Doctor Who: THE GOOD DOCTOR Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE GOOD DOCTOR Review

Christopher Morley spends time with The Good Doctor, the first full length Thirteenth Doctor novel...

In retrospect it isn't all that often that the Doctor is actually forced to confront the consequences of previous off-world trips - perhaps the best known example seeing her having to do a bit of IT support in fixing Xoanon back when she was a younger scarf favouring man. Having undergone a post-regenerative sex change she has to do similar in nipping back to Lobos to sort out a spot of bother she's inadvertently caused & serves as the figurehead for. Well, sort of. For The Good Doctor is back among his congregation & looks suspiciously like that bloke off The Chase.

You could perhaps be forgiven for taking one look & chucking it in the waste paper basket if you'd found the whole gender debate around the time of Jodie Whittaker's casting a bit tiresome. But refraining from doing so may well bring its own rewards. As someone who underwent a similar change herself Juno Dawson is arguably best qualified to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard for the Thirteenth Doctor's first printed innings, & where you might expect a sort of feature length “she's the Doctor now, whether you like it or not”, to borrow a phrase from Colin Baker, it doesn't materialise.

At least not in the manner you'd expect! Having stepped in as peacekeeper between the doglike natives of Loba & the human colonists of their little corner of the universe, Ryan's forgetting his phone & subsequent return for it reveals that things have taken a turn for the worse in that those the Silurians would call apes have enslaved the Loba in a sort of inversion of the traditionally warm relationship between man & his four legged best friend, which even the Doctor has been seen to enjoy the fruits of.

Proving she's not lost her appetite for stepping in as a sort of universal umpire, she becomes a kind of power behind the throne as the Doctor-Graham surveys the work of his followers, led by the High Priest Mykados. Outwardly a man of faith following his calling, it will surprise nobody to learn it isn't quite that simple he isn't holier than thou at all! Enough to make you spit out your Yorkshire Tea, which under the rules of the true Doctor's mouth is quite alright. Custard creams presumably optional though encouraged.

Religion has of course proved itself dependable fodder for Doctor Who since its inception, the idea of the lonely god who then develops a complex of sorts a far cry from an initial denial of being one at all. Except here its a companion who has to step up to the crease & play the part. Graham will be the Doctor, & he & his friends have to hope this one works out, to again coin a phrase.

Which it has to, of course. Rather neatly there's even a tiny morsel of a reference to a Doctor who often found themselves in a similar quandary. And in a sense the Graham-Doctor is every bit a fusion of Bradley Walsh & Peter Davison in that he has to intervene but isn't quite sure how to? Bradders, though, just about pulls through & never has to go through such an ordeal again at least in such a direct manner after resuming his place in the supporting cast. Peter, in contrast, spends three series as the main man doing exactly the same with a small break for a bit of cricket then sacrifices himself for Nicola Bryant while being not so subtly upstaged by her breasts.

Any post-Whittaker history of the series will surely tell us who got the better end of the deal there. As a start to her run, a companion piece to The Woman Who Fell To Earth, though, The Good Doctor at least adds another dimension to the aforementioned & often dull/repetitive discourse around Chris Chibnall having the temerity to not hand a man the key to the TARDIS to the usual narrative of pitching up, sorting out & then off to the old police box for more of the same-cynics might note that Series 11 gave us plenty of that & not a lot more besides.

Whatever your opinion on that, one thing becomes clear as we welcome the newest incarnation to the bookshelves in that being the Doctor is by no means easy. From the molten heart of one burning issue, then, next we go to the literal Molten Heart of Adamantine to consider a curious case of deja-Who between the New Series & Eighth Doctor Adventures....

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