28 July 2011
John Mosby checks out this indepth look at the Who-niverse.
Author: Piers D. Britton
Publisher: I B Tauris Price: £15.99
Availability: Out Now
The Americans call it ‘water-cooler television’, the idea that a TV show is so controversial / interesting / fun that the following day, people will gather around the metaphorical H20-dispensing device (or similar) and have a good chat about it and compare notes. There’s little doubt that since its regeneration in 2005, Doctor Who fits the description nicely. From a period twenty years ago where its cheap production values and lack of BBC commitment made it something of an embarrassment to be caught watching, it’s now a show that everyone seems to watch.
But there’s a bit of a difference between spirited debates (even the more pointed and passionate online bulletin board variety) and creating a fully-formed thesis on the matters stretching to over two hundred paperback pages. While on one hand one wants to applaud anyone who takes the time to scrutinise the deeper themes and cultural aspects presented by an often clever and thought-provoking cosmic romp, it could also be argued that the appeal could be narrow and found wanting - the format a little dry for a Saturday night TV show.
Though the appeal may be limited, the demographic and part of the fanbase that would find such a book interesting will actually find much to applaud here. Clearly a great deal of attention and research has been done and not only across the near five decades of the television phenomenon but also the spin-offs such as the original novels and audio-adventures. Britton explores the parallels between the screen versions and the continuing written/audio that populated the landscape when the show was off the air during the Nineties and beyond.
The cover, a rather basic and simplistic painting of the Doctor (possibly to avoid copyright problems), shows its unofficial and sideline status and might not do that much to attract the casual reader, but essentially this IS a tome that has some dimensions that are less relative than others. One for the die-hard fan and intellectual reader rather than the Saturday night family, this is a book that is genuinely deeper on the inside.