Who is Doctor Who?

After having experienced the different Doctor Who media platforms, I would have to say that I found the Blood of the Cybermen game to be the least satisfying. I never have been a videogame player, aside from Mortal Combat when I was younger and Ms. Pac-Man (which I still play on occasion). It is not that I didn’t enjoy playing the game at all—I enjoyed it to an extent, even though I was pretty bad at it—it’s just that I didn’t enjoy it as a narrative. I wasn’t paying much attention to the overall story so much as trying to get the Doctor to walk straight ahead instead of in circles or into walls (yes, I’m that bad). I was focused on the immediate task ahead of me instead of being able to put the whole thing together. So, for me, the failure was in the medium itself; I don’t think I could enjoy any story via a videogame, regardless of what the story is or how entertaining the game is (after all, there isn’t much to the romance between Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man).

Not as complex as Doctor Who...

My favorite was definitely Steven Moffat’s “Blink.” Like several other people have said, the suspense and fright of the showdown with the angels would not have been conveyed as well, if at all, through any other medium. The visual element was vital to creating those feelings, as was the live action (it would be hard to convey the action in a comic with the same effect). Therefore, I think stories that attempt to create within viewers certain emotions, such as fear, are better suited to media platforms that engage both sight and sound, because they allow viewers to become fully immersed in the story and its world.

That is not to say that comics, novels, audio dramas, or even videogames can’t or don’t elicit emotions from viewers; obviously that is not true. It is just that television shows and movies are more immediate than other types of media. With the audio drama, for example, the audience is allowed, or required, to use their imaginations in order to know what the story looks like. With a comic, the audience must connect the panels and fill in information in order to have the story flow. Since shows and movies generally do that for you, you can have strong, immediate reactions like with “Blink.” Comics, and other written media, do have the advantage of allowing readers to digest a story slowly and completely, whereas with shows and audio dramas, it is easy to miss something (as evidenced by the Doctor Who audio drama).

Our Doctor Who week was my first ever encounter with the franchise, but one similarity I found across all four platforms was that the story told through each did not require prior knowledge in order to understand it. Matt Hill says this is the result of “the absent epic” and “implied story arcs”—while there is obviously a larger overarching story and a long history of the Doctor’s adventures, “highly significant and presumably spectacular narrative events are only verbally alluded to by characters rather than being depicted” and story arcs are revealed through the “accumulation of minor, background details.” An example would be the interaction between the Doctor and the Time Lords; I didn’t know about them until I read outside sources about the Doctor, but that didn’t detract from the story. These narrative structures make the franchise (sorry for calling it that, Lance Parkin) understandable and enjoyable to people like me who do not have any knowledge about the series.

The stories across the four platforms didn’t have one identical format. I know that this sounds like it is a difference, but as Lance Parkin quoted, “The format is there’s no format.” He was referring to the difference in story formats across time, but I think the same argument can be made across media platforms. In “Blink” the Doctor had a very small part, but, after hearing/reading/playing the other stories, I understood the “internal continuity” that Parkin said had built up throughout the franchise. The TARDIS was featured in each of the stories, and all the stories featured time travel and the Doctor’s interaction with non-regular characters (Sally Sparrow, the stranded character in the game, etc.). Like many other people mentioned, the interaction between the Doctor and his companions were also extremely similar. And of course, let’s not forget about those lovable cybermen!

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