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3.7 out of 5 stars22
3.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 29 October 2008
This is a condensed episode list and is very useful, maybe the die hard fan has this info to hand from other sources but for me this is a neat, quick reference. It covers all Doctor Who eras and spin-offs such as Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures (although only Dr. Who gets an episode by episode guide).

Mark Campbell's ratings are always worth reading, I don't always agree with him (Pyramids of Mars less than perfect - NO!), but he's an independent voice and he skewers the like of Torchwood beautifully in a sentence.

Perfect for the younger or casual fan.
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on 5 May 2009
Other reviewers have commented on content and style, suffice it for me to say that this is a great little stocking-filler for Doctor Who fans young and old; not desperately new or original, it is at least well-researched and light-hearted.
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on 3 July 2013
Strewth, it's labourious writing on a kindle!

I bought this book because I wanted a guide to the doctor who epiodes. And by guide, I mean what happened in each episode which I assumed this book was. Unfortunately, this book is just collection of facts with a cast list, a sentence about the episode and a longer personal opinion from the author.

Each episode review follows the same format: about 50% of the review is the names of actorsproducers etc. 5% details of the story. 35% facts e.g. William Hartnell was sick for two episodes. Then 10% of the authors personal view. Not good enough for me.

Here is a typical entry for an episodes story: 'The daleks chase the Tardis through time and space...'
And that's it! Less meat than mayfly, it could be most dalek episodes!

As a pocketguide, I wasn't expecting miracles, but I was expecting to get a basic understandjng of each episode. I'm sorry but this is too basic and unless you want a list of actors and episode release dates, look elsewhere.

Very disappointed.
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on 10 August 2000
My first thought on reading the introduction was that it was perhaps too flippant, and wondered whether it was to be a serious study or a lampoon. However, the book did immediately come across as a serious guide to the programmes which I can well believe would be of considerable interest to the "fans".
By my reckoning you were 6 when you saw your first episode, of a programme which was made for and watched by children. I doubt your comments reflect the programmes as you first saw them, but rather as you saw them 20 or more years later - as an adult. Would a child have seen "The Face of Evil" as 'A predictable story boringly told'? or "The Creature from the Pit" as 'naff'? or "Time-Flight" as 'utter garbage'? - without watching them I cannot venture an opinion. The book is obviously aimed at adult fans or devotees and perhaps the introduction should have made that clear, though I believe that assumption would be made by anyone buying it...
The only inaccuracy which is apparent to me is in Story 95 under cast, where you show Mandrel (William Simons) and Veet (Adrienne Burgess) - the only occasions where you put the character before the actor's name.
To conclude - I did not find the book hard to read though any catalogue usually palls eventually. On this occasion that was prevented by the observations and verdicts which were very interesting, but perhaps a bit hard on individuals.
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on 23 December 2000
This is an interesting concept, this book. In the past, most programme guides documenting the TV episodes of "Dr Who" have all been fairly bulky releases, and contain full cast & crew details, along with ratings and broadcast dates.
However, up until now, there has never been a simple little book that enables one to just check some simple facts with regards to certain "Dr Who" stories.
I'm very happy that I purchased "Doctor Who", because it enables me to have a quick & easy reference work sitting next to the telly, so that if I ever need to check anything, I can, and with a minimum of fuss.
Well done, Mark Campbell - a very good release! Just a shame that I disagree with a few of your reviews...! :-)
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on 31 July 2000
I would just like to say how much I am enjoying reading your latest book "Pocket Essentials TV: Doctor Who". I like the unofficial style, which gives the bad points as well as the good. I'm currently mid-way through the Jon Pertwee section, and am finding it thoroughly enjoyable. I've recommended the book to many people. Overall the book gets a groundbreaking 10 out of 10.
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on 20 July 2000
Brothers and sisters, probably 90% of us could have written this book, being as it is another story-by-story, capsule-description-and-review style trawl through the televised series. Think a very heavily condensed version of "The Discontinuity Guide" and that's the format. The author (Mark Campbell) sat down and watched (or listened to) every episode and committed his opinion to paper. That's the book. Full stop. As I say, most of us could do the same.
This is a slim volume (less than 100 pages) and is thankfully correspondingly cheap, but it does mean it doesn't cover everything. The films, recent TV parodies, stage shows, and radio series get a review, the Big Finish stories get a mention, and, er, that's about it. Oh, and a few books and websites get plugged.
So why even bother buying it? Well, Campbell's is a new voice and he's not afraid to be controversial or blunt. No sacred cow is safe, and he even goes so far as to suggest that the show is dead and gone forever. Many of his opinions come straight out of left field, and they'll provoke infuriation and sighs of 'Thank God I'm not the only one who thinks that!' in equal measure. Just a handful of his observations:
"Destiny of the Daleks" is better than "Genesis of the Daleks
"Pyramids of Mars" is 'grossly overrated', and in parts 'rubbish' and 'nonsensical'.
"Paradise Towers" is 'wonderful' and by far the best story of its season.
"Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150AD" is much, much better than the TV version.
The best story of Troughton's first year is "The Macra Terror".
And so on, and so on, and so on - though Campbell agrees with fan orthodoxy a lot of the time too. (I personally agree with at least one of the above opinions, by the way, and think at least one other is utter nonsense - but naturally I'm not saying which is which.)
I get the impression this book wasn't edited terribly rigorously. There's the obligatory 'spot-the-source-material' slot for each story, and things get especially weird here - we learn that 'The Great Escape' influenced "Planet of the Daleks", 'The Wicker Man' inspired "The Stones of Blood", and that apparently the key influence on "Four to Doomsday" was bearded Aussie vet-botherer Rolf Harris. You also have to question his ability to review things like "Curse of the Daleks" with such authority given that he can only have read the script.
So is it worth buying? Well, maybe. If you use the Guide you must have an interest in hearing other people's opinions of "Doctor Who", and that's basically all this is. At the very least it'll make you think, if only for the length of time it takes you to retrieve it after you hurl it away in outraged fury. And you will.
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on 31 July 2000
"Pocket Essentials: Doctor Who" is basically a watered down version of the Howe/Stammers/Walker collection of handbooks, complete with reviews, quotes and observations. This would certainly serve the casual fan, although die-hard fans would find it difficult to get anything new from it. At least it is up to date with reviews of the two Dalek films, the Big Finish Audios, the stage plays and various other television spin-offs. What is noticeable is that author, Mark Campbell, doesn't hold back in his reviews, being very blunt about what he does and doesn't like.
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on 16 July 2000
Mark Campbell (editor of the definitive Doctor Who fanzine "Skonnos") is the perfect companion in this brief but pithy guide to the series. Always intelligent and never suffering from the fannishness that cripples so much Who-related material. We have an introductory essay, breakdowns of the storylines, an exhaustive reference section and an informed guide to further books, magazines and videos, along with spin-offs and websites. The series is called Pocket Essentials: this one really is.
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on 14 July 2000
An eye-catching jacket houses a witty, unsentimental introduction to the Doctor's history, and a comprehensive listing guide to his screen (and stage and radio...) exploits. The author is happily not afraid to dismiss some of the rubbish in plain language - "tedious", "boring", and 1 out of 5 ratings - and the plot summaries remind the reader of how imaginative the series could be.
A fan's book, but far from unblinkingly reverential.
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