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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Academics can write accessibly and succinctly about TV programmes!, 19 Jun. 2006
This review is from: Inside the Tardis: The Worlds of "Doctor Who" (Paperback)
On the whole, this is a well-written and likeable book. For a product that hails from the "cultural studies" corridor of the halls of learning it is surprisingly engaging and does not really get bogged down in self-serving jargon. In particular, there is lots of informative stuff here on the "internal politics" of the BBC and the author has mined the organisation's archives to good effect. There are some illuminating quotations in the form of internal BBC documentation: memoranda, reports and the like. The quotations he has used to illustrate audience reactions to the programme in recent decades are well-chosen and give the book a welcome "populist" edge. Indeed, it becomes clear that the controversy aroused by some of the more visibly violent or terrifying episodes went beyond the usual suspects of the Mary Whitehouse brigade. Many ordinary viewers of all ages evidently found some scenes too visceral and realistic in the 1970s. At times, reflecting its academic provenance, the author is straining a little too hard in to trying to link aspects of particular episodes to its external constraints. This leads to some rather loose, generalising assertions along the lines of, "this feature of such and such a story obviously was a result of such and such a trend/issue/trope in wider society." However, the author's discussion of the distinct periods of style and content which the programme underwent - say Tom Baker's "gothic" phase - is both thoughtful and stimulating. Also, it's nice to have a clear idea of which individuals were working on the programme during which periods, and the formative roles played by various producers/script editors, etc. The author succeeds then, in exploring in an engaging style the history of the show as both a television programme (shaped within the institutional environs of the BBC) and a specific "cultural product" (reflecting wider societal values and ideological themes). Any Who fan will find this an enjoyable and informative read; full scholarly references are provided for those wishing to read further and deeper.
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