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Doctor Who: A Big Hand For The Doctor: 03/18/16

Doctor Who: A Big Hand For The Doctor by Eoin Colfer

Doctor Who: A Big Hand For The Doctor by Eoin Colfer is the first story in a twelve book boxed series to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who, the television show, has had two regenerations: the original run which went through twenty-six series (1963-1989) and seven Doctors. There was a BBC/Fox TV (1996) movie accounting for the 8th Doctor. And after a long hiatus, the BBC relaunched the show in 2005 restarting the series count at one, but the Doctor count at Nine. BBC is currently on Doctor Thirteen, which tosses some of the really old canon into chaos, but it just goes into the "wibbly wobbly" part of the explanation, per Doctor Ten.

As this set of books was published before the Thirteenth Doctor, there are only twelve books. Each one is in the length of a short story to a novella, and they go in order of (re)generation. I'm not sure if the first one counts as a regeneration, but then how do we know beyond his say-so that he was in his original shape and form?

Anyway, Eoin Colfer's story features the Doctor as played by William Hartnell. Now when Hartnell was playing the Doctor, there weren't any immediate plans to keep the show going beyond his tenure. Also, he was set up as a time traveling grandfather and teacher. The show was meant to be educational (though with the Daleks in episode two, the EI part of the plan went right out the window).

With the few remaining episodes from Hartnell's tenure that are extant, the Doctor is portrayed as a stately, almost founding father, type figure. He's set in his ways. He doesn't like humanity. He's devoted to his grand-daughter (who is far more a fan of humanity, than he is) and he only begrudgingly takes on companions as a favor to her.

But if we're to assume that the actors who came after Hartnell are all playing the same person, though with a shifting hue of personality, then it's reasonable to retcon later personality quirks into earlier characters.

Colfer creates a doctor who is still loyal to his grand-daughter, though more so in a DEATH and Susan sort of way (see the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett). He's still not exactly interested in saving the Earth and he's perhaps more selfish than later (re)generations.

Like Doctor Ten, he's also missing a hand and needs a replacement. Much of the story is focused on what favors he has to do to earn his new hand.

Interestingly, too, Colfer supposes that earlier (re)generations can and do have glimpses of later (re)generations.

My only complaint about the book is a fact checking error in the unveiling of the shaggy dog story that is this first book. The book draws a lot of humor through comparisons with the Peter Pan story but that story is attributed to Doyle, rather than Barrie. Sure, the two were friends and on the same celebrity cricket team, but they aren't the same person!

Four stars

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