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- Published on Amazon.com
I'm an old-school Who fan [Whovian, I guess, although I prefer Whomo], and I've been watching Doctor Who ever since the "Classic" series played on our local PBS station [Channel 11] every Sunday night at 11pm back in the 80's. I used to buy every Doctor Who guide or review book I could find, such as The Discontinuity Guide or Who's Next. This book is by far the best. I'm actually astonished at how good it is. Doctor Who is sometimes refereed to as a "children's show," but nothing about this text is childish: It is extremely smart, thoughtful, mature, detailed, and nuanced. It not sophomoric or slight in the least. Then again, it isn't a tome of academic articles either. It is a critically engaged but passionate examination of the stories in the "New" series. The "reviews" are excellent, because, first of all, there are always two of them, written by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith. What we get are two perspectives -- which always seem well considered -- unique to the hearts and thoughts of the two men. Both notice different things, enjoy different things, become irked by different things, etc. Sometimes they both enjoy an episode, sometimes they both problems with an episode, but they always make compelling arguments for their thoughts/ideas/opinions. Even if I disagree with something, I usually feel that they've made good points. But then again, they don't often seem wildly off the mark. But to simply call this a review book would be to underestimate all what it has to offer. It includes some production details, it briefly summarizes the stories, it includes "Roots and References," it tracks developing threads and motifs, it lists details about the Doctor's back-story/travels/history which are revealed in a particular episode, and it includes favorite moments ["Stand Up and Cheer"], least favorite moments ["Roll Your Eyes"], and discontinuity or logic errors ["You're Not Making Any Sense"]. The sheer volume of details explored in the book really facilitates my appreciation for the show. And then there are sections called "The Psychic Papers" which periodically appear in which various topics are discussed: such as the Doctor's changing relationship to the subject of "changing" history, retcons, the Timelords, the "wilderness" period between the Classic series and New series and the novels and audios which were produced during that period, etc. Basically, the way I used the book was I watched an episode and then read the text related to that episode. The guide goes up through season 6, and maybe, hopefully, it will be updated from time to time. That said, even as it is I consider it essential and I recommend it to ALL fans. It was the perfect companion through series. This book was my Sarah Jane Smith.