Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

August Books 4) About Time: The Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who, 1975-1979

4) About Time: The Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who, 1975-1979, by Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood

I loved the first two books in this series, but felt it would be difficult for the same quality to be kept up for all volumes. This one, covering six of the seven Tom Baker years as Doctor Who, is, frankly, squashed, with fewer than nine pages on average for each story covered, compared to eleven-ish per story for the first two volumes. (Though in pages per episode broadcast it comes out better, at 2.2 which is the same as Vol 1 and a shade more than Vol 2.)

I can forgive it. What's been cut is the back-stage gossip about the relations between and among the production team and the cast, with enough left in to make it very annoying that you don't get more; but I felt that the book is as good as the others in the series at looking at the roots of the stories covered, and impassioned in its assessment of the dramatic impact of the programme as broadcast.

Also, it is my favourite period of Doctor Who. This is when I was watching it most assiduously when first broadcast (the second episode of Revenge of the Cybermen was shown on my eighth birthday), and also, frankly, I think it includes a disproportionate number of the truly great stories of Old Who. The Doctor Who Dynamic Ratings Site agrees, with five of its top six Old Who stories dating from this era (The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Genesis of the Daleks, City of Death, Pyramids of Mars and The Deadly Assassin, with The Robots of Death, The Seeds of Doom and The Ark in Space not far behind).

Miles and Wood explain really well how it was that Hinchcliffe and Holmes made it so good, and how and why Williams simply wasn't able to deliver the same product (and Tom Baker is fingered as a major culprit in that process). There are also the usual enlightening essays about bits of Who-lore, BBC procedures and British culture of the day (of which the best is surely the piece on Top of the Pops). So, while I didn't learn as much from this book as I did from Volume 1 or 2, I did enjoy wallowing in nostalgia as I read it.
Tags: bookblog 2007, doctor who, doctor who: 04, doctor who: reference, writer: lawrence miles, writer: tat wood
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