Second paragraph of third chapter:
Firsts and Lasts It’s the end of a trilogy of stories set in the same time-period (as per X3.3, “Gridlock” last year), with the forty-second story getting another visit after X2.8, “The Impossible Planet”, and X3.7, “42”. The ood aren’t afflicted by any ultimate-source-of-all-evil this time, so we have our first recurring friendly aliens since the show’s return.
Second paragraph of sidebar essay to third chapter:
For those of us raised on 1970s Doctor Who, where the conditions of a world fed into the story-telling right from the start, obvious mismatches such as this can be distracting. Take a relatively simple tale such as “The Mutants” (9.4) or “The Caves of Androzani” (21.6), where the basic knowledge every child had picked up from the Moon landings or news items about pollution was deployed in a conceptually exciting and intriguing way (regardless of the execution), then compare it to The Mill’s persistent inability to get phases of the Moon right, and you’ll see why experienced viewers get a little peeved.
Latest in the magisterial set of books about Doctor Who (I have previously read volumes 1, 2, 3, 3 (revised), 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8), this covers Series 4 of New Who, the season with the Tenth Doctor and Donna, and also the 2009 special, with a side order of the Proms concert Music of the Spheres, The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith and the animated Dreamland story. This actually came out in 2019, but I only got it in August, and with David Tennant and Donna Noble about to return to our screens, it’s a timely read.
As usual, there is lovely detailed analysis of each story, including all the sections familiar from past volumes plus a new one, “English Lessons”, explaining cultural allusions which may not be as clear to the non-UKanian reader. None of these stories has yet been covered by the Black Archives, so you can’t really compare and contrast, but I feel comfortable that the two series are doing different things and both doing them well. In particular, the chapters on Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead, Midnight and The End of Time were very good.
I’m sorry to say that I did not feel the same way about the sidebar essays accompanying the analysis of each story. There are two standout pieces in the middle of the book, one on the history of the online spinoffs of the show, and one asking “Why Can’t Anyone Just Die?” in the Moffat version of the show, a valid question answered in forensic detail. But in general the companion essays seemed to me a notch or two below the very high standards set in previous volumes, most of them dedicated to exploring obscure rabbit-holes of continuity which I find it difficult to care about.
However, it’s comprehensive on the actual episodes, and the Black Archives you would get for the same price would cover a fraction of the material. So I would still recommend it to the analytical fan, just not as highly as some of the earlier volumes. You can get it here.