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Doctor Who (TV Milestone Series) by Jim Leach

01/11/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Doctor Who in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who in the UK

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pub: Wayne State University Press. 112 page illustrated indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: 12.95 (UK), 14 euros. ISBN: 978-0-8143-3308-2.

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Do we need another book on 'Doctor Who'? Considering that there is a three page bibliography that author Jim Leach digs heavily into for quotes, that might be a mote point for us in the UK. The TV Milestone book series is only five books long so far and the only other genre subject is the 'Buffy' spin-off 'Angel' is aimed more at the American audience than us. It's a small pocket book that can be slipped in your pocket for those times when you need something to read on a bus or train whatever country you live in.

The book centres on five stories from the various regenerations of our Time Lord with snippets of history along the way with a brief chapter on the recent stories. The examples are used to highlight different aspects of the series including its origins, the Daleks, mixing SF with fantasy, formulaic plots, regeneration and mixing the time lanes. The part I found most interesting was the examination of the effects of the media within the reality. Everyone knows it happened with 'Vengeance On Varos' but I hadn't realised it was such a regular theme appearing in 'Carnival Of Monsters', 'The Dominators' and 'The Idiot's Lantern' - even if it wasn't referenced to a later chapter. Considering 'Doctor Who' visits different times and places, I would have thought it inevitable that it would look at the different ways the media would be treated. After all, one of the key aspects of Science Fiction is to use things from today and take it to the maximum.

As Leach is a Canadian who missed a large chunk of the episodes, from my British perspective and having seen all the stories, any lack of knowledge or errors wouldn't escape my eyes. He doesn't make many mistakes but confined to only five stories and book research confines the latitude. However, take for instance the reason why the first ever episode of 'Doctor Who' being repeated a fortnight later after JFK's assassination. Leach clearly got it wrong, no doubt because American time zones (sic) where he lives was a day behind ours even if events happen at the same time. So, the week after the first episode, when Kennedy was assassinated, the second episode was dropped for the news. The third week was deemed a sizeable gap between episodes so both the first and second episodes were aired together to put everyone in the picture and for those who missed the premiere opening. Probably the biggest classic error is to refer to Sarah Jane Smith as 'Sarah' as its one of the rare instances where both names are actually used together over here. The way Leach garners a lot of source material from book quotes throughout will probably save you having to buy the bibliography contents but nothing beats real knowledge about the series if you've lived through it.

For us British fans, I suspect you'll think you've read all of this before. For American and Canadians fans new to the subject, then it is likely to provide some areas of interest and observation.

GF Willmetts

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