Doctor Who Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris review
Touched by An Angel is another brilliant addition to the Doctor Who book range. The main protagonist is Mark Whitaker, a man who’s still haunted by the death of his wife in a tragic car accident in 2003. (We Doctor Who fans love our nostalgia, so I couldn’t help but think that Jonathan Morris chose to name his hero after David Whitaker, the TV series’ original script editor, who wrote the first novelisation, Doctor Who and the Daleks, which also opened with a car crash). The main reason why I decided to skip ahead and read Touched by An Angelbefore some earlier books in the range is due to the fact that it featured the Weeping Angels on the cover, and I was fascinated as to how Jonathan Morris would convey these iconic beasts in his novel. The recently released trailer to the second part of series 6 also added to my excitement about this book, as it reveals that the Weeping Angels will feature in the TV series again. It’s also worth noting that Amy is wearing the same red check shirt that she wore in her ganger guise, which (if intended) is a handy way of dating the events in this novel.
Continuity does indeed play a huge part in the plot of this novel, as Mark is sent back in time by an angel at the start of the book. However, instead of being sent hundreds of years into the past (as the Angels were wont to do in Blink), they only send Mark back 17 years into his past. This concerns the Doctor greatly, as it means that Mark could very much interfere with his own future. Not only that, but his intimate knowledge of the recent past means that he’s a much greater threat to the development of humanity than someone ignorant of the intricacies of history being sent back 100 years. However, to complicate matters, Mark’s future self has sent him instructions which he must follow to the letter, or else this will create the kind of temporal paradox that the Angels love to feed on. Thus, one of the glories of Touched by an Angel is that it lets us see Steven Moffat’s greatest monsters in yet another new light, revealing them to be much more adaptable and cunning than they first appeared to be in Blink (although some of their methods also derive from The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone from series 5). The Blinovitch Limitation Effect (a plot device first mentioned in the classic series) also gets a tasty look-in.
So, Jonathan Morris very much utilises all the intricacies of time travel here, which splendidly enhances the the thriller elements of Touched by an Angel. Jonathan Morris also chooses the locations of his drama’s set pieces very well, as the Angels don’t look all that much out of place in a churchyard and a museum. And when they do invade a student disco, it’s very much to comic as well as thrilling effect. Jonathan Morris’ depiction of our regular cast of heroes is excellently executed, as it should be by the writer of the official Doctor Who magazine comic strip. Although I did think the scene where the Doctor punched Mark was a bit out of character; however, I guess this could be evidence of series 6′s “Dark Doctor” here, and he did also (uncharacteristically) punch Bracewell in Victory of the Daleks. (I guess Rule No. 11 could be that “The Doctor sometimes punches people, and even occasionally resorted to Venusian aikido in his younger years”.) Something I enjoyed a lot more than this unusual bout of fisticuffs on the Doctor’s part, was Jonathan Morris’ depiction of early 90s student life, especially since it’s quite similar to that I enjoyed myself (Jonathan Morris and I are roughly the same age).
However, the real joy of Touched by an Angel is the inevitable emotional angst that travelling back in time causes Mark, especially with regards to one momentous decision… Perhaps Mark’s final encounter with his wife is a bit too sugary and implausible, but it’s very excusable as it allows for an excellent joke regarding the Doctor’s own bungling (or possibly intended) intervention in Mark’s life. Jonathan Morris brilliantly brings the rather flawed Mark Whitaker to life with such aplomb, skill, and resonance that I, for one, would be very happy if he were ever chosen to write for the TV series.
- Matthew Kilburn on Doctor Who Shada by Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts