Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

February Books 3) About Time: The Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who, 1966-1969

3) About Time: The Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who, 1966-1969, by Tat Wood and Lawrence Miles (.co.uk, .com)

I read the first in this series last month: a wonderful cornucopia of facts and analysis of the early years of everyone's favourite Time Lord. I think the second volume, dealing with the last two William Hartnell stories and the Patrick Troughton era, actually exceeds the high standard set by the first volume. Again, we have the exhaustive picking apart of each story looking for its sources of inspiration, broken up by substantive essays on more-or-less relevant topics - the one near the end, "Does Plot Matter", has considerable analytical depth and genre-wide interest - I hope someone (like perhaps Strange Horizons?) might consider approaching the authors to put it on-line for general information.

Lots of things I loved about this book. The vicious wit with which the authors savage any aspects of their favourite series that they disapprove of. (The chapter on every single story has a section devoted to Things That Don't Make Sense. Sometimes these sections are long, and sometimes they are longer.) Wood and Miles seem to particularly enjoy being able to argue at forty years' distance with Innes Lloyd, who was producer of the programme for much of this time, on the grounds that he betrayed the original Verity Lambert concept. Lloyd has been dead since 1991 and so can't argue back. But the tone is witty rather than polemical and myself I think a more balanced view of Lloyd's achievements emerges from these pages despite the authors' efforts.

Two minor mysteries that had troubled me in the last few months are explained: i) Colin Baker's narration of The Macra Terror is terrible not because Colin Baker is reading it but because John Nathan Turner wrote it; ii) Ian Marter's novelisation of The Enemy of the World is incomprehensible because the publisher slashed large chunks out of it to bring it down to the right page count. There is learned discussion of i) whose accent is the worst in the entire history of Doctor Who, ii) whether or not anyone in the TARDIS (Doctor excepted) ever had sex, and iii) the possible alchemical significance of mercury in the works of David Whitaker. There is constant mockery of Victoria. And there is a very thoughtful piece on why The Power of the Daleks is such a good story. I read it all except the chapter on The Mind Robber, because the authors insist very strongly that you should see it in all its glory first.

(One small nit-pick - The Third Man is set in Vienna, not Berlin, which was divided into four parts, not three. But this is tangential to its likely influence on The Invasion.)

I cannot imagine that future volumes in this series can possibly be as good as this one - but I shall buy them anyway.
Tags: bookblog 2007, doctor who, doctor who: 01, doctor who: 02, doctor who: reference, writer: lawrence miles, writer: tat wood
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