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 here, here, and 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 MarinusThe 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.