The Two Police Boxes: A review of the “Twice Upon a Time” novelization by Paul Cornell

   Peter Capaldi’s swan song story as the Doctor, Twice Upon a Time, originally aired on Christmas day 2017 and was the last Doctor Who story written by Steven Moffat as show-runner. The twelfth Doctor’s regeneration story was first of its kind to be a multi-Doctor story; featuring the very first version of the Doctor, portrayed by David Bradley, as William Hartnell had passed away years prior. The novel does a great job of picking up on Steven Moffat’s original themes, delving a bit deeper into the mindset of Archie, a World War captain who is arguably the main character of the story, in which the Doctors simply become entangled in. But what the Captain is dealing with is absolutely relatable to our Time Lord(s); confronting death. 

   My favorite part of both the episode and the book is when Bill asks the Doctor what he was running to. It’s such a small touching moment when Bill insists that there must be “a bloke wandering about putting things right when they go wrong”, perfectly capturing the spirit of the show in one simple line. The twelfth Doctor’s regeneration itself isn’t expanded upon too much from TV to page but it does reveal that he actually saw his next incarnation in his mind, which is a nice touch, gelling well with the speech he gives directly to her.


   The highlight of this novelization of this story, like most novelizations, is how it offers more insight to our characters. When it comes to adaptations, your enjoyment will largely depend on how you feel about the original story. In my opinion, Twice Upon a Time is a great, small-scale adventure that works greatly as an epilogue to the blockbuster-level of magnificence that was the series ten finale. No monsters (besides a quick Dalek cameo), no mad scientist, no “evil plan”. It’s a story about memories, and how your memories make you who you are (a bit sad after The Timeless Children revelation but I digress).

   The novelization of Steven Moffat’s final Doctor Who story, feels very much how the tone of the show was described under his reign (and in a meta way, this storys’ title); a fairytale. I believe we all need a fairytale now and then to remind us that the world has good people in it and we should all aspire to be a bloke putting things right when they go wrong.


This book is based on a Doctor Who story which was originally broadcast on 25 December 2017.

Written by Steven Moffat and starring Peter Capaldi, David Bradley, and Pearl Mackie, with Mark Gattis as The Captain.

Twice Upon a Time” novelized by Paul Cornell.

Cover art by Anthony Dry.

Published by Target books.

Released 5 April 2018.

Written by: Ryan Capshaw

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