Over the weekend, instead of getting soaked/burned at Glastonbury I instead finished reading Tat Wood’s informative and entertaining sixth entry in his series About Time, a guide that examined all Doctor Who stories from the original run, over six volumes. Published with the co-authorship of Lawrence Miles on some volumes, About Time represents what is, for me at least, one of the best critiques of the show ever written, both in terms of the virtues of stories as broadcast, but also the context in which they were produced and shown.

In fact context is the very thing that separates Wood & Miles’s commentary from most Doctor Who ‘guides’, the importance of the historical, cultural and political factors that surround each story are fully explored. When so much lazy critique of genre television can often fall into trite repetitions of received wisdom (this is about ‘nuclear paranoia’, this is about ‘drugs’ etc) the authors successfully approach each story in its own right and analyse the themes surrounding it.

Increasingly I’ve become aware of out-growing some of the articles found in magazines like DWM. Not because these are badly produced, far from it, but the new audience has meant some realignment of editorial thinking. I don’t really need to read Simon Guerrier’s guides to old seasons, cos I’m pretty aware of what went on in them, similarly I’m not really interested in Toby Hadoke having an argument about historical adventures. I needed something with a bit more depth to satisfy my intellectual curiosity.

Say what you like about Wood & Miles (and many have, especially where LM is concerned) they have been around a bit (in fandom I mean) and certainly write smartly and well-argued pieces with enough wit and sarcasm to prevent any academic dryness to the writing. The result is a six volume work of fascinating insight and cultured research that I’ll find great pleasure dipping into time and again.

Highly recommended.

 

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