REVIEW: “Doctor Who – Adventures in Lockdown”

The pandemic has been exceptionally hard on the entertainment industry. It’s been difficult for everyone, but industries that rely on large groups of people gathering together to do or watch something have been hit particularly hard. Still, many individual pieces of entertainment found creative and innovative ways to continue making content during this time. Doctor Who might have found one of the more fun ways of doing things—publishing short stories and videos created by people involved in the making of the show. What started as a series of short stories posted on the Doctor Who website has turned into an anthology of 16 stories published in support of the Children in Need charity. Doctor Who: Adventures in Lockdown is not only a fun read for a good cause, but an example of how creative and varied the show can be. (4.5 out of 5 wands)

Doctor Who: Adventures in Lockdown (by Chris Chibnall, Steven Moffat, Russel T. Davies, Neil Gaiman, Joy Wilkinson, Vinay Patel, Pete McTighe, Paul Cornell, and Mark Gatiss)
While staying home was a vital safety measure in 2020, the freedom of the TARDIS remained a dream that drew many – allowing them to roam the cosmos in search of distraction, reassurance and adventure. Now some of the finest TV Doctor Who writers come together with gifted illustrators in this very special short story collection in support of BBC Children in Need.

Current and former showrunners – Chris Chibnall Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat – present exciting adventures for the Doctor conceived in confinement, alongside brand new fiction from Neil Gaiman, Mark Gatiss and Vinay Patel. Also featuring work from Chris Riddell, Joy Wilkinson, Paul Cornell, Sonia Leong, Sophie Cowdrey, Mike Collins and many more, Adventures in Lockdown is a book for any Doctor Who fan in your life, stories that will send your heart spinning wildly through time and space…

The stories in Adventures in Lockdown are fully aimed at kids. They’re short, easy to read, and pretty light on plot. But that’s kind of the joy of them, to be honest. Doctor Who can often be complicated to the point of incomprehension, and it’s nice to see these writers take an easier, more laid back approach to things. The stories range from just a couple of pages to 10 or so, and their concepts range from simple interactions between characters to slightly more involved stories. None of them are very long, and it’s effortless to devour the entire anthology in one sitting. Similarly, many of these stories would make perfect bedtime stories for parents to read to their young Doctor Who loving children. The anthology does a great job of balancing its appeal to adults and children alike. 

The thing that ties all of these stories together is their inherent and radiating sense of hope. With a few exceptions, these are stories about the Doctor trying to spread hope and joy to people. And in times like these, hopeful stories are appreciated more than ever. You’re not gonna find tons of action sequences in this anthology or lots of mind-bending time travel shenanigans. Instead, you’re gonna find some very comfortable, soft, light stories—all of which are utterly delightful. Every author involved with this anthology took to heart the idea of writing stories to help cheer people up during this rough year. That idea is even at the heart of many of these stories—Mark Gatiss’ story sees the Doctor trying to cheer up a familiar person from her past, one of Steven Moffat’s stories sees the Doctor playing along with a child’s imagination, etc. This is a collection of stories designed to make you feel good, and it’s wildly successful at doing so.

While many of the stories included in Adventures in Lockdown were previously posted on the Doctor Who website or done as video shorts for the Lockdown watch-alongs, there are three stories unique to the collection—Neil Gaiman’s “One Virtue, and a Thousand Crimes,” Vijay Patel’s “The Tourist,” and Mark Gatiss’ “Fellow Traveler.” These three stories, alone, make this collection worth buying even if you’ve already read and consumed the other 13 stories included in the collection. Gaiman and Gatiss’ stories ended up being my favorite, with Gaiman’s heist-like tale of the Corsair stealing a very important artifact last seen in a classic Seventh Doctor story and Gatiss’s surprisingly-emotional story seeing the Doctor reunite with a character that fans have longed to see her reunite with. Also exclusive to the collection are black-and-white illustrations from Valentina Mozzo, Sonia Leong, Mike Collins, Adrian Salmon, Lee Binding, Chris Riddell, Sophie Cowdrey, David Wardle, Anthony Dry, and Richard Wells. These illustrations are simple, but add life to their respective stories. It’s always fun seeing artists put their own spin on the Doctor Who universe and that is certainly true here. 

All in all, Doctor Who: Adventures in Lockdown is well worth a purchase. It’s filled with sixteen short, heartwarming Doctor Who stories and raises money for a good cause. The stories are great examples of how varied Doctor Who can be. The show tends to be complex and wibbly-wobbly, but these stories are short and sweet and easy to follow. They’re great pick-me-ups for anyone who finds themself a bit less-than-happy in this mess of a year. The stories exclusive to this collection make it an essential purchase for Doctor Who fans as Gaiman and Gatiss’s stories should prove to be fan-favorites. In general, this anthology should please Doctor Who fans of all ages. It’s a welcome addition to any Doctor Who lover’s bookshelf and I hope those involved with the book continue to make more stories like these in the years to come. They’re a nice little gift for those who love the show.

4.5 out of 5 wands.

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