- Paperback: 410 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (11 Oct. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1502725533
- ISBN-13: 978-1502725530
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 621,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
TARDIS Eruditorum: An Unofficial Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 5: Tom Baker and the Williams Years Paperback – 11 Oct 2014
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Having said all that, I am eagerly looking forward to his next volume.
This is a vastly more enjoyable book than that might make it sound, and my apologies to the author if I have lost him valuable custom.
Actually, Sandifer is more than capable of being both but wears his heart on his sleeve in such a way that even when he veers into his worst excesses I still find him charming.
Each volume of TARDIS Eruditorum is in my opinion a mini masterpiece in itself. For me then Toby Hadoke's effort with Gareth Roberts is too flimsy and forgiving. Conversely, the works of Tat Wood and Lawrence Miles are too cynical and quite often just plain wrong.
Each volume up till now has only served to enrich my love of the show and I find that the books are as revisitable as Doctor Who itself. The definitive companion series to a much loved, but quite often misunderstood TV show.
However, I was pleased to be pleasantly surprised. Sandifer takes a very different approach to the almost psychotically zeeby 'About Time' series, with a looser collection of articles and essays that tell a chronological story while also darting off at mischievous tangents into social and cultural history. It's definitely a book written for humanities graduates (or at least people with a similar reading background to humanities graduates), and at times the theorising (and the prose style - as with Miles and Wood) can become a little chewy, even repetitive (was there an editor?) But taken as a whole, Sandifer is an enjoyable writer who likes to throw out big ideas and isn't afraid to argue them.
There was only once (in this particular book anyway, I haven't read the others yet) when he over-reached himself, and it did from then on slightly colour my opinion of whether or not he's quite as 'up' on his stuff as he clearly likes to think he is. The issue came up for me during a discussion of the comedy series Fawlty Towers, in which the author states that the fundamental humour of the situation arises from the portrayal of a bumbling and hapless protagonist, and the ways he comes up against a series of 'insane' antagonists.
I believe that Sandifer is American rather than British (please correct me if I'm mistaken), and it's interesting how he misses the crucial fact that Fawlty Towers is primarily a show about English class snobbery, with the middle class, 'socially climbing' Basil desperate to do anything which will get him in the good books of the guests he perceives to be higher up the social scale than he is. And the reverse of that - he is abominably rude and shabby towards people who he feels are 'beneath' him (even when they clearly aren't) - holds just as true. I found it very interesting that Sandifer didn't seem to have grasped this very obvious (to an English viewer) fact, and it left me wondering if I would start to find other intriguing lapses of insight (to be fair, I haven't, yet!)
On a more geeky note, I also wondered if occasionally the possible fact (again, I'm only inferring this - I'm willing to stand corrected) that the author had not experienced the original, chronological transmissions of these Dr Who episodes back in the 1970's occasionally lead him to make judgements that were slightly 'off'. For example, he dismisses the idea that in Destiny of the Daleks, the very fact that the story had Daleks in it could ever be seen as a genuine 'plot hook'. For my money, this completely misses the fact that to British viewers in the 1970's, the five year gap since Genesis of the Daleks, and the fact that there was finally going to be another Dalek story after all that time - was an ENORMOUS deal. At that point, the return of the Daleks was about as big a hook as it was possible to have in Doctor Who, and the slow build up in that moody and music-less first episode was (in my opinion) deliberately constructed to reflect (milk) that.
The only other aspects of the book that turned me off slightly were personal, subjective things such as the inclusion of material and ideas from the Big Finish audio series, along with references to stories and authors from that series (Gareth Roberts' name - and even an interview with him - crop up with alarming regularity), along with references to the new BBC Wales series as well. For an old traditionalist like me, for whom neither the Big Finish series nor much of the new BBC show (and come to think of it, most of the classic series post-Androzani) holds very little interest, this all lead to a slight glazing over of the eyes on more than one occasion.
But other than that, a highly enjoyable, thought provoking book, and I look forward to buying and reading the others.
PS. I've just come back to edit this review and knock a star off, due to the final essay on Logopolis which is both endless, and deeply pretentious. Also because the author states that his favourite era of the classic show is Sylvester McCoy, which kind of leaves you wondering if you can generally rely on his judgement.
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