Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

April Books 34) Running Through Corridors, Volume 1: The 60s, by Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke

This is a book about watching the whole of Doctor Who in sequence, so of course it appealed to me. It is structured as correspondence between Robert Shearman, author of the Christopher Ecclestone episode Dalek, and Toby Hadoke, author of Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf and moderator of numerous recent DVD commentaries, spaced over the course of 2009, with the intention being to start on 1 January with An Unearthly Child and finish with The End of Time part 1 on 31 December. This first volume covers the 1960s, ie the entire Hartnell and Troughton period plus the two Peter Cushing films, at a rate of (usually) two episodes a day.

During a week when my ability to concentrate on long texts was not of its usual quality, the structure of this book was absolutely perfect for me, with each individual episode getting about a page of discussion. It helps of course that it's less than a year since I finished rewatching this period of the show myself, so it was all pretty fresh for me. (I just hope they don't publish the other two volumes before I've finished my own rewatch - spoilers!) Shearman writes of "that aghast expression that a classic Doctor Who fan affects when he knows that something on screen is rubbish, and he's painfully aware that all the non-fans watching with are about to glance over, in unison, to see if he's noticed how terible it is." But you can feel in safe company here. Both Shearman and Hadoke are deep deep fans of the show and email each other with tidbits of information for the reader which I am sure were known to both of them. Both are witty and amusing writers; Hadoke occasionally deteriorates into awful puns, but makes up for this by contributing his knowledge of stagecraft and the stage.

Their mission is to try and say something positive about each episode, and they generally succeed (with understandable lapses for The Sensorites and The Dominators). Sometimes I wished they had found a little more charity for, for instance, the mid-parts of The Daleks' Master Plan. Sometimes their enthusiasm surprised me - Hadoke's love for the second Cushing film, for instance. But I also cheered when our tastes coincided, for instance with the wonderful Power of the Daleks. And anyway, these things are personal and not objective; Hadoke explains in detail the very specific reasons why Fury From the Deep is a special story for him which he can never evaluate neutrally.

I'm within a few months of finishing my own Doctor Who rewatch (suggested to me in 2008 by Paul Cornell, but started only in September 2009) but I think this books will be very much enjoyed even by those who feel that it's a step too far to do it themselves. You can easily dip in and check out particular stories that may interest you, and the writing is generally chatty and lucid. Very strongly recommended to the thinking Old Who fan.
Tags: bookblog 2011, doctor who, doctor who: 01, doctor who: 02, writer: rob shearman, writer: toby hadoke

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