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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2013
If you enjoyed the previous books in this series then you won't be disappointed with this one. It covers the first two years of the revived 'Doctor Who' - that is, Christopher Eccleston's time in the TARDIS as well as David Tennant's first season. It's not an episode guide as such - it doesn't provide a full synopsis of the stories. What it does do is analyse the stories in minute (some might say obsessive) detail with notes on how they fit into continuity, new facts about the Doctor or his companions that are revealed for the first time and things to watch out for as you view the episode for the umpteenth time. Then there's a detailed analysis, which includes notes on British culture so that overseas viewers will understand the UK-centric references, identification of what that particular actor has been in before, and (my favourite part) the nitpicks - plot holes and other stuff that doesn't quite make sense when you think about it. This is followed by a critique - the author is clearly a big fan of the programme but he doesn't let this blind him to any faults that the episode might have had, so it's not unending praise. Finally there's the Facts section, with original transmission date, viewer numbers and the behind-the-scenes stuff.

Previous books in the series, which covered the era when 'Doctor Who' was a serial, devoted a separate chapter to each individual story. Now that the episodes are mainly one-off self-contained stories, each one gets its own chapter, though for the occasional two-parter some of the sections are combined. Each chapter has at least one accompanying essay on a linked theme, covering such topics as why Eccleston left after only one season, why the series is made in Wales as opposed to, say, Manchester, and whether the horse in 'The Girl in the Fireplace' can be counted as a true TARDIS Companion. (No, really!) You may well disagree with some of the conclusions here but that's the fun of it.

This is not a book for the casual viewer, who will watch the programme if there's nothing else on. That said, you don't have to be an obsessive fan to enjoy it. But for those who like me have been left wanting more, there's good news: there are numerous references in the text to future volumes, and those for Volume 8 are so detailed as to strongly suggest that it at least is in an advanced state of preparation, so hopefully the wait won't be too long.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2014
The About Time series is possibly the most comprehensive and insightful guide to Doctor Who ever written. No stone is left unturned to reveal what lies at the heart of each story, with its context, content and production looked at from every angle, always intelligently - and with attitude. Bland, the authors are not. It is also true that the books are infuriatingly opinionated and wear their biases towards or against certain aspects of Who firmly on their sleeves, utilising superior tones which can be wearing at times.

About Time 7 is no exception to this mix, although it is perhaps an improvement this time around, with slightly more care taken with the proof reading, and side articles that feel more directly relevant to the content than some of the long-winded academic indulgences on popular culture seen in previous editions.

The ‘classic’ series having been dealt with in books 1-6, this time the reader sets out with trepidation to see what the range will make of the ‘new’ revived series, with just the single Christopher Eccleston and first David Tennant seasons covered here. Contrary to comments in some magazine reviews, there isn’t in fact an undue negativity towards the remodelled series (although dismissive references to Matt Smith’s tenure and snide remarks about Steven Moffat suggest that irritation levels may rise in later volumes). Indeed, some traditionally looked down-on episodes which might have expected a good kicking are in fact treated surprisingly fairly, although - be warned - better-liked ones are occasionally assailed. Conversely, some stories, which are initially taken apart for their illogicality and ill-conceived plotting, can unexpectedly be given positive reviews in the final ‘critique’ sections, judged as good pieces of TV drama nonetheless. For the most part, the book is fair and balanced, if you can bite your lip here and there.

One disappointing trend is the unnecessary elongation of the ‘things that don’t make sense’ sections. Where once just a few paragraphs on key plot issues would do, we now have to wade through pages of pompous nitpicking on minor continuity details about geographical anomalies in location filming, or about whether a 50s TV shop could really ever go on to be a major conglomerate in the far future, etc. These don’t treat the reader with respect: we know that this is only fiction, and that certain things are there just as winks to the audience or in-jokes. We accept that all this clearly doesn’t take place in our universe anyway, so the endless carping about inconsistencies in Doctor Who with details in our own world comes across as petty and, after a while, boring. Shorter next time, please.

That all said – and this is the crux of these books – in general About Time 7 is an intense page-turner and I found myself disappointed to get to the end and am already craving the next edition. If you’re looking to indulge that part of you that needs the escapism of exploring every aspect of a fictional universe (with extensive production coverage), you won’t do much better than this, if you can stomach the range’s occasionally less digestible and subjective opinions along the way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2013
This book is beyond fabulous! It's not only full of extremely interesting facts about the first two series of the rebooted WHO but also lots and lots of informative articles and essays on Doctor Who in general. I started reading it at 10am and was STILL reading it at 1am the following morning. I was obsessed! Bloody great!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2015
As mentioned elsewhere, this is nowhere near as entertaining as the earlier volumes. The tone often becomes annoyingly snide, reminding one of the worst excesses of Who internet forums.

The know-all attitude of Tat Wood becomes very irritating very quickly. He either possesses the most brilliant mind on earth, or he's got an internet connection. Whichever it is, what a shame that he can't tell a cor anglais from an oboe...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2014
I own all the previous books in this series, and have enjoyed each one. The writer has strong opinions which, although I don't always agree with them, do give one much food for thought. The mixture of analyses and essays give lots of insights into the making of the series and where the ideas came from. If you're interested in how TV is made in the UK in general and Doctor Who in particular you should get this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2013
Maybe it's because the author can't draw on decades of hindsight about these episodes, or maybe it's because it misses the gentle sarcastic humour of former co-author Lawrence Miles, but this book somehow just wasn't as enjoyable as the previous ones.

There's too much pedantic listing of production schedules, and not enough new insight to put the ideas behind the episodes into an unexpected wider context.

Despite that, this is still one of the better episode guides out there. It's just disappointing compared to the earlier ones.
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on 1 August 2015
I agree with others here that this volume is nowhere near as good as previous books. Humour is definitely lacking. Previous volumes treat Doctor Who with gentle whimsy, but this book has none of that. Mr Wood's scathing and often downright nasty critique does not make enjoyable reading.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2014
All the above were birthday presents, chosen by the person so have been greatly enjoyed. All quiz books useful for preparing own quizes.
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