DOCTOR WHO: IN THE BLOOD
Don’t feed the trolls
released 12 May 335 pages | Hardback Author Jenny T Colgan Publisher BBC Books
The casting of Catherine Tate was one of the most controversial decisions of Russell T Davies’s time as Doctor Who showrunner – could the comedian known for her brash characters really work in the TARDIS? Fortunately the answer was yes, and Donna became the standout companion of new Who: determined, independent and always caring. It was the show’s loss when she left after just a year, so a return to the TARDIS duo’s time together is very welcome.
In The Blood sees the Doctor and Donna back on modern- day Earth and fighting a very 21st- century villain: internet trolls. Or rather, alien parasites – Rempaths – which feed on the resentment and frustration of online commenters, building up their anger until killing them.
The stand- out feature of this book is the way Jenny Colgan captures all the characters – the Doctor, Donna, her grandad Wilf, her mum Sylvia; all of them are pitch- perfect, and you can hear every line in the actors’ voices. Occasional pop culture references from the Doctor grate slightly, but are again utterly in tune with his on- screen persona.
Unfortunately the rest of the novel is weaker. Website commenters, online trolls and internet misogynists may seem like the stuff of a story for our age, but from the overweight slob living with his mother and yelling at actresses online, to Donna’s friend, who outsources her domestic life to cleaners and nannies while barely lifting her eyes from her smartphone, the book takes the line of right- on cliché rather than genuine examination. And as the Doctor and Donna rush around the world chasing internet connections the various factions and interests never feel well explained, leaving the conclusion somewhat confused and unsatisfying.
Donna’s also about to return in a new series of Big Finish audios starring Tate and Tennant – review next issue.