Evergreen (Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury)

Prose  This is lovely.  The Eighth Doctor is lodging at a farm offering assistance to its recently widowed inhabitant, Connie, who's become an outcast to the superstitious villagers who live nearby.  As deaths begin to mount up, he finds himself drawn to investigating the cause.  Having recently experienced my first Christmas after a bereavement, I can appreciate Connie's loss although unlike her, we wanted to keep up some of the traditions which were most important to us, especially decorations, tree and presents.  The story is mostly from her point of view, although that also means it resolves itself off page with the Doctor providing a lengthy explanation as to what's happened which is a bit anti-dramatic.

Placement:  It's an example of those stories which slowly reveal when in this Doctor's life we're greeting him revealed when he talks about having lost his memory and travelling to make new ones.  There's no mention of the TARDIS or his companions, so we have to conclude it's a rare visit to the Earth arc, perhaps not long after The Burning?

Gazing Void (Short Trips: A Universe of Terrors)

Prose  "I became a monster to fight monsters."  This key line spoken by the deposed genocidal dictator whom the Doctor has been tasked with psychiatric care in this Huw Wilkins story is incredibly sinister.  How many powerful maniacs whose behaviour we've had to, and still endure, are entirely aware of that horrors they're perpetrating make them somehow inhuman but perpetrate them anyway because they assume it's for some spectral greater good?  

Part of anthology with a pretty self explanatory title, Wilkins's story doesn't really have an answer outside the outrage machine at the heart of the story.  The brevity of the text means the atrocities are pretty generic and nothing is really resolved.  This was written ten years before Eighth's regeneration so he's able to say "Violence isn't the answer" with a straight face.  He'd later become just the sort of figure he absolutely deplores, yet is oddly sympathetic to here.

It's fine, reading mostly like a three handed short play.  The writer also implies the Time Lord spent a couple of years in this war zone, a whole era of Eighth Doctor stories hidden within a few sentences.  Not sure how many writers would be brave enough to do that now.  But this does feel like a story which couldn't necessarily be told with any of the other earlier incarnation.  Even Seventh doesn't feel ruthless enough to think this dictator would be put to death and not have anything to say about it.

Placement: Just before Blood of the Daleks.  He's in a chippy mood.