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

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Doctor Who: THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR Novelisation Review

Moo skips to chapter nine.

Within the Doctor Who fandom, there’s something really popular with the old guard that the more recent fans (hello!) never had to deal with: the Target Novelisation.

It makes sense in context of these episodes being only ever broadcast once that you might want to find a new medium to bring the story to life, in the days before even VHS was widely available let alone streaming. Maybe a novelisation of an old Doctor Who story could help fans who missed it the first time get a sense of what the story was like and fill in the blanks. Sometimes a less popular story could find new life in book form, not hindered by poor production values and questionable acting. This all makes sense, as I said, in that context.

Does it still make sense in today’s vastly transformed cultural landscape however? Apparently yes, if this recreation of Steven Moffat’s magnum opus for the fiftieth anniversary is any indicator! Adapted by Moffat himself from his own script, The Day of the Doctor in novelised form almost feels like a totally different story from the televised original.

Moffat takes the opportunity to embellish the source material with whole new scenes, a fascinating framing device, and a truly unique structural gimmick that against the odds actually enhances the experience with each of the novel’s chapters being in the wrong numerical order.

Also chapter nine is skipped entirely. I can’t imagine why…

It starts off with chapter eight, which fittingly retells the events of minisode The Night of the Doctor. This doesn’t just set up the story that follows, but also nicely positions the reader for what this book’s master-stroke will be. After the Eighth Doctor regenerates and the War Doctor is born, the narration shifts into the first person as you realise the War Doctor is the narrator.

And that’s the masterstroke of this version – the narration. The novel reveals each chapter is being narrated by the Doctor, but never states which incarnation, assuming you will recall the scene from the episode. But the way he shifts between “I and me” to “him and he” is where the true genius lies. The Doctor as an idea was a major theme late in Moffat’s tenure and this book is arguably the single most clear demonstration of that, other than possibly the finale of series nine.

This is perhaps never best emphasised than in the framing device between each chapter when the narration again changes. This time the person whose voice we’re reading is left hazy throughout, but as it progresses we soon realise this too is the Doctor. But which one? That answer becomes apparent right at the end as we discover it’s the Curator, as portrayed by Tom Baker. He presents these sections as if he’s beaming them live into the reader’s mind including his scene with Matt Smith’s Doctor at the end.

Overall, I highly recommend this novelisation. Obviously it was going to be good, as considering the source material it was never gonna not be. But is it really necessary when you’ve got the original episode right there at the press of a button? I don’t know for sure, but considering what it adds I say it’s well worth it. All the added material enhances the story and adds so much extra depth to The Day Of The Doctor that you won’t watch it the same way again. And in this case that’s a good thing.

“Moo” is the pseudonym used by this Doctor Who fan. He can usually be found procrastinating by thinking about Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @z_p_moo for more of his unusual takes, but do so at your own risk.

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