Doctor Who Short Story Has Jodie Whittaker Argue With Past Regenerations
Making a rare housecall, Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall offered up a Thirteenth Doctor short story to reassure fans amidst the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although many shows and movies have been forced to stop production, Doctor Who recently wrapped up season 12, as planned, with "The Timeless Child." Fans of the show were already prepared for it to be off the air for a while as season 13 enters production. Still, many of those same fans are now stuck inside thanks to coronavirus protection measures.
Parallel universes may have treated a global pandemic differently, but when nations on Earth began their state of lockdown, and countless millions put themselves in self-isolation, Doctor Who fans staged a global rewatch of the 50th-anniversary story, "The Day of the Doctor." The BBC released a short video to socially distant Whovians on Twitter featuring Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, wondering what a Doctor might do in such a situation. Whittaker recorded it on her phone, and in costume. The newest coronavirus diversion from Doctor Who is inspired by the storytelling of Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori, and Percy Bysshe, all of whom the Thirteenth Doctor met on the episode "The Haunting of Villa Diodati."
A new short story, "Things She Thought While Falling," written by Chibnall and published on the BBC's site, reveals what it's like to travel in a "dematerialexploding" time machine. The short story is filled with one-liners and self-referential digs at the series. "Things She Thought While Falling" is set only moments before the season 11 premiere, while the Doctor's body fell to Earth and went through the process of regeneration. The first thing she thinks is how much more efficient it might be to regenerate into something with a parachute. The second thing which comes to mind is there's no such word as dematerialexploding, a word she made up to describe the TARDIS dematerializing as it explodes. The story goes on to track all of the Doctor's thoughts as she plummets towards the roof of a train.
The post begins with a preface from Chibnall, who offers "something to read, together or alone. New treats, from the people who make Doctor Who." Chibnall also promises they will "try and post things here once or twice a week." Later this week, they will share "a never-before-published treat" written by former Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T. Davies.
The producers and writers of Doctor Who have always rewarded the loyal fanbase with fantastic storytelling and unexpected twists, but releasing original content for free to keep fans entertained is a step beyond what most expect. Chibnall penning a short story is a welcoming sign of kindness, and a smart way to keep fans engaged with the series during this extended hiatus.