing together played havoc with the timelines and made it all but impossible to form lasting memories […] the timelines were tied in a knot and [the Doctor’s] memory was all over the place.’ (p. 99)

In other words: if you time travel to a point of meeting yourself results in your younger self’s timeline not being synchronised, leading to them not retaining any memory of meeting your future self. So your present self will remember meeting your younger self, but your younger self won’t remember meeting your present self. (It’s all very complicated!).

Out-of-sync timelines were never a factor in past multi-Doctor stories, as all Doctors seemed to have retained memories of those events. But it makes sense, as time is meant to flow in one direction.

Clara, the Eleventh Doctor’s companion, could’ve been given more depth in the novel. Unfortunately, she instead comes across as two-dimensional. She seemed to only be in the novel to ask questions and appear conveniently to save the day.

But overall, the novelisation of The Day of the Doctor stands up reasonably well. Steven Moffat is to be congratulated for this, as it’s his first ever novel.

 


Words by Callum J. Jones

4/5 stars.

Images property of BBC.

Snowpiercer

I must admit, before I walked into the Mercury Cinema, I had already seen the film that was showing that night. In fact, it’s one of my favourite films, and has been for a few years. Snowpiercer was released in 2014 to a limited audience in America and subsequently Australia (due to a belligerent Harvey Weinstein), but it is now on Netflix. It hosts an all-star cast, not the least of them John Hurt, Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell, and is an English-language Korean film.

The film utilises a well-worn concept in the 21st century – humanity accidentally destroys the Earth and the majority of itself, and the plot follows the few who survived, on a self-sustaining train that travels the planet and never stops.

Those who live on the train have formed a plutocratic society, the rich living in the first few carriages, dining on sushi, getting high and partying it up, while those at the foot of the train are subjugated to harsh laws, fed a pittance, and barely survive. Enter the film’s protagonist, Curtis, who wants to save his people and stage a rebellion. Chris Evans is almost unrecognisable as Curtis with his dark beard and a beanie, just about as far from Captain America as he could be, and it is one of his best roles to date.

Though with a simple, straightforward plot, Snowpiercer is dark, gritty, and its true accomplishment comes from its astoundingly harsh critique of the human race. The film’s dystopian future strikes close to home, and shows the god complex humanity exhibits over many different facets of our existence. Humans think they can solve global warming, not by using renewable energies or ceasing to emit greenhouse gases, but by dropping a chemical in the atmosphere to lower the Earth’s temperature. Instead they cause an instant global Ice Age and kill almost every living thing. The god complex is also exhibited by the creator of the train, who many refer to as ‘divine’. When Curtis finally reaches him, he finds a man half-mad and believing his own superiority, his own righteousness; so much so that he orchestrated the entire rebellion just to get Curtis to succeed him as the caretaker of the engine. Even Curtis has his own god complex, his own righteous belief that his rebellion, though not the first, deserves to be carried out and succeed.

The film also examines the very nature of humankind, and what we are willing to do to survive. The caretaker, for instance, uses children to replace parts of the engine that wear and break over time. The First Class citizens are happy to starve and murder the “Tail Sectioners” if it means they can party for one more night. Curtis is also not exempt from the flawed desire for survival, and he explains at the end of the film what he was willing to do when the food ran out when they first got on the train. It is this monologue that exemplifies why I feel Evans’ performance is so memorable, and is what makes Snowpiercer truly stand out from all the other dystopian futures embodied in pop culture.

Not only is Snowpiercer a study in humanity, but it is presented in such a realistic way that one can’t help but to wonder: Do we really deserve to survive on this Earth?

 

 


Words by Amelia Hughes.

Four stars.

Thanks to Mercury Cinema.