For the landmark opening of the Steven Moffat/Matt Smith era of Doctor Who, Frank Collins has successfully drawn together deep and breathtakingly wide myriad strands of knowledge to create a companion to the series which shatters the barriers separating fan interest from academic insight.
With a keen understanding of the underlying mythos of the series, the author near effortlessly links those embedded tropes to the wider, far-reaching tapestry of popular cultural trends, advanced media theory and deep critical analysis that impresses by the sheer bravura of its scope.
Glowing with a deep and abiding affection for its subject matter, both the book and the often surprising conclusions it offers up to the reader; artfully treads the tightrope of successful serious criticism balanced with a respect for its subject with subtle wit, flair and a wholly engaging prose style that is as impressive as it is welcome.
Although the reader might not always find themselves agreeing with all of the author's findings - I guarantee that even during those rare instances of disagreement, they will still find themselves appreciative of the intelligence with which they find their views challenged.
Make no mistake; I'm convinced that this is an important book in the field of not just Doctor Who, but also of media criticism as a whole. Frank Collins is not only to be applauded for presenting us with a volume worthy of the quality of the series it addresses - but also for throwing wide the door allowing us a different way of looking at it.
To say that I await the author's next work with keen anticipation would be an understatement.
Having loved Doctor Who since 1963 and read Frank's online reviews for some years (they always give me new insights and plenty to think about), I bought his book on Doctor Who. For someone like me, without a background in cultural matters, this book is not always an easy read - Frank's breadth of cultural knowledge is so large as to be almost alarming! - but it is always a rewarding one. Frank doesn't use jargon but plain English so the words are understandable even if it sometimes takes me a few readings to grasp the meaning of a new idea. I occasionally don't agree with one of Frank's thoughts on Series 5 - and sometimes can't decide whether I agree or not - but the great thing is that he has introduced so many new ideas to me which I have much enjoyed thinking about.
I do recommend this book to anyone interested both in ideas about Doctor Who and in stretching their brain.
Frank Collins' book is not so much a review of each of the thirteen episodes in Matt Smith's first series as the Doctor, but an in depth academic-level examination of the stories, drawing on self-analysis, literary criticism, and references to other non-Who related critical texts. His stunningly detailed approach not only pulls apart the inner workings of the themes, imagery and characters, but encourages new ways of looking and thinking of the stories, comparing and contrasting these episodes to a myriad of other works, with a specific fondness for Peter Pan.
Although you may not be convinced by every one of his comparisons and observations, so much of the book will show you a new way of looking and thinking about this wonderful series of the programme, which is a wonderful, exciting feeling, especially if you are already over familiar with the episodes in question.
It's not always an easy book to read due to the density of the references, and if there are future volumes I would hope that he eases up on the quotations and injects some of his own personal critique of the show instead, at it is in those moments that the book really shines.
Nevertheless this is an impressive work, imbued with so much analytical love and passion, and is an absolute must-read for any fan captivated by Moffat's vision of the programme thus far.
(Note to the potential purchaser: Amazon lists this item permanently as "temporarily out of stock". It isn't out of stock; each order just comes through the publisher rather than being stored in their warehouse, so order away!)
This is my favourite sort of TV companion; the sort that picks apart the ideas and themes that inform the series, rather than a boring list of production details. Frank Collins is already well-known online by fans of cult TV writing, and this is a confident, perceptive entry into print. No piece of symbolism or resonance is left unturned as Frank turns his eye to Doctor Who's extraordinary 2010 season. Analysis along the way includes knowledgeable insights from, amongst others, the fields of film theory, design, gothic literature and queer theory. Personal opinions are kept to a minimum in favour of finding well-informed new angles on familiar episodes, and this is a great read from start to finish.