Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Ten Doctors

Let me set the scene. The Ten Doctors is a Doctor Who fan fiction comic written and drawn by Rich Morris. He posted the pages on his website between March 2007 and May 2009. As the name suggests it’s a story featuring the first ten Doctors from Doctor Who and, as with all multi-Doctor entries in the show’s history, it’s very heavy on continuity references. It’s even worse the the heady heights of the JNT Era.

If none of the above made any sense to you this isn’t something you’re going to enjoy. It’s well written with some pretty decent artwork but it’s definitely aimed at fans. If you don’t know your War Chief from your Metebelis III you’re not going to be able to make heads or tails of anything that happens in The Ten Doctors.

The plot is a tricky one to summarise. The general gist is that something has gone wrong with the Doctor’s time stream so all of his incarnations barring the Eighth get together with a selection of companions to investigate the problem. Doctors and companions are then split off into numerous teams, each following their own little plots that contribute to the larger one. Eventually members of the rogues gallery start showing up, as do the races you’d expect to see. The Master, the Rani, the Ice Warriors, the Moxx, the Celestial Toymaker… they’re all here.

Some teams work better than others. The pairing of the Second and Seventh Doctors works particularly well while the lumping of Doctors Four, Six and Nine together feels odd. Given his standing within the show, as well as Tom Baker’s eternal disinterest in sharing the spotlight, it feels odd to see the Fourth Doctor teamed up as part of a group. It feels equally strange for the First Doctor to be off by himself, considering the show was had a fairly large cast during his televised era.

It can be pretty tough to keep track of what’s going on but the approach works for the most part. Morris is just as focused as making sure the plot progresses on every page as he is on dropping in fan-pleasing references. It takes a meandering route but the story’s always got something going on.

Morris also deserves praise for his artwork. There are dozens of characters on display and the important ones (the Doctors and the enemy races) are always instantly recognisable. Some likenesses are stronger than others, but that’s to be expected. Morris does a very good job with Pertwee, Troughton, McCoy and Davison but both Bakers and Eccleston leave a little to be desired. But even when he doesn’t get the faces quite right the guy still does a good job on the outfits: we’re never in any doubt as to which Doctor is meant to be which.

The book’s only real area of weakness is its dialogue. For the most part it’s fine. Morris does a good job of slipping exposition in naturally, not something you’d expect from fan fiction. It’s his use of British idioms and writing of certain characters that lets him down. Ace and Rose’s council estate twangs come off worst. Ace is not a well-written character at the best of times, what with her love of playground level insults and all, but hearing her refer to Rose as Barbie and princess just feels wrong.

This is likely a result of the author being Canadian. His exposure to this sort of slang is likely to be shows like Doctor Who and Eastenders. He’s far more adept at the RP leanings of Pertwee and the old school gang.

What will immediately strike most Doctor Who fans about this comic is how well Morris knows his subject matter. He manages to weave in references to practically every major race, planet and strange piece of Time Lord lore that’s ever appeared in the show and its spin-off media. At one point he even manages a coherent summary of the plot of Trial of a Time Lord. If anything shows an understanding of Doctor Who it’s got to be that.

The Ten Doctors is obviously going to be more accessible to some people than others but if you like the show it’s definitely worth a look. This will make a nice alternative to the inevitably underwhelming fiftieth anniversary episode Steven Moffat has planned for November.

You can read The Ten Doctors at this link.  

No comments:

Post a Comment