Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness

The Doctor and Nyssa arrive in the US town of Temperance during the Second World War. There they find a fad for dangling small, alien Truth Tellers from the tongue; creatures who speak the truth all the time.

After April’s Babblesphere, here we have another, rather subtler, Doctor Who take on social media. But whereas Jonathan Morris’ tale focussed on the banality, the Truth Tellers are analogous to the other side of Twitter: cyber-bullying. The appeal to the teenagers of Temperance seems to be the ‘trolling’ aspect. By the adding this third party to their interactions people are more comfortable with insults and negativity. It’s FaceBook and Twitter come sixty years early.

It’s interesting to have a Doctor Who story set in the USA during World War Two, there having been plenty, both on TV and in books, set in Britain or on the continent. But there’s no danger from Blitz or occupation here, just men missing from the town and a vague awareness of the war being fought far away.

The Doctor feels a bit like a guest star in this story. He and Nyssa are seen in a couple of fleeting appearances, then turn up at the end to solve the plot. It must be one of the most straight-forward adventures our hero has ever had to deal with. He knows what the aliens are pretty much straight-away; there’s no mystery or peril for him at all. He seems as concerned with match-making as the alien threat, which is more of an Eleventh Doctor trait.

Given that this seems to be set during the gap between Time Flight and Arc of Infinity, and the Doctor is only travelling with Nyssa, Ness has him asking the two main characters, Jonny and Nettie in the story to accompany him in the TARDIS. This is an incarnation who pretty much had his companions foisted on him, rather than invite them aboard. According to this tale, it seems that despite appearances, he enjoys the ‘crowded TARDIS’.


Order Doctor Who – Tip of the Tongue from Amazon:

Doctor Who: Tip Of The Tongue: Fifth Doctor: 50th Anniversary (Doctor Who Digital)


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