‘Twice Upon A Time’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

“Doctor, I let you go.” – The First and Twelfth Doctors with Bill and the Captain

The Twelfth Doctor era comes to an end!

Back in December 2017, I’d been looking forward to seeing the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special on Christmas Day. And I really enjoyed it! ‘Twice Upon A Time’ is the final episode of the Peter Capaldi era of ‘Doctor Who’ as well as for the Steven Moffat era. It is so amazing how that time came about.

This TV episode also features David Bradley as the First Doctor, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts and Mark Gatiss as the Captain. I look back with fond memories watching this ‘Doctor Who’ episode when it was originally shown on TV and I seriously found myself in tears watching this a second time on DVD.

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I’m a little disappointed that the BBC didn’t wait until after December 2017 to release ‘Twice Upon A Time’ with ‘The Complete Series 10’ of ‘Doctor Who’ on DVD. It would’ve completed all of Peter Capaldi’s third season plus the Christmas Specials before the new era of ‘Doctor Who’ took its place.

I purchased ‘Twice Upon A Time’ on DVD as well as ‘The Complete Series 10’ of ‘Doctor Who’ with my birthday money in May 2018. Maybe the BBC will re-release Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ on DVD again and include ‘Twice Upon A Time’ with it so as to complete the Peter Capaldi era. Or I guess not.

Before I watched ‘Twice Upon A Time’ on Christmas Day in December 2017, I’d been lucky in meeting Pearl Mackie and David Bradley at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017. It was lovely since I had nice chats to Pearl and David, sharing my enjoyment of them in ‘Doctor Who’.

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I didn’t ask for any spoilers on the episode from Pearl and David since I wanted to be surprised. So I went into ‘Twice Upon A Time’, hoping to enjoy myself and also to be entertained. It was a unique experience, as I was watching the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one in ‘Doctor Who’.

Whilst I did enjoy the last episode of Peter Capaldi’s era of ‘Doctor Who’, there were some issues I had with regards to the plot as well as some overly complicated aspects to it that didn’t need to be there. But then again, this is a Steven Moffat-penned episode of his tenure, so what do you expect?

Having watched the episode again a second time on DVD for this review has made it a little clearer for me. This is why I was able to feel emotion in watching this a second time. But there are still aspects of this TV story that need to be clarified, especially in connection with certain guest cameos.

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The episode begins with the First Doctor and is set after ‘The Tenth Planet’. I like how the footage of William Hartnell’s Doctor from ‘The Tenth Planet’ merges well into David Bradley at the start of the episode. My Dad and I agree that David Bradley gives a very authentic interpretation of Bill Hartnell.

David Bradley previously played William Hartnell in the BBC docu-drama ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’ by Mark Gatiss, celebrating the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’. I hoped David Bradley would have a chance to play the First Doctor properly in the TV series. And thank goodness he did! 🙂

I like how this episode explores an aspect of ‘The Tenth Planet’ that was never really touched upon. What did happen to the First Doctor before he regenerated? It was interesting to see how the First Doctor refused to regenerate. This mirrors well to what Peter Capaldi’s Doctor does in a similar way.

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For the Twelfth Doctor, this episode is set after ‘World Enough and Time’/’The Doctor Falls’. I really like Peter Capaldi’s performance in this episode and how he interacts with David Bradley’s First Doctor. I have grown to like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor over the years and he’s given a heartfelt farewell.

I wish though that ‘Twice Upon A Time’ was a two-parter instead of a single episode by Steven Moffat. Compared to how Russell T. Davies finished his era with ‘The End of Time’ for David Tennant, Steven Moffat seems to prefer to limit Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s swansongs in a single episode.

It makes the end of Steven Moffat’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ as well as Peter Capaldi’s underwhelming. Not that I’ve been a huge fan of Steven Moffat’s era, but it’s a shame that he didn’t milk his departure in a two-parter, especially when you’ve got two Doctors interacting with each other here.

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There could’ve been more emotional scenes between the First and Twelfth Doctors in this episode as well as the Twelfth Doctor’s interaction with Bill Potts. It does seem crammed in this one episode, which is why I prefer the Russell T. Davies era as he would allow the emotion to seep in his episodes.

Don’t get me wrong, it makes a nice Christmas gift for us ‘Doctor Who’ fans by Steven Moffat, but it did need to be milked more. It also makes it less of an ending for the Twelfth Doctor with the First Doctor around. If I was writing this ‘Doctor Who’ episode, I would have done things very differently.

I really liked it when we get to go inside each of the two Doctors’ TARDISes. It was funny when the First Doctor disapproved of the Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS interior design. Also the interior of the First Doctor’s TARDIS gave me a nostalgic feeling. It was lovely to see it in colour and not black-and-white.

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There are occasions when the First Doctor makes crude remarks in front of Bill that embarrassed the Twelfth Doctor and he seems to like his brandy which he keeps in the TARDIS. But honestly, I don’t mind that as David Bradley manages to win me over with his performance as the First Doctor in this.

It was so lovely to see Pearl Mackie back as Bill Potts in this episode. I was saddened by how she left in Series 10, so this was a nice pay-off for her. It was quite a shocking twist when it turned out what Bill actually was in the episode. I’m not sure I fully understand it, but I am positive it was the real Bill.

There is a moment where Bill and the Twelfth Doctor are arguing outside the First Doctor’s TARDIS and Bill swears at her Doctor. The First Doctor pops his head out and he warns Bill that if she swears again, he’ll give her a ‘smacked bottom’. I don’t know why but watching that again cracks me up. 😀

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The Twelfth Doctor seems sceptical about Bill being the real Bill before him since he presumed her dead at the end of Series 10. Bill insists she’s the real Bill before it turns out that she’s part of the Testimony that keeps all of her memories. Even with that revelation, I’m so certain she’s the real Bill.

Mark Gatiss guest stars as the Captain in this episode. Mark Gatiss gets everywhere, doesn’t he?! 😀 He’s both a ‘Doctor Who’ writer and actor. He played Professor Lazarus in ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ as well as penned episodes like ‘The Unquiet Dead’, ‘Victory of the Daleks’, ‘Robot of Sherwood’, etc.

Having Mark Gatiss work with David Bradley again brings it full circle, as the two worked together in ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’. It was interesting how the Captain’s character got involved in the episode when he met the two Doctors in the South Pole in 1986 after he’d been dragged out of time.

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The Captain originally came from World War I in 1914 where he was fighting against the Germans in the battlefield of Ypres on Earth. It turns out the Captain’s name is Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart. This is something I’m okay with and I like how the family connection is made in the episode.

I have to say, I really like the 1914 Christmas theme and references in the episode concerning World War I. This involves the ceasefire where the British soldiers and the Germans stopped fighting on Christmas Day. I wished that had been a focus in the 2014 Christmas Special instead of the 2017 one.

Watching that Christmas Day 1914 scene again for this review did have me in tears, especially as the soldiers both on the British and German sides sang ‘Silent Night’ in their native languages. I did wonder if the First Doctor remembered he’d visited Christmas Day 1914 in ‘The Little Drummer Boy’.

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There was something I didn’t notice when I first saw this episode on TV. Apparently during the scene where the Testimony is showing all the other incarnations of the Doctor, there’s a shot of the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa from ‘Arc of Infinity’. I’m so happy to see Nyssa in that shot after re-watching this!

This episode also features a special cameo appearance of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. I was so glad to see her in this episode, since she was there at the beginning of the Peter Capaldi era. I don’t think this was the real Clara when the Doctor saw her, but I’m glad he has his memories of her again.

Matt Lucas also makes a cameo appearance as Nardole in the story. Well, he was a companion wasn’t he? There were times when Nardole’s comedic remarks made me cringe, but I liked it when the Doctor hugged Bill and Nardole. Like Clara, Nardole wasn’t there since he’d been created by Bill.

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The episode also features Lily Travers as Polly and Jared Garfield as Ben at the beginning during the recreation of ‘The Tenth Planet’ scenes. I wish we got to see more of them. In fact, I wish we got to see more of the re-created ‘Tenth Planet’ scenes that were shown in the ‘Doctor Who Extra’ feature.

There’s also a special surprise appearance of Rusty the Dalek, voiced by Nicholas Briggs, from ‘Into the Dalek’. I hadn’t expected to see Rusty in this episode. I like how that story arc is resolved. It was pretty scary when Dalek mutants were running wild on Villengard and one had attacked the Captain.

But of course, the episode ends with the Twelfth Doctor regenerating. I like how Peter Capaldi savours his last moments in the TARDIS before he regenerates. I must be honest, Steven Moffat does at least make the most of Peter Capaldi’s departure through the writing as well as the actor himself.

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I liked the Twelfth Doctor’s words in his final speech about ‘never be cruel’ and ‘never be cowardly’, although that bit about him not eating pears has me puzzled. Seriously, the Doctor doesn’t like pears? I also liked it when the Doctor said that ‘hate is always foolish’ and that ‘love is always wise’.

The episode has been interesting in terms of a journey for the Twelfth Doctor where he comes to accept his end and decides to regenerate, mirroring the same journey the First Doctor had in the episode. The Twelfth Doctor’s final words are “Doctor, I let go!” And then he explodes in the TARDIS.

The episode concludes with Peter Capaldi regenerating…into Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor! I was awed and amazed by the regeneration sequence. I couldn’t help but be delighted to see Jodie as the new Doctor; to see her smile and also say her first words which were, “Oh brilliant!”

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At least that did not get over-the-top in the last few seconds…Oh wait! The TARDIS then explodes! And Jodie’s Doctor gets pulled away from the TARDIS console to the open TARDIS doors! (Pause) Okay, I can’t even imagine it getting over-the-top than that in the last few sec…Wait! She then falls out of the TARDIS, plummets downwards in the sky towards the planet Earth (I think it is) and then…


WOW!!! What a way to end a ‘Doctor Who’ episode! I don’t know whether that’s better than the David Tennant exit into Matt Smith’s Doctor or not. It’s certainly tempting viewers to tune into ‘Doctor Who’ when it returns in late 2018. And do you know what? I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEW SERIES!!!!!!!

Honestly! I can’t wait for Jodie Whittaker’s new era of ‘Doctor Who’ to begin in 2018. I know that’s not going to agree with everyone, but after seeing her in the drama serial called ‘Trust Me’ and at the end of this episode, I’m certain the new era under Chris Chibnall will be intriguing and exciting.

I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Pause; to himself) Whoa! Calm down, Tim! I need to restrain my energy reserves for excitement. 😀

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The DVD special features on this episode are as follows. On the ‘Twice Upon A Time’ DVD, there’s the ‘Twice Upon A Time’ – Doctor Who Extra’ featurette. There’s also ‘The End of an Era’ documentary’ and the ‘Doctor Who Panel: San Diego Comic Con 2017’ to enjoy.

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So yeah! ‘Twice Upon A Time’ was a very enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special for me. It was what I expected. It had some complicated aspects by Steven Moffat that didn’t need to be there, but I enjoyed Peter Capaldi and David Bradley as the two Doctors in this extra ‘special’ Christmas Special.

I found the Twelfth Doctor era well-treated in its ending and I can’t help be curious about what the new era of ‘Doctor Who’ will bring. Watching this episode again, as well as the Christmas Day 1914 scene, I did get a bit tearful when Peter Capaldi said his last speech and when I saw his regeneration.

‘Twice Upon A Time’ rating – 7/10

steven moffat


Originally written on the 27th of December 2017.

Okay! We’ve had the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special, ‘Twice Upon A Time’! Peter Capaldi’s era has ended; Jodie Whittaker has begun and Steven Moffat has handed the reins of ‘Doctor Who’ to Chris Chibnall. Now it’s time for me to share with you my honest opinion about the Steven Moffat era of ‘Doctor Who’. This covers both the Matt Smith era and the Peter Capaldi era of ‘Doctor Who’ overall.

I thought the Steven Moffat era of ‘Doctor Who’…was average. It’s not great, it’s not awful. It’s just average. And I don’t need to take any sides on that front. For me, the era has plenty of good moments as well as bad. It also doesn’t mean the era itself isn’t a pretty unique viewing experience.

I’ve learnt to accept over the years that things can never be the way they were when it was David Tennant’s Doctor and when it was the Russell T. Davies era of the show. Nothing could change that or live up to the magic of what I felt was a pretty good era of ‘Doctor Who’ and what made me a fan.

In many ways, Steven Moffat’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ didn’t excite me as much as Russell T. Davies’ era did. I probably had too many high hopes for Steven Moffat’s era that made it disappointing when my hopes were never met. I felt I lost interest in new ‘Doctor Who’ by the time Steven Moffat took over.

But that doesn’t mean to say I didn’t enjoy Steven Moffat’s era. There were plenty of silly moments and overly complicated story-arcs that didn’t need to be there and were left unresolved. But it wasn’t difficult to appreciate some of the emotionally character-driven moments featured from that era.

I did get annoyed by some of the inconsistencies of character development in Steven Moffat’s era, especially with Clara Oswald. I wish some of the writing was clearer and we were given more time to appreciate the characters and enjoy the episodes without too much going on in short spaces of time.

But that didn’t stop me from liking the characters and the actors who played them. Admittedly, I wasn’t keen on Amy and Rory at first. But over time I grew to like them as well as Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill who performed them. I especially enjoyed them by the time we had reached Series 7.

I wish that we had more time to focus on Amy and Rory as characters in the TV series without having the overly complicated plots of Series 5 and 6 getting in the way. I especially felt this when I believed that Amy and Rory were written well in the Chris Chibnall-penned episodes during ‘Series 7: Part 1’.

I also really liked Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. I thought she worked well with Matt Smith’s Doctor as opposed to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. I know some say Clara was a bland character in Peter Capaldi’s era and I can only repeat how I found Clara’s character development inconsistent at times.

But that didn’t stop me from liking Clara as Jenna Coleman’s performance radiated throughout, even through some of the annoying inconsistent moments. I wish that we had a proper exit for Clara’s character at the end of Series 9 as I feel that’s been unresolved and I could have handled that better.

I also enjoyed Pearl Mackie’s performance as Bill Potts in Series 10 as well as Matt Lucas as Nardole. It’s a shame that Bill Potts never got to last as a companion beyond one season. It was also intriguing how she turned out as a character, as she proved to be a fitting companion with the Twelfth Doctor.

I did think Nardole’s character was a little annoying at times in providing comic relief that wasn’t necessary to the stories he was in. But I can’t dismiss him as a Twelfth Doctor companion since he decently performed that function well. He was not as good as Bill Potts, but he did serve a purpose.

I do think that perhaps Steven Moffat has handled the character development of River Song in a haphazard manner, in that she turned out to be Amy and Rory’s daughter and that she had regenerative powers which I felt were weakly explained. This also takes away River Song’s mystery.

I also feel Michelle Gomez’s Missy was a let-down in terms of the series. Not because I disapprove of a female Master, but because the performance was rather pantomime and it made me take her less seriously. She should have ditched the Mary Poppins outfit and should’ve become more threatening.

Another big aspect of Steven Moffat’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ that I feel was a let-down was the 50th anniversary celebrations in general. I honestly didn’t feel ‘The Day of the Doctor’ matched to what I hoped would be another ‘Five Doctors’ celebration of 50 years of a TV show I grew to love and enjoy.

The closest that we fans got to a proper anniversary celebration of 50 years of ‘Doctor Who’ was ‘The Five(ish) Doctor Reboot’ by Peter Davison. I felt I enjoyed that anniversary special more than the actual anniversary special shown on TV. It featured most of the actors who’d played the Doctor.

So yeah, overall I don’t feel that the Steven Moffat era of ‘Doctor Who’ was the greatest I’ve ever seen. But saying that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. Many fans have their own era of ‘Doctor Who’. Some prefer the Philip Hinchcliffe era over the Graham Williams era. Some prefer the Barry Letts/Terrance Dicks era over the Philip Hinchcliffe era. This is the same in how I feel about certain eras.

I prefer the Peter Davison and Christopher Eccleston/David Tennant/Russell T. Davies eras of ‘Doctor Who’ over Steven Moffat’s era. But I can’t say there weren’t any good moments featured in the Steven Moffat era. Over the years, I grew to like Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors while I watched them develop.

Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi may not be on my top list of favourite Doctors from the TV series. But I can see how they made their marks in their own unique ways in the TV series. This is how I feel what Steven Moffat’s done in making his mark on the TV show. It isn’t a great mark, but it is a decent one.

There were times when I felt that the new series let me down and I didn’t feel like I was engaging with it anymore. But my remedy for that was to listen to some Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. Now I know I can enjoy a Big Finish audio if I didn’t feel a ‘Doctor Who’ TV episode excited me as it should.

In a way, I suppose that’s why it didn’t worry me that they announced there was going to be a female Doctor in 2018 when it was announced back in July 2017. I know that Big Finish will produce more ‘Doctor Who’ stories with my favourite classic Doctors whilst the new series will still continue on TV.

I can always go back to a Big Finish audio adventure if I feel the new series isn’t doing well for me as it should. But then again, I can’t help but look forward to new episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ and find out what Jodie Whittaker will be like as the Doctor, especially as I’d like to review her stories on my blog.

Not everyone is going to agree with me on these thoughts I have and see things the way I see them and that’s fine! ‘Doctor Who’ itself is a unique TV series in its own manner through its different distinctive eras. It shouldn’t be denied to anyone to have their own unique viewing experience of it.

So if you like the Steven Moffat era of ‘Doctor Who’, then enjoy it. If you don’t, then fair enough. For me, I saw this era as average. It won’t stop me looking back at the Steven Moffat era of ‘Doctor Who’ with fondness though and enjoy some of the experimentation it had. It also challenged me in how I coped as a fan and continued watching the ‘Doctor Who’ series and the other mediums it has.



Please feel free to comment on my review.

The First Journey of New Series Target Novelizations Ends

Reading/listening to ‘Twice Upon A Time’ allowed me to enjoy the story more than the TV version!

We’ve come to the end of the first series of Target novelizations/audiobooks of new series ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve read/heard the novelization/audiobook of ‘Twice Upon A Time’ by Paul Cornell! The other novelizations/audiobooks focused upon ‘Rose’, ‘The Christmas Invasion’ and ‘The Day of the Doctor’.

I must admit I was a little surprised ‘Twice Upon A Time’ was chosen as the Target novelization to represent the Twelfth Doctor era. It’s mainly because this was a Target novelization on the most recent TV episode of ‘Doctor Who’ from December 2017 when the book was published in April 2018.

I wondered whether it would make sense to focus on a different story from the Peter Capaldi era of ‘Doctor Who’ to represent it such as ‘Deep Breath’ or ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’/’The Witch’s Familiar’. There were even Target novelization-styled covers for the Dalek two-parter from Series 9.

But I suppose in a way it makes sense to have ‘Twice Upon A Time’ novelized in the first set of four new series ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelizations. This does complete the journey that has been going on throughout the Target novelization range of new series TV stories in ‘Doctor Who’. Think about it.

We start the Target novelization range of new series ‘Doctor Who’ stories with ‘Rose’, the first story from 2005, and we finish with ‘Twice Upon A Time’ as the latest story from 2017. Admittedly it’s an incomplete journey, but at least all the four new series eras up to April 2018 have been represented.

You could also say these four new series Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ can form the new series version of ‘The Five Faces of Doctor Who’ season in book form. All the Doctors featured in the four books from the new series are featured, albeit it is more nine Doctors rather than five of them.

In ‘Rose’, we had the Ninth Doctor; in ‘The Christmas Invasion’ we had the Tenth Doctor; in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ we had the Eleventh, the Eighth and the War Doctors as well as the Curator and in ‘Twice Upon A Time’, we have the Twelfth, the First and the Thirteenth Doctors. Nine Doctors, see?

These new series Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ are what you could say are to prepare us for what’s to come in the next season of the new TV series with Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor in 2018. It’s quite clever and feels refreshing to view these ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations because of that.

But yeah, ‘Twice Upon A Time’ is the Target novelization/audiobook that’s based on the final episode of the Peter Capaldi era of ‘Doctor Who’ as well as the Steven Moffat era. The book is based on the TV script by Steven Moffat, novelized by Paul Cornell. I was so pleased Paul Cornell wrote this book.

Paul Cornell has contributed a huge amount to the ‘Doctor Who’ universe in various forms. He was responsible for creating the character of Bernice Summerfield in the ‘New Adventures’ range of ‘Doctor Who’ books in the 1990s, starting from ‘Love and War’ and he has written other books since.

He also wrote two of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories featuring Nyssa of Traken. He co-wrote ‘Circular Time’ and he wrote my favourite Fifth Doctor novel called ‘Goth Opera’. Paul Cornell also wrote two stories for the new TV series including ‘Father’s Day’ and ‘Human Nature’/’The Family of Blood’.

Paul also wrote the original ‘New Adventures’ novel ‘Human Nature’ that the aforementioned two-part TV story was based upon. Essentially what I’m saying is that Paul Cornell is good news as a ‘Doctor Who’ writer and I’ve especially enjoyed how he’s contributed to the series in various forms.

But would Paul Cornell write a very good Target novelization of ‘Doctor Who’ based on a TV episode by Steven Moffat. Well, I’d certainly like to think so. I hoped that Paul Cornell would clear up any confusing aspects of the TV story that I found off-putting and distracting when I originally watched it.

The book ‘Twice Upon A Time’ is divided into 18 chapters with a prologue at the beginning and an epilogue at the end. The book has a dedication made by Paul Cornell to someone called Tom with the additional words ‘Doctor, I let you go.’ Not sure who Tom is, but I guess it is someone very close.

The audiobook of this ‘Doctor Who’ novelization is read by Mark Gatiss, who played the Captain in the TV episode. It was ironic to hear Mark Gatiss read the story on audio in the background while the book was in my hand, especially since I have seen him in many things ‘Doctor Who’-related and not.

Mark Gatiss does a very good reading of this Target novelization in the audiobook. I enjoyed how he does the voices of the Twelfth and the First Doctors in the reading. I’m not sure whether he’s basing the First Doctor’s voice on William Hartnell or David Bradley’s performance. It may possibly be both.

I also like how Mark Gatiss reads for the Twelfth Doctor in this story. He doesn’t do an exact recreation of Peter Capaldi’s voice but he manages to get the Scottish tones of his voice right. It sounds subtle and easy to identify as Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. And of course, Mark has worked with him.

Like I said, the book opens with a prologue at the beginning. It begins with ‘Once upon a time, 709 episodes ago…’ Which is odd for me to digest in both TV and novelization form considering there have been other ‘Doctor Who’ stories that are not in TV form and are in either book, audio or comic.

Wouldn’t it have been better to say ‘thirteen regenerations ago’? It would make sense if you want to compile all of the ‘Doctor Who’ stories that have been made over the years and not just in the TV series? Steven Moffat confirmed that the Big Finish audios are a part of the continuity. Why deny it in this tale?

Anyway, as we progress further in the book, we have each of the 18 chapters dedicated to certain scenes featured in the TV episode. I like how each chapter allows us as readers to absorb each scene and not to go rushing into things. I found that a problem whilst I was watching the TV episode.

Essentially what I’m saying is Paul Cornell does a faithful novelization of the TV episode without too many additions to the story and not so many distractions that Steven Moffat provided in his ‘Day of the Doctor’ book. In fact, I think it’s better to have a Steven Moffat story novelized by someone else.

Yeah as I was reading ‘Twice Upon A Time’, I found how much I enjoyed the story and was able to process each event unfolding. Each chapter isn’t so lengthy and I was able to gain clarity of what was going on in a certain scene which I don’t think was so well-explained in terms of seeing it in TV form.

Like I said, I think it’s better to have a Steven Moffat story novelized by someone else like Paul Cornell. We get someone else’s interpretation of how he sees a Steven Moffat TV story and he’s able to iron out any of the inconsistencies or weaker points that weren’t so clearly established in TV form.

In the book, there’s more given about what happened to Heather, Bill’s lover from the end of ‘The Doctor Falls’. There’s also more detail given about what happened to Bill since it turned out she died a long time ago. The Glass Woman called Testimony had kept a record of all of Bill’s memories intact.

It was sad to think that Bill actually did die following the end of Series 10 and that she was just memories kept inside the Glass Woman called Testimony. But I’m pretty certain that Bill’s legacy is still on-going within Testimony and that she is considered to be alive, even for the Doctor at the end.

There’s also more information given about what happened to Nardole following the end of Series 10. Apparently he had a life aboard the colony ship since he married six times. Lucky him! Sometimes the humour with Nardole is cringe-worthy, but I appreciate his back-story being touched on.

It also gets established when the Doctor’s memories of Clara return to him. I don’t think that was clearly established in the TV series and it’s something I need to revisit during Series 9. In the novelization, I like how the Doctor’s memories flood back to him as he remembers her as his friend.

I really like how the Twelfth Doctor goes on a journey in this story through the novelization as well as the First Doctor. Both are refusing to regenerate. In the novelization, the First Doctor is curious why Twelve is refusing to regenerate. It also seems that the Twelfth Doctor is determined to end his life.

I know that was touched upon in the TV episode but it wasn’t very clear. In fact, ‘Twice Upon A Time’ should’ve been made as a two-parter on TV in order to explore more of the interaction between the First and Twelfth Doctors on why they refuse to regenerate. It does get extended in the novelization.

Yeah. In the book, the conversation between the First and Twelfth Doctor on Villengard gets extended as Twelve explains to First why he’s refusing to regenerate. I assume this scene was cut from the final edit of the TV episode which is a shame as I think that scene should’ve been included.

There’s also an extra addition to that scene on Villengard where the Doctors are being attacked by the Dalek mutants. The Twelfth Doctor gets pounded to the ground by Dalek mutants and the First Doctor wards them off with the sonic screwdriver. I would’ve liked to have seen that in the episode.

Oh and it’s made clear in the novelization that the First Doctor makes use of the sonic screwdriver for the first time in ‘Doctor Who’. Again, it would’ve been nice to see that especially in terms of the decision made by the Doctor to build and use the sonic screwdriver that started in ‘Fury From The Deep’.

In the novelization, I like how the First Doctor’s anxiety about seeing all his future incarnations and being declared as ‘the Doctor of War’ gets touched upon. It’s explored more in the novelization compared to the TV version. This builds up gradually on why the First Doctor decides to regenerate.

I was a little disappointed Nyssa didn’t get a mention in the book during the scene where the First and Twelfth Doctors with Bill and Archie see future incarnations of the Doctor before them. Adric is mentioned; Donna is mentioned; even Adelaide Brooke from ‘The Waters of Mars’ gets mentioned.

I’m just saying considering Nyssa was featured in that sequence with the Fifth Doctor from the ‘Arc of Infinity’ clip and that Paul Cornell must be a fan of Nyssa from what I’ve heard and read in ‘Circular Time’ and ‘Goth Opera’, you’d think she’d get a mention in ‘Twice Upon A Time’. I would’ve done it.

I do like how references are made to ‘The Tenth Planet’ story following the First Doctor before he’s about to regenerate. I liked it when mentions are made of the First Doctor’s companions including Barbara, Steven and Polly. There’s even a reference to ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ Christmas episode.

I also like how the Captain’s character gets developed in the novelization. The Captain reveals his first name much earlier in the story as he introduces himself to Bill as Archie when he’s willing to take her place in exchange of her to the Doctors. I think this aspect works so well in the novelization.

It did seem odd that the Doctors never asked who the Captain’s name was in the TV episode. Having them just call him Archie would’ve been fine in the TV episode before it was revealed that he was the Brigadier’s grandfather. It would feel natural for the Doctors to call him Archie than just the Captain.

When the Doctor confronts Rusty the Dalek on Villengard, I’m pretty certain that it’s Nicholas Briggs’ voice who does the Dalek voice in the audiobook. It’s not confirmed but it sounds like Nick Briggs’ Dalek voice. Unless of course, Mark Gatiss got that voice synthesizer to made him sound very Daleky.

Apparently the Twelfth Doctor knew that Rusty the Dalek was the biggest database on Villengard to give him the information he needed regarding Testimony. I’m not exactly sure how he knew that or came to that conclusion. He must have explained it to the First Doctor somewhere in the novelization.

From reading ‘Twice Upon A Time’, I’ve come to realize why Peter Capaldi’s swansong story isn’t as great as it could’ve been. There’s no immediate threat for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor to deal with. It seems to get built upon in the first half of the story, but then it gets revealed that there wasn’t a threat at all.

I think the story would’ve been better as a two-parter if there was some kind of threat for the First and Twelfth Doctors to deal with regarding Testimony. That maybe they could’ve rescued the Glass Woman from getting destroyed in order to preserve all of the memories of dead loved ones long ago.

‘Twice Upon A Time’ could easily be a short story where the First and Twelfth Doctors didn’t have to contend with any big threats at the end of their lives. But you could say they dealt with big threats already as the First Doctor did in ‘The Tenth Planet’ and Twelve did in ‘World Enough and Time’/’The Doctor Falls’.

I like how the Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS gets to tow the First Doctor’s TARDIS to where Captain Archie was taken from in the First World War setting on Earth, 1914. It wasn’t explained in the TV version and it helps to have it explained in the book since the First Doctor’s TARDIS navigation systems were faulty.

There’s one chapter in the novelization that I feel works better compared to the TV version of the story. In Chapter 16, there’s the scene where the Captain’s life gets spared because of the ceasefire during Christmas Day 1914. Now there’s something different between the TV and the book versions.

In the book, the Twelfth Doctor picks up that Archie is hoping to reunite with his family for Christmas which prompts him to go forward a few hours later when the ceasefire’s declared between both British and German sides in the war. That way, the Doctor has saved one soldier’s life in the process.

I checked the TV episode again to be sure that scene was in there and of course it was. But what’s different is that it’s not clearly signified when the Twelfth Doctor realizes it is Christmas Day 1914 in the TV version as it is in the novelization. In fact, the incidental music distracts that in the TV version.

There’s also additional dialogue from the First Doctor who looks away not wanting to see the Captain getting presumably killed before the Twelfth Doctor reassures his earlier self. That additional dialogue was not included in the TV version and I think it should’ve been since it was dramatic to read.

The changes made by Paul Cornell in that scene with the Christmas Day 1914 ceasefire in the First World War make it stronger and it establishes the Twelfth Doctor’s heroism and compassion. It establishes the Twelfth Doctor rescuing a life before his time comes to an end when he regenerates.

I like how the First Doctor is given additional dialogue in his final moments in the TARDIS before regenerating into the Second Doctor. The last scene from ‘The Tenth Planet’ is recreated in those moments, especially when he has collapsed and when Ben and Polly are running in to check on him.

I also like how the Twelfth Doctor’s regeneration is handled. He holds it in together when he’s saying his final speech to his future self. It’s indicated that the Twelfth Doctor can almost see what his future self looks like, although he didn’t consider he would change into a woman as many of us did.

It sort-of gets explained why the Doctor doesn’t like pears. Apparently, according to the book, the Tenth Doctor had eaten a lot of pears in his lifetime. Um, I don’t recall the Tenth Doctor eating a lot of pears in his lifetime. Unless of course there’s something I’ve missed in another ‘Doctor Who’ tale.

I also like how the Twelfth Doctor’s seems to be boiling up and has steam coming out of him as he struggles to stay standing upright before he’s about to regenerate. The moments when he says “Doctor, I let you!” were so dramatic to read and listen to during the last chapter of the novelization.

The books ends in the epilogue with the Doctor finally regenerated as Jodie Whittaker and she presses a control button causing the TARDIS to go haywire and making her fall out into the sky. There is a sense of mystery going on as to why the TARDIS could go chaotic in the closing moments.

Maybe the TARDIS systems were damaged from the Doctor’s regeneration to make it go haywire. Perhaps the Thirteenth Doctor falling out of the TARDIS is a foreshadowing of something to come in the first episode of Series 11 in 2018. It’s something to wait and see when ‘Doctor Who’ returns on TV.

Paul Cornell has the Thirteenth Doctor falling through the sky ‘towards her future’. Ironic though, because from watching the TV episode, it seemed like she was falling to her death. It makes the ending of ‘Twice Upon A Time’ more optimistic in book form than on TV. Interesting to ponder, isn’t it? Hmm.

Anyway, this novelization/audiobook is great! I’m very pleased with how Paul Cornell has novelized ‘Twice Upon A Time’ and has done a faithful novelization of the TV story based on Steven Moffat’s script. I’m glad it was not Steven Moffat writing this novelization of Peter Capaldi’s last TV episode.

The ‘Twice Upon A Time’ novelization/audiobook works well as it allows you as the reader/listener to absorb each event from a TV story without rushing into it. I felt I gained a lot from reading/listening to the book/audio compared to watching the TV episode as it makes it very superior.

Overall, the four new series Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ have been great to read/hear. The first two with the Ninth and Tenth Doctors are my favourites; but I like ‘Twice Upon A Time’ as a book compared to ‘The Day of the Doctor’ which I found frustrating. I hope this isn’t the end of these books.

I hope BBC Books will do more Target novelizations of new series ‘Doctor Who’ TV episodes. I’d certainly like there to be Target novelizations of ‘Dalek’, ‘Bad Wolf’/’The Parting of the Ways’, ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’ and ‘The End of Time’ someday. Will this happen in 2019? Who knows?

‘Doctor Who – Twice Upon A Time’ rating – 8/10

The previous story

For the First Doctor was

  • ‘The Locked Room’ (Audio)

For the Twelfth Doctor was

For Bill was

For the Thirteenth Doctor was

The next story

For the First Doctor is

  • ‘The Power of the Doctor’ (TV)

For the Second Doctor is

For the Twelfth Doctor is

For the Thirteenth Doctor is

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Return to The Twelfth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to The Thirteenth Doctor’s Timeline
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4 thoughts on “‘Twice Upon A Time’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Epic reviewing Tim, you given excellent explanations of your likes/dislikes of the Steven Moffat era, for me his tenure was style over substance, Moffat tried to be to clever & incorporate too many subplots or arcs to characters that were left unresolved.

    Amy, Rory & Bill were all great companions but Clara got on my nerves, the character never gelled with me & at times i felt she took over the show & Michelle Gomez as Missy, awful performance & as you say pure pantomime.

    Sorry Tim but i didn’t rate this as highly as you, i didn’t find the story gripping & thought it lacked a epic pay off for the Twelfth Doctor, again 2×50 minute episodes may have remedied this, i did like David Bradley as the First Doctor even though Moffat didn’t quite capture the essence of the character.

    As for Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor, well you already know my thoughts on that, however you seem to think this next series is going to revitalize the show so guess what i am going to watch the opening episode to see if what you say comes to pass, if i enjoy this episode i will announce on the DU forum Tim Bradley changed my mind about casting a female Doctor Who.

    Great reviewing, written with heart, depth, passion & emotion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my reviews on ‘Twice Upon A Time’ and my thoughts on the Steven Moffat era overall.

      It’s a shame about the Steven Moffat era since I had high hopes for his era and he seemed to have potential in the ideas he contribued to the show. But the end I felt those ideas and the hopes I had about his era fell by the wayside, making it an average and uneven era of ‘Doctor Who’. It was full of overcomplicated storylines and underdeveloped characters. If I was handling Steven Moffat’s era of ‘Doctor Who’, I would approach things differently. Glad you like how I’ve shared my likes and dislikes about his era though and I agree it is style over substance.

      I can’t take the opinion that many ‘Doctor Who’ fans have about Clara Oswald in that they seem to really dislike her. I personally like Clara as a companion and saw some potential in her, even if some of that potential was waylaid during her time in the series. Series 9 is the worst season for Clara and I think she would’ve worked better had she’d been more a caring, compassionate and down-to-Earth companion rather than the companion wanting to be the Doctor type character she ended up being. I wish I can say more positive things about Michelle Gomez as Missy but she ended up being silly and not intimidating as she should have been as a villainess. Not many other fans see it that way, but I’m not those other fans. I certainly hope Jodie Whittaker doesn’t end up like that in her performance as the Doctor in Series 11 (which I don’t think she will).

      That’s okay. I appreciate you didn’t like ‘Twice Upon A Time’ as much as I enjoyed it. Like I said, this should have been a two-parter in order to give Peter Capaldi a good send-off in the series. David Bradley won me over as the First Doctor, despite some of the writing issues to his character by Steven Moffat. I’m currently enjoying the ‘Twice Upon A Time’ novelization/audiobook by Paul Cornell. At the moment, I feel that he’s fleshing out some of the story and character in that episode compared to what the TV version did. I’ll share more thoughts on the Target novelization/audiobook soon when I finish it.

      Regarding Jodie Whittaker, I can only speak from my own experience and be optimistic about her era of ‘Doctor Who’. I think it’s because I enjoyed her performance in ‘Trust Me’ and enjoyed the writing in Chris Chibnall’s episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ during the RTD and Steven Moffat eras as well as his handling of the first two seasons of ‘Torchwood’. I know I sound optimistic about the new era of ‘Doctor Who’ before I’ve even watched it, but after seeing the Series 11 trailer and interviews with Jodie Whittaker, I feel certain that the new era will turn out okay. I’d like to think I can change your mind about the new era of ‘Doctor Who’ with Jodie Whittaker under Chris Chibnall. If I can, that’s great. But in the end, it’s up to you how you feel about it and again I can only speak from my perspective on how a new era of ‘Doctor Who’ is going to turn out. I’m glad I’ve persuaded you to watch the first episode of Jodie Whittaker’s era though.

      Thanks for your comments, Simon. Glad you enjoy the heart, depth, passion and emotion I write in my ‘Doctor Who’ reviews.

      Tim. 🙂


  2. Timelord 007

    Great review on the Target audio & novel Tim, Paul Cornell is a excellent writer have you heard his BF Seventh Doctor story The Shadow & The Scourge?

    My issue with this was there was no real threat, i like the dramatic aspects with the Doctor’s refusing to regenerate but the actual plot is underwhelming & disappointing, Tennants Death Doctor finale did it so much bettter & the Fifth Doctor sacrifice for his friend Peri but here we know he’s refusing to regenerate so there’s no real heroic save the universe scenario.

    The scene with the Dalek mutants would’ve been awesome in the tv episode, why the hell was that cut, probably being a Christmas episode must not scare the kids on Christmas Day (rolls eyes at PC brigade).

    A excellent written review, i enjoyed these Target reviews & i like how you explain the differences between each version & whether it improves the story somewhat, you are The Postman because you always deliver.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Twice Upon A Time’. I’m very pleased with Paul Cornell’s writing in this book. No I haven’t heard ‘The Shadow of the Scourge’ yet. I have the CD and it will be something for me to listen to at a future time.

      I agree, ‘The Caves of Androzani’ and ‘The End of Time’ swansongs for Five and Ten are superior compared to ‘Twice Upon A Time’. Had this been a two-parter, we would’ve had the universal threat for the Twelfth Doctor to deal with. Ironic that the Eleventh Doctor’s swansong feels more dramatic with a universal threat compared to the Twelfth Doctor’s. Still I liked it that the Twelfth and First Doctors got to save a soldier’s life from the First World War which is made clearer in the novelization.

      Yeah I don’t get why they didn’t include the Dalek mutants attacking the Twelfth Doctor and the First Doctor saving him. Again ironic that they wouldn’t have included it because it’s a Christmas episode considering the Master was a cannibal in ‘The End of Time – Part One’.

      Very pleased you enjoyed how I compared the differences between the book/audio and the TV episode of ‘Twice Upon A Time’. I found reading/hearing the novelization/audiobook a more enjoyable experience compared to the TV episode. I just enjoy comparing differences between TV episodes/movies and novelizations in anything I enjoy especially in ‘Doctor Who’. I hope there’ll be more Target novelizations/audiobooks of new series ‘Doctor Who’ episodes soon in 2019.

      Meanwhile, it’s back to Target novelization/audiobooks of classic stories from ‘Doctor Who’. First up, I’ll be reading/listening to ‘The Curse of Fenric’ Target novelization/audiobook.

      Thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂



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