Review: Doctor Who: Books: Who is the Doctor

By Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?

ECW Press, out now

An overview of the revived Doctor Who series…

If you’ve been missing a Discontinuity Guide to the new series, then look no further, for Messrs Burk and Smith have stepped into the shoes of Cornell, Day and Topping to provide similar reference material. The original book was one of the first published guides that didn’t treat the series as if it were holy writ – as can be seen on the BBC website, where its contents are combined with David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker’s The Television Companion – and posited a number of theories, some of which have passed into folklore (Season 6B anyone?)

Burk and Smith have an extra angle, as they’re providing a North American viewpoint on the show. Thus the accents in Dalek, which seemed perfectly acceptable to most British viewers, come under attack, and the show’s acceptance in America as “an ongoing dramatic saga fascinated with good-looking young leads trading quips” is debated. There are also primers (neatly called “Psychic Papers”) to various elements of the show’s past.

As with its predecessor, you’re not going to agree with everything that the two writers say in their opinions – indeed, often they don’t agree with each other, in the best traditions of such books. They’re plain wrong sometimes: the ending of The Wedding of River Song was impossible to predict? Talk to the people who viewed Let’s Kill Hitler at the BFI in August, many of whom were openly saying that’s how it would be done the moment that the Teselecta was left intact at the end of that episode.

But in its willingness to engage with the madness of some of the story logic and not to be browbeaten by self-proclaimed genius, Who is the Doctor is a strong addition to the many volumes written about the new show, and one that, I suspect, will be referred to long after the more cerebral analyses have faded into oblivion.  7/10

Paul Simpson


One thought on “Review: Doctor Who: Books: Who is the Doctor

  1. A lovely review, though completely overlooking one of the book’s major strengths (IMHO): the humor that shines out of every page. The authors clearly had buckets of fun researching, debating, and writing these reviews. It shows, and the reviews are smashing fun to read as a result, even when the episode in question wasn’t so much fun to watch.

    Posted by Cct | April 3, 2012, 5:09 am

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