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Twelve Doctors of Christmas by Jacqueline…
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Twelve Doctors of Christmas

by Jacqueline Rayner, Colin Brake, Richard Dungworth, Scott Handcock, Gary Russell1 more, Mike Tucker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Doctor Who

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This set of twelve Doctor Who Christmas tales, a worthy successor to the old Big Finish Christmas Short Trips collections, was my Doctor Who Christmas read for the season, though it slipped in a little late (I think I finished it up December 30th). With twelve Doctor and twelve days of Christmas, things lined up quite nicely.

The stories are an odd assortment, which is kind of always true of these Doctor Who Christmas anthologies. Some are genuinely Christmassy; others just happen to be set on Christmas, but are pretty much standard Doctor Who runarounds. The most Christmassy is definitely the first, Jacqueline Rayner's "All I Want for Christmas," where the first Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki end up in a perfect 1963 Christmas: it beautifully captures the wistfulness and nostalgia of Christmas, of a yearning for a time that's slipped away. Rayner has always demonstrated a sympathy for the first Doctor era, and Ian and Barbara are exceptionally written here. I also really enjoyed Rayner's other story, "The Christmas Inversion," where the third Doctor, Jo Grant, and Mike Yates pick up a distress call from the future and end up in the middle of the events of "The Christmas Invasion"; it's as hilarious as "All I Want" is touching. Jackie Tyler meets the third Doctor! Brilliant.

Many of the others are fine, but not particularly noteworthy, and sometimes the Christmas links are tenuous at best. I didn't really get the point of Richard Dungworth's "Three Wise Men," where the fourth Doctor meets the Apollo astronauts (nothing happens), and Gary Russell's "Fairy Tale of New New York," where the sixth Doctor and Mel meet the Catkind, seemed to have potential, but there's no plot. I did enjoy "Ghost of Christmas Past by Scott Handcock," where a Time War-era eighth Doctor is trapped in the minute before Christmas and ends up finding a mysterious message in the TARDIS. (It is a little weird from a continuity standpoint, though; it's consistent with the Big Finish stories in giving the Doctor a great-grandson named Alex, but given what happened to Alex in To the Death, it's hard to believe the Doctor would find comfort in thinking about him!)

Sort of weirdly, the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Doctor tales all feature the Doctor teaming up with kids. I wonder why that approach was taken up for three of the four new series Doctors? Each would probably work on its own, or even in a different sequence, but since the stories come back-to-back-to-back, it's a bit repetitive. ("Loose Wire" by Richard Dungworth, the story for the tenth, was the best of them, because Dungworth captures the Doctor exceptionally well here.)

There are a lot of unexpected continuity nuggets, with the Catkind of New Earth, the Master, the Meddling Monk, Rose's red bicycle, the Slitheen, Jackie Tyler, and the Wire (from "The Idiot's Lantern") all popping up-- plus one really unexpected but fun reference in the last story. Even in the weaker stories, the Doctor's voice(s) is well captured, and the whole package is great looking; the cover looks gorgeous in person, and there's a full-page color illustration for each story. This is one of those anthologies whose theme makes it greater than the sum of its parts. Read it on a cold winter night under thick blankets and time travel to your own Christmases past and future.
  Stevil2001 | Jan 12, 2018 |
Warning: this review contains spoilers.

****

Twelve Doctors of Christmas is, as you might expect, a collection of 12 short stories with a Christmas theme, each featuring a different Doctor (the War Doctor does not get a story, and this was published before Jodie was announced as the 13th Doctor). Some of the stories experiment with mashing up Doctors and companions and monsters, while others stick to the companions and monsters that that particular Doctor would normally encounter.

Overall, this is a short, light collection. Superfans of all ages may find some stories better than others; I predicted a key plot point in one story, for example. And I found the New Who Doctor stories (9, 10, 11, 12) seemed to have a better handle on the voice and characteristics of their Doctor than the older ones did.

Each story is illustrated by a full-page illustration on colour plates, with an explanation of the scene being depicted on the back. My favourite illustrations were those for the Fourth and Twelfth Doctors’ stories, illustrated by Rob Biddulph and Tom Duxbury, respectively.

Briefly, here are my impressions of each story. The Doctors are presented in chronological order, so the first story features the First Doctor, and so on. Overall this was a light collection to read when you want a quick break from reality.

All I Want for Christmas — The Christmas atmosphere was done right, and the story itself wasn’t bad. I found Vicki a bit confusing, but that’s because I’m not as familiar with First Doctor companions. Once you know who she is, the story makes more sense.

A Comedy of Terrors — This is the story where I predicted the baddie, and I imagine many fans would do likewise. Nevertheless, it was a fun story, mainly because it involves a Christmas panto.

The Christmas Inversion — I enjoyed the idea of the Third Doctor being inserted into Ten’s first full episode as Doctor Who (The Christmas Invasion), and I approve of Jo thinking that Ten is cute ;) But somehow Jackie didn’t sound quite right here, and I’m really not sure what Three would have made of her.

Three Wise Men — I really enjoyed this one. It is SO Four. The illustration for this one is great, too.

Sontar’s Little Helpers — This has the best title in the collection, I think. I liked seeing Turlough get a bit of screen time and to learn a bit about his backstory. However, I thought it strange that the Sontaran in this story could immediately realize that Tegan was a Terran *female*. The running joke with Strax in the modern series is that he keeps thinking Clara is a boy. So is Strax just a particularly dim Sontaran, or is this story not canon?

Fairy Tale of New New York — I like the title of this one too. Clever riff. The story was a bit short, though, and I somehow found it preachy. Not awful but not the best either.

The Grotto — This is a good story for fans of Christmas movies set in NYC. A good outing for Seven and Ace—she is the best! I love how she goes into dangerous situations with gusto.

Ghost of Christmas Past — Not going to lie, I totally cried a bit at this one, because I am a mushy softie. And I could picture Paul McGann so well in this one.

The Red Bicycle — A sweet story featuring Nine, Rose, and Jackie. The characterization was good.

Loose Wire — Good capturing of Ten, and a clever link to The Idiot’s Lantern.

The Gift — Not bad. For some strange reason I pictured the Lengoes as shrews. Not sure I was supposed to.

The Persistence of Memory — It was highly appropriate to use this as a title for the P-Cap story, given that Peter has an art background and also did a video on surrealism for the Guardian. I loved the Loch Ness setting and the call-back/call-forward to Rose’s time. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Nov 5, 2017 |
This is a beautifully presented clothbound book containing twelve stories of twelve doctors. Starting from the first one we move through each regeneration until we are right up to date. It's a festive collection so we have stories like The Grotto, where the Seventh Doctor meets an alien in Santa's Grotto in Macy's department store in New York. Or The Ghost of Christmas Past where the Eighth Doctor receives a message from the past.

What was really nice was that each incarnation of the doctor was very recognisable so if you enjoy the television series then this will appeal to you. As a more recent viewer I liked the later stories featuring doctors I know, but I also particularly enjoyed the first story in which a Christmas wish for the doctor's companion is granted.

There is a stunning high-gloss illustration to accompany each tale showing a scene from the story and this is an all-round lovely book to behold.

This is definitely not just for children. It's ideal for any Doctor Who fan and each story is just as strong and interesting as the previous one. ( )
  nicx27 | Dec 28, 2016 |
A collection of twelve Christmas-themed Doctor Who stories, each featuring one of the twelve Doctors. (The poor War Doctor, apparently, does not get a Christmas. Well, I suppose he wouldn't, really.)

I like the concept of this, and it's a very nice-looking book, complete with some cute full-color illustrations. Unfortunately, the stories just aren't very good. They're not awful, I guess. If nothing else, the character voices are mostly pretty good, which certainly counts for something. But, generally speaking, they're uninspired, not very interesting, and not very well-written, even taking into account the fact that, like most recent Who tie-in stuff, they seemed to be aimed largely at younger readers. (Which, by the way, is certainly appropriate, but always takes me aback slightly. Partly because Who has never really been thought of as a kids' show in the States, but mostly because I still remember the Who novels of the 90s, which were often filled with surprising levels of sex, drugs, and violence.)

So, yeah, it's pretty disappointing. I did kind of like Scott Handcock's "Ghost of Christmas Past," in which the Eighth Doctor gets a message from his past, just because it didn't even bother with the lame attempt at a plot the others had, but instead just gave us a rather poignant little character moment. But even that one wasn't great, and it left me feeling unsatisfied, if only because, doggone it, I really wanted to see him responding to the invitation in the message.

Also worth noting, perhaps, is Jacqueline Rayner's "The Christmas Inversion", which I found simultaneously the most fun and the most frustrating entry. It has a brilliantly hilarious premise: the Third Doctor picks up Harriet Jones' plea for the Doctor's help in "The Christmas Invasion," goes to see what it's about, and ends up in Jackie Tyler's flat while his future self lies unconscious in the next room. Unfortunately, Rayner pushes the humor entirely too far, meaning that it's constantly crossing the line between being funny and just being irritating.

Everything else, I'd say, is 100% forgettable. ( )
  bragan | Dec 19, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacqueline Raynerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brake, Colinmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Dungworth, Richardmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Handcock, Scottmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Russell, Garymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Tucker, Mikemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Biddulph, RobIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castrillón, MelissaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duxbury, TomIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eason, RohanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Easton, StewartIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gianassi, SaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gnosspelius, StaffanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, NickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kris, CaptainIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindsay, AshlingIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skemp, JenniferIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutcliffe, CharlieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Publisher Annotation: A collection of illustrated Christmas adventures, starring twelve incarnations of the Doctor! Inside this festive book of Doctor Who stories, you'll find timey-wimey mysteries, travels in the TARDIS, monster-chasing excitement and plenty of Christmas magic.… (more)

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