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8) About Time: The Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who, 1963-1966, by Tat Wood and Lawrence Miles (.co.uk, .com)

This series of books about Doctor Who had previously been recommended to me by loveandgarbage here, scarlettina here, and strictlytrue here. A good call. The authors state firmly that they have provided "the most comprehensive, wide-ranging and at times almost shockingly detailed handbook to Doctor Who that you might ever conceivably need" and though it is a pretty large claim, I think they have succeeded. As well as description of each story, evaluation of how well it succeeded, and variably straight-faced attempts to reconcile continuity issues, there is some very good analysis of just how Doctor Who fitted into the BBC and British culture in general, and what its influences, both inward and outward, were. I should have spotted some of this - for instance, the foreshadowing of things later used in Blake's Seven in The Keys of Marinus; or the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien on The Daleks. I especially liked the embedding of long essays on specific broader topics in boxes inside the story-by-story narrative. This is a difficult trick to pull off, but they've done it well, including topics like the true history of the Daleks (twice), unpacking the classical roots of The Myth Makers, and explaining Z Cars.

Compared with the last two books I read about Doctor Who, I felt this volume was much less superficial than Kim Newman's, and made fewer grandiose promises but delivered on more of them than John Chapman's. My one regret is that, following leads from Newman and Chapman, I bought both the DVD of The Web Planet and the CD of The Celestial Toymaker while in London, only to discover that Wood and Miles have a very low opinion of both stories.Grr, when I think what else I could have got... I am about half a dozen stories behind in my Doctor Who reviews anyway, so it will be a little while before I publish my own views here.

BTW, my new userpic, for Doctor Who books, was drawn for me yesterday as a "welcome home" present by young F, aged seven and a half. I may not wander to quite such exotic places as the Doctor, but I do travel quite a bit.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 13th, 2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
Oh your tardis picture is lovely
Jan. 13th, 2007 07:24 pm (UTC)
Like the picture.

I don't know what Wood and Miles say about The Web Planet, but I loved it, both when it was first broadcast and captured my imagination (man-like butterflies! giant scary ants!), and more recently when I saw first the VHS and then the astonishingly clear DVD and saw the stuff I would never have noticed as a kid. It doesn't quite work, not completely, but it is a very impressive stab at a wholly different environment.
Jan. 13th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
By a staggering coincidence, Tat Wood is staying with us at the moment. He says (from the sofa_ that you shouldn't listen to him on the subject of The Web Planet or Celestial Toymaker, but make your own mind up. (FWIW, I love The Web Planet, despite acknowledging all the flaws they point out).

He also says he's very encouraged by your review. ;-)
Jan. 13th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
So you don't need the book, having its author there? Wow, talk about being the ultimate Whovian!
Jan. 14th, 2007 06:06 am (UTC)
Well, do congratulate him on a job well done. I would have gone on a lot longer about how much I liked it but we have relatives staying so my time was limited!
Jan. 15th, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC)
The userpic is fabulous!
May. 18th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
"less superficial than Kim Newman". That's like "less evil than Pol Pot". ;)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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