About Time volume 1 was certainly the most in-depth analysis of the first three seasons of Doctor Who I have ever seen. Considering the wealth of material incorporated, the authors did a fabulous job of keeping it from being dry, continually throwing in some humour, and keeping the writing style quite informal. The information they include about the behind the scenes intrigues is very nicely done, pulling very few punches but avoiding being outright slanderous. The essays are possibly the most interesting parts, however, ranging from an analysis of what children's television was like in the 60s to speculation about which delegate is which in Mission To The Unknown and The Daleks' Master Plan. With these the book is able to simultaneously be a wonderfully nitpicky guide for fans (but always in the 'we love it but we know it can be quite awful at times' vein, rather than 'this is crap and here's why' style) and a very good text that places Doctor Who in its cultural context. This is such a crucial aspect of any critical analysis of such a programme, especially one that ran for as long as Doctor Who, that it seems incredible in hindsight that so few other books on the subject actually do it. Yes, it's one ting to know the titles of the TV shows that went out at the time, but quite another to understand the format of those shows and what they reflected about the era as a whole.
All that praise aside, the book is not without its flaws. The ones I picked out were very minor, however, such as the authors' insistence on referring to a character called Anne Chaplette being in The Massacre despite the fact everyone on screen quite clearly pronounced her surname 'Shap-lay' (hence indicating the French spelling Chaplet as supported by every other text on the subject), and the irritating one about the Doctor supposedly claiming he has only one heart in The Sensorites (He said something hit him 'under the heart', but that no more means he only has one than saying 'he got a shot in the arm' necessarily refers to a person with only one arm.).
All in all, an excellent volume. I look forward to reading the rest.
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