Her Own Bootstraps, September’s Short Trip, is another which fills in a little continuity reference, like 2019’s Battle Scars. Here, we run with the idea that the Ninth Doctor was present at the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.
The story, as the title suggests, centres on a bootstrap paradox. It begins with the Doctor, travelling solo – so pre-Rose, stealing a dangerous Time War weapon from an opportunistic scientist. Knowing the devastation she will wreak with it, he resolves to put it beyond use. Arriving at Krakatoa in 1883 however, with plans to plant the device in the path of destruction, he meets a younger version of that same scientist, there to steal the weapon from him.
Caught in a time-loop, the Doctor and his rival, Dr Althea Bryce, struggle over both the ownership of the weapon and the implications of their choices. Despite the temporal trappings, Amy Veeres’ story is fundamentally a character piece; she considers Bryce’s apparent destiny, as well touching on the Doctor’s guilt for “dirtying his hands” in the Time War. The Doctor acts as a provocateur, forcing Bryce to consider quite what might take her down such a dark path.
In the story’s resolution, which involves a little hand waving, we detect the influence of the Moffat era. It does make a point of ensuring that picture gets to Clive’s shed though, thanks to a coda with Rose.
The Essence of Eccleston?
Narrator Jacob Dudman is on his usual engaging form here, adding a further Doctor to his repertoire; while not as uncanny as his Eleventh Doctor, he picks up enough of Christopher Eccleston’s vocal mannerisms to convince us. Director Nicholas Briggs keeps the story moving at a good pace, and is presumably handing over Ninth Doctor duties to Dudman now, having previously voiced him for the Chronicles and Short Trips ranges.
With Christopher Eccleston due to reprise his role in full-cast adventures next year, it is nice to feel that some of these continuity riffing ideas have already been covered off and the horizons are open for his Doctor’s much anticipated return. In short, a fun thirty-odd minutes which whet the appetite for May 2021!